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American Grand Strategy Solarium

Feb 20, 2008
8:00am to 6:00pm



On February 20, 2008, the Center for a New American Security hosted "Solarium II: American Grand Strategy" at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C.  The event brought together prominent national security thinkers and practitioners for a one-day colloquium concerning America’s purpose and place in the world.

CNAS commissioned five prominent thinkers to write and present their preferred vision of an American grand strategy for the 21st century.  Inspired by President Eisenhower’s use of competitive strategy development during the 1953 Solarium exercise  the conference featured presentations by each author, a formal critique by a distinguished reviewer, and a general debate among conference participants.

The conference was moderated by CNAS President Michèle Flournoy, who concluded that the exercise was “a real opportunity to engage in a constructive and productive debate,” one that hopefully will inform the national discussion concerning America’s role in the world in the critical years ahead. 

Conference transcripts, and video/audio links can be found on this page.

The final report on American Grand Strategy, Finding Our Way: Debating American Grand Strategy is now available.

For further information on the CNAS Solarium effort, please contact Alice Hunt at


Session 1:

Presenter: Shawn Brimley, Fellow, Center for a New American Security

Presenter: Barry R. Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science & Director of the Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Critique: James Steinberg, Dean, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin 


Session 2:


Presenter: Frederick W. Kagan, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
Critique: Christopher Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, CATO Institute 


Session 3:

Presenter: Janine Davidson on behalf of author Sarah Sewall, Director, DOD Stability Operations Capabilities, Office of the Secretary of Defense
Critique: David Kilcullen, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State, Department of State 

Presenter: Robert J. Art, Christian A. Herter Professor of International Relations, Brandeis University, 
Critique: Kathleen Hicks, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Session 4: 

Presenter: G. John Ikenberry, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs,
Princeton University
Critique: Alexander Lennon, Editor-in-Chief, The Washington Quarterly