April 11, 2019

New Voices in Grand Strategy

Michael J. Zak Lecture Series


In June 2008, the Center for a New American Security published a compendium of essays to grapple with the central questions of American grand strategy. The volume compiled the views of leading senior strategists from across the political spectrum and from both academia and the policy community. Four years later, CNAS embarked on a similar venture, presenting the views of four more expert thinkers.

Today, the debate over America’s proper role in the world is perhaps wider than at any time in decades. The 2016 presidential election illuminated deep divides in the American public about the scope of the country’s interests, the nature of existing threats, the financial and military burdens the United States should shoulder, the degree to which values as well as interests should motivate national action, and the methods for attaining national objectives, however defined. The debate among national security experts on such matters should be just as wide and searching.

With the very vision for U.S. global leadership up for grabs, CNAS now seeks to broaden the existing debate by bringing new voices to the conversation. We have commissioned a series of essays on American grand strategy from a new generation of thinkers, strategists, academics, and policymakers. As will immediately become apparent, their contributions are not bound by the intellectual and strategic strictures of the past. Our goal was to question the assumptions and decisions that have guided U.S. foreign policy in the post–Cold War era, to assess how ongoing changes in the world should reshape U.S. grand strategy, and ultimately to propose recommendations and alternatives for the way forward. The essays in this volume are fresh, rigorously analytical, and provocative – deliberately so.

They also elucidate and deepen the range of grand-strategic options, identifying different and distinct approaches. These seven distinct, thoughtful contributions from rising leaders in the field serve as starting points for policymakers seeking to define America’s role in a changing world. We hope that they will also serve as a resource for all those wishing to thoughtfully consider the right grand strategy for the United States today.

Read the full essay series.

Download PDF

  1. “Finding Our Way: Debating American Grand Strategy,” edited by Michele A. Flournoy and Shawn Brimley, Center for a New American Security, June 2008, https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.cnas.org/documents/FlournoyBrimley_Finding-Our-Way_June08.pdf?mtime=20160906082323.
  2. “America’s Path: Grand Strategy for the Next Administration,” edited by Richard Fontaine and Kristin Lord, Center for a New American Security, May 2012, https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/americas-path-grand-strategy-for-the-next-administration.


  • Richard Fontaine

    Chief Executive Officer

    Richard Fontaine is the Chief Executive Officer of CNAS. He served as President of CNAS from 2012–19 and as Senior Fellow from 2009–12. Prior to CNAS, he was foreign policy ad...

  • Loren DeJonge Schulman

    Former Adjunct Senior Fellow

    Loren DeJonge Schulman is a Former Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Previously, she served as the Deputy Director of Studies and the Leo...

  • Emma Ashford

    Research Fellow, Cato Institute

    Emma Ashford is a Research Fellow in defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute, with expertise in international security and the politics of energy. She is currently wr...

  • Hal Brands

    Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

    Hal Brands is the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Senior Fellow at the Center ...

  • Jasen J. Castillo

    Associate Professor, Bush School of Government and Public Service

    Jasen J. Castillo is an Associate Professor and Evelyn and Ed F. Kruse ‘49 Faculty Fellow in the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Prio...

  • Kate Kizer

    Policy Director, Win Without War

    Kate Kizer is the Policy Director at Win Without War. She has nearly a decade of experience working on human rights, democratization, and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle Eas...

  • Rebecca Friedman Lissner

    Next Generation National Security Fellow, 2016, Georgetown University

    Rebecca Friedman Lissner is a PhD Candidate in the Government Department at Georgetown University and an International Security Studies Predoctoral Fellow at Yale University f...

  • Jeremy Shapiro

    Research Director, European Council on Foreign Relations

    Jeremy Shapiro is the research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. His areas of focus include U.S foreign policy and transatlantic relations. Shapiro was pr...

  • Joshua R. Itzkowitz Shifrinson

    Assistant Professor of International Relations, Boston University

    Joshua R. Itzkowitz Shifrinson is an Assistant Professor of International Relations, Boston University. His teaching and research interests focus on the intersection of intern...