The first conference panel explored American grand strategy. Chaired by Joseph Nye, panelists included Michèle Flournoy and Derek Chollet from CNAS, Mitchell Reiss from the College of William and Mary, William Kristol from The Weekly Standard, and G. John Ikenberry from Princeton University. Michèle Flournoy presented key ideas from CNAS’ new report, “Making America Grand Again,” and spoke both of the need for policymakers to widen the strategic aperture and take a new look at the essence of America’s core global interests.
Derek Chollet gave a brief summary of his new book America Between the Wars (co-authored with James Goldgeier), which explores the era between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 9/11 attacks. The panelists then engaged in a lively exchange over America’s purpose and place in the world. Mitchell Reis questioned whether in the complex modern era it is truly possible to articulate a compelling grand strategy. William Kristol argued that while grand strategy and foreign policy doctrines are important, “deeds matter most.” G. John Ikenberry endorsed the theme of the CNAS report and the need for policymakers to develop a grand strategy that centers on the need for America to positively shape the international system. Joseph Nye concluded the panel by arguing that America needs a strategy that can help policymakers “create opportunities and meet a diffuse set of challenges.”