Grand Strategies (or Ascendant Ideas) since 1919

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter investigates the most ascendant ideas at work in America's rise to become a global power and then a superpower after the end of World War I. Segmenting US foreign policy since 1919 by “grand strategy” would seem to require grand simplification. Even those administrations commonly identified as practicing quintessential grand strategy appear more inchoate when approached from the protagonists’ perspectives at the time. To give one such example, the sequence of foreign policy innovations that the United States spearheaded from 1945 to 1949 were collectively possessed of considerable foresight. But they were also a series of strategies advocated by various actors at different times with motives that do not necessarily reduce to a mono-strategic essence. Even in regard to post-1945 US foreign policy, a period that has been sub-divided by many distinguished scholars, it is difficult to identify clearly demarcated grand strategies that provide overarching clarity. The chapter focuses on the ascendant ideas that have informed policymaking, shaped public discourse, forced other ideas into decline, and that can perhaps even be identified as “representative” of particular eras.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRethinking American Grand Strategy
EditorsElizabeth Borgwardt, Christopher McKnight Nichols, Andrew Preston
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9780190093143
ISBN (Print)9780190695668
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2021


  • America
  • Ascendant ideas
  • Cold war
  • Global power
  • Grand strategies
  • Policymaking
  • Public discourse
  • US foreign policy
  • United States
  • World war I

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