Report

Searching for a Grand Strategy to Meet the China Challenge

| March 2019
Important: If you submitted an entry prior to May 30, please re-send it to josh_burek@hks.harvard.edu

Complete the Assignment


Submission Guidelines

Send a Strategic Options memo no longer than 600 words using the link above, or email directly to josh_burek@hks.harvard.edu with the subject line "China Challenge Case Submission" by 11:59PM Eastern on Nov. 27, 2019. The memo must follow the guidelines noted in Appendix 2. Up to three authors may contribute to a single entry.

Contents and Materials:

 

How the U.S. manages a rising China is one of the great questions of our time. This is your opportunity to help address it. Based on a popular and highly debated course assignment from Harvard Kennedy School Professor Graham Allison, author of the bestseller “Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?,” this exercise invites the public to develop a grand strategy to meet the China challenge. Note: The case below captures the assignment as it was written for students in Allison’s Fall 2018 course. For current submission guidelines, see the box above. The three best submissions will be published on BelferCenter.org and–more importantly–will be shared with senior U.S. government officials.

 

Introduction: Searching for a Grand Strategy to Meet the China Challenge

In a major speech in October, Vice President Mike Pence summarized what could be seen as the Trump Administration’s emerging strategy in a new Cold War against China. As he announced, the Trump Administration is determined to fight back on all fronts in what it sees as a cold war that China has been waging against the US for the past quarter century without any US response.

Pence’s big idea is that Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama fundamentally misunderstood the China challenge. The nation they embraced as a “strategic partner” is in fact a “strategic competitor,” “adversary,” indeed “enemy.” Previous administrations made a cosmic bet. They wagered that integrating China into the US-led international order would lead it to develop a normal free market economy, democratic norms, the rule of law guaranteeing human rights, and acceptance of its place as a “responsible stakeholder.” As Pence says bluntly, they lost that bet—and the Trump administration is left to deal with the consequences.

Accusing previous administrations of not only ignoring but actually “abetting” China’s abuses, Pence insists that this administration will speak up, stand up, fight, and win. As President Trump said in August: “When I came we were heading in a certain direction that was going to allow China to be bigger than us in a very short period of time. That’s not going to happen any more.”

If this were simply a matter of rhetoric or the trash talk of campaigns, it could be discounted. Instead, the approach reflects a serious emerging strategy to confront China. The outlines of this clash, however, are unfolding piecemeal, without the benefit of core strategic documents like George Kennan’s Long Telegram or Paul Nitze’s NSC-68 policy paper that crystalized US strategy in the first Cold War.

According to the Trumpists, the cold war between Washington and Beijing isn’t new. China has been fighting the US for decades. What is new is that Washington will now respond. As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put it: “The trade war by China against the US has been going on for years. Here’s what’s different in this administration . . . we are determined to win it.” In its National Defense Strategy, the administration asserts that: “The central challenge to US prosperity and security” are two “revisionist powers”—China and Russia. They are trying to “shape a world antithetical to US values and interests.” China is conducting a “whole of government” assault on the US by every means short of bombs and bullets.

Most observers reject the proposition that the administration’s actual behavior is shaped by any strategy. So, as usual, it is much easier to be critical than to be constructive. The question we should be asking is: who has a better idea?

As a way to engage that question, the case I assigned last semester in my course forces Masters of Public Policy students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to wrestle with the issue of grand strategy for meeting the China challenge.

In responding to the assignment, students were required to present three alternative grand strategies. The first option is the best case they could make for a version of cold war with China. In crafting this, they were asked to consider how appropriate the analogy is and to note the differences between China today and the Soviet Union in 1950. Beyond that, the assignment required them to identify two alternative grand strategies that they think might be preferable.

As Henry Kissinger observed about the case when I discussed it with him, it is “too hard.” But we agreed that it is the challenge the US government is currently facing in thinking about China.

For the past year and a half since the publication of my book, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, I have been on the hunt for a new grand strategy that could secure America’s vital national interests—without war. At this point, I have a menu of nine potential grand strategic options that could possibly become coherent strategies. Like the real world, each has serious cons as well as pros. But I have not yet found a strategic option that I believe is a clear winner.

So this article extends the case assignment beyond my Harvard classroom to all who can craft an answer they believe will help clarify one of the most challenging – and consequential – questions of our time.

 


Case Overview: Can the U.S. and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? 

The world is as it is on October 15, 2018 except for hypotheticals introduced in this case and assignment. Specifically: history is as it is; China’s rise is as it is; the military balance is as it is; alliance relations are as they are; politics in the US, China, and elsewhere are as they are–and so forth.

You were hired a month ago as a special assistant to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. When selecting you, he said he wanted someone from outside the system, with fresh eyes, and a capacity for strategic imagination. As he put it in giving you what he called a “modest assignment,” your first project is to help him design a US grand strategy for meeting the China challenge.

Both you and he had imagined that you would have two months to develop an outline and another month or more to produce a product. But when the Secretary got back from his recent trip to Asia, he said he wanted a first installment next Monday. His meetings in Beijing with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Politburo member Yang Jiechi left him feeling uneasy. To date, when he’s focused on China, his primary question has been how to keep them onside in the campaign to denuclearize North Korea—and that’s been enough of a challenge. But as Pompeo considers his responsibilities as Secretary of State, he knows that the biggest issue of all is the impact of China on the US and the international order of which Washington had been the principal architect and guardian. As President Trump had put it to him: “I know that Bannon was not your favorite. But Steve was certainly right about one thing. Fifty years from now, who is going to remember whether we won or lost the stuff I’m fighting with Congress about today? But history will remember what we did, or failed to do, about China.”

Pompeo’s Chinese hosts were clearly stung by Vice President Pence’s hard-hitting speech. They read it as a declaration that the US would now fight back vigorously in a cold war against China. The assertions that China had been engaged in a stealthy war against the US for decades; that it had somehow persuaded prior administrations to ignore or even abet its campaign; that China – rather than the US – was acting contrary to the understandings both have long agreed on about Taiwan; that China’s internal politics were a legitimate concern of the US; and most provocatively, that China was interfering in American domestic policy and politics, and in particular attempting to influence the outcome of the midterm Congressional elections in favor of Democrats – this broadside had certainly gotten their attention.

Wang opened the meeting aggressively presenting a series of complaints about the US: for escalating trade friction, causing trouble over Taiwan, unjustifiably criticizing China’s domestic policies, and making false claims about Chinese interference in American domestic politics. Never one to back down from a fight, Pompeo gave at least as good as he got.

But reflecting on all this as he flew back to Washington, he couldn’t help thinking about Thucydides's Trap and the dangerous dynamic inherent in conditions when a rising power encroaches on the position and accustomed prerogatives of a ruling power. Of course, this reality gets exaggerated by perceptions of both rivals. Inevitably, it is then further distorted by competing interests in the politics of both countries. But the bottom line is: Where does this end?

Remembering that in November we’ll all pause to mark the 100th anniversary of the final day of a conflict so devastating that it required historians to create an entirely new category–World War–Pompeo is determined to do everything he can to minimize the risk that we stumble into an unnecessary war. As he said, he studied World War I at West Point and he’s thought about it over the years. But he still can’t believe it. How could an archduke’s assassination have dragged Great Britain and Germany into a war no one wanted? How could such a small cause have had such devastating consequences? At the end of that war, every major player had lost what he had wanted most – and Europe, which had been the geopolitical center of gravity for a thousand years, lay in ruins.

Whatever other mistakes Secretary Pompeo makes, he’s determined not to be the “Bethmann-Hollweg” of a 21st-century world war. If war happens on his watch – and in the aftermath he’s asked how this could have happened – he wants to have a better answer than the WWI-era German Chancellor’s infamous remark, “Ah, if we only knew.”

In a previous discussion in his office, Secretary Pompeo noted that on several occasions, he and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had walked the President and Vice President through the predicament Thucydides identified. But in sharp contrast to Bannon’s claims about war with China being “inevitable,” he and Mattis have explained that war is not inevitable. Moreover, Mattis has described in gruesome detail just how catastrophic war between the US and China would be for both.

As you’ve learned over the past month as you’ve been getting up to speed on the China challenge, the Trump administration’s approach to China begins with a Big Idea. Matt Pottinger, the NSC staffer responsible for China (who had been a rising star reporter for The Wall Street Journal until 9/11 when he felt called to join the Marines, served in Iraq, returned to study China, and became a thoughtful analyst of this rivalry) explained it to you in one of his favorite quotations from Confucius. Confucius says: “the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper names.” In this administration’s view, the Obama Administration, and Bush and Clinton before it, fundamentally misunderstood the China challenge. The nation they named a “strategic partner” is in fact a “strategic competitor,” “adversary,” indeed “enemy.” On the basis of that misunderstanding, they made a cosmic bet. They wagered that integrating China into the US-led international order would lead it to develop a normal free market economy, democratic norms, the rule of law guaranteeing human rights, and acceptance of its place as a “responsible stakeholder.” They lost that bet – and the Trump administration is left to deal with the consequences.

As the Secretary put it, the Trump administration has essentially been backing into a grand strategy one might call Cold War II. The outlines of this clash are unfolding piecemeal, without the benefit of core strategic documents like George Kennan’s Long Telegram or Paul Nitze’s NSC-68 policy paper that crystalized US strategy in the first cold war. But it is informed by a considered diagnosis of China’s ambitions and actions during recent decades.

Clearly, this is not just about trade. The Chinese have been challenging the US across the spectrum for at least two decades. This administration is committed to meeting them on all fronts: economic (tariffs, restrictions on Chinese investments in American technology, screening supply chains for national security vulnerabilities); military (increasing the Defense budget and US military operations in the South China Sea and elsewhere); diplomatic (resisting Chinese attempts to undermine Taiwan); political (spotlighting China’s antidemocratic drive, suppression of its own citizens’ human rights, and its “surveillance state”); and ideological. Elements of what might be called an emerging strategy are reflected in the President’s campaign and tweets, the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy and Sec. Mattis’ accompanying speech, US Trade Representative Lighthizer’s report on China’s WTO compliance, and FBI Director Christopher Wray’s Senate Intelligence Committee testimony.

In this administration’s assessment, “the central challenge to US prosperity and security” are two “revisionist powers”: China and Russia. They are trying to “shape a world antithetical to US values and interests.” China is conducting a “whole of government” assault on the US by every means short of bombs and bullets. The Vice President’s speech offers the best overview of the dimensions in which China has been at war with us. The Wall Street Journal’s long piece in the weekend paper, “US, China Edge Closer to a New Cold War,” provides a good summary of the state of play at this point.

The most radioactive strand in Vice President Pence’s speech is his charge that China is seeking to “interfere in the domestic policy and politics of this country” and “has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections.” Pence went further, arguing, “what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing.”

In assigning you the larger project a month ago, Pompeo was surprisingly candid. Truth be told, as he put it, at this point he has more questions than answers. They begin with a question about how useful the Cold War analogy is. As Pompeo noted, he remembers the original Cold War. He grew up in that world. After graduating from West Point (first in his class), he served in Germany on the frontline between the free world and the Evil Empire. Indeed, he’s made for himself a list of “bedeviling questions” that he doesn’t know how to answer, and which he doesn’t imagine you’ll be able to answer conclusively, but he hopes nonetheless that you can add value as you dig deeper.

In responding to the immediate assignment for next week, Pompeo wants you to be aware of those larger questions, but he does not expect answers to them now.

 


Assignment:

Refer to the submission guidelines at the top of this page.

Specifically, Secretary Pompeo wants a one-page outline of a Strategic Options Memo in which Option 1 is the best case for waging Cold War II against China. Starting with the emerging grand strategy reflected in the core documents summarized by Pence, what should be the key pillars of that strategy? Are there other important pillars that are not appropriately reflected in Pence’s statement? What can we feasibly execute? As you identity its pros and cons, don’t miss the Thucydidean dynamic or fail to suggest how to limit that risk.

Furthermore, before the Secretary embraces fully the best version of a new Cold War strategy, he wants to make sure he’s thought carefully about the alternatives we are not choosing. He wants you to identify two distinct, alternative grand strategies that you believe might be better than the strongest version of Cold War II, and which you might recommend over that Cold War II strategy if the choice were yours to make. For each, give the core of the strategy, its key pillars, and the likely consequences of selecting it (including risks of war).

And one more: for each of the three options, if the US adopts it and pursues it over the next decade, where will that leave us?

In sum, Secretary Pompeo asks you for a Strategic Options Memo in which the first option is your best version of the Cold War II approach, along with two competitive grand strategies that you believe might be even better. Follow the guidelines for strategic options memos in Appendix II. And to feed the press, for the strategy you recommend, give him 3 or 4 bullet points that he can use when he is asked: What is our strategy to meet the China challenge?

 


 

Reading List: Meeting the China Challenge

Required (166 pages total)

Allison, Graham T. Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), pp. vii-24, 187-240. (63 pgs)

Rudd, Kevin. “ Understanding China’s Rise Under Xi Jinping,” Speech to U.S. Military Academy at West Point, March 5, 2018. Online at KevinRudd.com. (15 pgs)

Pence, Michael. “ Remarks by Vice President Pence on the Administration’s Policy Toward China,” Whitehouse.gov, October 4, 2018. (9 pgs)

Allison, Graham. “ The US is hunkering down for a new cold war with China,” Financial Times, October 12, 2018. (2 pgs)

Campbell, Kurt and Ely Ratner, “ The China Reckoning: How Beijing Defied American Expectations,” Foreign Affairs, February 2018. (7 pgs)

Wang, Jisi. “ Did America Get China Wrong? The Engagement Debate,” Foreign Affairs, July 1, 2018. (11 pgs)

Rosen, Daniel. “ A Post-Engagement US China Relationship?Rhodium Group, January 10, 2018. (4 pgs)

Roy, Stape. “ The Key Problem of our Time: A Conversation with Henry Kissinger on Sino-U.S. Relations,” Wilson Center, September 20, 2018. (6 pgs)

Mattis, Peter. “ From Engagement to Rivalry: Tools to Compete with China,” Texas National Security Review, August 2018. (12 pgs)

Navarro, Peter. “‘ Zero-sum game’ between China and the rest of the world (VIDEO),” CNBC.com, July 19, 2018. (8:17)

Bender, Michael C., et al. “ U.S. Edges Toward New Cold-War Era With China,” Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2018. (7 pgs)

Carter, Ash. “ 2017 Defense Posture Statement: Taking the Long View, Investing for the Future,” Defense.gov, February 2016. Read pages 5, 20-21. (3 pgs)

Inskeep, Steve. “ Transcript: NPR's Interview With China's Ambassador To The U.S.NPR, October 3, 2018.

 

Recommended

Kennan, George. “ The Long Telegram,” National Security Archive, February 22, 1946.

A Report to the National Security Council – NSC 68,” President’s Secretary’s File, Truman Papers, April 12, 1950.

Allison, Graham. “ How JFK Would Have Confronted a Rapidly Rising China,” The National Interest, June 27, 2018.

Page, Jeremy and Michael R. Gordon. “ U.S.-China Tensions Break out in Beijing,” Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2018.

Schell, Orville and Susan L. Shirk. “ U.S. Policy Toward China: Recommendations for a new Administration (EXECUTIVE SUMMARY),” UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy 21st Century China Center, February 2017.

Rachman, Gideon. “ America, China and the route to all-out trade war,” Financial Times, September 10, 2018.

Chris Johnson on Michael Morell’s “Intelligence Matters” podcast, “ The Future of the U.S.-China Relationship,” CBS News, October 2, 2018.

Full Text of Xi Jinping keynote at the World Economic Forum,” CGTN (English-language Chinese News Network), Jan. 17, 2017. Skim.

Kissinger, Henry. “A Longer Perspective” and “Where Do We Go from Here?” in World Order (New York: Penguin, 2014), pp. 228-233, 371-374.

White, Hugh. “ South China Sea: U.S. Policy must begin at home,” Interpreter, June 27, 2017.

1994 National Security Strategy,” The White House, July 1994, pages 23-24.

1999 National Security Strategy,” The White House, December 1999, pages 36-39.

Pillsbury, Michael. “The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower.” St. Martin's Griffin, 2016. Pages 9-17.

Lee, Kai-Fu, “ What China Can Teach the U.S. About Artificial Intelligence,” New York Times, September 22, 2018.

Barno, David and Nora Bensahel. “ A New Generation of Unrestricted Warfare,” War on the Rocks [online], April 19, 2016.

 


Appendix I: Key Lines from Core Strategic Documents

Below you can find the key indictments of China from the Trump administration’s core strategic documents and Vice President Pence’s speech.

China is seeking to undermine American democracy

  • “There can be no doubt: China is meddling in America’s democracy.” “Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach, using political, economic, and military tools, as well as propaganda, to advance its influence and benefit its interests in the United States. China is also applying this power in more proactive ways than ever before, to exert influence and interfere in the domestic policy and politics of this country.” (VP Pence)

 

China is America’s strategic competitor, adversary

  • “The central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model.” (NDS)
  • “China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.” (NDS)
  • “These rivals compete across political, economic, and military arenas, and use technology and information to accelerate these contests in order to shift regional balances of power in their favor.” (NSS)
  • Includes China on list of cyber actors designated as “adversaries and malign actors poised for aggression.” (DNI)

 

China seeks to dominate Asia, supplant US power globally

  • “China now spends as much on its military as the rest of Asia combined, and Beijing has prioritized capabilities to erode America’s military advantages on land, at sea, in the air, and in space. China wants nothing less than to push the United States of America from the Western Pacific and attempt to prevent us from coming to the aid of our allies.” (VP Pence)
  • “A geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of world order is taking place in the Indo-Pacific region.” (NSS)
  • “China and Russia will seek spheres of influence and to check US appeal and influence in their regions.” (DNI)
  • “As China continues its economic and military ascendance, asserting power through an all-of-nation long-term strategy, it will continue to pursue a military modernization program that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future.” (NDS)
  • “China and Russia began to reassert their influence regionally and globally. Today, they are fielding military capabilities designed to deny America access in times of crisis and to contest our ability to operate freely in critical commercial zones during peacetime.” (NSS)

 

China is revisionist, undermining international order

  • “China and Russia are now undermining the international order from within the system by exploiting its benefits while simultaneously undercutting its principles and ‘rules of the road.’” (NDS)
  • “We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia are from each other, nations that do seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models, pursuing veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic and security decisions.” (Mattis NDS speech)

 

China’s model is antithetical to US values and interests

  • “For a time, Beijing inched toward greater liberty and respect for human rights. But in recent years, China has taken a sharp U-turn toward control and oppression of its own people.” (VP Pence)
  • “As history attests though, a country that oppresses its own people rarely stops there. And Beijing also aims to extend its reach across the wider world.” (VP Pence)
  • “China and Russia want to shape a world antithetical to U.S. values and interests. China seeks to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reaches of its state-driven economic model, and reorder the region in its favor.” (NSS)
  • “China…gathers and exploits data on an unrivaled scale and spreads features of its authoritarian system, including corruption and the use of surveillance.” (NSS)
  • “China is using economic inducements and penalties, influence operations, and implied military threats to persuade other states to heed its political and security agenda…China presents its ambitions as mutually beneficial, but Chinese dominance risks diminishing the sovereignty of many states in the Indo-Pacific.” (NSS)

 

Engagement failed

  • “America had hoped that economic liberalization would bring China into a greater partnership with us and with the world. Instead, China has chosen economic aggression, which has in turn emboldened its growing military.” (VP Pence)
  • “These competitions require the United States to rethink the policies of the past two decades—policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners. For the most part, this premise turned out to be false.” (NSS)
  • “U.S. policy was rooted in the belief that support for China’s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China. Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others.” (NSS)

 

China’s economic model disadvantages US

  • “The sheer scale of China’s coordinated efforts to develop their economy, to subsidize, to create national champions, to force technology transfer, and to distort markets in China and throughout the world is a threat to the world trading system that is unprecedented.” (Lighthizer)
  • “Through the “Made in China 2025” plan, the Communist Party has set its sights on controlling 90 percent of the world’s most advanced industries… Beijing has directed its bureaucrats and businesses to obtain American intellectual property – the foundation of our economic leadership – by any means necessary.” (VP Pence)

 

China is a trade cheat

  • “Chinese Communist Party has also used an arsenal of policies inconsistent with free and fair trade, including tariffs, quotas, currency manipulation, forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and industrial subsidies that are handed out like candy to foreign investment. These policies have built Beijing’s manufacturing base, at the expense of its competitors – especially the United States of America.” (VP Pence)
  • “China’s technology transfer regime continues, notwithstanding repeated bilateral commitments and government statements.” (USTR)
  • From the outset, [China’s domestic economic] regime is tipped in favor of Chinese entities before a U.S. company even attempts to enter the market in China through a legal framework adversely influencing all technology negotiations and contracts.” (USTR)
  • “The Chinese government directs and unfairly facilitates the systematic investment in, and acquisition of, U.S. companies and assets by Chinese companies, to obtain cutting-edge technologies and intellectual property (IP) and generate large-scale technology transfer in industries deemed important by state industrial plans.” (USTR)
  • “Every year, competitors such as China steal U.S. intellectual property valued at hundreds of billions of dollars.” (NSS)
  • “China seeks to pull the region into its orbit through state-led investments and loans.” (NSS)
  • “China is gaining a strategic foothold in Europe by expanding its unfair trade practices and investing in key industries, sensitive technologies, and infrastructure.” (NSS)
  • “China’s infrastructure investments and trade strategies reinforce its geopolitical aspirations.” (NSS)

 

China WTO accession was a bad bet

  • “China largely remains a state-led economy today, and the United States and other trading partners continue to encounter serious problems with China’s trade regime. Meanwhile, China has used the imprimatur of WTO membership to become a dominant player in international trade. Given these facts, it seems clear that the United States erred in supporting China’s entry into the WTO on terms that have proven to be ineffective in securing China’s embrace of an open, market-oriented trade regime.” (USTR)
  • “Furthermore, it is now clear that the WTO rules are not sufficient to constrain China’s market-distorting behavior…The reality is that the WTO rules were not formulated with a state-led economy in mind.” (USTR)

 


Appendix II: Strategic Options Memo Guidelines

Strategic Options Memos should include the following sections:

  • Issue/Assignment: A one-sentence summary of the question about the challenge facing the policymaker.
  • Analysis: What is the shape of the challenge? Diagnosis must precede prescription. Analyze the dynamics of the challenge with special attention to drivers and trend lines. Until the dynamics of the pathology have been understood, intervention is likely to violate Hippocrates’ rule to “first, do no harm.” Identify causal factors driving trends that the busy decision maker may not have understood, or not recall vividly but that are essential in assessing whether a potential intervention will advance U.S. interests.
     
  • Relevant National Interests: Why do we care? What specific national interests of the U.S. are engaged by the issue? How much do we care? What must the US government care about more than other things we care about? From the perspective of American national interests, what matters more than other things that matter? Vital interests are “conditions that are strictly necessary to safeguard and enhance Americans’ survival and wellbeing in a free and secure nation.” See “Commission on America’s National Interests.” Using that framework, identify national interests impacted by specific challenges in the case. Sometimes useful to array using threat/opportunity framework.
  • Strategic Options: What major strategic alternative courses of action could plausibly meet the challenge and advance American National Interests? Strategies provide a means-to-ends calculation that answers the greater how. For each, what are the pros and cons? Identify at least 3 distinct strategies to advance the national interests identified. Each option should have a brief label that captures its essence. Each option should be realistic, feasible, and presented in its strongest form. Key pros and cons of each should be identified. Do not write a “sandwich memo” in which two unreasonable options are presented, leaving the third option (that you recommend) the only feasible choice.
  • Recommendation: A concise (generally one-sentence) summary of the option you recommend and why you recommend it.
  • Implementation: Brief sketch of initial steps policymaker would take to implement the option recommended, for example, consultations with allies, engagement of Congress, etc. (Where feasible, include indicators of effectiveness or early clues about whether the strategy is succeeding, or needs to be adapted or changed.)

 

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Allison, Graham. “Searching for a Grand Strategy to Meet the China Challenge.” March 2019.