Grand Plans and State Behavior: The U.S. Response to China's Rise



Nina Silove, CISAC

Date and Time

November 5, 2015 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

Abstract: Do states plan their grand strategies, or does grand strategy emerge in an ad hoc fashion as individual foreign policy decisions accumulate over time? The existing literature rests on the assumption, which has yet to be examined empirically, that grand strategies form according to an emergence model of grand strategy formation. This project tests that assumption by developing an original planning model and testing it on a “least-likely” case: the U.S. response to China’s rise after 9/11. This is a period in which the planning capacity of the Executive was severely taxed by the simultaneous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If, during that time, the U.S. formulated and enacted a long-term, integrated, and holistic (“grand”) plan in response to China’s rise, significant doubt would be cast on the assumed emergence model. Contrary to the expectations of the emergence model, this research finds that the U.S. developed a long-term military-diplomatic strategy in response to China’s rise, and that this strategy was substantially enacted as planned. This finding suggests that long-term plans govern U.S. behavior far more than is assumed in the scholarly literature. It also challenges the common belief among policy commentators that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq distracted the U.S. from attending to China’s rise. The findings of this research were not, however, wholly positive. Foreign economic policy and nuclear strategy were not fully integrated with the military-diplomatic strategy, indicating the existence of some serious stove-pipes in U.S. planning processes.

About the Speaker: Dr. Nina Silove is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University. Her research focuses on grand strategy, strategic planning, and U.S. policy toward the Asia-Pacific region. She holds a DPhil (PhD) in International Relations from the University of Oxford and a degree in law with first class honors from the University of Technology, Sydney, where she also received the Alumni Association Achievement Award for Contribution to the University. Previously, Dr. Silove was a Research Fellow in the International Security Program at the Belfer Center in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, a visiting Lecturer in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, and the Tutor for International Politics in Diplomatic Studies at the University of Oxford.


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