war on the rocks

Hoffman on the Flaws of Offshore Balancing

July 6, 2016

The current issue of Foreign Affairs contains an article promoting a distinctive U.S. grand strategy, penned by two established scholars, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Harvard’s Steve Walt.  These academics combine their intellects and advocate a clear alternative to today’s strategy of deep engagement and the prevailing, but weakening, consensus on the role of the United States in the world. Their proposal has profound implications for U.S. diplomacy, global influence, and military spending.  This is a strategy that directly contradicts the policy inclinations of the presumptive Democratic nominee running in the upcoming U.S. Presidential campaign.  But it does reflect elements that have been heard from several other contenders including Mr. Trump.  

Their article reminds me of the quip about the Holy Roman Empire: the empire was not very holy and was certainly not Roman in character.  Likewise, Mearsheimer and Walt’s strategy of Offshore Balancing (OSB) really does not have anything to do with being “offshore” and it does not balance either.  A more accurate appellation would be “Retreat Ashore” or “Come Home and Hope.”

Read the rest at FPRI’s Geopoliticus.

Dr. F.G. Hoffman is a member of the FPRI Board of Advisors and a longstanding contributor to Orbis.  He currently works at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at National Defense University, Washington DC. This entry reflects Dr. Hoffman’s personal views and are not those of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

Image: U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Jamar Perry