Progressive Grand Strategy: A Synthesis and Critique

Jeffrey A. Friedman


This paper evaluates emerging progressive ideas about U.S. grand strategy. Progressives’ distinctive analytic premise is that structural inequality undermines America’s national interests. To combat this problem, progressives recommend retrenching U.S. primacy in a manner that resembles the grand strategy of restraint. But progressives also seek to build a more democratic international order that can facilitate new forms of global collective action. Progressives thus advocate ambitious international goals at the same time as they reject the institutional arrangements that the United States has traditionally used to promote its global agenda. No other grand strategy shares those attributes. After articulating the core elements of a progressive grand strategy, the paper explores that strategy’s unique risks and tradeoffs and raises several concerns about the theoretical and practical viability of progressive ideas.

Published in

Journal of Global Security Studies, vol. 8, n. 1, March 2023