Starting with the first day of discussion on this blog, contributors such as House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., have argued that the United States lacks a coherent national strategy -- a missing piece in the foundation of security policy that undercuts our response to every specific problem from Iraq to North Korea to the Pentagon budget.
For five decades during the Cold War, there was a rough consensus around a strategy of containing communism, resisting regional advances by the Soviets without escalating to a world war. But since the Soviet Union fell in 1991, a blizzard of buzzwords and white papers has never added up to a new national strategy. After 9/11, George W. Bush offered a "global war on terrorism" including pre-emptive attacks on potential threats such as Iraq -- a strategy that Barack Obama has repudiated but not replaced.
So what should America's new national strategy look like, at least in outline? Has anyone in or out of office already put forward principles that the nation should adopt? Is there already an unspoken consensus emerging that simply needs someone to give it a name? Or was containment a fluke, and is a formal, explicit national strategy something that most nations throughout history have happily done without?
A note to our contributors: Given the scope of this question and Washington's usual August slowdown, we will proceed at an appropriately stately pace and keep the discussion open for two weeks instead of the normal one, with the next topic not launching until Monday the 24th.