The Limits of Restraint: The Military Implications of a Restrained U.S. Grand Strategy in the Asia-Pacific

In recent years, there has been growing interest among policymakers and foreign policy analysts in rethinking U.S. grand strategy, or the U.S. approach to the world. One of the most prominent alternatives to current U.S. grand strategy is a grand strategy of restraint, an approach that would define U.S. interests more narrowly, place a greater emphasis on diplomacy, reduce the size of the military and U.S. forward military presence, renegotiate or end U.S. security commitments, and raise the bar for the use of force.

Advocates of restraint have broadly outlined their views, but there is a lack of detail about what a strategy of restraint would mean in practice for U.S. security policy. In this report, RAND researchers describe when the United States might use force in the Asia-Pacific region under a grand strategy of restraint, propose possible warfighting scenarios involving the defense of Japan that could guide U.S. Department of Defense planning, and describe how U.S. military posture in the region would change under such a strategy.

The research in this report was conducted by the RAND Center for Analysis of U.S. Grand Strategy within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division.

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