Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 11/2012

Grand Strategy and International Law

Nicholas Rostow

April 2012

Institute for National Strategic Studies


U.S. grand strategy, the calculated relationship between means and large ends, needs to be developed and implemented in an international legal context because of the nature of U.S. society and values, and the overriding requirement to prevent nuclear war. Since World War II, successive administrations have conceived of U.S. alliances, partnerships, arms control agreements, and international actions more generally as grand strategy. A central component of U.S. success has been creating, leading, and sustaining a minimum world order that all states have come to see as representing their core interests. International law cannot be and has never been far from U.S. policymaking because Americans have believed that it is essential to the maintenance of the minimum world order necessary for peace and the prevention of nuclear war insofar as it is possible to achieve these goals.