Review of International Studies

Research Article

America’s Middle East grand strategy after Iraq: the moment for offshore balancing has arrived

CHRISTOPHER LAYNE

Abstract

In this paper, I argue that there is an emerging consensus among realists that the US should abandon its hegemonic strategy and adopt an offshore balancing strategy. Here, Iraq and the so called war on terrorism (or ‘long war’, or ‘global counter-insurgency’, as some American officials sometimes refer to it) have been the catalysts. Increasingly, it is recognised that US aims in the Persian Gulf/Middle East – and the American military presence in the region – have fuelled terrorism, and caused Iran to self-defensively seek to acquire a nuclear weapons capability. A number of leading realists now argue that the best strategy for the US is to extricate itself from Iraq, reduce its regional footprint, and adopt an offshore balancing strategy.