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Preventive Engagement: How America Can Avoid War, Stay Strong, and Keep the Peace, Paul B. Stares

Reviewed by Paul Fritz

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U.S. foreign policy of late has not seen tremendous success. The most powerful country on earth seemingly limps from one crisis to another. Add to this the fact that the United States has yet to reconcile that its power is not as absolute as it once was and the liberal international order it created is fraying, and the question of the future of U.S. grand strategy becomes even more urgent.

Paul B. Stares’s Preventive Engagement: How America Can Avoid War, Stay Strong, and Keep the Peace lays out a transformation of U.S. grand strategy. In this highly ambitious book, Stares seeks to correct the reactive nature of U.S. foreign policy and squarely focus on reducing the risks of American involvement in potentially dangerous military engagements. Criticizing “retrenchment” versus “deep engagement” debates on U.S. grand strategy as supply-side arguments revolving around the level of U.S. military engagement abroad, Stares presents preventive engagement as a demand-side strategy. Preventive action across three distinct time-horizons—lowering the general risks of conflict and instability in the long-term, anticipating and averting crises in the medium-term, and acting rapidly to mitigate those conflicts that do erupt in the short term—can reduce the demand for U.S. military intervention and protect U.S. interests by bo

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