New York Times Columnist Ross Douthat Focuses on Offshore Balancing

April 10, 2015

Chris Layne

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s March 29 article, “The Method to Obama’s Middle East Mess,” focuses on offshore balancing as a grand strategic alternative to the Pax Americana (a strategy that security studies scholars also refer to as primacy).

Ross Gregory Douthat is a conservative American author, blogger, and New York Times columnist, who has been described as “the Times most consistently thoughtful and level-headed opinion columnist.” Professor Christopher Layne, University Distinguished Professor and Robert Gates Chair in National Security at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, published the seminal article on offshore balancing, “From Preponderance to Offshore Balancing: America’s Next Grand Strategy,” in the journal International Security in the fall of 1997. 

In the intervening years, Professor Layne has elaborated the offshore balancing grand strategy concept in numerous scholarly journals, policy journals, and newspaper op-eds, and in his 2006 book, The Peace of Illusions: U.S. Grand Strategy From 1940 to the Present (Cornell University Press). His forthcoming book (to be published by Yale University Press), After the Fall: International Politics, U.S. Grand Strategy, and the End of the Pax Americana, argues that the current international order, the Pax Americana, is already unwinding because of the rise of China and the decline of US power.  Mr. Douthat’s article is another example of how offshore balancing is being taken increasingly seriously as an alternative US grand strategy.

Since Professor Layne first articulated the case for an offshore balancing grand strategy in 1997, other leading security scholars have also become proponents of the strategy, including John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago), Barry Posen (MIT), and Stephen Walt (Kennedy School/Harvard).

The online version of Mr. Douthat’s article can be found at

The online version also has links to two of Professor Layne’s articles on offshore balancing.

Christopher Layne and Benjamin C. Schwarz, “A New Grand Strategy,” The Atlantic (January 2002).

Christopher Layne, “The (Almost) Triumph of Offshore Balancing,” The National Interest (January 27, 2012).

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