Offshore balancing, which was America’s traditional grand strategy for most of its history, is but another option. Predicated on the belief that there are three regions of the world that are strategically important to the United States—Europe, Northeast Asia and the Persian Gulf—it sees the United States’ principle goal as making sure no country dominates any of these areas as it dominates the Western Hemisphere. This is to ensure that dangerous rivals in other regions are forced to concentrate their attention on great powers in their own backyards rather than be free to interfere in America’s. The best way to achieve that end is to rely on local powers to counter aspiring regional hegemons and otherwise keep U.S. military forces over the horizon. But if that proves impossible, American troops come from offshore to help do the job, and then leave once the potential hegemon is checked.
-John J. Mearsheimer describing the essence of offshore balancing strategy.
In this paper prominent realist Mearsheimer review America’s grand strategy in the post-cold war period, and argue why the liberal imperialist strategy adopted by Clinton were bad and the global dominance strategy by Bush were even worse. He as a realist predictably advocate offshore balancing strategy, which i agree should have been utilized during Clinton and Bush years, and is probably the best strategy going forward. It was a predictable but well paper, as a realist with some liberal leaning, i would only add that offshore balancing should be coupled with continue economic and culture engagement with the subject of its balancing (China).
Geopolitics and American grand strategy is a fascinating subject, i have wrote a short paper on it in the past。Check it if you are really bored.