A long time ago, Jason Fritz of Ink Spots asked for my input on a post about whether a clear enemy is necessary for the formation of grand strategy. I wrote two drafts of this, which were then eaten up by computer glitches. The funny thing about this question is that despite the gallons of ink that have been devoted to explicit meta-discussions of strategy since formal strategic studies began as a discipline, we still don't have a very clear answer to this very crucial question. This is understandable, since there are some who cast doubt about the existence of "strategy" as a discrete thing that is created by governments or higher headquarters.
The short answer is that grand strategy isn't something that requires an clear and equal enemy to create. But since grand strategy is something that involves a long time line, a substantially more broad subject area than war strategy, and the utilization of resources in peacetime, it makes more sense to visualize it less as an explicit plan than a collection of practices sustained over a long period of time. The policy of "offshore balancing" which Churchill mentions in this speech is one of those sets of practices.
Boyd is commonly misunderstood as a tactically obsessed jet pilot whose insights mainly relate to cycling through a decision cycle faster than the opponent. But the importance of his writings to grand strategy is undeniable. His stress on the importance of forming organizations creative and efficient enough to "destroy and create" perceptions of the external environment, increase our own connectivity and degrade that of our opponents, and the importance of establishing a "pattern for vitality and growth" all point to aspects of strategic design that focus less on marshalling resources against a specific opponent than developing a basic strategic template that can remixed for various situations under a process of "plug and play."
The problem is that as societies grow both more structurally and interactively complex, this process grows much more difficult. That is what The Collapse of Complex Societies is about--how, if we view civilizations as computing mechanisms, how growth makes it more difficult to carry out the basic process of response to changing external conditions that is an essential part of data-processing. Moreover, even in eras of relative simplicity, the ability to aggregate enough information together to form a grand strategic design was exceedingly rare for individuals and more difficult for governments than success stories such as 19th century Prussia might indicate.
But would having another grand enemy make it simpler? Probably not. The sheer enormity of a global challenge like the Cold War poses difficult questions about long-term strategic competition and the use of resources, and the structure of the competition itself--played out in almost every conceivable venue--was far from purely linear.
Mark Safranski and I recommended that investment in institutions to better coordinate and develop strategic planning as well as strategic talents would probably be a good short-term structural investment. The Office of Net Assessment and the Integrated Committee on Long-Term Strategy are good examples of these types of institutions. But maybe in the long-term we should start giving burnt offerings and animal sacrifices to the Floating Clausewitz Head.