Courtesy Reuters

The Relevance of Traditional Strategy

It is a somber thought that, at a time when so large a proportion of the human race remains near starvation level, about six percent of the world's resources, or something under $200 billion, is still being devoted to military expenditure, with no serious likelihood of this situation fundamentally changing during the remainder of this century. Social scientists will continue to seek basic causes in the hope of offering total solutions, but at the political working level the explanation is simple enough. Any sovereign state-that is, any community which wishes to maintain a capacity for independent political action-may have to use or indicate its capacity and readiness to use force-functional and purposive violence-to protect itself against coercion by other states. Given the state system, peace is possible only when there is freedom from all fear of coercion; and in the absence of any supranational authority enforcing a universal rule of law, such freedom from fear still depends at least partly on independent or collective military capability. Such is the conventional wisdom which will continue to rule mankind until we develop a viable alternative, or until there develops so strong a global sense of community that coercion, the use of force to impose one's will on others, becomes literally unthinkable. At present, unfortunately, such coercion is by no means unthinkable even within the most stable of communities and the most powerful of sovereign states.

Military strategy is organized coercion. It can be defensive or offensive: either posture involves the use or threatened use of force to compel an adversary to abandon his preferred course of action and conform to one's will. The traditional object of military operations was to force one's opponent into a position where the only alternatives open to him were compliance with one's own demands or acceptance of an intolerable level of destruction, extending even to total annihilation-whether of his armed forces, or his social system, or both. Against a very weak adversary it might not be necessary to use

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