Courtesy Reuters

The Forgotten Dimensions of Strategy

The term "strategy" needs continual definition. For most people, Clausewitz's formulation "the use of engagements for the object of the war," or, as Liddell Hart paraphrased it, "the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill the ends of policy," is clear enough. Strategy concerns the deployment and use of armed forces to attain a given political objective. Histories of strategy, including Liddell Hart's own Strategy of Indirect Approach, usually consist of case studies, from Alexander the Great to MacArthur, of the way in which this was done. Nevertheless, the experience of the past century has shown this approach to be inadequate to the point of triviality. In the West the concept of "grand strategy" was introduced to cover those industrial, financial, demographic, and societal aspects of war that have become so salient in the twentieth century; in communist states all strategic thought has to be validated by the holistic doctrines of Marxism-Leninism. Without discarding such established concepts, I shall offer here a somewhat different and perhaps slightly simpler framework for analysis, based on a study of the way in which both strategic doctrine and warfare itself have developed over the past 200 years. I shall also say something about the implications of this mode of analysis for the present strategic posture of the West.


Clausewitz's definition of strategy was deliberately and defiantly simplistic. It swept away virtually everything that had been written about war (which was a very great deal) over the previous 300 years. Earlier writers had concerned themselves almost exclusively with the enormous problems of raising, arming, equipping, moving, and maintaining armed forces in the field-an approach which Clausewitz dismissed as being as relevant to fighting as the skills of the swordmaker were to the art of fencing. None of this, he insisted, was significant for the actual conduct of war, and the inability of all previous writers to formulate an adequate theory had been due to their failure to distinguish between the maintenance of armed forces and

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