Modern Strategy / Edition 1by Colin S. Gray
Pub. Date: 11/18/1999
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Modern Strategy explains the permanent nature, but ever changing character, of strategy in light of the whole strategic experience of the twentieth century. The book is a major contribution to the general theory of strategy; it makes sense of the strategic history of the twentieth century, and provides understanding of what that strategic history implies for the
Modern Strategy explains the permanent nature, but ever changing character, of strategy in light of the whole strategic experience of the twentieth century. The book is a major contribution to the general theory of strategy; it makes sense of the strategic history of the twentieth century, and provides understanding of what that strategic history implies for the century to come.
The book offers a uniquely comprehensive analysis of the different facets of modern strategy. The classic writings of Carl von Clausewitz are reconsidered for their continuing relevance, while possible successors are appraised. In addition to arguing that Clausewitz figured out what strategy was, and how it worked, the book probes deeply into strategy's political, ethical, and cultural dimension. The book explains how strategic behaviour in the twentieth century has expanded from the two-dimensional world of the land and the surface of the sea, to include the ocean depths, the air, space, and most recently the 'cyberspace' environments. It also offers details analyses both of nuclear matters and of the realm of irregular violence.
This is the first comprehensive account of all aspects of modern strategy since the Cold War ended and will be essential reading for all students of modern strategy and security studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Expanding Universe of Strategy
The Dimensions of Strategy
Strategy, Politics, Ethics
Strategist's Toolkit: The Clausewitzian Legacy
The Poverty of Modern Strategic Thought
Strategic Culture as Context
Windows on War
Patterns in Strategic Experience
The Grammar of Strategy I: Terrestrial Action
The Grammar of Strategy II: Altitude and Electrons
Small Wars and other Savage Violence
Second Thoughts on Nuclear Weapons
Nuclear Weapons in Strategic History
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This is an outstanding contribution to strategic studies, a comprehensive placing of virtually all theorists and historians of war and strategy, and hugely thought-provoking. Yet Gray never forgets that practice is primary, noting the `authority of practice over theory¿. He uses Clausewitz¿s method, defining strategy as `the use that is made of force and the threat of force for the ends of policy¿: it is about objectives, effects. The nature and function of strategy and war are unchanging, though their characters change constantly. ¿Every war is both unique yet also similar to other wars.¿ Strategy is in every conflict everywhere. Tactics, by contrast, is the use of instruments of power in action. Strategy proposes; tactics dispose. ¿War is not `about¿ economics, morality, or fighting. Instead, it is about politics.¿ Strategy¿s dimension are politics, ethics, military preparations, people, technology, time, war proper. Technological changes alter the character not the nature of war: ¿Technology is important, but in war and strategy people matter most.¿ Gray analyses strategy¿s components, its various environments, land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. Seapower, airpower and spacepower function strategically as enabling factors: a war¿s outcome may be decided by action at sea, in the air or in space, but all conflicts have to be finally resolved on land, where people are. He illuminates wars from the Punic to the Boer, but focuses mainly on the 20th century¿s excessive amount of war experience: wars between empires, still all too possible, and wars against nations, opposed by wars for national liberation and independence. He writes, ¿how truly heroic is Mao¿s message of eventual success through the conduct of protracted revolutionary warfare.¿ Success can mean just stopping the enemy from winning. We can check the quality of his approach by assessing the strategic conclusions it generates, despite his overmuch reliance on histories emanating from State Department and Foreign Office. He shows that bombing Germany before defeating the Luftwaffe was a costly error. He proves that the atomic bomb did not defeat Japan in 1945; Japan was already defeated. He praises the Soviet Union¿s prudent and successful practice of nuclear deterrence.