Ever since the quickening of social and technological change that began during the Napoleonic era, there have been many strategic debates inspired by those developments. Six are discussed in this thesis:
• Jomini vs. Clausewitz - How useful are principles of war?
• Mahan vs. Mackinder - Is either land or sea power inherently more valuable for achieving national aims?
• Bernhardi vs. Bloch - Did industrialization make war an impractical endeavor?
• Douhet vs. Mitchell - What is the role of air power in national defense?
• Brodie vs. Wohlstetter - Is nuclear deterrence robust, or is there a "delicate balance of terror?"
• Giap vs. Galula - Can conventional forces defeat insurgencies, and, if so, how?
Though these debates are listed in their rough chronological order of appearance, they do not reflect discrete blocks of time and often overlap.
The purpose of this thesis is not to judge whether any particular "debater" was right or wrong. Rather, the intent is to consider the debate itself. While problem definition may seem a less-than-ambitious undertaking, it is nonetheless necessary for understanding the root causes and conduct of war over the last two centuries, as well as for the understanding of possible forms of future conflict. In some cases the differences between the debaters are apparent. In others, the differences are subtle. The conclusion summarizes the debates and addresses underlying themes or patterns that were identified during the course of this research. Last, some possible future strategic debates are identified, along with some topics that may require further research.
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