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Artificial Intelligence, International Competition, and the Balance of Power

Artificial Intelligence, International Competition, and the Balance of Power

Michael Horowitz evaluates how developments in artificial intelligence — advanced, narrow applications in particular — are poised to influence military power and international politics.

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                                    [post_content] => In early September 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin brought artificial intelligence from the labs of Silicon Valley, academia, and the basement of the Pentagon to the forefront of international politics. “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind,” he said. “It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”[1]

Putin’s remarks reflect a belief, growing in sectors and regions across the world, that advances in artificial intelligence will be critical for the future — in areas as varied as work, society, and military power. Artificial intelligence is a critical element of what Klaus Schwab, head of the World Economic Forum, calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution.[2] Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, argues that artificial intelligence is so important to the future of power that the United States needs a national strategy on artificial intelligence, just as it had one for the development of space technology during the Cold War.[3] Elon Musk, the head of Tesla and SpaceX, has even said that growth in artificial intelligence technology, left unchecked, could risk sparking World War III.[4] These statements suggest that artificial intelligence will have a large and potentially deterministic influence on global politics and the balance of power.[5]

Whether artificial intelligence has revolutionary consequences or merely incremental effects, it is critical to grasp how and why it could matter in the national security arena. Despite a wave of articles about artificial intelligence in the popular press and trade journals, there has been less in the way of systematic academic work on the national security consequences of such developments. This article attempts to fill that gap by examining the effects on national security of narrow artificial intelligence, or systems designed to do deliberately constrained tasks, such as the Jeopardy-playing version of IBM’s Watson or AlphaGo, designed to play the board game Go. Specifically, it assesses the issues AI stands to raise for the balance of power and international competition through the lens of academic research on military innovation, technological change, and international politics.

Popular writing on AI tends to focus almost exclusively on technology development. Technology has played a vital role in shaping global politics throughout history.[6] Hundreds of years ago, technologies such as the printing press allowed the written word to flourish. These set the stage for new forms of political protest and activity.[7] In the 20th century, nuclear weapons significantly increased the destructive capabilities of numerous countries.[8]

Yet the relative impact of technological change often depends as much or more on how people, organizations, and societies adopt and utilize technologies as it does on the raw characteristics of the technology.[9] Consider the aircraft carrier, which the British Navy invented in 1918. As the best in the world at using battleships, the Royal Navy initially imagined the utility of aircraft carriers as providing airplanes to serve as spotters for the battleship. The Japanese and U.S. navies, however, innovated by using the aircraft carrier as a mobile airfield, fundamentally transforming naval warfare in the 20th century.[10] Or, consider the printing press again: Its role in accelerating nationalist political movements depended on the incentives that originally motivated those movements and the movements’ ability to take advantage of the new technology’s capability to spread information.[11]

What role will artificial intelligence play? In many ways it is too soon to tell, given uncertainty about the development of the technology. But AI seems much more akin to the internal combustion engine or electricity than a weapon. It is an enabler, a general-purpose technology with a multitude of applications. That makes AI different from, and broader than, a missile, a submarine, or a tank.

Advances in narrow AI could create challenges as well as opportunities for governments and military organizations. For example, narrow AI applications such as image recognition would help those militaries that are already wealthy and powerful and that can afford to keep up. It is harder to predict how AI applications could affect the heart of military organizations, influencing planning as well as questions of recruiting, retention, and force structure. What happens as militaries increasingly need soldiers who have training in coding and who understand how algorithms work? Or if swarming, uninhabited systems make large conventional military platforms seem costly and obsolete? Leading militaries often struggle in the face of organizationally disruptive innovations because it is hard to make the bureaucratic case for change when a military perceives itself as already leading.

What countries benefit from AI will depend in part on where militarily-relevant innovations come from. Non-military institutions, such as private companies and academic departments, are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of artificial intelligence. While some AI and robotics companies, such as Boston Dynamics, receive military research and development funding, others, such as DeepMind, do not, and actively reject engaging with military organizations.[12] Unlike stealth technology, which has a fundamentally military purpose, artificial intelligence has uses as varied as shopping, agriculture, and stock trading.

If commercially-driven AI continues to fuel innovation, and the types of algorithms militaries might one day use are closely related to civilian applications, advances in AI are likely to diffuse more rapidly to militaries around the world. AI competition could feature actors across the globe developing AI capabilities, much like late-19th-century competition in steel and chemicals. The potential for diffusion would make it more difficult to maintain “first-mover advantages” in applications of narrow AI. This could change the balance of power, narrowing the gap in military capabilities between not only the United States and China but between others as well.

Experts disagree about the potential trajectory of the technology, however, which means that forecasts of the consequences of AI developments for the international security environment are necessarily tentative.[13] While the basic science underlying AI is applicable to both civilian and military purposes, it is plausible that the most important specific military uses of AI will not be dual use. Technological advances that are more exclusively based in military research are generally harder to mimic. It follows that military applications of AI based more exclusively in defense research will then generate larger first-mover advantages for early adopters. Moreover, if the computational power necessary to generate new, powerful algorithms prices out all but the wealthiest companies and countries, higher-end AI capabilities could help the rich get richer from a balance-of-power perspective. On the other hand, if leading militaries fail to effectively incorporate AI, the potential for disruption would also be larger.

[quote id="6"]

This article defines artificial intelligence and examines what kind of technology AI is. It then turns to key questions and assumptions about the trajectory of narrow AI development that will influence potential adoption requirements for military applications of AI, a factor critical to shaping AI’s influence on the balance of power. The paper then assesses how narrow artificial intelligence will affect the balance of power in a world where dual-use AI has great military relevance and diffuses rapidly as well as a scenario in which military AI developments are more “excludable,” limiting diffusion and generating more first-mover advantages.

How all this will play out over the next decade or more is unclear. Already, China, Russia, and others are investing significantly in AI to increase their relative military capabilities with an eye toward reshaping the balance of power. As the field of AI matures, and more implementations become plausible in arenas such as logistics, personnel, and even deployable units, countries will need to figure out how to use AI in practical ways that improve their ability to generate military power. The risk for the United States in terms of balance of power thus lies in taking its military superiority for granted and ending up like Great Britain’s Royal Navy with the aircraft carrier in the mid-20th century — a technological innovator that is surpassed when it comes to organizational adoption and use of the technology.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

What is artificial intelligence? There is no broad consensus on the specific meanings of terms such as artificial intelligence, autonomy, and automation. For the purposes of this article, artificial intelligence refers to the use of computers to simulate the behavior of humans that requires intelligence.[14] Put another way, AI can be thought of as the ability of an artificial agent to achieve goals in a “wide range of environments.”[15] A system with artificial intelligence is distinct from a robot or robotic system, which can be remotely piloted or autonomous.[16] For example, the Boston Dynamics SpotMini, which can open a door, is remotely piloted by a human operator so would not qualify as AI.[17] Automatic systems, such as a toaster in the civilian world or, to use a military example, an explosive triggered by a tripwire, respond mechanistically to environmental inputs.[18] Automated systems, by contrast, operate based on multiple pre-programmed logic steps as opposed to the simplicity of a tripwire.[19] Autonomous systems have more latitude and are programmed, within constraints, to achieve goals, optimizing along a set of parameters.[20] There are two main approaches to AI, broadly conceived. The first is symbolic artificial intelligence — the creation of expert systems and production rules to allow a machine to deduce behavioral pathways. IBM’s Deep Blue, which defeated Garry Kasparaov in chess in 1997, used a symbolic approach.[21] Computational, or connectionist, approaches to artificial intelligence, in contrast, typically attempt to allow for problem recognition and action by machines through calculations rather than symbolic representation.[22] Machine learning represents a key computational approach to artificial intelligence. Multiple computational techniques are used to create machine-learning algorithms, including Bayesian networks, decision trees, and deep learning. Deep learning, now popularly associated with artificial intelligence, is a technique that teaches an algorithm through what is called reinforcement learning. It harnesses neural networks to train algorithms to do specified tasks, such as image recognition.[23] Some researchers are pursuing hybrid approaches that integrate both symbolic and computational approaches to AI. The hope behind hybrid approaches is that creating common languages will enable algorithms that can employ multiple pathways to learn how to do particular tasks, making them more effective.[24] For the purposes of this article, the specific methods of AI that generate particular capabilities are less critical than understanding the general trajectory of the technology. In many cases, it is too soon to tell which methods will generate which capabilities. AI Is an Enabler, Not a Weapon So what kind of technology is artificial intelligence? While the rhetoric of the “Third Offset”[27] and other discussions in the defense community sometimes make artificial intelligence seem like a munition, AI is actually the ultimate enabler. AI can be part of many specific technologies, analogous to the internal combustion engine as well as electricity.[28] Andrew Ng of Stanford University argues that, like the invention of electricity, AI could enable specific technologies in fields as diverse as agriculture, manufacturing, and health care.[29] Artificial intelligence can operate in several dimensions. First, it can be used to direct physical objects, such as robotic systems, to act without human supervision. Whether in tanks, planes, or ships, AI can help reduce the need to use humans, even remotely, or as part of human-machine teams.[30] Swarm techniques, for example, generally involve the creation of supervised algorithms that direct platforms such as drones. Second, artificial intelligence can assist in processing and interpreting information. Image-recognition algorithms can be used for tagging vacation photos and identifying products in stores as well as in Project Maven, a U.S. military program that seeks to develop algorithms to automate the process of analyzing video feeds captured by drones.[31] While the applications in each case are different, the underlying algorithmic task — rapid image identification and tagging — is consistent. Third, overlapping narrow AI systems could be used for new forms of command and control — operational systems, including battle management, that analyze large sets of data and make forecasts to direct human action — or action by algorithms.[32] What Type of Artificial Intelligence? It is useful to think about the degree of artificial intelligence as a continuum. On one end are narrow AI applications such as AlphaGo, able to beat the best human Go players in the world. These are machine-learning algorithms designed to do one specific task, with no prospect of doing anything beyond that task. One can imagine narrow AI as relatively advanced forms of autonomous systems, or machines that, once activated, are designed to complete specific tasks or functions.[33] On the other end of the spectrum is a “super-intelligent” artificial general intelligence. This kind of AI would consist of an algorithm, or series of algorithms, that could do not only narrow tasks but also could functionally think for itself and design solutions to a broader class of problems. Describing an extreme version of this, Nick Bostrom writes about the risk of a superintelligent AI that could plausibly take over the world and perhaps even decide to eliminate humans as an inadvertent consequence of its programming.[34] In the middle of this spectrum, though perhaps leaning toward artificial general intelligence, is “transformative AI,” or AI that can go beyond a narrow task such as playing a video game but falls short of achieving superintelligence.[35] This article focuses on the potential effect that narrow applications of artificial intelligence could have on the balance of power and international competition. Among current AI technologies and advances, narrow applications are most likely to affect militaries — and with them the balance of power — over the next two decades. Moreover, even experts disagree about whether artificial general intelligence of the type that could outpace human capabilities will emerge in the short to medium term or whether it is still hundreds of years away. AI experts also disagree about the overall trajectory of advances in AI.[36] Surveys have found that only 50 percent of AI researchers believe that an AI system will be capable of writing a best-selling book by 2049. About 75 percent of AI researchers thought it could be 2090 before an AI system could write a best-selling book. That even highly trained experts disagree about these development issues illustrates a high degree of uncertainty in the field. Given these questions about which AI technologies will be developed, this article focuses on the capabilities that are most likely to emerge in the next generation.

Technology and the Balance of Power

Emerging technologies primarily shape the balance of power through military and economic means.[37] Technologies can directly influence countries’ abilities to fight and win wars. They can also indirectly affect the balance of power by impacting a country’s economic power. After all, countries cannot maintain military superiority over the medium to long term without an underlying economic basis for that power.[38] Recall the decline of the Ottoman Empire or Imperial China. However, it is not yet clear how the invention of specific AI applications will translate into military power. Despite continuing investment, efforts to integrate AI technologies into militaries have been limited.[39] Project Maven is the first activity of an “Algorithmic Warfare” initiative in the U.S. military designed to harness the potential of AI and translate it into usable military capabilities. Still, many investments in the United States and elsewhere are in early stages. As Missy L. Cummings writes: “Autonomous ground vehicles such as tanks and transport vehicles are in development worldwide, as are autonomous underwater vehicles. In almost all cases, however, the agencies developing these technologies are struggling to make the leap from development to operational implementation.”[40] [quote id="1"] It is important to distinguish these potential technological innovations from military innovations. While military innovations are often linked to changes in technology,[41] it is not always the case. Military innovations are significant changes in organizational behavior and ways that a military fights that are designed to increase its ability to effectively translate capabilities into power.[42] The use of aircraft carriers as mobile airfields by the United States and Japan is a prototypical example. While AI could potentially enable a number of military innovations, it is not a military innovation itself, and no applications of AI have been used in ways that would count as a military innovation at this point. Because AI research and technology are still in their early stages, usage of AI in warfare is not even yet analogous to the first use of the tank in World War I, let alone effective use of combined arms warfare by the Germans in World War II (the military innovation now known as blitzkrieg). This limits analyses about how narrow AI might one day affect the balance of power and international politics. Most research on technology and international politics focuses on specific, mature technologies, such as nuclear weapons, or on military innovations.[43] Since AI is at an early stage, examining it requires adapting existing theories about military technology and military innovation.[44] My adoption capacity theory provides insight into how developments in AI will affect the balance of power.[45] This theory argues that the relative financial and organizational requirements for adopting a military innovation influence the rate of diffusion of that innovation and its impact on the balance of power. Financial considerations include calculating the unit costs of the hardware involved and determining whether the underlying capability is based on commercial or militarily-exclusive technology. Other considerations include assessing the extent to which adopting the innovation requires disrupting the critical task of the military (i.e., what an organization views itself as attempting to achieve) or the status of key organizational elites (for example, fighter pilots in an Air Force). Given that adoption capacity theory focuses on major military innovations, however, it requires adaptation to be applied to artificial intelligence at present. To determine how technological changes will shape the balance of power, adoption capacity theory suggests that three questions must be answered. First, while technology itself is rarely, if ever, determinative, how might use of a technology influence the character of warfare? Consider the machine gun. When deployed asymmetrically, it proved useful for the offense. But in combination with barbed wire, when possessed symmetrically, this technological advance helped create the trench-warfare stalemate of World War I.[46] More broadly, the Industrial Revolution and the shift in manufacturing to factories and mass production were behind the rifle’s evolution from a niche, craft weapon possessed by a small number of forces to a widely available capability. This change influenced the relative lethality of battles as well as how militaries organized themselves and developed tactics.[47] Second, how might different actors implement a given technology or be bureaucratically constrained from implementation, and what possibilities for military innovation will that generate? This question is particularly relevant because the challenges of organizational adoption and implementation of a technological innovation are closely linked with effectiveness. Those challenges are critical to determining how an innovation will impact international politics. Decades of research demonstrates that the impact of technological change on global politics — whether it is change in economics, society at large, diplomacy, or military power — depends much more on how governments and organizations make choices about the adoption and use of new capabilities than on the technologies themselves.[48] Scholarship on military innovation by Barry Posen, Stephen P. Rosen, and others shows that technological innovation alone rarely shapes the balance of power.[49] Instead, it is how militaries use a technology that makes a difference.[50] A military’s ability to employ a technology depends in part on the complexity of the technology, how difficult it is to use, and whether it operates in predictable and explainable ways. These factors influence the trust that senior military leaders have in the technology and whether they use it.[51] Additionally, the more bureaucratically disruptive it is to adopt a technology, the more challenging it can be for older, more established organizations to do so — particularly if the organization is underinvested in research and development designed to integrate new technologies and ideas.[52] Consider that every country in Europe in the mid-19th century had access to railroads, rifles, and the telegraph around the same time. But it was the Prussian military that first figured out how to exploit these technologies, in combination, to rapidly project power. After that, other militaries adapted their organizations to take similar advantage.[53] The example of the British Navy and the aircraft carrier further illustrates how organizational processes determine the impact of technology on military power.[54] As referenced above, despite having invented the aircraft carrier, the Royal Navy’s institutional commitment to the battleship meant that it initially saw the value of this new technology almost exclusively in its ability to facilitate the use of airplanes to act as “spotters” for battleships. The United States and Japan, as rising naval powers with less invested in the importance of the battleship, thought more creatively about this innovation and realized that the aircraft carrier’s real value lay in the independent striking power it offered.[55] Since battleships — and admirals with experience and comfort operating them — dominated the navies of many countries, thinking about the aircraft carrier as a mobile airfield required a difficult conceptual shift.[56] Even after it became clear that the optimal use of aircraft carriers was as a mobile airfield, adopting carrier warfare proved challenging. The Chinese navy has been working on carrier operations for two decades and is only just starting to build real competency. The Soviet Union attempted to adopt carrier warfare for decades and failed. Simply put, the systems integration tasks required to operate the ship, launch and recover airplanes from the ship, and coordinate with other naval assets are very difficult to execute.[57] The larger the change within the organization required for a military to effectively utilize new technologies, the greater the bureaucratic challenges and, with them, the likelihood that powerful countries will not have the organizational capability to adopt. This is a key mechanism through which the balance of power can change. Third, how will a new technology spread? The answer to this question will help determine relative first-mover advantages gained from adopting the technology.[58] While Kenneth Waltz initially suggested that emulation of military technologies happens quickly, subsequent research demonstrates that it is far more complicated.[59] The rate of diffusion matters: In the case of technologies that diffuse slowly, the country that first implements will have a sustainable edge over its competitors. But when other countries can rapidly adopt a new technology, the relative advantages of being first diminish.[60] The diffusion of military technology occurs through multiple mechanisms, just like the diffusion of technologies in general.[61] Adoption capacity theory suggests a few factors that will be key in influencing the diffusion of narrow AI. The first is the unit cost of creating AI systems. The greater the hardware and compute costs associated with creating militarily-relevant algorithms, the higher the barrier to entry will be. Alternatively, once the algorithms have been created, they become software and can more easily diffuse. Moreover, technologies that have only military purposes tend to spread more slowly than technologies where commercial incentives drive their development. If a technology has only military uses — such as stealth technology — and it has a high unit cost and level of complexity, the number of actors who can emulate or mimic that technology are minimized.[62] On the other hand, technologies with commercial incentives for development generally spread much faster. In the 19th century, the railroad, used as a “military technology,” enabled rapid power projection and the massing of military forces to a greater degree than had previously been possible. Yet it was the commercial incentives for the fast shipping of goods that helped speed the construction of dense railroad networks around the world, making it difficult for countries to gain sustainable advantages in railroad capabilities.[63]

The Impact of AI on the Balance of Power

If Eric Schmidt, Vladimir Putin, Elon Musk, and others are correct that AI is a competitive battleground, what will be the character of that competition?[64] The United States and China seem to be furthest ahead in the development of AI. As the two most powerful countries in the world, the competition for global leadership in AI technology evokes, for many, 20th-century competitions such as the space race. Retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen and Spark Cognition CEO Amir Husain have argued that the United States therefore needs to do more to get and stay ahead.[65] Global investments in artificial intelligence for economic and national security purposes are increasingly described as an arms race.[66] China published a national strategy on artificial intelligence in 2017 that said AI represents a “major strategic opportunity” and proposed a coordinated strategy to “build China’s first mover advantage” and lead the world in AI technology.[67] Russia is investing heavily as well, especially in the military domain. Reports suggest that the Russian military is designing autonomous vehicles to guard its ballistic missile bases as well as an autonomous submarine that could carry nuclear weapons. In robotics, Russia is deploying remotely piloted tanks, such as the Uran-9 and Vehar, on the battlefield.[68] China and Russia are not the only actors outside the United States interested in national security applications of AI. The character of AI technology, like robotics, makes many countries well-positioned to design and deploy it for military purposes.[69] Commercial incentives for AI developments and the dual-use character of many AI applications mean that countries with advanced information economies are poised to be leaders in AI or at least fast followers.[70] In Southeast Asia, Singapore is on the cutting edge of AI investments (both military and non-military). Other Southeast Asian nations are making advances in AI research as well.[71] In the military domain, South Korea has developed the SGR-A1, a semi-autonomous weapon system designed to protect the demilitarized zone from attack by North Korea.[72] [quote id="2"] AI also provides opportunities for capital-rich countries, which creates incentives to develop the technology. Wealthy, advanced economies that have high levels of capital but also have high labor costs or small populations — middle powers such as Australia, Canada, and many European countries — often face challenges in military recruiting. For these countries, technologies that allow them to substitute capital for labor are highly attractive. Indeed, Gen. Mick Ryan, commander of Australia’s Defence College, argues that countries can take advantage of the intersection of AI and robotics to overcome the problems caused by a small population.[73] France’s 2017 defense strategy review points to the development and incorporation of artificial intelligence as critical to the French military’s ability to maintain “operational superiority.”[74] Israel, a classic example of an advanced economy with more capital than labor, also funds military AI investments that would predict rocket launches and analyze video footage.[75] Lt. Col. Nurit Cohen Inger, who heads the unit of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in charge of assessing the military relevance of AI, said in 2017 that, for the IDF, AI “can influence every step and small decision in a conflict, and the entire conflict itself.”[76] Given these investments, how might developments in AI affect military organizations and the character of war, and how might they diffuse? AI and the Character of War The “character of warfare” in a period can be defined as the dominant way to fight and win conflicts given existing technologies, organizations, and polities. The character of warfare changes in concert with the tools that become available and how they influence the ways militaries organize themselves to fight wars.[77] The shift to mass mobilization in the Napoleonic era exemplifies a non-technological development that changed the character of warfare. Applications of AI have the potential to shape how countries fight in several macro ways. On the broadest level, autonomous systems, or narrow AI systems, have the potential to increase the speed with which countries can fight, yet another similarity between AI and the combustion engine. Even if humans are still making final decisions about the use of lethal force, fighting at machine speed can dramatically increase the pace of operations.[78] There are several military applications of AI currently in development or under discussion that can be considered, though many are at early stages. For example, some research shows that the way that neural networks can utilize imagery databases and classify particular scenes (such as a mountain), allows for a more accurate assessment of specific locations.[79] Additionally, the processing power that is possible with narrow AI systems has the potential to increase the speed of data analysis, as Project Maven in the United States aims to do. Investments in image recognition offer the hope of achieving faster, more accurate results than humans can achieve today, and is a likely avenue for continued investment and application (setting aside the questions of accidents, hacking, and other ways that systems could go awry[80]). Successful implementation of AI beyond areas such as image recognition might lead to new concepts of operation that could influence force structure and force employment, or how militaries organize themselves and plan operations. One possibility is the use of large numbers of smaller platforms, known as swarms, for military operations. Algorithms and control systems designed to enable “swarming” already exist in the private sector and in academia.[81] Military-grade algorithms would require coordination with other military systems, including early-warning aircraft, inhabited aircraft, satellites, and other sensors. Deployed swarms in a combat environment would have to be capable of real-time adaptation to optimize operations if some elements of the swarm were shot down — a challenge that commercial applications would not necessarily face. Methods for developing swarming algorithms could include behavior trees or deep learning.[82] Another potential application for narrow AI that could shape the character of war is coordination through layers of algorithms that work together to help manage complex operations. These algorithms could be expert systems that generate decision trees. Or they could involve algorithms developed through generative adversarial networks. In this approach, algorithms compete against each other to teach each other how to do various tasks. Some algorithms will need to be trained to assist in coordinating multiple military assets, both human and machine. In that case, adversarial learning could help compensate for the unique character of decision-making in individual battles and the problem of learning to adapt beyond the available training data.[83] The ability to operate faster through algorithms that assist human commanders in optimizing battle plans, including real-time operations, could shift force employment and force structure, especially in the air and at sea. Since World War II, modern militaries have been engaged in a decades-long shift from quantity to quality in military systems. The thinking is that smaller numbers of expensive, high-quality systems are more likely to lead to victory in battles. AI could accelerate trends that challenge these long-running force-structure imperatives, such as the need to defeat adversaries with advanced anti-access, area-denial networks (A2/AD) with tolerable costs. If algorithms and coordination at machine speed become critical to success on the battlefield, expensive, high-quality platforms could become vulnerable to swarms of sensors and lower-cost weapons platforms that are effectively networked together. AI could thus help bring quantity back into the equation in the form of large numbers of robotic systems. In the near to mid-term, however, optimal use of AI may lie in leveraging machine learning to improve the performance of existing platforms. Incentives exist for nearly all types of political regimes to develop AI applications for military purposes. For democracies, AI can decrease the relative burden of warfare on the population and reduce the risk to soldiers, even more so than with remotely piloted systems, by reducing the use of personnel. For autocracies, which do not trust their people in the first place, the ability to outsource some elements of military decision-making to algorithms, reducing reliance on humans to fight wars, is inherently attractive.[84] Organizational Politics and Artificial Intelligence Despite uncertainty about specific military applications of AI, the examples of how AI can be used in a military context described above reveal that these capabilities have the potential to significantly disrupt organizational structures. Take the example of battle management coordination (whether in human-machine teams or not): Successfully operating even semi-autonomous battle management systems is likely to require new occupational specialties and shifts in recruiting, training, and promotion to empower individuals who understand both military operations and how particular AI systems function. Rosen shows that altering the promotion of military personnel to empower those with expertise in new areas is critical to adopting military innovations in general. AI should be no exception.[85] As described above, the use of AI systems at the operational level could generate options for how militaries organize and plan to use force, due to the potential to use larger numbers of networked systems operating at machine speed instead of relying exclusively on small numbers of high-quality inhabited aircraft. Implementing such concepts, however, could require disruptive organizational shifts that could threaten to change which military occupations provide the highest status and are gateways to leadership roles. Already, this can be seen with the Air Force, dominated by fighter pilots, which has been relatively hesitant when it comes to investments in uninhabited aerial vehicles. It would also challenge entrenched bureaucratic notions about how to weigh quantity versus quality. Adopting narrow AI in the most optimal way could prove challenging for leading militaries, which will need trained personnel who can do quality and reliability assurance for AI applications to ensure their appropriate and effective use. Other applications, such as Project Maven in the U.S. Department of Defense, are easier to implement because they are sustaining technologies from the perspective of literature on organizational innovation.[86] Autonomous systems that can rapidly and accurately process drone footage do not disrupt high-status military occupational specialties, nor do they disrupt how military services operate as a whole. It is when optimal uses of narrow AI would require large shifts to force structure that the adoption requirements, and bureaucratic anti-bodies, ramp up. One example of bureaucratic resistance preventing the production of a new technology that could have proved disruptive is the U.S. military’s failure to fund the X-47B drone, a next-generation system that could take off from and land on aircraft carriers autonomously. This illustrates the way bureaucratic politics and organizational competition can hinder the adoption of innovative technologies.[87] [quote id="3"] The strategic or organizational culture of a military or society can also indicate which will be best positioned to exploit potential advances in AI,[88] specifically, how open those cultures are to innovation. There is a risk of tautology, of course, in cultural arguments at times since it can be hard to measure whether an organization is capable of adopting a technology until it has tried to do so or done it. However, Emily Goldman’s work on the Ottoman Empire suggests the value of developing metrics of cultural openness when it comes to predicting willingness to experiment and adopt AI systems.[89] Interestingly, norms regarding force structure could also play a role in inhibiting the use of AI for certain military tasks. As Theo Farrell’s research on the Irish Army after independence shows, militaries often mimic the functional form of more powerful actors even when doing so is not in their interest. Applying his insight in the case of artificial intelligence, some militaries may be less likely to use AI in ways that are organizationally disruptive, especially if doing so would involve shifts in visible force structure, such as a move from small numbers of advanced inhabited aircraft to swarming concepts that use cheaper, more disposable aircraft.[90] Arguments about organizational and strategic culture are generally consistent with adoption capacity theory, since both focus on the challenges that innovations present when they disrupt the identity of an organization.[91] After all, militaries that already spend a lot on research and development, that are younger, and that have broad conceptions of their critical task are more likely to be culturally “open” and able to adopt new technologies or full innovations further down the development line. The Diffusion of Militarily-Relevant AI: Two Scenarios There is a fundamental question about the extent to which militarily-relevant uses of narrow AI will diffuse easily. Answering this question is necessary for predicting the first-mover advantages associated with a technological innovation, which in turn helps to determine its relative impact on the balance of power and warfare. To determine how easily a new technology will diffuse, adoption capacity theory suggests looking at the unit cost of the technology, especially the physical hardware. Designing AI capabilities requires both software and hardware. This influences how to think about the “unit cost” of AI. Military capabilities based in hardware often spread more slowly than those based in software, generating more sustainable advantage for the first adopter of a given capability, especially when the unit costs of that capability are relatively high. The high unit cost of flattop aircraft carriers, for example, means that only wealthy and powerful countries adopt them.[92] When it comes to platforms, algorithms are software rather than hardware. Take the example of the MQ-9 Reaper, a current-generation U.S. military armed drone. The MQ-9 is remotely piloted, meaning that a pilot at another location directs the airframe and makes decisions about firing weapons against potential targets. The difference between this and an autonomous version that is piloted and operated by an algorithm is software. From the outside, the platform would look the same. But, if narrow AI is software from the perspective of military technology, it is software that requires substantial hardware for its creation. The associated hardware costs — especially for advanced narrow AI applications — are potentially significant.[93] The more complex the algorithm, the more up-front computational hardware is required to “train” that algorithm.[94] Thus, corporate and academic AI research leaders have to invest in teraflops of computing power. This is a different kind of hardware than a tank or a cruise missile, but it is hardware all the same. Rapid advances in AI through deep learning and neural networks over the last decade have thus required advances in computing hardware. Joel Emer, an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Professor at MIT, states it plainly: “Many AI accomplishments were made possible because of advances in hardware.”[95] After an algorithm has been trained, however, it can be applied without access to that computing environment, and the power necessary to run completed algorithms is dramatically reduced. How rapidly AI capabilities will diffuse via simultaneous invention or mimicry will depend, in part, on the availability of computing power. If the cost of computing power continues to decline as chips become more efficient, then countries that are already home to advanced technology companies will have more access to AI capabilities faster than other countries without those kinds of technology companies. If, on the other hand, the hardware costs of developing complex algorithms remain beyond the capacity of companies in most countries, diffusion will happen only deliberately, such as through trade or bilateral agreements at the nation-state level, or via espionage (i.e., hacking). This would likely slow the diffusion of most AI advances, increasing the advantages for innovators. Determining the extent to which militarily-relevant applications of AI are based on commercial technology versus exclusively military research is also a critical question raised by adoption capacity theory. While it is hard to know the answer at present, examining both scenarios will illustrate how that answer might shape the way AI affects the balance of power and the structure of international competition. Dual-Use AI Research on the future of work suggests that strong commercial drivers are incentivizing the development of AI around the world. A 2017 McKinsey Global Institute report found a midpoint estimate of 400 million people, or 15 percent of the workforce, that are likely to be disrupted by automation before 2030.[96] Widely cited research by Carl B. Frey and Michael A. Osborne estimates that 47 percent of jobs in the United States are at risk of being replaced by automation. That includes lawyers, stock traders, and accountants, not just blue-collar jobs.[97] Companies across the economy have incentives to develop and use algorithms. Commercial interest in AI is so high that some argue it — and the finite number of talented AI engineers — is holding back military developments.[98] What’s more, the higher salaries and benefits that commercial companies can offer mean that militaries may have to turn to civilian companies to develop advanced AI capabilities. Google’s decision to partner with the U.S. Defense Department on Project Maven illustrates how the same talent and knowledge that will drive commercial innovation in AI may also be necessary for military technology innovation.[99] When technology advances derive primarily from the civilian sector, rapid adoption of new technologies around the world becomes more likely. Commercial companies may spread the technology themselves, and the profit motive incentivizes rapid mimicry by related companies in different countries.[100] Companies in Brazil, Germany, Japan, and Singapore could become AI leaders or at least fast followers. A commitment to open-source development by many of the major players in AI could also increase the rate of diffusion. In 2015, for example, Google opened up TensorFlow, its artificial intelligence engine, to the public.[101] Elsewhere, researchers committed to the open development of AI to help reduce the safety risk of algorithms that “break” in high-leverage situations publish their findings in ways that advance their cause — and make it easier for their algorithms to be copied.[102] Even though advanced applications of commercial AI would require significant hardware and expertise, adoption capacity theory suggests that as the underlying basis of a technology gets more commercially oriented, it spreads relatively faster, as explained above. Companies like DeepMind have an edge today. But in such a scenario, there would be more companies around the world with relevant technological capacity. It is also easier for governments to leverage private-sector companies when those private-sector actors have non-governmental market incentives for developing or copying technology. So how would dual-use AI being critical to military applications of AI shape global power? As noted above, the period in which a technological innovator enjoys a market advantage shrinks when countries and companies can acquire or copy others’ advances relatively easily. This makes it hard to stay ahead qualitatively.[103] In the AI and robotics realms, it is possible that this will create yet another incentive for countries to focus on quantity in military systems. If leads in AI development prove difficult to sustain, advanced militaries are likely to have systems of approximately the same quality level, presuming they all reach the same conclusion about the general potential of integrating AI into military operations. In that case, countries may be more likely to try to gain advantage by emphasizing quantity again — this is in addition to the inherent incentives for mass that narrow AI might create. If dual-use AI is critical to military applications of AI, the ability to design forces, training, and operational plans to take advantage of those dual-use applications will be a differentiating factor for leadership in AI among the great powers. The 1940 Battle of France illustrates what could ultimately be at stake in the most extreme case. Both the Germans on one side and the British and French on the other had tanks, trucks, radios, and airplanes that they could, in theory, have used for close air support. What gave the Germans such a large edge was blitzkrieg — a new concept of operations that could overwhelm even another advanced adversary.[104] Let’s return to the comparison between AI and the space race. If AI technology diffuses more rapidly because it has both commercial and military purposes, making first-mover advantages more difficult to sustain, comparisons to the space race may be limited. The space race was a bilateral challenge between the United States and the Soviet Union designed to put a person on the moon, which included both developments in rockets and technologies designed to keep humans alive in space, land on the moon, and return safely. The rocket development itself was also part of the creation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). And critical economic spillovers from the space race included development of the satellites that led to GPS and other key enablers of the Information Age. Yet overall, the race to the moon was run by two governments for national purposes — not primarily for dual-use economic gain. The commercial drivers of AI technology, and the speed with which new algorithms diffuse, would make competition much broader than it was during the bilateral space race. Competition is much more likely to be multilateral, featuring countries and companies around the world. A better analogy might be to the competition surrounding the development of Second Industrial Revolution technologies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. France, Germany, Britain, Japan, the United States, and others vied for supremacy in steel production, chemicals, petroleum, electricity, and other areas. For military applications of AI where the underlying technology is driven by commercial developments, the impact of a country getting ahead in AI technology, over time, would have unclear implications for relative power if a rival country was close enough to be a fast follower. Advances in commercially driven AI technology are about building new industries, changing the character of existing industries, and ensuring that the leading corporations in the global economy that emerges are based in one’s own country. Militarily-Exclusive AI The alternative to military applications of AI that are based in commercial developments is a world where military applications of AI are driven instead by research that is applicable only to militaries. Copying technological innovations of “excludable” technologies — those not based on widely available commercial technology — requires espionage to steal the technology (as the Soviets did with the atomic bomb) or mimicry based on observable principles of the technology.[105] There are several reasons, however, to think that many military applications of narrow AI will be unique in ways that will make them more difficult to copy. First, the complexity of advanced military systems can make emulation costly and difficult. This is especially true when a number of components are not available on the commercial market and the ability to build them depends, in part, on classified information.[106] The same can also be said for some advanced commercial technology, of course, but this is not the norm. The inability to adapt commercial algorithms for some military purposes could limit the capacity of most states to produce relevant AI-based military capabilities, even if they have advanced commercial AI sectors. It could also mean that systems integration challenges for using militarily-relevant algorithms are large enough to deter many militaries from investing heavily.[107] [quote id="4"] Whatever the uncertainty about how specific AI advances will translate into military capabilities, some of the most important military applications of narrow AI — those with a potentially substantial impact on larger-scale military operations — may not have obvious civilian counterparts. Battle management algorithms that coordinate a military operation at machine speed do not necessarily have commercial analogues — even if supervised by a human with command authority — excluding the development of a narrow AI designed, say, to run a factory or operational system from top to bottom. In these arenas, military-grade algorithms may require conceptual breakthroughs that other countries may find hard to rapidly mimic. Second, some commercial AI applications, such as image recognition, do have obvious commercial counterparts. Even in those cases, however, the cybersecurity concerns and reliability associated with military-grade technology can differ from those for civilian applications. Military AI systems deployed in the field may require hardening for electronic warfare and extra protections from spoofing and hacking that would be of relatively less concern in the civilian world. In military environments, adversaries’ efforts to hack and spoof increase the need for security. The potential for countries to have strong commercial AI research sectors may mean that even narrow AI developments with applications geared toward military use may be easier to mimic than, say, stealth technology has been over the last generation. But stealth is an outlier: It has proven uniquely difficult to copy relative to other military technologies over the past few hundred years. For AI developments that do not have clear commercial analogues, there could be substantial first-mover advantages for militaries that swiftly adopt AI technologies, particularly if they can achieve compute-driven breakthroughs that are difficult to copy. What would this mean for AI competition? As described above, China’s AI strategy highlights the way many countries increasingly view AI as a global competition that involves nation-states, rather than as a market in which companies can invest.[108] As Elsa Kania writes, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
is funding a wide range of projects involving AI, and the Chinese defense industry and PLA research institutes are pursuing extensive research and development, in some cases partnering with private enterprises.[109]
Adopting militarily-exclusive AI technologies could also generate significant organizational pressure on militaries. Even if it would be hard for most countries to be fast followers, or mimic the advances of other militaries, great-power competition in AI would generate risk for those powers that are unable to adapt in order to organizationally exploit advances in AI, even if they are able to make technical advances. Traditionally, this risk is highest for the world’s leading military power, in this case the United States. Leading military powers often struggle to envision how to use new technologies in ways that are organizationally disruptive. They can also be blind to that fact, believing they are in the lead right up to the point when their failure of creativity matters.[110] From a balance-of-power perspective, this scenario would be more likely to feature disruption among emerging and great powers but not a broader leveling of the military playing field. The ability to exclude many countries from advances in AI would concentrate military competition among current leading militaries, such as the United States, China, and Russia. There could be significant disruption within those categories, though. A Chinese military that more rapidly developed critical algorithms for broader battle management, or that was more willing to use them than the United States, might gain advantages that shifted power in the Asia-Pacific. This assumes that these algorithms operate as they are designed to operate. All militarily-useful AI will have to be hardened against hacking and spoofing. Operators will use narrow AI applications only if they are as or more effective or reliable as existing inhabited or remotely-piloted options.[111] While this discussion has focused on narrow AI applications, the notion of bilateral competition in AI may be most pressing when thinking about artificial general intelligence.[112] Although artificial general intelligence is beyond the scope of this paper, it would matter as a discrete competitive point only if there is a clear reward to being first, as opposed to being a fast follower. For example, developing artificial general intelligence first could lock in economic or military leadership. Then others would not have the ability to adopt it themselves, or their adoptions would be somehow less relevant, and that could be a discrete “end point” to competition. It seems unlikely, however, that such development would be that discrete or that one country would get a lead in this technology that is so large that it can consolidate the impact of being a first mover before others catch up.

Conclusion

Technological innovations, whether the machine gun, the railroad, or the longbow, can influence the balance of power and international conflict. Yet their impact is generally determined by how people and organizations use the technology rather than by the technology itself.[113] It is too early to tell what the impact of narrow AI will be, but technology development suggests it will have at least some effect. As an “enabling” technology that is more like electricity or the combustion engine than a weapon system, innovations in narrow AI are likely to have an impact that extends beyond specific questions of military superiority to influence economic power and societies around the world. This article demonstrates that technological innovation in AI could have large-scale consequences for the global balance of power. Whatever the mix of dual-use AI or militarily-exclusive AI that ends up shaping modern militaries over the next few decades, the organizational adoption requirements are likely to be significant. Militaries around the world will have to grapple with how to change recruiting and promotion policies to empower soldiers who understand algorithms and coding, as well as potential shifts in force structure to take advantage of AI-based coordination on the battlefield. Military and economic history suggests that the effect of narrow AI could be quite large, even if suggestions of AI triggering a new industrial revolution are overstated. Adoption capacity theory shows that changes in relative military power become more likely in cases of military innovations that require large organizational changes and the adoption of new operational concepts. Even if the United States, China, and Russia were to end up with similar levels of basic AI capacity over the next decade, the history of military innovations from the phalanx to blitzkrieg suggests it is how they and others use AI that will matter most for the future of military power. Whether AI capabilities diffuse relatively slowly or quickly, major military powers will likely face security dilemmas having to do with AI development and deployment. In a slow diffusion scenario, if countries fear that adversaries could get ahead in ways that are hard to rapidly mimic — and small differences in capabilities will matter on the battlefield — that will foster incentives for quick development and deployment. In a rapid diffusion scenario, competitive incentives will also exist, as countries feel like they have to race just to keep up.[114] Moreover, it will be inherently difficult to measure competitors’ progress with AI (unlike, say, observing the construction of an aircraft carrier), causing countries to assume the worst of their potential rivals. Competition in developing AI is underway. Countries around the world are investing heavily in AI, though the United States and China seem to be ahead. Yet even if the space-race analogy is not precise, understanding AI as a competition can still be useful. Such frameworks help people and organizations understand the world around them, from how to evaluate international threats to the potential trajectory of wars.[115] If likening competition in AI to the space race clarifies the stakes in ways that generate incentives for bureaucratic action at the government level, and raises corporate and public awareness, the analogy stands to have utility for the United States. From a research perspective, one limitation of this article is its focus on the balance of power and international competition, as opposed to specific uses of AI. Future research could investigate particular implementations of AI for military purposes or other critical questions. Specific implementations could include the use of autonomous weapon systems able to select and engage targets on their own. These systems could raise ethical and moral questions about human control,[116] as well as practical issues surrounding war that is fought at “machine speed.”[117] The integration of AI into early-warning systems and its ability to aid in rapid targeting could also affect crisis stability and nuclear weapons.[118] In the broader security realm, AI will affect human security missions.[119] By laying out an initial framework for how military applications of narrow AI could structure international competition and the balance of power, this article lays the groundwork for thinking through these questions in the future. [quote id="5"] This article also raises a series of policy questions. When thinking about AI as an arena for international competition, one question is whether, in response to China’s AI strategy, the United States should launch its own comprehensive AI strategy. In 2016, the Obama White House released an AI policy road map. It acknowledged the importance of U.S. leadership in AI but focused mostly on regulatory policy questions.[120] The transition from Obama to Donald Trump led to a pause in these efforts, though the White House recently announced the creation of a new committee of AI experts to advise it on policy choices.[121] Some might argue that it is necessary for the United States to develop and announce a formal AI strategy similar to China’s.[122] While there are plenty of private-sector incentives for the development of AI technology, only the government can coordinate AI investments and ensure the development of particular implementations that it considers critical for AI leadership.[123] On the other hand, it is the free market in the United States, and its connections to the global economy, that have made the United States an engine of global innovation. More centrally planned economies have often struggled with innovation. During the Cold War, the Soviet defense industrial base and military proved effective at perfecting existing technologies or adopting technologies. The centralized Soviet system, however, made true innovation more difficult.[124] China is spending much more than the United States on AI research, and Chinese AI researchers are producing more papers on topics such as deep learning than U.S. researchers.[125] How that translates into tangible advances in AI technology is unclear. From a balance-of-power perspective, one could argue that the optimal approach would involve a mixed strategy between market and government development of AI. In the economic arena, central planning can stifle innovation, meaning the role of government should be to fund basic research and then let market incentives do the rest. The defense sector may be different, however. For the United States, it will be up to the Department of Defense to clearly outline what types of AI technologies are most useful and to seed research and development to turn those technologies into a reality. For any strategy, for both the United States and China, a principal challenge will be translating basic research in programs of record into actual capabilities. As Cummings writes about government agencies working on AI systems around the world, “[T]he agencies developing these technologies are struggling to make the leap from development to operational implementation.”[126] More broadly, if investing in and appropriately utilizing AI is critical to military power in the 21st century, the U.S. approach is a mixed bag. Optimists can point to investments in connecting cutting-edge research to U.S. military forces through institutions such as the Defense Innovation Unit – Experimental (DIUx), the Strategic Capabilities Office, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). From discussions of the “Third Offset” to “Multi-Domain Battle,” senior military and civilian leaders are also taking the challenge of AI seriously.[127] Meanwhile, a great deal of bottom-up innovation is happening in the U.S. military, both in terms of developing technologies and experimenting with novel concepts of operation. It is possible that the research and smaller, experimental programs that the United States is funding will become part of mainstream U.S. military programs, enabling the United States to stay ahead and sustain its military superiority. If narrow AI continues to develop, adopting the technology will require sustained attention by senior leaders. Pessimists, however, can point to a gap between rhetoric and unit-level experimentation on the one hand and budgetary realities on the other.[128] There is a lot of discussion about the importance of artificial intelligence and robotics, as well as a clear desire among senior uniformed leadership to make the U.S. military more networked, distributed, and lethal by taking advantage of AI, among other technologies.[129] This rhetoric has not yet caught up to reality in terms of U.S. military spending on AI. When faced with a choice of investing in a next-generation drone, for example, the U.S. Navy used its available programmatic dollars for the MQ-25 air-to-air refueling platform, which will support inhabited aircraft such as the F-35. The MQ-25 program was chosen over an advanced armed system — based on the X-47B demonstrator — with stealthy potential that could operate in dangerous conflict environments.[130] The MQ-25 decision may be seen as the canary in the coal mine if the U.S. military falls behind in the coming decades — especially if a failure to appropriately adopt advances in AI and robotics turns out to be a key reason for that relative military decline. At the end of the day, however, AI’s effect on international politics will depend on much more than choices about one particular military program. The challenge for the United States will be in calibrating, based on trends in AI developments, how fast to move in incorporating narrow AI applications. This will be true whether those applications are dual-use or based in exclusively-military research. And that challenge to leadership in AI in general, as well as in military power, is complicated by the movements of China and other competitors, all of which seem interested in leveraging AI to challenge U.S. military superiority.   Michael C. Horowitz is professor of political science and associate director of Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter: @mchorowitz. Image: U.S. Air Force [post_title] => Artificial Intelligence, International Competition, and the Balance of Power [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => artificial-intelligence-international-competition-and-the-balance-of-power [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-17 15:04:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-17 19:04:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=580 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => Michael Horowitz evaluates how developments in artificial intelligence — advanced, narrow applications in particular — are poised to influence military power and international politics. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Emerging technologies primarily shape the balance of power through military and economic means. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The character of AI technology, like robotics, makes many countries well-positioned to design and deploy it for military purposes. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Incentives exist for nearly all types of political regimes to develop AI applications for military purposes. ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => When technology advances derive primarily from the civilian sector, rapid adoption of new technologies around the world becomes more likely. ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => China is spending much more than the United States on AI research, and Chinese AI researchers are producing more papers on topics such as deep learning than U.S. researchers. ) [5] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => AI seems much more akin to the internal combustion engine or electricity than a weapon. ) ) [style] => scholarly [type] => Scholarly [style_label] => The Scholar [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 61 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] James Vincent, "Putin Says the Nation That Leads in AI ‘Will Be the Ruler of the World,’" Verge, Sept. 4, 2017, https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/4/16251226/russia-ai-putin-rule-the-world. [2] Klaus Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution (New York: Crown Business, 2017). [3] Colin Clark, "Our Artificial Intelligence ‘Sputnik Moment’ Is Now: Eric Schmidt & Bob Work," Breaking Defense, Nov. 1, 2017, https://breakingdefense.com/2017/2011/our-artificial-intelligence-sputnik-moment-is-now-eric-schmidt-bob-work/. [4] Seth Fiegerman, "Elon Musk Predicts World War III," CNN, Sept. 4, 2017, http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/04/technology/culture/elon-musk-ai-world-war/index.html. [5] On technological determinism, see Merritt R. Smith and Leo Marx, Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994). [6] William H. McNeill, The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society Since A.D. 1000 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982). [7] Jeremiah E. Dittmar, "Information Technology and Economic Change: The Impact of the Printing Press," Quarterly Journal of Economics 126, no. 3 (August 2011): 1133-1172, https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjr035. [8] Robert Jervis, The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution: Statecraft and the Prospect of Armageddon (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989). [9] In the military dimension, see Michael C. Horowitz, The Diffusion of Military Power: Causes and Consequences for International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010). For a critique of technology-focused thinking about the future of war, see Paul K. Van Riper and Frank G. Hoffman, "Pursuing the Real Revolution in Military Affairs: Exploiting Knowledge-Based Warfare," National Security Studies Quarterly 4, no. 3 (1998): 4; H.R. McMaster, "Continuity and Change: The Army Operating Concept and Clear Thinking About Future War," Military Review (2015): https://www.westpoint.edu/scusa/SiteAssets/SitePages/Keynote Speakers/Continuity and Change by LTG McMaster.pdf. [10] Clark G. Reynolds, The Fast Carriers; The Forging of an Air Navy, 1st ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968); Mark R. Peattie, Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power, 19091941 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2001). [11] Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962). [12] Clemency Burton-Hill, "The Superhero of Artificial Intelligence: Can This Genius Keep It in Check?" Guardian, Feb. 16, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/16/demis-hassabis-artificial-intelligence-deepmind-alphago. [13] Katja Grace et al., "When Will AI Exceed Human Performance? Evidence from AI Experts," arXiv preprint arXiv:1705.08807 (2017): https://arxiv.org/abs/1705.08807. [14] This is based on the Russell and Norvig definition that artificial intelligence is about the construction of artificial rational agents that can perceive and act. See Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, 3rd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009). Also see Calum McClelland, "The Difference Between Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning," Medium.com, Dec. 4, 2017, https://medium.com/iotforall/the-difference-between-artificial-intelligence-machine-learning-and-deep-learning-3aa67bff5991. [15] Shane Legg and Marcus Hutter, "Universal Intelligence: A Definition of Machine Intelligence," (December 2007): 12, https://arxiv.org/pdf/0712.3329.pdf. [16] Michael C. Horowitz, "Military Robotics, Autonomous Systems, and the Future of Military Effectiveness," in The Sword's Other Edge: Tradeoffs in the Pursuit of Military Effectiveness, ed. Dan Reiter (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017). [17] Matt Simon, "Watch Boston Dynamics' SpotMini Robot Open a Door," Wired, Feb. 12, 2018,  https://www.wired.com/story/watch-boston-dynamics-spotmini-robot-open-a-door/. [18] This is based on the discussion in Paul Scharre and Michael C. Horowitz, "An Introduction to Autonomy in Weapon Systems," Center for a New American Security working paper (February 2015): 5, https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/an-introduction-to-autonomy-in-weapon-systems. [19] Michael C. Horowitz, Paul Scharre, and Alex Velez-Green, "A Stable Nuclear Future? The Impact of Automation, Autonomy, and Artificial Intelligence" (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2017). [20] Scharre and Horowitz, “Autonomy in Weapon Systems,” 6. [21] Murray Campbell, A. Joseph Hoane Jr., Feng-hsiung Hsu, “Deep Blue,” Artificial Intelligence 134, no. 1-2 (2002): 57-83, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0004-3702(01)00129-1. [22] Ryszard S. Michalski, Jaime G. Carbonell, and Tom M. Mitchell, eds., Machine Learning: An Artificial Intelligence Approach (New York: Springer, 2013); Allen Newell and Herbert Alexander Simon, Human Problem Solving (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972). [23] Robert D. Hof, "Deep Learning," MIT Technology Review (2013): https://www.technologyreview.com/s/513696/deep-learning/; Anh Nguyen, Jason Yosinski, and Jeff Clune, "Deep Neural Networks Are Easily Fooled: High Confidence Predictions for Unrecognizable Images" (paper presented at the IEEE conference on computer vision and pattern recognition, 2015), https://arxiv.org/abs/1412.1897. [24] Antonio Lieto, Antonio Chella, and Marcello Frixione, "Conceptual Spaces for Cognitive Architectures: A Lingua Franca for Different Levels of Representation," in Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures 19 (January 2017), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bica.2016.10.005. [25] Calestous Juma, Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). [26] Lockheed Martin, "Building the F-35: Combining Teamwork and Technology," accessed May 8, 2018, https://www.f35.com/about/life-cycle/production. [27] The “Third Offset” was a Department of Defense initiative led by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work that was designed to preserve U.S. military superiority through exploiting a generation of emerging technologies. Robert O. Work, Deputy Secretary of Defense Remarks to the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Convention, Oct. 4, 2016, https://www.defense.gov/News/Speeches/Speech-View/Article/974075/remarks-to-the-association-of-the-us-army-annual-convention/. [28] Walter Frick, "Why AI Can't Write This Article (Yet)," Harvard Business Review, July 24, 2017, https://hbr.org/cover-story/2017/07/the-business-of-artificial-intelligence#/2017/07/why-ai-cant-write-this-article-yet. [29] Andrew Ng, "Artificial Intelligence Is the New Electricity," Medium, April 28, 2017, https://medium.com/@Synced/artificial-intelligence-is-the-new-electricity-andrew-ng-cc132ea6264. [30] Mick Ryan, "Building a Future: Integrated Human-Machine Military Organization," Strategy Bridge, Dec. 11, 2017, https://thestrategybridge.org/the-bridge/2017/12/11/building-a-future-integrated-human-machine-military-organization; Paul Scharre, Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War (New York: W.W. Norton, 2018). [31] Gregory C. Allen, "Project Maven Brings AI to the Fight Against ISIS," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Dec. 21, 2017, https://thebulletin.org/project-maven-brings-ai-fight-against-isis11374. [32] Note that this illustrates the importance of data in training algorithms. While there is some promise to synthetic data for training algorithms, there is not currently a substitute for data based on real-world experience. Thus, access to large quantities of useful data will be critical to designing successful algorithms in particular arenas. For an example of basic defense research on using AI to increase situational awareness, see Heather Roff, “COMPASS: A new AI-driven situational awareness tool for the Pentagon?” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 10, 2018, https://thebulletin.org/compass-new-ai-driven-situational-awareness-tool-pentagon11816. [33] Scharre and Horowitz, “Autonomy in Weapon Systems,” 5. [34] Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). [35] Allan Dafoe, "Governing the AI Revolution: The Research Landscape" (New Haven, CT: Yale University, 2018), https://machine-learning-and-security.github.io/slides/Allan-Dafoe-NIPS-s.pdf. [36] Grace et al., “When Will AI Exceed Human Performance?” [37] McNeill, The Pursuit of Power. [38] David A. Baldwin, "Power Analysis and World Politics: New Trends versus Old Tendencies," World Politics 31, no. 2 (January 1979): 161-194, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2009941; Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981). [39] Scharre and Horowitz, “Autonomy in Weapon Systems.” [40] Missy L. Cummings, "Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Warfare," Chatham House, January 2017, https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/artificial-intelligence-and-future-warfare. [41] Napoleonic warfare, or levee en masse, is an example of a military innovation not considered tied to technological innovations. [42] On military innovation in general, see Adam Grissom, "The Future of Military Innovation Studies," Journal of Strategic Studies 29, no. 5 (2006): 905-934, https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390600901067. [43] Bernard Brodie et al., ed., The Absolute Weapon: Atomic Power and World Order (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1946); Stephen P. Rosen, Winning the Next War: Innovation and the Modern Military (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991); Barry R. Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain, and Germany Between the World Wars (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984). [44] Posen, Sources of Military Doctrine; Rosen, Winning the Next War; Dima Adamsky, The Culture of Military Innovation: The Impact of Cultural Factors on the Revolution in Military Affairs in Russia, the U.S., and Israel (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010); Theo Farrell, "World Culture and Military Power," Security Studies 14, no. 3 (2005): 448-488, https://doi.org/10.1080/09636410500323187; Emily O. Goldman and Leslie C. Eliason eds. The Diffusion of Military Technology and Ideas (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003). [45] Horowitz, Diffusion of Military Power, 10-11. [46] This relates to questions about the offense/defense implications of technology, though technology itself is rarely predictive. See Keir A. Lieber, War and the Engineers: The Primacy of Politics Over Technology (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005). [47] Stephen D. Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004). [48] This is not meant to endorse or reject the notion of technology as a social construction. On that point, see Trevor J. Pinch and Wiebe E. Bijker, "The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology Might Benefit Each Other," Social Studies of Science 14, no. 3 (1984): 399-441, http://www.jstor.org/stable/285355. What is key is that it is in the context of organizational behavior that the impact of technological change becomes clearest. [49] Posen, Sources of Military Doctrine; Rosen, Winning the Next War; Adamsky, The Culture of Military Innovation. [50] Nuclear weapons are arguably an exception to this pattern, given their unique destructive power. But they may be the exception that proves the rule. [51] Andrea Gilli and Mauro Gilli, "Military-Technological Superiority: Systems Integration and the Challenges of Imitation, Reverse Engineering, and Cyber-Espionage," International Security (forthcoming). [52] Mancur Olson, The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1982); Horowitz, Diffusion of Military Power. [53] Dennis E. Showalter, Railroads and Rifles: Soldiers, Technology, and the Unification of Germany (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1975); Geoffrey L. Herrera and Thomas G. Mahnken, "Military Diffusion in Nineteenth-Century Europe: The Napoleonic and Prussian Military Systems," in The Diffusion of Military Technology and Ideas, ed. Emily O. Goldman and Leslie C. Eliason (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003). [54] Another example is the tank. Applied to AI and drones, see Ulrike E. Franke, "A European Approach to Military Drones and Artificial Intelligence," European Council on Foreign Relations, June 23, 2017, http://www.ecfr.eu/article/essay_a_european_approach_to_military_drones_and_artificial_intelligence. In general, see David E. Johnson, Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers: Innovation in the U.S. Army, 19171945 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998). [55] Horowitz, Diffusion of Military Power. [56] Horowitz, Diffusion of Military Power. [57] Horowitz, Diffusion of Military Power. [58] See Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics; Daniel R. Headrick, The Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981); Horowitz, Diffusion of Military Power. [59] Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979). [60] Marvin B. Lieberman and David B. Montgomery, "First-Mover Advantages," Strategic Management Journal 9, no. 1 (1988): 41-58, https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.4250090706; Marvin B. Lieberman and David B. Montgomery, "First-Mover (Dis)Advantages: Retrospective and Link with the Resource-Based View," Strategic Management Journal 19, no. 12 (1998): 1111-1125, https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1097-0266(1998120)19:12<1111::AID-SMJ21>3.0.CO;2-W; Gerard J. Tellis and Peter N. Golder, Will and Vision: How Latecomers Grow to Dominate Markets (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002). [61] Everett M. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, 5th ed. (New York: Free Press, 2003). [62] Horowitz, Diffusion of Military Power. For a recent argument about the complexity of stealth and the challenges of adoption, see Gilli and Gilli, “Military-Technological Superiority.” [63] Showalter, Railroads and Rifles; Geoffrey L. Herrera, Technology and International Transformation: The Railroad, the Atom Bomb, and the Politics of Technological Change (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2006). [64] Eric Schmidt, "Keynote Address at the Center for a New American Security Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Summit," Center for a New American Security, Nov. 13, 2017, https://www.cnas.org/publications/transcript/eric-schmidt-keynote-address-at-the-center-for-a-new-american-security-artificial-intelligence-and-global-security-summit. [65] John R. Allen and Amir Husain, "The Next Space Race Is Artificial Intelligence," Foreign Policy, Nov. 3, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/2011/2003/the-next-space-race-is-artificial-intelligence-and-america-is-losing-to-china/. [66] Tom Simonite, "For Superpowers, Artificial Intelligence Fuels New Global Arms Race," Wired, Sept. 8, 2017, https://www.wired.com/story/for-superpowers-artificial-intelligence-fuels-new-global-arms-race/; Zachary Cohen, "US Risks Losing Artificial Intelligence Arms Race to China and Russia," CNN, Nov. 29, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/29/politics/us-military-artificial-intelligence-russia-china/index.html; Julian E. Barnes and Josh Chin, "The New Arms Race in AI," Wall Street Journal, March 2, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-new-arms-race-in-ai-1520009261. [67] Graham Webster et al., "China’s Plan to ‘Lead’ in AI: Purpose, Prospects, and Problems," New America Foundation, Aug. 1, 2017, https://www.newamerica.org/cybersecurity-initiative/blog/chinas-plan-lead-ai-purpose-prospects-and-problems/. [68] Samuel Bendett, "Russia Is Poised to Surprise the US in Battlefield Robotics," Defense One, Jan. 25 2018, https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/01/russia-poised-surprise-us-battlefield-robotics/145439/; Barnes and Chin, “The New Arms Race in AI”; Samuel Bendett, “Red Robots Rising,” Strategy Bridge, Dec. 12, 2017, https://thestrategybridge.org/the-bridge/2017/12/12/red-robots-rising-behind-the-rapid-development-of-russian-unmanned-military-systems; Valerie Insinna, “Russia’s nuclear underwater drone is real and in the Nuclear Posture Review,” Defense News, Jan. 12, 2018, https://www.defensenews.com/space/2018/01/12/russias-nuclear-underwater-drone-is-real-and-in-the-nuclear-posture-review/. [69] For an overview of AI and national security, see Daniel S. Hoadley and Nathan J. Lucas, “Artificial Intelligence and National Security,” Congressional Research Service, Apr. 26, 2018, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R45178.pdf. Also see Benjamin Jensen, Chris Whyte, and Scott Cuomo, Algorithms at War: The Promise, Peril, and Limits of Artificial Intelligence, Working Paper (2018). [70] This is similar to what is going on in robotics. See Horowitz, "Military Robotics, Autonomous Systems, and the Future of Military Effectiveness." [71] Sachin Chitturu et al., "Artificial Intelligence and Southeast Asia's Future," McKinsey Global Institute, September 2017, 1, https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Global Themes/Artificial Intelligence/Artificial-intelligence-and-Southeast-Asias-future.ashx; "Speech by Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence, at Committee of Supply Debate 2014," Singapore Government, March 7, 2014. [72] Mark Prigg, "Who Goes There? Samsung Unveils Robot Sentry That Can Kill From Two Miles Away," Daily Mail (UK), Sept. 15, 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2756847/Who-goes-Samsung-reveals-robot-sentry-set-eye-North-Korea.html. [73] Ryan, “Building a Future: Integrated Human-Machine Military Organization.” [74] "Strategic Review of Defence and National Security: 2017," French Ministry of Defense, Dec. 22, 2017, 3, https://www.defense.gouv.fr/dgris/politique-de-defense/revue-strategique/revue-strategique. On the European approach to drones and AI, also see Franke, “A European Approach to Military Drones and Artificial Intelligence.” [75] Eliran Rubin, "Tiny IDF Unit Is Brains Behind Israeli Army Artificial Intelligence," Haaretz, Aug. 15, 2017, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/tiny-idf-unit-is-brains-behind-israeli-army-artificial-intelligence-1.5442911; Yaakov Lappin, "Artificial Intelligence Shapes the IDF in Ways Never Imagined," Aglemeiner (2017): https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/10/16/artificial-intelligence-shapes-the-idf-in-ways-never-imagined/. [76] Lappin, “Artificial Intelligence Shapes the IDF in Ways Never Imagined.” [77] One could also argue AI has the potential to go beyond shaping the character of war and change the nature of war itself. From a Clausewitzian perspective, that war is human fundamentally defines its nature. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989). Thus, the nature of war is unchanging. In theory, could AI alter the nature of war itself because wars will be fought by robotic systems, not people, and because of AI’s potential to engage in planning and decision-making that were previously human endeavors? U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis speculated in February 2018 that AI is “fundamentally different” in ways that raise questions about the nature of war. See "Press Gaggle by Secretary Mattis En Route to Washington, D.C.," Department of Defense, Feb. 17, 2018, https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1444921/press-gaggle-by-secretary-mattis-en-route-to-washington-dc/. This is an important debate but one beyond the scope of this paper. For elements of this debate, see Kareem Ayoub and Kenneth Payne, "Strategy in the Age of Artificial Intelligence," Journal of Strategic Studies 39, no. 5-6 (2016): 793-819, https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2015.1088838; Frank G. Hoffman, "Will War’s Nature Change in the Seventh Military Revolution?" Parameters 47, no. 4, (2018): 19-31, https://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/pubs/parameters/issues/Winter_2017-18/5_Hoffman.pdf. Also see Kenneth Payne, Strategy, Evolution, and War: From Apes to Artificial Intelligence (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2018). [78] Robert O. Work, Deputy Secretary of Defense Speech at Center for a New American Security Defense Forum, Dec. 14, 2015, http://www.defense.gov/News/Speeches/Speech-View/Article/634214/cnas-defense-forum; John R. Allen and Amir Husain, "On Hyperwar," Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute 143, no. 7 (July 2017), https://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2017-07/hyperwar. [79] Bolei Zhou et al., "Places: A 10 Million Image Database for Scene Recognition," IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (July 2017), https://doi.org/10.1109/TPAMI.2017.2723009. [80] Miles Brundage et al., "The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation," Working Paper (2018), https://arxiv.org/abs/1802.07228; Stephanie Carvin, “Normal Autonomous Accidents”, Social Science Research Network (2018), http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3161446. [81] For example, see Vijay Kumar, Aleksandr Kushleyev, and Daniel Mellinger, "Three-Dimensional Manipulation of Teams of Quadrotors," Google Patents, 2017, https://patents.google.com/patent/US20150105946. [82] Simon Jones et al., "Evolving Behaviour Trees for Swarm Robotics," in Distributed Autonomous Robotic Systems, ed. Roderich Grob, et al. (Boulder, CO: Springer, 2018). [83] Tero Karras et al., "Progressive Growing of GANs for Improved Quality, Stability, and Variation," published as a conference paper at International Conference on Learning Representations 2018 (2018), https://arxiv.org/abs/1710.10196. [84] Michael C. Horowitz, "The promise and peril of military applications of artificial intelligence,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 23, 2018, https://thebulletin.org/military-applications-artificial-intelligence/promise-and-peril-military-applications-artificial-intelligence. [85] Rosen, Winning the Next War. [86] Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1997). This also relates to strategies for innovating within militaries. See Peter Dombrowski and Eugene Gholz, Buying Military Transformation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006). [87] Cummings, "Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Warfare," 9. Also see Lawrence Spinetta and Missy L. Cummings, "Unloved Aerial Vehicles: Gutting Its UAV Plan, the Air Force Sets a Course for Irrelevance," Armed Forces Journal (November 2012): 8-12, http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/86940. [88] Adamsky, Culture of Military Innovation. [89] Emily O. Goldman, "Cultural Foundations of Military Diffusion," Review of International Studies 32, no. 1 (2006): 69-91, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210506006930. [90] Farrell, "World Culture and Military Power." [91] Horowitz, Diffusion of Military Power. [92] Horowitz, Diffusion of Military Power. [93] Tim Hwang, "Computational Power and the Social Impact of Artificial Intelligence," March 23, 2018, https://ssrn.com/abstract=3147971. [94] Hof, “Deep Learning.” [95] Meg Murphy, "Building the Hardware for the Next Generation of Artificial Intelligence," MIT News, Nov. 30 2017, http://news.mit.edu/2017/building-hardware-next-generation-artificial-intelligence-1201. [96] James Manyika et al., "What the Future of Work Will Mean for Jobs, Skills, and Wages," McKinsey Global Institute report, November 2017, https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/future-of-organizations-and-work/what-the-future-of-work-will-mean-for-jobs-skills-and-wages. [97] Carl B. Frey and Michael A. Osborne, "The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?" Technological Forecasting and Social Change 114 (January 2017): 254-280, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2016.08.019. [98] Cummings, “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Warfare,” 10. [99] Kate Conger and Dell Cameron, "Google Is Helping the Pentagon Build AI for Drones," Gizmodo, March 6, 2018, https://gizmodo.com/google-is-helping-the-pentagon-build-ai-for-drones-1823464533. [100] Horowitz, Diffusion of Military Power. [101] Cade Metz, "Google Just Open Sourced TensorFlow, Its Artificial Intelligence Engine," Wired, Nov. 9, 2015, https://www.wired.com/2015/11/google-open-sources-its-artificial-intelligence-engine/. [102] Dario Amodei et al., "Concrete Problems in AI Safety," arXiv preprint arXiv:1606.06565 (2016). This commitment to openness has limits. Google has many proprietary algorithms, and Microsoft’s Watson (which first came to fame when it defeated Ken Jennings, the greatest living human Jeopardy player) is also proprietary. [103] In extreme examples where first-mover advantages are difficult to generate, there can be advantages for rapid followers that do not have to pay initial R&D costs. Alexander Gerschenkron, Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective: A Book of Essays (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962). [104] The Germans did not call it blitzkrieg, explicitly. Ernest R. May, Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000); Posen, Sources of Military Doctrine. [105] The issue of algorithm theft raises questions of cybersecurity. This differs from more common questions about whether cyberweapons are autonomous weapons. On cyber in general, see Thomas Rid, Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History (New York: W. W. Norton, 2016); Rebecca Slayton, "What Is the Cyber Offense-Defense Balance? Conceptions, Causes, and Assessment," International Security 41, no. 3 (2017): 72-109, https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00267; Ben Buchanan, The Cybersecurity Dilemma: Hacking, Trust, and Fear Between Nations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017); Nina Kollars, “The Rise of Smart Machines,” in The Palgrave Handbook of Security, Risk, and Intelligence, eds. Robert Dover, Huw Dylan, and Michael Goodmans (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2016), 195-211. [106] Stephen G. Brooks, Producing Security: Multinational Corporations, Globalization, and the Changing Calculus of Conflict (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005); Andrea Gilli and Mauro Gilli, "The Diffusion of Drone Warfare? Industrial, Organizational and Infrastructural Constraints," Security Studies 25, no. 1 (2016): 50-84, https://doi.org/10.1080/09636412.2016.1134189. [107] Gilli and Gilli, “Military-Technological Superiority.” Note this extends the argument to AI. [108] Elsa B. Kania, "Battlefield Singularity: Artificial Intelligence, Military Revolution, and China’s Future Military Power," Center for a New American Security, Nov. 28, 2017, https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/battlefield-singularity-artificial-intelligence-military-revolution-and-chinas-future-military-power. [109] Kania, “Battlefield Singularity,” 4. [110] Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics. [111] Paul Scharre, "Autonomous Weapons and Operational Risk," Center for a New American Security working paper, February 2016,https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/autonomous-weapons-and-operational-risk. [112] Thanks to Heather Roff for making this point clear. [113] H.R. McMaster, "Continuity and Change: The Army Operating Concept and Clear Thinking About Future War." [114] On the security dilemma, see Robert Jervis, "Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma," World Politics 30, no. 2 (1978): 167-214, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2009958. This would also make arms control more difficult. [115] Yuen Foong Khong, Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992). [116] Michael C. Horowitz, "The Ethics and Morality of Robotic Warfare: Assessing The Debate Over Autonomous Weapons," Daedalus 145, no. 4 (2016): 25-36, https://doi.org/10.1162/DAED_a_00409. [117] On warfare at machine speed, see Robert O. Work, Deputy Secretary of Defense Remarks to the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Convention, Oct. 4, 2016, https://www.defense.gov/News/Speeches/Speech-View/Article/974075/remarks-to-the-association-of-the-us-army-annual-convention/. On AI and the speed of war, see Allen and Husain, "On Hyperwar." [118] Horowitz, Scharre, and Velez-Green, “A Stable Nuclear Future?” [119] Heather Roff, "Advancing Human Security Through Artificial Intelligence," Chatham House, May 2017, https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/advancing-human-security-through-artificial-intelligence. [120] Ed Felten and Terah Lyons, "The Administration’s Report on the Future of Artificial Intelligence," White House, Oct. 12, 2016, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/10/12/administrations-report-future-artificial-intelligence. [121] Aaron Boyd, “White House Announces Select Committee of Federal AI Experts,” Nextgov, May 10, 2018, https://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2018/05/white-house-announces-select-committee-federal-ai-experts/148123/. [122] For a recent example, see William A. Carter, Emma Kinnucan, and Josh Elliot, "A National Machine Intelligence Strategy for the United States," Center for Strategic and International Studies and Booze Allen Hamilton, March 2018, https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/180227_Carter_MachineIntelligence_Web.PDF?CLlXGgQQQoc180278akgCk.180222StKO180227NsrC180222J180221. [123] Allen and Husain, "The Next Space Race Is Artificial Intelligence." [124] Matthew Evangelista, Innovation and the Arms Race: How the United States and the Soviet Union Develop New Military Technologies (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988). [125] Cade Metz, "As China Marches Forward on A.I., the White House Is Silent," New York Times, Feb. 12, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/12/technology/china-trump-artificial-intelligence.html. [126] Cummings, 9. [127] Tom Simonite, "Defense Secretary James Mattis Envies Silicon Valley's AI Ascent," Wired, Aug. 11, 2017, https://www.wired.com/story/james-mattis-artificial-intelligence-diux/; Gopal Ratnam, "DARPA Chief Touts Artificial Intelligence Efforts," Roll Call, March 1, 2018, https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/darpa-chief-touts-artificial-intelligence-efforts. [128] On bottom-up innovation, see Grissom, “The Future of Military Innovation Studies.” On innovation inhibitors, see Adam M. Jungdahl and Julia M. Macdonald, "Innovation Inhibitors in War: Overcoming Obstacles in the Pursuit of Military Effectiveness," Journal of Strategic Studies 38, no. 4 (2015): 467-499, https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2014.917628. [129] Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. et al., "The Integrated Joint Force: A Lethal Solution for Ensuring Military Preeminence," Strategy Bridge, March 2, 2018, https://thestrategybridge.org/the-bridge/2018/3/2/the-integrated-joint-force-a-lethal-solution-for-ensuring-military-preeminence. [130] Sam LaGrone, "Navy Releases Final MQ-25 Stingray RFP; General Atomics Bid Revealed," USNI News, Oct. 10, 2017, https://news.usni.org/2017/10/10/navy-releases-final-mq-25-stingray-rfp-general-atomics-bid-revealed. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) [thumb] => medium [heading] => h1 [widget] => main [show_download] => 1 ) ) [1] => Array ( [acf_fc_layout] => wgt_featured_articles [wgt_type] => manual [qty] => 3 [posts] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 583 [post_author] => 171 [post_date] => 2018-05-15 04:35:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-15 08:35:01 [post_content] =>

“Politics is the art of the possible.”

-Otto von Bismarck, 1867

  The furor over Russia’s poisoning of a former spy in Britain reflects a worrying, and accelerating, trend: America’s relations with its primary rivals appear to be entering a period of lasting crisis. With new U.S. tariffs, trade disputes, clashes over international rules and norms in the South China Sea, and growing reports of Chinese influence-seeking, the competition with China is intensifying. Meanwhile, the Russian poisoning case and dozens of other provocations from Moscow have produced a situation of deep hostility that has been described as “even more unpredictable” than the Cold War.[1] The new U.S. National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy fittingly reflect this emerging strategic moment, offering a narrative of bellicose great powers that seek to expand their influence, shape the world according to their interests, and gain greater sway over the international order. Both strategies anticipate precisely the sort of aggressive rivalries we are seeing today. The National Security Strategy paints a dire picture of China and Russia challenging “American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity” while being “determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.”[2] The National Defense Strategy warns of the “reemergence of long-term, strategic competition” with “revisionist powers.”[3] Some great power relationships are indeed reverting to a more tooth-and-nail kind of competition. China and Russia are ever more determined to claim the status and influence they believe is their due. But the response likely to emerge from these strategies, a reaction with deeper roots in U.S. foreign policy than the views of any one administration, deserves a more significant debate. That rejoinder calls for a reaffirmation of U.S. military and geopolitical predominance, accompanied by a defense build-up to empower a direct and ongoing confrontation with Russia and China in their own backyards — all in the name of a sprawling and uncompromising interpretation of the rules and norms of the post-World War II order. Unfortunately, such an approach is likely to fail, transforming the emerging competitive era into something far more confrontational and zero-sum than it needs to be. The National Security Strategy's renewed reference to “peace through strength”[4] and the National Defense Strategy's attendant focus on restoring military supremacy reflect a habitual and ongoing American post-Cold War quest for predominance.[5] Yet, while military strength is important to deter hostile powers, trends in key regions and challenges to U.S. power projection make it virtually impossible to recapture the level of military superiority the United States enjoyed for the last three decades. Nor is it capable of stemming the tide of change: American primacy is visibly eroding,[6] world politics are increasingly multilateral,[7] and other major powers are noticeably less willing to accept American dictates. Paradoxically, too, America’s military strength and martial tradition have, in some ways, contributed to the growth of these emerging challenges by displacing our ability to effectively engage in the nuanced balancing of interests that are so central to international politics. In the post-9/11 era of persistent counterterrorism operations, the United States has tended to view every challenge as an outright threat, every problem as subject to the application of military power, and every contest as something to win rather than to manage.[8] This is not to say that American leadership is doomed, or that the post-war international order the United States worked so hard to build — the set of institutions, rules, and norms that have helped provide a stabilizing force in world politics since 1945[9] — is destined to come to an end. In that regard, the call by the authors of these strategy documents for continued U.S. leadership is welcome and reassuring, and many of their specific policy prescriptions would help reaffirm that leadership. But clinging to visions of predominance and absolutist conceptions of U.S. goals poses great dangers to global stability during a time of turbulent transition that will only be survived through more flexible and pragmatic leadership. During our years of exposure to U.S. national security processes, policies, and officials, we have watched as U.S. economic, military, and political dominance has underwritten a missionary approach to the international system. That approach is not only unsustainable given the shifting balance of power, but it ultimately represents one of the dominant fault lines between the United States and other major powers. We are not proposing anything close to retrenchment. American leadership, a rules-based international order, and an extended network of alliances and partnerships that help keep the peace, remain valuable not just to the United States but also to small and middle powers alike. The heart of the American strategic challenge is how to reset the balance between ideology and pragmatism in foreign policy without killing off the key norms of conduct or the essential foundations of U.S. global engagement. The United States will have to make the present order truly multilateral in order to retain its leadership, keep dissent within the international system rather than forcing it outside, and accommodate competition. More than at any time in the last 70 years, dogmatism will be the enemy of strategy. The resulting challenge constitutes what is arguably the most difficult balancing act that U.S. foreign policy has confronted since 1945 — and perhaps, at any time in the country’s history.

The Church of American Foreign Policy: Overdue for a Reformation?

Today, the malign intentions of states that wish to challenge the status quo are not the only factors increasing instability and raising the risk of conflict. After more than two decades of an ideological, values-driven approach to international affairs, the tone and tenor of American foreign policy can seem to have more in common with theology than statecraft. In approaching countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya and issues ranging from human rights to nonproliferation to the promotion of democracy, difficult choices of balance and priority are presented as normative absolutes. Increasingly after 1989, the imperative to forcibly extend the liberalism of the Western order has been viewed as self-evident. As that order became more institutionalized and rule-based, and as American leadership of it became — for a time — more unquestioned, Washington (and other ambitious advocates of a more fully liberal order, particularly European nations and NATO members) has come to equate strategic judgments with moral imperatives. One risk of confounding strategy with morality is that the architect and enforcer of such an order loses the ability to compromise. Absent any meaningful checks on American power, forcible democracy promotion, humanitarian intervention, the unbridled extension of alliances, and global campaigns against extremism came to dominate U.S. foreign policy. Critics of the ambitions of an ideology-driven U.S. foreign policy, from George Kennan to Andrew Bacevich, warned for decades about the hubristic missionary spirit at the core of U.S. global strategy.[10] “We seem to be in one of those periodic revivals of the American missionary spirit,” New York Times editor Bill Keller argued as recently as 2011, “which manifests itself in everything from quiet kindness to patronizing advice to armored divisions.”[11] This trend helps explain the marriage of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists, which played a major role in justifying the Iraq War. Despite their differences, these two groups agreed on the most elaborate vision of rule enforcement and value promotion. [quote id="1"] The story of the liberal turn of the post-war order in the 1990s was thus, at least partly, one of mission creep and of the gradual acquisition of a far more uncompromising, indeed pious, tone and tenor.[12] These changes to the post-war order eventually found expression in the enlargement of NATO, which was justified as a right rather than a strategic judgment; humanitarian intervention in Kosovo; the emergence of a doctrine of a Responsibility to Protect (R2P), interpreted to overrule the sovereignty of other countries;[13] rhetorical support for the Arab spring, leading to intervention in Libya;[14] political backing for the Eastern European color revolutions;[15] and material support for pro-democracy nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in dozens of other states.[16] The post-9/11 embrace of a “global war on terror,” the plunge into nation-building in Afghanistan, and the choice to invade Iraq all flowed from the same maximalist instinct. One depressing sign that this kind of missionary overreach continues today is the fact that the United States will spend, in 2018 alone, $45 billion in Afghanistan[17] — more than the 2017 budget of the Department of Homeland Security, $10 billion more than the budgets of either the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Department of Justice, and nearly twice the budget of the Department of Energy. Unlike the post-World War II order, which was principally underwritten by great powers and, eventually, by middle powers, this vision of foreign policy activism was one held primarily by the United States and a handful of its allies. Over time, the demand for purity in rule-making and enforcement has achieved a sort of religious fervor. Allowing such an uncompromising and moralizing vision to take the wheel of the post-war order was a strategic mistake, sparking the widespread perception that the United States was ideologically driven to advance regime-change abroad, including the unilateral employment of force, whether permissible by international law or not. It signaled to some rivals that the United States reserved the right to challenge the survival of their regimes at any moment, and thus tempted them to believe that their security was only guaranteed by military power, in particular nuclear weapons. The National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy offer sensible warnings about the dangerous implications of this dynamic, implications such as Russian efforts to disrupt Western democracies and North Korean nuclear ambitions. But as we consider means of addressing these risks, it is worth keeping in mind that the seeds of that harvest were sown in part by America’s own post-Cold War missionary tendencies. The stability of any international order ultimately depends on the leading powers seeing one another as abiding by shared and predictable rules of the game. These powers must also believe that the international order is willing to recognize their interests on some level.[18] With the unipolar moment over, the system cannot be considered legitimate if the rules are interpreted by one power as it sees fit, even if the underlying intent is to promote what that power views as the greater good. This fundamental objection to the conventional American mindset is held most passionately, of course, in Moscow and Beijing, but varying degrees of the same frustration are evident in the statements and policies of a host of other countries, such as India, Brazil, South Africa, Germany, and France.[19] It is a false assumption that the middle powers, which are important to the orders’ endurance, underwrite, or subscribe to, American unilateralism in action and in interpretation of the rules. What we are seeing today, therefore, is not only the rise of militaristic predator states, but also the insistence of other self-defined great powers that the United States both restrain its missionary impulses and interpret the rules of the post-war order in a way that does the least possible damage to their interests. The great danger of the post-Cold War American mindset is that the United States has lost the ability to take seriously or grant any legitimacy to these types of strategic objections. After all, one must grant adversaries some degree of legitimacy even to engage in basic diplomacy, let alone to create the foundations for stable strategic relationships. Yet Washington only seems capable of detecting normative wrongs and decrying them as sinful. If the United States responds to demands by other major powers for an independent voice by doubling down on a moralistic and uncompromising vision, then this emerging era of competition will become more perilous than it already is.

Misreading History: Pragmatism, Absolutism, and Order

Part of the irony of the U.S. mindset is that it harkens back to a conception of the post-war order that never really existed, mistaking it for something far more uncompromising than it ever was and drawing the wrong lessons from history. American discourse on the international order conflates three very distinct phases: the post-World War II period, the post-Cold War period,[20] and the present, yet-to-be defined phase. During the Cold War, while Washington’s policy outlook certainly began to acquire a more missionary character, the prevailing order was principally underwritten by the great powers left standing amid the ashes of World War II. The system prized sovereignty, spheres of influence, deterrence, and a balance of terror between the leading superpowers.[21] To be sure, the United States led in the creation of the institutions and norms of the post-war order, and has labored diligently to preserve them, for both self-interested and altruistic reasons.[22] The resulting institutions — the U.N. system; the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization structures; international economic institutions like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and G-20; and hundreds of smaller and more discrete organizations, treaties, and conventions — bolstered U.S. strategy over the decades. Associated norms, rules, and conventions began to build a sense of quasi-legalistic obligation at the foundations of world politics. But it remained a Westphalian order first and foremost, one built on the rule of sovereignty, a live-and-let-live spirit of mutual accommodation, and some degree of collective attention to shared problems.[23] It quite consciously attempted to balance great power interests with universal and nondiscriminatory rules, rather than simply enforcing such rules without regard to those interests.[24] That order was founded with World War II as its backdrop, and thus had the management of great power competition in mind. At its inception, therefore, and for much of its history, the post-war order never was conceived of as constitutional, absolute, or without exceptions. Balancing where its dictates would be enforced — and when they would be intentionally overlooked — was a central preoccupation of U.S. foreign policy. The emphasis on human rights provides a leading example. The managers of U.S. foreign policy have upheld this ideal, but they also have set it aside at various times for different reasons: a sense that long-term democratization demanded compromise, as in South Korea or Taiwan; a conviction that worse rights violations would occur without U.S. support, as was the case in Vietnam and Central America; or the demands of short-term national interests, admittedly sometimes craven, as in U.S. policy toward Iran and Chile.[25] Washington’s emphasis on creating a post-war order that is based on institutions, rules, and norms was therefore balanced with a recognition that these aspirations had to be aligned with a real world that would only imperfectly reflect them. In the gap would go statecraft, an effort to herd key members of the international community toward those important normative goals — but always with the recognition that the allowance for exceptions would be as important as the rules themselves.[26] Push too hard, hold too inflexibly to the ideals, and the whole thing would collapse. The statesmanship required to balance these multiple considerations — that is to say, the acceptance of inconsistencies in the rules and norms of the order — was not limited to achieving liberal goals like human rights. The global trade regime reflects the same pattern, having developed amid traditions of industry-protecting, quasi-mercantilist behavior, and occasional bouts of protectionist fervor.[27] In regard to the norm against interstate aggression, the United States and its friends offered clever legal justifications (and sometimes not even those) for what looked like outright aggression in Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere. The presence of American forces in Syria, to take the leading current example, has involved sustained combat operations on the territory of another state outside any discernible national or international legal basis.[28] [quote id="2"] During the Cold War, Washington was forced to live with uncomfortable strategic half measures. The military balance as well as the risks of nuclear war, escalation, and miscalculation, imposed a sober approach and restraint in the face of Soviet and, later, Chinese vital interests. There was no way to stop Soviet intervention in Hungary in 1956 or in Czechoslovakia in 1968. It may not be how we remember it, but the Cold War’s lasting accomplishment was maintaining a time of peace between adversarial superpowers that possessed the ability to destroy the world. Despite the global competition, collaboration took place to resolve disputes, manage conflicts among allies or client states, and avoid dangerous gambits like the Cuban Missile Crisis. There was no need to refer to “spheres of influence” to recognize the simple reality that the closer one gets to the borders of a rival, or the more vital their interests at stake, the more one has to treat with care whatever rules or norms are at play.[29] The imperative not to normalize an undesirable reality in international politics was always there, but policy and strategy recognized objective realities. Like any set of rules, therefore, the post-World War II order has endured, and in some ways, flourished as much through its exceptions as its uncompromising enforcement. That flexibility allowed the United States to avoid fundamental breaks with key states. It overlooked human rights violations, the stretching of nonproliferation norms, and occasionally bellicose behavior even by the Soviet Union as part of this careful balancing act. This approach recognized that for any order to endure, all the leading powers must endorse it to some degree — and they will never do so if the application of its norms proves fundamentally inimical to their vital interests.

The Russia Problem

Gradually during the Cold War and then with much more energy after 1989, this pragmatic tenor of American leadership — a willingness to compromise on the road to greater order and community — transformed into a much more uncompromising mindset of missionary zeal. This shift has helped produce some real dangers, one of which was the failure to secure the post-Cold War peace with Russia. That failure resulted in a cycle of engagement and disappointment that eventually helped drive U.S.-Russian relations into their present abyss. Undoubtedly, a large share of the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the Russian elite. However, it was the United States’ decision to take a decidedly missionary, rather than strategic, approach to Russia that played an important role in the current breakdown in U.S.-Russia relations. Arguably, the United States should not be blamed for taking advantage of the Soviet Union’s collapse in seeking to advance a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.[30] However, this was meant to be a slogan — not an ideology that led to perpetual NATO expansion, democracy promotion, and half-hearted bids for the former Soviet sphere. Nor was it ever consciously defined as a strategic concept. Taken too far and too quickly, some of these policies have resulted in negative sum gains for all concerned. The United States never made a serious effort to establish a security framework in Europe in which Russia had a stake. Washington vacillated between ignoring Moscow as a defunct great power and naively seeking to convert Russian elites to Western values, rather than securing post-Cold War peace via structured settlement, negotiation on issues in dispute, and a strategy that planned for its inevitable return as a power in Europe. In any scenario, Russia would have taken decades to complete a successful transition from being an imperial power to a constructive participant in a collective regional order, as did Britain and France at one point in their own histories. And yet, the United States took little notice of the long running determinants of Russian strategy or foreign policy that would come into play in that transition. Russia had always sought buffer states in Europe to accommodate for its lack of depth and history of costly wars fought on Russian territory.[31] This history, together with a natural inclination to establish regional hegemony, predictably yielded a zero-sum outlook in Moscow when it came to the expansion of military or political blocs. A national security elite rooted in the Soviet experience would have always proven resistant to liberal democracy, and struggled  to  respect the independence of former Soviet republics. These convictions did not need to be indulged by the United States — but they did need to be understood, planned for, and accommodated in a strategy designed both to advance liberal values and acknowledge Russian imperatives. It was precisely this sort of nuanced approach that a post-Cold War United States, certain of its values and fueled by a unipolar moment, never managed to acquire. Instead, a host of well-meaning policy elites accepted Russian absence from European politics as a green light to engage in what Timothy Snyder terms the “politics of inevitability,” believing that the cycle of history was somehow stopped, and that Russian weakness could be taken as a license for strategic malpractice.[32] NATO intervention in Kosovo demonstrated that the alliance now saw itself as able to dictate security terms in Europe unconstrained by international institutions in which Russia had an equal voice.[33] The long-term consequences of the unilateral use of force in Europe at a time of Russian weakness and insecurity would only be realized years later. Tearing up the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty destroyed what Moscow thought was a pillar of strategic stability at a time when the conventional military balance was entirely in America’s favor.[34] Reframing NATO as a mechanism for out-of-area operations in support of American-led interventions made an equally powerful impression on Russia. A hodgepodge of efforts to promote democracy, political meddling, and NATO expansion ever further despite Russian warnings contributed to an elite consensus in Moscow that the West would only stop when faced with use of force. This is not a myopic argument about blowback from NATO expansion alone, but the inherent cumulative effect of American policies, many of which were uncoordinated, on U.S.-Russian relations.[35] Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled the upshot of this cumulative effect in his 2007 address at the Munich Security Conference.[36] Years of efforts to engage Russia and lectures on the benefits of Western integration, Putin’s broadside made clear, had in no way caused Russian leadership to redefine its fundamental national security assumptions, its outlook on the former Soviet space, or its enduring suspicion of Western intent. Simply put, more than 10 years ago, Russia’s obvious frustrations and public warnings should have made it clear to Western officials that American foreign policy, together with European desires to expand their own supranational political institutions, would lead to conflict in Europe. This was evident to leading Cold War strategists in the 1990s, well before Putin took power or anyone in the West even knew his name.[37] After many years of failure to get its interests taken seriously by Washington, Moscow thought the Russia-Georgia War made its concerns and outlook clear. Yet after 2008, a different group of American policy elites took the helm, still missionary in outlook, and holding on to the belief that with a few transactions in areas of mutual interest, Russian elites somehow could be convinced to abandon longstanding precepts of Russian strategic culture. Washington was then once again caught flatfooted over the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014. The architects of these post-Cold War U.S. policies will insist that their intentions were good, that each of these actions was aimed at upholding some rule or norm of the international order, that Russia need not have been offended, and that it all would have been different if Moscow had made different choices. Some will admit that mistakes were made. But even those who do still cast Russia as the essential problem. They use renewed confrontation with Russia as a strange kind of retroactive justification for the policies that played a hand in creating that confrontation in the first place. It goes without saying — and we must stress this point — that Russia’s historic strategy for attaining security at the expense of others, its paranoid and narrow strategic culture, and its elite-driven decision-making process all constitute the real nub of the problem. But it is precisely because of those realities that almost every aspect of this conflict was predictable. Russia’s spate of aggressive assaults on the post-war order do not exculpate U.S. policymakers for not only failing to secure the post-Cold War peace, but also for failing to prepare for Russia’s inevitable return as a major power in the international system, and in particular a military power in Europe. The harsh realities of Russian interests and intentions only reinforce the dangers of a post-Cold War policy toward Russia fueled by hegemonic overreach and missionary absolutism, rather than by an effort to deal with Russia as it is. Many of Moscow’s demands need not threaten the security of the West and those that do must be vigorously countered. But America’s approach to Russia in the wake of the Cold War looks like an almost willful 30-year effort to ignore Russian prerogatives, threats, and internal mobilization in the name of the rules and norms of the post-World War II order — an order that, as Moscow is busily reminding us (and as Beijing is likely to do as well), simply cannot endure if other powers don’t subscribe to it. The only reason Russia has not left this order entirely — as an aggrieved Japan once withdrew from the League of Nations in the 1930s[38] — is that it has few options in the way of allies today, remains dependent on the global financial system, and appears still to crave some degree of international legitimacy.[39] While Russia has not taken such fundamental steps as abandoning the United Nations or even many international treaties, there is  growing evidence that Moscow perceives itself to be unconstrained by existing rules and norms. If anything, Russia seems increasingly unconcerned about its reputation, credibility, and legitimacy in the West. This is likely due not simply to desperation, but to the perception that there is little the West can do to impose its will. Russia has become unbridled in its use of political and cyber-enabled information warfare against the United States and its allies. Its military campaign in Syria has demonstrated that Russia is able to independently and effectively project power in another region, reaffirming that Moscow is still a great power in the international system and that it was underestimated in 2015. [quote id="3"] One of the barriers to the necessary course correction in U.S. strategy is that the missionary sensibility now guiding much of America’s foreign policy is grounded in some very real — but also very qualified — truths. America’s role is different from that of other great powers.[40] American values do travel. Soft power, a network of allies and partners, and a leading role in the order's governing institutions do constitute some of America's greatest advantages. Many other countries, perhaps most, do believe that their interests are better served with Washington at the helm than Beijing or Moscow — or no one at all. Equally important is that, despite the preponderance of American power in the post-Cold War period, small and middle powers do not see the United States as a threat.[41] The post-war order has strongly benefited U.S. interests, in ways ranging from the creation of institutions that help stabilize the global economy to wrapping U.S. power and purpose in legitimizing multilateral context.[42] Such realities account for why so many other countries are willing to overlook the occasional hypocrisy, give the United States credit for good intentions, and remain firmly wedded to the order Washington cobbled together in the aftermath of World War II. They are also a major reason why Russian and Chinese calls to balance American power have long gone unheeded, and why, despite the inherently unstable nature of a unilateral system, it has continued for over 25 years. Yet how to maintain the current order, and American leadership, after the demise of unipolarity could prove the most vexing question of this looming transition. Continuing this post-Cold War pattern of standing too straight-backed at the altar of the shared order, holding too inflexibly to its rule set, will at best produce a brittle and unsustainable system — and at worst, magnify the dangers of unfathomably destructive wars.

Rebuilding the City on a Hill

Part of the danger of a missionary attitude, then, is that it damages America’s ability to take the interests of other major powers into consideration and encourages the adventurist promotion of Western values and the enforcement of rules in ways guaranteed to manufacture continual disputes and crises. A theological approach to foreign policy has warped Washington’s judgment and, combined with the immense power at its disposal, impelled the United States to take more risks than its interests would dictate.[43] Ask a typical group of U.S. national security hands behind closed doors whether Washington should go to war over Ukraine, Georgia, or Syria, or to ensure free navigation in the South China Sea — as both of us have done on numerous occasions — and they are likely to laugh uncomfortably and shake their heads. And yet the inherent value of defending the norms established by the post-war order imbues each of these things with a supposed precedential value that supersedes the strict national interests involved. This is not the first time that secondary issues have taken on primary importance because of their symbolic value. The Cold War was full of such examples. But there is a perilous difference between fighting off a global ideological menace in far-flung places with little inherent significance and defending abstract global norms along the borders of other great powers. The nature of the credibility imperative has changed, and yet the United States is sliding quickly back into Cold War thinking that, because general principles matter, everywhere and everything matters — even issues and places of far more intrinsic importance to our competitors than to us.[44] Jack Snyder argues that the myth of “cumulative losses,” which often appear in the form of unsubstantiated domino theories (i.e., that any setbacks in international affairs will necessarily escalate into a cascade of defeats) is a recurring theme among policy establishments heading towards over-extension and strategic insolvency.[45] It is, of course, true that some of the states testing the boundaries today do have malign, or at least aggressive, intentions. The United States cannot simply disregard Russian aggression in Ukraine or meddling in Western political processes, or declare itself unconcerned with the potential for Chinese aggression against Taiwan. Our recommendations are designed to sustain, not abandon, a broadly shared, rules-based order. Even without the prompting of exaggerated domino theories, some rules must be enforced if and when the violations are profound enough. But an approach guided by statecraft rather than theology urges the United States to ask critical discriminating questions in the process of making such judgments. Which are the rules that must be rigidly enforced? What norms must be forcibly advanced? How, precisely, should the United States go about both of those tasks? There is a good reason why some form of compromise and respect for mutual interests has been part of every successful program to manage rivalry. Merely saying some things matter less than others is not tantamount to saying nothing matters. If Washington is not careful, a refusal to temper U.S. ambitions will produce a series of unnecessary and exhausting wars that, in the most tragic of ironies, end up generating the only scenarios likely to pose a truly existential threat to the U.S. homeland. It is time to finally abandon the crude, unqualified domino theories and credibility obsessions that plague our policy establishment. Russian annexation of Crimea is not a prelude to an invasion of NATO. Lithuania is not Ukraine. And none of them is Germany. In order to deter other powers and make room for compromise, the United States should stop lecturing these nations about what their interests ought to be and instead determine which of those interests America can live with and be willing to grant those interests some measure of political legitimacy. To refuse to admit the legitimacy of a rival’s core interests is to make the conflict total, rendering it impossible to offer them assurances that if they refrain from undesired actions, we will forgo punishment. There is a profound difference between delegitimizing enemies when at war, which is commonplace, and delegitimizing countries with whom you wish to avert war, thus reducing your own space for compromise, settlement, and any incentive they might have to negotiate. Without such assurances, effective deterrence becomes both difficult and expensive. As Thomas Schelling has argued, the “pain and suffering” embodied in deterrent threats “have to appear contingent on” a potential aggressor’s behavior.[46] Adversaries who assume that the United States will punish them no matter what they do have no incentive for restraint. Ideological purity also limits America’s options for resolving disputes by making it difficult to compromise or broker imperfect deals out of fear of political backlash at home. The missionary mindset makes the United States unwilling to surrender one iota of freedom of action (by constraining missile defense deployments, for example), or institutionalize anything but the purest enforcement of rules. This makes most treaties or compacts impossible to pass and creates a host of constraints that result in Washington only having the “big stick” to use as its principal means of management. This pattern has accelerated since 1989: The United States has become constitutionally incapable of signing, ratifying, or upholding limited deals to manage complex problems — whether that’s the Agreed Framework with North Korea, a series of climate accords, or the nuclear deal with Iran. But dismissing diplomatic half-measures in favor of the big stick is a strategy with little coercive value against powers with similarly sized sticks and a growing allergy to American dictates. If something like the entirely sensible post-Cold War U.S.-Russian arms agreements were to give way to a world without any arms control, for example, U.S. interests would only suffer.

The International Order: Back to the Old Testament

What, then, is the alternative? The answer does not lie in one of the variants of retrenchment on offer today.[47] The U.S. role as the leader and hub of a flexible but still meaningful rule-based world order — including the deterrent power of a potent and globally-postured U.S. military — underwrites peace and stability. The general U.S. strategy of “deep engagement” has benefited both U.S. interests and global economic and political security,[48] and the commitments to such engagement found in the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy are heartening indeed. But there is a readily-available middle ground between retrenchment and predominance: The United States should remain internationally engaged while abandoning the dangerous implications of the missionary mindset that has prevailed for more than three decades. A more humble and restrained version of U.S. engagement would have several basic characteristics. First, it would require greater power-sharing in setting and enforcing rules in the international order, ranging from trade and finance to regional security.[49] As more states become determined to have a voice in the setting and enforcement of rules in the post-war international order, and as they acquire the power to make their voices heard, that order will have to become more legitimately multilateral if it is going to survive.[50] Keeping the other major powers vested in the system is an essential component of any strategy to constrain them and contain the competition; the lower their stake in the current order, the shorter its lifespan will be. There is some evidence that a shared order, with leadership coming from more corners of the world, could work. Consider Europe’s drive to save the Paris climate deal absent America,[51] Japan’s leadership of a rump Trans-Pacific Partnership,[52] or China’s desire to lead and change, rather than destroy, established international institutions.[53] [quote id="4"] A more multilateral order can work, but Washington must find a way to make it work, because an order based solely on American unipolarity is not sustainable. Simply put, American power, both relative and absolute, is insufficient to underwrite the order as it is currently conceived and being enforced by its own policy community. The more stakeholders and centers of leadership, the more resilient the current order actually will become, but this of course means the United States will have to learn to share the steering wheel. Otherwise the United States risks discrediting its leadership and surrendering even more influence to others. It is Beijing’s quest to take charge of the current order, rather than destroy it and make enemies of its beneficiaries. That is what ought to worry Washington the most. Second, a revised approach would counsel patience rather than urgency in the promotion of key norms and values. The great insight of U.S. Cold War strategy was that America’s job was not to force a value change on the Soviet Union. It was instead to establish and safeguard an international system that ultimately would outlast and envelop the Soviet Union. The United States channeled conflict with the Soviet Union to distant proxy wars, where escalation dynamics could be controlled and the stakes to both parties were far from existential. In the process, beginning with Dwight Eisenhower’s rejection of an outright “rollback” strategy,[54] successive U.S. administrations displayed a recognition of Soviet core interests, and a realization that the United States could not prevail if it competed so hard that it provoked the other side into a cataclysmic war. In the end, the Soviet Union’s own internal contradictions caught up with it, as cynicism and dysfunction consumed the system from the inside. Over time, it voluntarily signed up for the institutions of a system that would contain the competition, such as the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. Arms control, transparency, and confidence building treaties followed. In the end, the Soviet Union ceased being a revolutionary power and became a satisfied power in Europe. The same concept — taking steps to gradually and inexorably create a context that produces desired changes rather than dispatching military forces or implementing economic sanctions to force those changes overnight — can and should be the starting point for a revised conception of the international order. With properly employed statecraft, values that Americans believe to be self-selling goods, from free markets to human rights to democracy, ought to prove attractive of their own accord. U.S. policy can sponsor and support these outcomes with a continuing and powerful strategy for liberal value promotion. But the primary goal of such a strategy would be to encourage established and emerging trends toward liberal values rather than force them into infertile soil. In the process of executing this strategy, the United States should eschew military intervention for humanitarian purposes except in select cases. Those would include situations in which the United States can obtain fairly universal endorsement in the form of such signs as U.N. Security Council support. This rule would generally avoid throwing American weight behind region-wide revolutions, especially those that are likely to wash up on the doorsteps of other great powers. Washington should not cease being a beacon for democracy, but it also should think carefully about where democracy promotion is liable to engender political crises that could translate into security contests. The United States can amply fulfill its commitment to liberal values without disregarding the sovereignty or interests of other major powers. It can craft closer and more overtly supportive partnerships with rising democracies, boost foreign aid to developing countries that are building nascent democratic systems, expand humanitarian assistance missions and programs, and advance technical assistance and human capital development programs around the world. Third, the revised approach to U.S. engagement would prioritize diplomacy and statecraft over military power. Secretary of Defense James Mattis — like many recent secretaries of defense — has spoken repeatedly and passionately about the importance of placing diplomacy at the forefront of U.S. national security strategy, and the need to invest in the tools required for such an emphasis.[55] Multiple diplomatic initiatives are now underway, from the Indo-Pacific-inspired engagement of India and Japan to negotiations with North Korea to close cooperation with NATO on enhancing deterrence. Read in isolation, however, and considered alongside recent boosts in defense spending,[56] the new strategy documents seem to convey a vision in which the United States amasses military might to reaffirm U.S. dominance while avoiding hard political choices, essentially doubling down on raw power to compensate for loss of influence. In an era when leading competitors are discovering effective means of bolstering their influence outside the military lane and below the threshold of conflict, while also investing heavily in the capacity to offset U.S. power projection in their regions, this approach seems destined to disappoint. Despite some emerging concepts such as “multi-domain operations,” “dynamic force employment,” and “joint lethality,” there is little in the new National Security Strategy or National Defense Strategy to suggest a rethinking of how the United States integrates the military with other instruments of national power. Direct competition, contesting regional balances of power with Russia and China, and a capability-centric approach continue to dominate the national security mindset. In these documents, Washington recognizes the rise of great power competition, and the erosion of America’s military power, but not the need to change its strategy or outlook on the international order. As a consequence, the “whole of government” approach we so often hear espoused often turns out to be little more than a whole of Pentagon approach: The military toolkit is not used in integrated combination with non-military approaches, but as a substitute for them. Placing statecraft before military power would amount to a tacit acknowledgement that the United States is overburdened by an expansive alliance network in which the credibility of extended deterrence is every day more difficult. Arming the regional adversaries of powers like Russia and China, or further expanding existing alliances, will have profound consequences, as these great powers have both the will and the power to enact stronger and destabilizing countermeasures. This requires exercising judgment in the choice of weapon systems and forces deployed on Russian or Chinese borders. It demands choosing deterrence over dominance in such theaters as the South China Sea, aiming to block potential Chinese aggression with far less expectation of power projection.[57] It also means indefinitely deferring NATO membership for some countries, a proposition many in Western circles find uncomfortable. However, it does not preclude creating other forms of affiliation, cooperation, and partnership beyond what has become a myopic fixation on NATO expansion. As this last example suggests, the fourth and final characteristic of implementing a revised approach in U.S. strategy will be to confront hard choices and make painful compromises in dealing with Russia and China. These are major, resilient, and nuclear-armed adversaries, and there is no getting around the fact that these illiberal states will have a say in the order, just as the Soviet Union did before them, and just as the great powers did in the eras prior to the Cold War. Absolutists will respond that any compromise on the order’s rules and norms is tantamount to surrender.[58] In some of the more pitiless conceptions of a global order, that is certainly true: An unapologetic great power-centric order would embrace value-free spheres of influence. Some believe that this is the Manichean choice that confronts the United States in Europe and Asia and that no acceptable middle ground exists on which Russia and the West, or China and the United States, can each see their vital interests upheld while the rules and institutions of a shared order persist. There is now a tragic degree to which this has become a reality. For the foreseeable future, the U.S.-Russian relationship will be adversarial and the potential for cooperation or engagement extremely small. In order for relations to stabilize, some form of settlement must come into place concerning Ukraine. And that may take a while. The current confrontation is not only likely to be the new normal, it is also certain to continue as long as Putin is in power. There is no deal to be made with him for two reasons. First, there is a broad political consensus in Washington that, after interference in the 2016 elections, Putin is de facto beyond the pale, and any condominium with him would be tantamount to betrayal. The second is more practical: Congressional sanctions passed in July 2017 make the confrontation structural, and it is rather difficult to see any scenario in which these sanctions are lifted absent Putin’s departure. Even if the executive branch were so inclined, Congress has dramatically curtailed its ability to make any deals with Russia. For much of the policy establishment, the confrontation with Russia is, if not personal, highly personalized when it comes to Vladimir Putin. However, Washington can begin thinking about how to position itself in such a way as to avoid repeating this same tragic cycle after Putin’s departure. Were he to stay, the problem would remain much the same. U.S. policymakers need to take heed not to indulge in some fantasy that a new Russian leader, or elite power structure, will be willing to redefine how Russia conceives of its security. Russia not only should be constrained, but also dealt with — and the only effective way to strike the necessary balances will be through statecraft rather than missionary confrontation. Absent a change in approach, the same fate will befall U.S.-Chinese relations, as many in Washington prepare for a confrontation with Beijing over its regional and global ambitions. From the perspective of the missionary mindset, China too has sinned, by failing to liberalize as its economic power grew and refusing to behave “responsibly” in the international system — code for not behaving like a classical great power.[59] The real complaint is that American missionary expectations have been unfulfilled: China is not simply “joining” the U.S.-led order as it stands, subordinating its own objectives, and interpretations of its interests, to American and Western models. Such an outcome should never have been expected. China’s history, size, and self-conception mean that it ultimately wants no one but itself to determine at least the Asian regional order. This is not, again, to suggest that the United States must accede to China’s view of the regional order, and quietly accept any behaviors Beijing undertakes. Some Chinese provocations would be incompatible with central rules and norms of any meaningful international order: paramilitary aggression against the Senkaku Islands, military adventurism to claim sovereignty in the South China Sea, an unprovoked attack against Taiwan, or accelerated economic espionage and coercive industrial policies against outside companies. The United States should lead multilateral processes to deter such actions (though not always with military threats, even in the case of military aggression). But such negotiations can unfold in a mutually-respectful dialogue between two great powers who retain fundamental respect for each other’s prerogatives. The risk today is that the U.S. national security dialogue on China is becoming increasingly overheated and theological, nominating China for the role of ideologically-motivated militarist. The new National Defense Strategy already paints China as having a sinister, shared vision with Russia, to “shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model.”[60] If the result is a replay, in different terms, of the refusal to take Russian interests seriously that unfolded after 1991, then China, like Russia, will be likely to break with the rules of the post-war order in a more overt manner. The conflict will then become total and ideological, just as it has with Russia. Yet, if the United States has failed to cow or isolate Russia, the prospects for doing so with China are virtually nonexistent. [quote id="5"] The truly dangerous dynamic here does not reflect the cliché of the Thucydides trap — the idea of an explosive relationship between a rising and an established power.[61] It is rather the reality of transforming any broad and nuanced strategy into a religion. When a predominant power, convinced of its indispensability, and viewing the world through the lens of moralism rather than statesmanship, holds so tightly to an immovable reading of shared rules and norms, it can provoke unnecessary opposition and perhaps even trigger a disaster.[62] Correcting America’s approach to these two rivals would require seeking a serious, renewed dialogue with Moscow and Beijing about what a stable regional order would look like. It would also mean taking seriously each country’s interests and ambitions rather than dismissing their legitimacy under the shadow of global rights and wrongs. This new approach would lay down a few hard and fast rules designed to sustain the fundamentals of a rule-based order — prohibitions on outright territorial aggression, destructively predatory economic policies, and actions taken to disrupt and fracture the politics and societies of other states — but otherwise it would be open to compromise and half-measures. At the same time, it would work even more energetically to gain truly multilateral support for that narrower set of rules. America would need to acknowledge that arguments about how to achieve a shared goal (such as Iranian or North Korean denuclearization) are not tantamount to norm violations, and cease, for the most part, trying to coerce others into favored American tactics through such tools as “secondary sanctions.”[63] This fresh approach to U.S. engagement would require admitting that, increasingly, the United States will have to compromise on some of its own favored policies to get the deals it wants. A new consensus limiting Russian-style political interference, for example, is likely to require painful concessions on U.S. efforts to promote democracy abroad. A revised strategic mindset would redouble efforts, and offer bold compromises, in order to achieve or renew bilateral arms agreements with both Russia and China. The changing military balances in Europe and Asia-Pacific call for regional security arrangements, treaties, and political agreements on behavior in global domains, such as cyber or space. A more robust American military presence should be coupled with stabilizing initiatives in conventional arms control and measures to drive the competition into stable deterrence rather than security dilemmas and spiral decision-making models, which Washington can doubtfully afford to sustain. Russia’s break with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty may mean that this agreement will not survive, but Washington can only gain by looking for new ways to restrain Russian force modernization and expanded force posture in Europe. As the single superpower with both global responsibilities and burdens and a normative vision for the international order, the United States has everything to defend, and only stands to lose from an uncontrolled competition. History offers valuable lessons here. Although the period of détente (1969–1979) failed to stop the Cold War, in part because of unrealistic expectations that it would do exactly that, it had a profoundly stabilizing effect at a time of transition in the global balance of power. This period led to formal arms control agreements, recognition of political borders, military confidence-building measures, and economic and cultural exchange along with an acknowledgment of the importance of human rights.[64] The Soviet Union sought to reduce tension on its Western borders at the same time as the United States was dealing with an objective loss of global superiority. Then, as now, the policy establishment was looking to find its footing in the face of American decline in its predominance in both military and political spheres. Détente didn’t last, but it was profoundly beneficial for Washington, and by engaging Moscow, it set in motion a host of processes that would ultimately lead to the Soviet Union’s demise. Today, similar forms of political, economic, and military agreements can be part of the recipe for reducing tensions with Russia and structuring the competition such that the United States retains leadership without eroding the order — that is, if the settlements become a way of reestablishing the order rather than forsaking it.[65] The challenge with this time period, unlike 1980, which saw the end of détente and a reinvigorated Cold War competition at a time of Soviet stagnation, is that history seems unlikely to repeat itself. Setting aside Washington’s problems with Russia, rogue states, and international terrorism, China alone has the range of power and ambitions to confront the United States with a competition it would struggle to resource and sustain. Hence the United States should revisit stabilizing periods like détente, when deals and compromises were made with adversaries, and restore that element of pragmatism to its strategic outlook. In sum, then, a new U.S. approach to international affairs would include treating Russia and China with a degree of political respect and legitimacy, rather than as miscreants opposed to the true and right vision of the future. This does not mean that the United States should abandon its efforts to hold them to some standard. Quite the contrary. It is only by reining in its absolutism and behaving in a more multilateral and flexible fashion that the United States is likely to gain the global support it needs to sustain the most essential rules of the post-war order. And it is only by addressing the rising grievances of these two potentially dangerous revisionist powers — rather than simply declaring those grievances illegitimate — that the United States will begin to create the basis on which China and Russia themselves feel able to compromise. At the same time, to succeed in the intensifying competition now underway, the United States will have to face the reality that if it does not get its own economic, political, and social house in order, it will be increasingly weak and vulnerable regardless of its military prowess. Americans have now elected four presidents in a row who claimed that making America strong internationally meant, first and foremost, attending to the domestic sources of national power. Yet pressing issues like exploding debt, entitlement reform, a crumbling infrastructure, criminal justice reform, climate change, political polarization, and information security, to name a few, continue to beg for solutions. But that will require the political will to conceive of bold answers. Major progress on several of these issues would do more to set back the ideological challenge of China and Russia and reaffirm the American model as the one to emulate, than any conceivable addition to the defense budget. The strategic moment, in other words, demands a lighter and more flexible touch abroad combined with bold action at home. Left unattended, however, the missionary mindset of U.S. foreign policy is likely to drive the nation in precisely the opposite direction. America’s experience in creating and then managing the post-World War II international order has repeatedly disproven the idea that it must choose between appeasement and war, or between value promotion and compromise. In his seminal 1961 speech, John F. Kennedy rejected these rigid formulations, arguing that
each of these extreme opposites resembles the other. Each believes that we have only two choices: appeasement or war, suicide or surrender, humiliation or holocaust, to be either Red or dead. Each side sees only ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ nations, hard and soft policies, hard and soft men.
Instead, he believed that “diplomacy and defense are not substitutes for one another” and that “as long as we know what comprises our vital interests and our long-range goals, we have nothing to fear from negotiations at the appropriate time, and nothing to gain by refusing to take part in them.”[66] This is the vision that America must rekindle, and it is this kind of America that is missing from the world stage.   Michael Mazarr is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. He also serves as an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He holds A.B. and M.A. degrees from Georgetown University and a doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs. He has been a faculty member and associate dean at the U.S. National War College, president of the Henry L. Stimson Center, senior vice president for strategic planning at the Electronic Industries Alliance, senior fellow and journal editor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, legislative assistant for foreign affairs and chief writer in the office of Representative Dave McCurdy, and special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He served seven years in the U.S. Navy Reserve, in both enlisted and commissioned ranks, as an intelligence specialist. He has authored over a dozen books, including North Korea and the Bomb (1995) and Unmodern Men in the Modern World:  Radical Islam, Terrorism, and the War on Modernity (2007).  The views expressed here are his own. Mr. Michael Kofman is Director of the Russia Studies Program at CNA Corporation and a Fellow at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C. Mr. Kofman directs the Russia Studies Program at CNA, where he specializes in the Russian armed forces and security issues in the former Soviet Union. Mr. Kofman's other affiliations include a fellowship at the Modern War Institute at West Point, and as a Senior Editor at War on the Rocks. Previously he served at National Defense University as a Program Manager and subject matter expert, advising senior military and government officials on issues in Russia/Eurasia. He has published numerous articles on security issues in Russia/Eurasia, along with analyses for the U.S. government. Mr. Kofman holds a M.A. in International Security from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, and a B.A. in Political Science from Northeastern University.   Image: Wikimedia Commons [post_title] => Rediscovering Statecraft in a Changing Post-War Order [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => rediscovering-statecraft-in-a-changing-post-war-order [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-17 10:04:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-17 14:04:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=583 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => If Washington doubles down on U.S. military and geopolitical predominance, it risks transforming the emerging competitive era into something far more confrontational and zero-sum than it needs to be. If it hopes to retain its position of leadership, the United States will have to make the present international order truly multilateral. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => Over time, the demand for purity in rule-making and enforcement has achieved a sort of religious fervor. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => [T]he post-war order never was conceived of as constitutional, absolute, or without exceptions. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => [I]t was the United States’ decision to take a decidedly missionary, rather than strategic, approach to Russia that played an important role in the current breakdown in U.S.-Russia relations. ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Adversaries who assume that the United States will punish them no matter what they do have no incentive for restraint. ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => Simply put, American power, both relative and absolute, is insufficient to underwrite the order as it is currently conceived. ) ) [style] => strategist [type] => Strategist [style_label] => The Strategist [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 171 [1] => 121 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] Andrew Higgins, “It’s No Cold War, But Relations with Russia Turn Volatile,” New York Times, Mar. 26, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/world/europe/russia-expulsions-cold-war.html. [2] The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States of America,  December 2017, 2, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf. [3] The Department of Defense, Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America: Sharpening America's Competitive Edge, January 2018, 2, https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf. [4] National Security Strategy, 2017. [5] Hal Brands, “Choosing Primacy: U.S. Strategy and Global Order at the Dawn of the Post-Cold War Era,” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 2 (February 2018), https://tnsr.org/2018/02/choosing-primacy-u-s-strategy-global-order-dawn-post-cold-war-era-2/. See also Eric S. Edelman, “The Broken Consensus: America's Contested Primacy,” World Affairs 173, no. 4 (December 2010), http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/broken-consensus-americas-contested-primacy. Van Jackson argues in a thoughtful essay that America never sought primacy, at least in Asia; see “American Military Superiority and the Pacific-Primacy Myth,” Survival 60, no. 2 (March 2018). We would suggest he has defined the required elements of a strategy of primacy too narrowly. [6] Charles A. Kupchan, “The Decline of the West: Why America Must Prepare for the End of Dominance,” Atlantic, Mar. 20, 2012, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/the-decline-of-the-west-why-america-must-prepare-for-the-end-of-dominance/254779/. For a more extended argument, see Charles A. Kupchan, No One’s World: The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), https://doi.org/10.1080/09700161.2014.895245. [7] This was the conclusion of the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report from 2008; see Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008), https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/Newsroom/Reports%20and%20Pubs/2025_Global_Trends_Final_Report.pdf. See also Matthew Burrows and Roger George, “Is America Ready for a Multipolar World?” National Interest, Jan. 20, 2016, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/america-ready-multipolar-world-14964. [8] Andrew J. Bacevich, The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). See also Daryl Press and Benjamin Valentino, “A Balanced Foreign Policy,” in How to Make America Safe: New Policies for National Security, ed. Stephen Van Evera, (Cambridge, MA: The Tobin Project, 2006). [9] For a description of the current order, see Michael J. Mazarr, Miranda Priebe, Andrew Radin, and Astrid Stuth Cevallos, Understanding the Current International Order (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2016). See also the analysis of John Bew, “World Order: Many-Headed Monster or Noble Pursuit?” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 1 (Dec. 2017). [10] See John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (New York: Penguin, 2009) and Andrew J. Bacevich, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (New York: Holt, 2009). [11] Bill Keller, “The Return of America’s Missionary Impulse,” New York Times Magazine, Apr. 15, 2011, https://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17Lede-t.html. [12] Mark Kersten, “The Responsibility to Protect Doctrine is Faltering. Here’s Why,” Washington Post, Dec. 8, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2015/12/08/the-responsibility-to-protect-doctrine-is-failing-heres-why/?utm_term=.1ec01eb7adb1; Edward Rhodes, “The Imperial Logic of Bush's Liberal Agenda,” Survival 45, no. 1 (2007), https://doi.org/10.1080/00396330312331343356; Michael C. Desch, “The Liberal Complex,” American Conservative, Jan. 10, 2011, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-liberal-complex/. [13] Anthony C. Zinni, “The ‘Responsibility to Protect’ and the Dangers of Military Intervention in Fragile States,” in Secular Nationalism and Citizenship in Muslim Countries, ed. Kail C. Ellis, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 171-177. See also Mohammed Ayoob, “Humanitarian Intervention and State Sovereignty,” The International Journal of Human Rights 6, no. 1 (September 2010), https://doi.org/10.1080/714003751. [14] Henry Kissinger, “A New Doctrine of Intervention?” Washington Post, Mar. 30, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-new-doctrine-of-intervention/2012/03/30/gIQAcZL6lS_story.html?utm_term=.041085544113. [15] Russian views of this process are described in Andrew Radin and Clinton Bruce Reach, Russian Views of the International Order (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2017). [16] A sympathetic account of such activities which nonetheless describes their risks is Thomas Carothers, “Responding to the Democracy Promotion Backlash,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 8, 2006, http://carnegieendowment.org/2006/06/08/responding-to-democracy-promotion-backlash-pub-18416. [17] Ellen Mitchell, “Pentagon: War in Afghanistan Will Cost $45 Billion in 2018,” Hill, Feb. 6, 2018, http://thehill.com/policy/defense/372641-pentagon-war-in-afghanistan-will-cost-45-billion-in-2018. [18] This is a major theme of Henry Kissinger, World Order (New York: Penguin Books, 2014). [19] An excellent source on these trends is Oliver Steunkel, Post-Western World: How Emerging Powers Are Remaking Global Order (London: Polity, 2016). [20] For a fine survey of U.S. strategy in the post-Cold War period, see Hal Brands, Making the Unipolar Moment:  U.S. Foreign Policy and the Rise of the Post-Cold War Order (Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 2016). [21] This distinction is made in Mazarr, Priebe, Radin, and Cevallos, Understanding the Current International Order. [22] See, for example, Stewart Patrick, The Best Laid Plans: The Origins of American Multilateralism and the Dawn of the Cold War (Rowman and Littlefield, 2008). [23] An excellent recent survey of the evolution of thinking on sovereignty in the modern international order is Stewart Patrick, The Sovereignty Wars: Reconciling America with the World (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution Press, 2017). See also Richard N. Haass, “World Order 2.0: The Case for Sovereign Obligation,” Foreign Affairs 96, no. 1 (January/February 2017), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2016-12-12/world-order-20. [24] The story of the origins of the United Nations is told in Mark Mazower, Governing the World: The History of an Idea, 1815 to the Present (New York: The Penguin Press, 2012), 191-213. He concludes that the framers of the system “ended up creating an organization that combined the scientific technocracy of the New Deal with the flexibility and power-political reach of the nineteenth-century European alliance system.” [25] The literature on the inconsistencies of U.S. human rights policy, especially during the Cold War, is immense. For a brief survey, see Mark P. Lagon, “Promoting Human Rights: Is U.S. Consistency Desirable or Possible?” Council on Foreign Relations, Oct. 19, 2011, https://www.cfr.org/expert-brief/promoting-human-rights-us-consistency-desirable-or-possible. See also David Carleton and Michael Stohl, “The Foreign Policy of Human Rights: Rhetoric and Reality from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan,” Human Rights Quarterly 7, no. 2 (May 1985), http://www.jstor.org/stable/762080; Ted Galen Carpenter, “The Hypocritical Strain in U.S. Foreign Policy,” he National Interest, May 4, 2011, https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/hypocritical-strain-us-foreign-policy; and Kathryn Sikkink, Mixed Signals: U.S. Human Rights Policy and Latin America (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2004). [26] The concept of balance and flexibility is a major theme in Dennis Ross, Statecraft: And How to Restore America's Standing in the World (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008). [27] Indeed, this concept was given a theoretical foundation with John Gerard Ruggie’s notion of “embedded liberalism,” the idea that the post-war socioeconomic order gained strength through the flexibility to allow a certain amount of domestic variations from the liberalizing norms of the system. John Gerard Ruggie, “International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order,” International Organization 36, no. 2 (Spring 1982), https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818300018993. [28] For arguments on this score, see Craig Martin, “International Law and U.S. Military Strikes on Syria,” Huffington Post, Aug. 31, 2013,  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-martin/international-law-and-the_b_3849593.html; Sharmine Narwani, “Is the Expanding U.S. Military Presence in Syria Legal?” The American Conservative, Aug. 4, 2017, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/is-the-expanding-u-s-military-presence-in-syria-legal/; and Laurie Blank, “Syria Strikes: Legitimacy and Lawfulness,” Lawfare, Apr. 16, 2018, https://lawfareblog.com/syria-strikes-legitimacy-and-lawfulness. The international reaction to the legality of the latest round of U.S. and allied strikes has been mixed, with most states declining to take a formal position one way or the other. See Alonso Gurmendi Dunkelberg, Rebecca Ingber, Priya Pillai, and Elvina Pothelet, “Mapping States’ Reactions to the Syria Strikes of April 2018,” Just Security, Apr. 22, 2018, https://www.justsecurity.org/55157/mapping-states-reactions-syria-strikes-april-2018/. [30] James Goldgeier has argued that a series of U.S.-Russian meetings in the early years of the post-Cold War period “symbolize the narrative of the entire decade: While desirous of a new relationship with Russia, the United States saw itself as the Cold War victor and had the power to shape the security dynamic across Europe.” The result, he argues, is that “while NATO enlargement spread security across a region more accustomed to insecurity or unwelcome domination, the failure to provide a place for Russia in the European security framework (for which Russia is responsible as well) left a zone of insecurity between NATO and Russia that continues to bedevil policymakers.” See James Goldgeier, “Promises Made, Promises Broken? What Yeltsin Was Told about NATO in 1993 and Why It Matters,” War on the Rocks, July 12, 2016, https://warontherocks.com/2016/07/promises-made-promises-broken-what-yeltsin-was-told-about-nato-in-1993-and-why-it-matters/. He is less critical of the post-Cold War U.S. strategy than our analysis; see also Goldgeier, “Less Whole, Less Free, Less at Peace: Whither America’s Strategy for a Post-Cold War Europe?” War on the Rocks, Feb. 12, 2018, https://warontherocks.com/2018/02/less-whole-less-free-less-peace-whither-americas-strategy-post-cold-war-europe/. [31] For historical surveys of Russian foreign policy that touch on this perennial imperative in Russian strategic culture, see for example Robert Legvold, ed., Russian Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century and the Legacy of the Past (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007) and Stephen Kotkin’s “Russia’s Perpetual Geopolitics, Foreign Affairs 95, no. 3 (May/June 2016), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/ukraine/2016-04-18/russias-perpetual-geopolitics. For a general discussion, see Dmitry Trenin, “Russia’s Spheres of Interest, Not Influence,” The Washington Quarterly 32, no. 4 (October 2009), https://doi.org/10.1080/01636600903231089. [32] Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2017). [33] For the role of resentment over Kosovo in sparking recent Russian actions, see Masha Gessen, “Crimea is Putin’s Revenge,” Slate, Mar. 21, 2014, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/03/putin_s_crimea_revenge_ever_since_the_u_s_bombed_kosovo_in_1999_putin_has.html. See also Ted Galen Carpenter, “How Kosovo Poisoned America’s Relationship with Russia,” National Interest, May 19, 2017, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-kosovo-poisoned-americas-relationship-russia-20755; and Stephen J. Blank, Threats to Russian Security: The View from Moscow (Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army Strategic Studies Institute, 2000). [34] Tom Z. Collina, “Dumping the ABM Treaty: Was It Worth It?” Arms Control Now, June 12, 2012. [35] For a general review of events, see Jeffrey Tayler, “The Seething Anger of Putin’s Russia,” Atlantic, Sept. 22, 2014, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/09/russia-west-united-states-past-future-conflict/380533/; and Radin and Reach, Russian Views, 23-29. [36] See “Putin's Prepared Remarks at 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy,” Washington Post, Feb. 12, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/12/AR2007021200555.html. [37] See Thomas Friedman, “Foreign Affairs; Now a Word From X,” New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/02/opinion/foreign-affairs-now-a-word-from-x.html; and Kenneth N. Waltz, “Structural Realism after the Cold War,” International Security 24, no. 1 (Summer 2000), http://www.columbia.edu/itc/sipa/U6800/readings-sm/Waltz_Structural%20Realism.pdf. [38] Eri Hotta, Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013). [39] Radin and Reach, Russian Views. [40] One recent argument on this score is James Traub, “America Can’t Win Great-Power Hardball,” Foreign Policy, Nov. 16, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/11/16/america-cant-win-great-power-hardball/. [41] Keir A. Lieber and Gerard Alexander, “Waiting for Balancing: Why the World is Not Pushing Back,” International Security 30, no. 1 (Summer 2005), https://doi.org/10.1162/0162288054894580. [42] Michael J. Mazarr and Ashley L. Rhoades, Testing the Value of the Postwar International Order (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2018). [43] A number of analysts have written about the tendency of modern American predominance to generate expanding ambitions. See, for example, Christopher Preble, The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009), especially 87-115. Our own recommendations are less comprehensive than Preble’s, and we do not agree with every aspect of his portrait of U.S. military power. [44] Stephen M. Walt, “Why Are U.S. Leaders So Obsessed with Credibility?” Foreign Policy, Sept. 11, 2012, http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/09/11/why-are-u-s-leaders-so-obsessed-with-credibility/; and Christopher Fettweis, “Credibility and the War on Terror,” Political Science Quarterly 122, no. 4 (Winter 2007), http://www.jstor.org/stable/20202929. [45] Jack Snyder, Myths of Empire: Domestic Politics and International Ambition (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991). [46] Thomas Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), 4. [47] For one recent example see Eugene Gholz, Daryl G. Press and Harvey M. Sapolsky, “Come Home America: The Strategy of Restraint in the Face of Temptation,” International Security 21, no. 4 (Spring 1997). [48] Stephen G. Brooks, G. John Ikenberry, and William C. Wohlforth. "Don't Come Home, America: The Case against Retrenchment," International Security 37, no. 3 (Winter 2011/2012): 7-51, https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00107. [49] See for example Amitav Acharya, The End of American World Order (New York: Polity, 2014). [50] A good recent statement of the need for a multilateral conception of a shifting order is Trine Flockart, Charles A. Kupchan, Christina Lin, Bartlomiej E. Nowak, Patrick W. Quirk, and Lanxin Xiang, Liberal Order in a Post-Western World (Washington, DC: Transatlantic Academy, 2014). [51] Alison Smale, “Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron Unite Behind Paris Accord,” New York Times, June 2, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/02/world/europe/paris-agreement-merkel-trump-macron.html. [52] Shawn Donnan, “Globalization Marches On Without Trump,” Financial Times, Nov. 6, 2017, https://www.ft.com/content/d81ca8cc-bfdd-11e7-b8a3-38a6e068f464; Koichi Hamada, “The Rebirth of the TPP,” Project Syndicate, June 29, 2017, https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/tpp-revival-japan-us-by-koichi-hamada-2017-06?barrier=accessreg. [53] Besma Momani, “Xi Jinping’s Speech at Davos Showed the World Has Turned Upside Down,” Newsweek, Jan. 1, 18, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/davos-2017-xi-jinping-economy-globalization-protectionism-donald-trump-543993. [54] Robert R. Bowie and Richard H. Immerman, Waging Peace: How Eisenhower Shaped an Enduring Cold War Strategy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 158-177. [55] Robert F. Worth, “Can Jim Mattis Hold the Line in Trump’s ‘War Cabinet’?” New York Times, Mar. 26, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/magazine/can-jim-mattis-hold-the-line-in-trumps-war-cabinet.html. [56] Greg Jaffe and Damian Paletta, “Trump Plans to Ask for $719 Billion for National Defense in 2019 — A Major Increase,” Washington Post, Jan. 26, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-plans-to-ask-for-716-billion-for-national-defense-in-2019--a-major-increase/2018/01/26/9d0e30e4-02a8-11e8-bb03-722769454f82_story.html?utm_term=.aff638a5bce1. [57] See Terrence Kelly, David C. Gompert, and Duncan Long, Smarter Power, Stronger Partners, Volume I: Exploiting U.S. Advantages to Prevent Aggression (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2016). [58] For an interesting perspective on spheres of influence and balance of power, see Robert Kagan, “The United States Must Resist a Return to Spheres of Interest in the International System,” Brookings Institution, Feb. 19, 2015, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2015/02/19/the-united-states-must-resist-a-return-to-spheres-of-interest-in-the-international-system/. For a similar argument on realism, see Roger Cohen, “The Limits of American Realism,” Jan. 11, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/opinion/the-limits-of-american-realism.html. [59] For two powerful recent arguments to this effect, see Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner, “The China Reckoning: How Beijing Defied American Expectations,” Foreign Affairs 97, no. 2 (March/April 2018), http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/fora97&div=37&id=&page=; and Hal Brands, “The Chinese Century?” National Interest, Feb. 19, 2018, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-chinese-century-24557. [60] National Defense Strategy, 2018. [61] Graham Allison, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap? (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2017). For good critiques, see Rosemary Foot, “Two Differing Views on U.S.-China Conflict Find Common Ground in Their Solutions,” and Neville Morley, “History Can’t Always Help to Make Sense of the Future,” both in “Book Review Roundtable: Is War with China Coming? Contrasting Views,” Texas National Security Review, Nov. 1, 2017, https://tnsr.org/roundtable/war-with-china-contrasting-visions/. [62] That model reflects a more accurate reading of the cause of war in Thucydides anyway — with the United States playing the role of the hubristic, overconfident Athens, gathering distant allies and goading Sparta into a war it neither desired nor sought. For a critique of the notion as applied to China, see Arthur Waldron, “There Is No Thucydides Trap,” Straits Times, June 18, 2017, http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/there-is-no-thucydides-trap. [63] Yeganeh Torbati, “Sanctions ’Overreach’ Risks Driving Business from U.S.: Treasury’s Lew,” Reuters, Mar. 30, 2016, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-sanctions-jacklew/sanctions-overreach-risks-driving-business-from-u-s-treasurys-lew-idUSKCN0WW1VM; and Aaron Arnold, “Watch Out for the Blowback of Secondary Sanctions on North Korea,” Diplomat, Apr. 28, 2017, https://thediplomat.com/2017/04/watch-out-for-the-blowback-of-secondary-sanctions-on-north-korea/. [64] Robert G. Kaiser, “U.S.-Soviet Relations: Goodbye to Détente,” Foreign Policy 59, no. 3 (America and the World 1980), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russian-federation/1981-02-01/us-soviet-relations-goodbye-d-tente. [65] Steven Pifer, “Arms Control, Security Cooperation, and U.S.-Russian Relations,” Brookings Institution, Nov. 17, 2017, https://www.brookings.edu/research/arms-control-security-cooperation-and-u-s-russian-relations/; and Strobe Talbott, “U.S.-Russian Arms Control Was Possible Once — Is It Possible Still?” Brookings Institution, Dec. 12, 2017, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/12/12/u-s-russia-arms-control-was-possible-once-is-it-possible-still/. [66] John F. Kennedy, “Address in Seattle at the University of Washington's 100th Anniversary Program,” Nov. 16, 1961, available at http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8448. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) ) [1] => Array ( [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 573 [post_author] => 56 [post_date] => 2018-05-08 05:00:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-08 09:00:11 [post_content] => Insurgencies are famously difficult to defeat, yet the Afghan Taliban have proven especially so. Accounts of Taliban resilience have focused on both the deficiencies of Western efforts and the Afghan state and on Pakistani support for the Taliban. These accounts fail, however, to reveal the full picture of how the Taliban have been able to survive. Drawing on original field research, this article explores how the Taliban’s success has been shaped by factors internal to the insurgency, namely, the social resources that sustain it and the group’s ability to adapt militarily. The fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was swift and brutal. Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States went to war against al-Qaeda and its Taliban hosts in Afghanistan. Taliban forces were obliterated in a lightning war prosecuted by American special operations forces and their Afghan allies, supported by an armada of warplanes. U.S. air forces did most of the killing. The U.S. Air Force and Navy dropped 18,000 bombs in the air campaign, 10,000 of which were precision munitions. The exact number of Taliban fighters killed is unknown, but according to one estimate the death toll was 8,000 to 12,000.[1] By early 2002, the Taliban emirate had ceased to exist as a physical entity, and its leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, had fled to Pakistan. Within five years, however, the Taliban had regrouped and returned in large numbers to southern and eastern Afghanistan. In the decade that followed, the new Afghan state and its Western backers were unable to stop a Taliban insurgency from steadily gaining more ground across the country. In 2016, the Taliban seized Kunduz city in northern Afghanistan for a second time, having done so the year before as well.[2] The Taliban had also come close to capturing the provincial capitals of Helmand and Uruzgan in the south and Farah in the west. In May 2016, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan command reported that only 65 percent of the country’s 407 districts were under government control.[3] This highlights the question of how the Taliban was able to come back so successfully from utter defeat. Between 2001 and 2016, the United States spent around $800 billion on war in Afghanistan. The international community spent an additional £240 billion building up Afghan security forces. In 2010, at the height of the international military effort in Afghanistan, just over 100,000 U.S. troops and around 40,000 troops from fifty other nations were deployed there. Despite all this military might and international largesse, the Taliban were not defeated. How can this be explained? To date, studies on the war have mostly focused on deficiencies in the international military effort and problems with the Afghan state. Lack of success in defeating the Taliban has been blamed on the failings of Western leadership and strategy, on the hubris and incoherence of the international effort, and on flaws in counterinsurgency tactics and operations.[4] Equally important has been the scale of corruption in Afghanistan, fueled by the massive influx of international aid, which has undermined both the legitimacy and the effectiveness of the Afghan government and security forces.[5] In explaining the persistence and success of the Afghan Taliban, many commentators have highlighted the support the group received from Pakistan. The long, porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan (across which men, material, and money move with relative ease), the use of refugee camps in Pakistan as secure rear bases, and significant military assistance from the Pakistani Army have unquestionably been important to sustaining the insurgency in Afghanistan.[6] The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of the Pakistani Army has been central in this. The ISI has largely succeeded in hiding its involvement in the Afghan conflict, working through undercover agents, civilian sympathizers, contractors, and retired officers. Taliban interviewees are also cautious about commenting on Pakistan’s role in their struggle. Thus, outside the world of secret intelligence, it is possible to get only glimpses of the ISI’s assistance to the Taliban. While the group receives significant financial support from Gulf Cooperation Council states (and from various sources within GCC states), and some military assistance from Iran and possibly Russia, Pakistan has been the Taliban’s most important source of funds, training, and military supplies.[7] According to the journalist Steve Coll, by 2008 it had become apparent to the U.S. military that the Pakistan Army was supporting the whole deployment cycle of Taliban forces, from their training in Pakistan to their deployment in Afghanistan to their return to Pakistan for rest and recuperation. Coll even notes that “Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps troops along the Pakistan border were firing on American border posts to provide covering fire for the Taliban to infiltrate into Afghanistan and return.”[8] Less studied, however, is how the Taliban have been the makers of their own success. To be sure, the literature on the Taliban is sizeable and includes important books on the group’s origins, politics, culture, and war making before 2002.[9] Antonio Giustozzi has produced a number of studies on the organization, governance, and fighting tactics of the post-2002 Taliban insurgency.[10] Still missing, though, is a comprehensive explanation for the Afghan Taliban’s remarkable resilience. How is it that the Taliban managed to survive onslaught by the most powerful military alliance in the world? In this article, I draw on two bodies of theory from the field of security studies, one on the roots of insurgency and the other on military adaptation. The former identifies the critical nature of social resources that give resilience to insurgencies — in particular, the strength of horizontal networks within the insurgency and vertical links into host communities. The latter identifies those factors that make it more likely for militaries to adapt to evolving challenges in war. When applied to the Afghan Taliban, what’s revealed is an insurgency that has a deep well of social resources and that has, over time, improved its ability to innovate and adapt. Taken together, these factors point to an insurgency that is highly resilient and one that is unbeatable by military means alone. This finding has vital implications for the Trump administration’s strategy, which revolves around intensifying the military effort against the Taliban. In addition to presenting new insights informed by theory-driven inquiry, this article draws on a large number of original interviews with Afghan Taliban leaders, officials, and field commanders. Careful protocols were followed to ensure the fidelity of the interview data.[11] Of course, the reliability of what Taliban members say is inevitably open to question. On some matters, Taliban interviewees were inclined to exaggerate (e.g., the level of public support the group enjoys) or to be less than forthcoming (e.g., the role that Pakistani intelligence plays in providing support for the group). To minimize the risk of corrupt data undermining the analysis, the main findings are developed from multiple interviews and, where appropriate, are related to published scholarship on the Taliban. This article proceeds with a review of the literature on the social roots of insurgency, applying those insights to the Afghan Taliban, as well as a review of the literature on adaptation in war, likewise applying insights to the Taliban case. It concludes with a look at the implications of these findings for the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan.

Social Sources and Insurgency

Even in situations that are ripe for rebellion, organizing an insurgency is far from easy. As political scientist Jeremy Weinstein notes, insurgent leaders face multiple challenges, chief among them maintaining control, especially as the insurgency grows, and extracting resources (e.g., funds, supplies, and recruits) without alienating local populations.[12] Some insurgent groups rely on terror to impose discipline within their ranks and to keep local populations subdued. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is a prominent practitioner of this tactic.[13] Even more savage was the Revolutionary United Front, whose atrocities in Sierra Leone in the 1990s included abducting children and turning them into sadistic killers, and hacking off the limbs of countless thousands of civilians.[14] One problem with wielding terror as a tactic is that it “can stifle opposition but cannot engender loyalty and support from the civilian population.” For insurgent groups seeking to hold territory, this creates the ever-present risk of civilian defection to the opposing side.[15] For many insurgencies, consent is as important as coercion in maintaining both internal control and external local support. Weinstein points to the importance of “social endowments” in mobilizing people to join or support an insurgent movement. Social endowments include preexisting networks, common identities, shared beliefs, and norms of reciprocity, all of which facilitate cooperation and collective action, especially in situations with short-term costs and only the promise of long-term gains.[16] In his major study on the cohesion of insurgent organizations, Paul Staniland also highlights the role of prewar social networks, noting that insurgent leaders often “‘socially appropriate’ existing structures of collective action for new functions.” Staniland distinguishes between two types of structures: horizontal networks and vertical ties.[17] Horizontal networks link people who may be dispersed geographically through common ideological beliefs or professional identities. Political parties are a prime example. Insurgent movements often originate from or incorporate political parties. One example is the peasant insurgency in Nepal from 1996 to 2006, which sprang from the Maoist wing of the Communist Party of Nepal.[18] Vertical ties, on the other hand, are preexisting linkages between insurgent groups and local people, often based on common ethnic, tribal, or familial networks. These make it possible for insurgent groups to bind local communities to their cause and to extract resources from and exert control over them. Thus, “bonds of family and kinship” were crucial to the success of the Naxalites in mobilizing peasant support for their Maoist insurgency in eastern India.[19] Staniland argues that variance in the cohesion and resilience of insurgencies may be explained by the degree to which they are founded on, and are able to exploit, both horizontal networks and vertical ties. Over time, many insurgencies develop governance processes and structures to provide services for civilians in the territory they control. This requires insurgent groups to divert resources that could otherwise be devoted to their armed struggle. It may also require insurgent groups to take civilian preferences into account, even when they differ from the interests and preferences of the insurgency.[20] In the case of secessionist insurgencies, the impulse to govern is obvious since the struggle is focused on achieving independent statehood. In other cases (especially with Maoist insurgencies), insurgent groups are ideologically predisposed to govern the areas and populations over which they have control.[21] For most insurgent governments, establishing the means to police the population and regulate disputes is the first order of business. The provision of other public services, such as education and health care, is usually a secondary concern.[22] Nonetheless, providing some governance is important in the long term for insurgencies to sustain public support. This can, in turn, lead to the moderation of ideologically driven insurgent governments, if only for pragmatic reasons.[23] Regardless of the extent and effectiveness of their governance, insurgencies will often take on the symbolic trappings of statehood, and “perform” like a state. As Zachariah Mampilly notes, "[b]y mimicking the behavior of the modern state, rebels seek to discursively construct a political authority imbued with a comparable legitimacy enjoyed by national governments."[24] Such behavior can be important in sustaining the political claims of an insurgency group. When it comes to the Taliban, this discussion raises two questions. First, what role did horizontal networks and vertical ties play in the development of the post-2002 insurgency? Second, how successful have the Taliban been in creating state-like structures and public services since 2002?

The Social Roots of Taliban Resurgence

At the core of the Taliban movement is a horizontal network, based on common religious schooling and shared military experience, that endows the group with a powerful, unifying ideology and worldview. The Taliban movement was founded on a network of Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan within which the group’s leadership and cadre were educated. Thousands of young men were mobilized from these madrassas to fight against the Soviets in the mujahedeen war in the 1980s. Mujahedeen fighting groups organized themselves into larger networks, called “fronts,” or mahaz, each led by a great leader who was able to disburse military supplies from foreign donors across his front to field commanders.[25] According to one major study on the origins of the Taliban, “In greater Kandahar, there were literally hundreds of Taliban commanders and dozens of Taliban fronts. … The Taliban sought to distinguish themselves from other mujahedeen groups by offering a more ostentatiously religious jihad to those who fought with them.”[26] Young Taliban fighters formed strong bonds with the movement and with each other through the rigors and hardships of the mujahedeen war.[27] The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, and the fall of the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul three years later, removed the common cause that had held different mujahedeen parties together, and civil war promptly ensued. In southern Afghanistan, local warlords had free rein to prey on civilians, imposing arbitrary fines, stealing land, and kidnapping people for ransom and sexual abuse. In Kandahar, the Taliban returned to arms in 1994, under the leadership of Mullah Omar, to bring security and justice to the Pashtun population. Within four years, Taliban fighters had swept across the country, defeating or buying off rivals who stood in their path. By 1998, only a few pockets of resistance remained, most notably the Tajik Northern Alliance, which was holed up in its mountain retreats in the northeast. Upon seizing control of the country, the Taliban established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Chronically underfunded (with an annual budget of around $80 million) and untrained in public administration, the Taliban were unable to reestablish basic public services across the country. Moreover, the group imposed myriad fundamentalist strictures on the population, most notably preventing women from going to work and girls from going to school.[28] Accordingly, the downfall of the Taliban in late 2001 and early 2002 was welcomed by a great many Afghans. [quote id="1"] The major challenge for the interim Afghan administration of Hamid Karzai in 2002 was asserting government rule beyond Kabul and preventing a return to civil war. Karzai did this primarily by coopting various warlords into the new Afghan government. In this way, the corrupt warlords who had been pushed out of power by the Taliban in the 1990s returned as local governors and police chiefs. Under the guise of officialdom, these reincarnated figures once again stole from and abused the population. This, in turn, provided fertile ground for the gradual return of the Taliban into southern and eastern Afghanistan beginning in 2004. As one local elder from Helmand province noted, “day by day people got fed up with this Afghan government and welcomed the Taliban back into their districts.”[29] The United States ruled out peace talks with the Taliban in 2001 and 2002, and Karzai did not respond to a number of Taliban overtures during this period. Instead, U.S. special operations forces hunted down Taliban “terrorists,” who were rendered to detention facilities in Bagram, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Many “common people,” as the Taliban call non-Taliban locals, also were caught up in the net thrown by U.S. special operations. As Mike Martin notes, the Americans “failed to understand how offering a bounty would cause people to denounce anyone they were having a feud with, or even innocent people, in order to collect the money.”[30] The injustice of U.S. counterterrorism operations, combined with the return of abusive warlords, drove the Taliban to remobilize. Echoing the views of several Taliban interviewees, one noted: “When Karzai became president, Taliban were not fighting, they were in their houses. … But when the Americans and Afghan governments were disturbing and attacking on the families of all those Taliban … this is the reason that Taliban started fighting again.”[31] In late 2002 and 2003, groups of Taliban began to operate in the southern provinces of Uruzgan, Helmand, and Kandahar and the eastern provinces of Paktia and Khost. Senior Taliban figures also began to remobilize in Pakistan, leading in March 2003 to the formation of a Taliban leadership council in the city of Quetta. Called the Rahbari Shura by the Taliban, it is more commonly known in the West as the Quetta Shura. In the years that followed, the Taliban effectively reestablished a government in exile. Mullah Omar remained in hiding so his deputy, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, chaired the Quetta Shura. Provincial and district governors were appointed, starting in Kandahar and Helmand in 2003 and 2004 with other provinces in southern and eastern Afghanistan following in 2005. Twelve national commissions were established in Pakistan (military, politics, finance, culture, health, etc.) that effectively operated as shadow Taliban government departments.[32] From 2004 on, the Taliban returned in a more concerted way to southern Afghanistan. Taliban infiltration of rural districts followed a pattern. In most cases, it began with small groups of Taliban visiting villages to make contact with sympathizers, foment rebellion, and intimidate or kill pro-government elders and clerics. As they became more confident, these Taliban emissaries held open meetings to call on people to wage jihad on the “cruel government” and “foreign invaders.” Taliban mullahs were also dispatched to preach jihad to villages. As leading expert on the Taliban, Antonio Giustozzi, notes, “The strategic task of these ‘vanguard’ teams was to prepare the ground for a later escalation in the insurgency.”[33] In Musa Qala district in northern Helmand in 2004, the Taliban “secretly entered the district and talked to some villages and elders … they told the people that they were coming back to the district to fight against the government.”[34] In 2005, the Taliban returned in force to Musa Qala and “within two to three months they had captured all the villages,” leaving only the district center under government control.[35] In eastern Afghanistan, significant Taliban mobilization predated the formation of the Quetta Shura. In mid-2002, the former Taliban minister of tribal affairs, Jalaluddin Haqqani, began to remobilize his front, and later that year Haqqani fighting groups were operating in Paktia and Khost.[36] Indicative of a powerful horizontal network, mobilizing Taliban fronts in southern Afghanistan reunited under the Quetta Shura. Invariably, rivalries emerged between some senior Taliban figures and the fronts they led. The rivalry between Mullah Baradar and Mullah Dadullah was especially pronounced. The eastern Taliban also resented the dominance of the Kandahari clique within the movement, and in time this led to the emergence of two additional leadership shuras that rivaled the Quetta Shura. The first was Miran Shah Shura, based on the Haqqani network, which declared autonomy from the Quetta Shura in August 2007.[37] The second was the Peshawar Shura, which declared autonomy from the Quetta Shura in 2009.[38] Both shuras took direct control of the fronts and fighting groups in their networks. Yet neither openly challenged the primacy of the Quetta Shura. This was both symbolically important and consistent with Taliban ideology, which emphasizes the centrality of obedience to the emir. It also ensured that most Taliban members, regardless of what front they were in, retained and evoked a residual loyalty to Mullah Omar.[39] Vertical links were equally important to the establishment of the Taliban insurgency. A closed political system developed under Karzai whereby government resources flowed primarily to the familial and patronage networks of the warlords appointed to office.[40] Many disenfranchised communities ended up siding with the Taliban out of disgust at the inequitable distribution of those resources and the corruption of the new warlord-officials.[41] Downtrodden communities also aligned with the Taliban to gain protection from abusive pro-government militias. In some cases, the Taliban expertly exploited local dissatisfaction by supporting local elders and mullahs who called for rebellion and silencing those who were opposed.[42] The Taliban also stoked popular opposition to the presence of armed foreigners. This was not difficult given the growing Afghan anger toward U.S. night raids on homes as well as civilian casualties caused by U.S. airstrikes. Expressing a view typical of many interviewees, one local elder in Ghanzi noted that he “was happy for return of Taliban in our district because of the cruelties of the Americans.”[43] Clumsily executed British operations in Helmand — and the widespread perception that these were targeting the poppy crop, the main livelihood for most locals — caused a popular revolt in the province in 2007.[44] One group of local elders later recalled, “We thought the British were trying to kill us with hunger — they destroyed our opium but didn’t give us one Afghani [the Afghan currency]. That is why people decided to join the Taliban; they needed someone to defend them.”[45] In fact, the British did provide compensation for the destruction of poppy crops, but farmers got nothing as this scheme was administered by corrupt local officials.[46] In many places, rebellion mapped onto existing tribal rivalries. A noted example is the Ishaqzai community within Sangin district in Helmand. For generations, the Alizais and Alikozais of northern Helmand had been in competition with the Ishaqzai. Under the Taliban state, Ishaqzais held a number of key government posts in the province, including the governorship. The tables turned when Karzai appointed an Alizai warlord as provincial governor and an Alikozai warlord as head of the provincial secret police. As Martin notes, warlords in both positions “used the cover of their government positions to tax, harass and steal from the Ishaqzai.”[47] One Alikozai admitted in 2007 that “The Ishaqzai had no choice but to fight back.”[48] As they gained control of sizable portions of territory, the Taliban set about trying to reestablish an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan. To achieve this goal, Taliban provincial governors were provided with a modest budget.[49] The Taliban lacked the resources and expertise, however, to replicate the state. For many Afghan locals and Taliban commanders in Helmand, establishing a shadow government was not seen as a major part of the Taliban war effort.[50] The only area in which the Taliban were able to provide alternative government services was in the administration of justice. There was high demand for Taliban services given the frequency of rural disputes over land, trade, and family matters. Initially, the Quetta Shura sought to replicate the court system of the Islamic emirate of the 1990s, with standing lower and higher courts. In Helmand, the Taliban were able to reestablish the emirate court system for a time. But in most places, justice was administered by shadow governors, Taliban mullahs, and military commanders. According to Thomas Johnson and Matthew DuPee, “The Taliban shadow justice system is easily one of the most popular and respected elements of the Taliban insurgency by local communities, especially in southern Afghanistan.”[51] Under growing pressure from operations of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the Taliban switched in 2009 from standing to mobile courts in Helmand. As one elder noted, “Judges are hiding; sometimes they meet in people’s houses, sometimes in the mountains, sometimes in the mosques.”[52] Nonetheless, Taliban courts remained widely used because, compared with the official Afghan courts, they offered accessible, quick, and corruption-free justice. As one elder observed, “In two or three hours, [the Taliban] could solve disputes with someone over one jerib of land. Now in Lashkar Gah, if you have a dispute with someone over one jerib of land, you have to sell twenty jeribs to pay the courts.”[53] In the end, the Taliban never fully invested in reconstituting their Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Instead, the military campaign took precedence. The 2010 edition of the Taliban rulebook (the layeha) specifies the structure of the Taliban shadow government at provincial and district levels and even provides for the appointment of suitably skilled non-Taliban officials. In reality, in many cases the local Taliban commander de facto acted as the shadow governor. [54] As one local elder from Musa Qala noted, “There was a [Taliban] district chief, but he didn’t have much influence. Most of the power was with commanders who had lots of fighters in the district.”[55] U.S. and international forces intensified their campaign targeting Taliban leadership, which led many shadow governors to flee to Pakistan, where they would issue instructions by mobile phone.[56] This gave local commanders even more authority in matters of governance. A local elder from central Helmand described the status quo this way in 2011: “When people have an issue, they will approach the local [Taliban] commander. They don’t know who the district chief is.”[57] The Taliban focus on the military campaign meant that, with the exception of administering justice, the Taliban were not able to provide public services to people in areas under their control. This, combined with the conflict’s growing intensity, led support for the Taliban to decline over time in many parts of Afghanistan. Aside from those villages and sub-tribal groups that had allied with the Taliban, many farmers just wanted to get on with their lives in peace. In eastern Afghanistan, Taliban restrictions on the movement of civilians, and interrogation of locals suspected of spying, became further sources of friction.[58] The Quetta Shura did regulate the shadow governors to ensure that they took measures to win over communities, such as banning arbitrary executions and limiting attacks on teachers and health officials. The 2007 and 2010 editions of the layeha outlined processes for communities to complain to the Quetta Shura if a provincial or district governor was too repressive or corrupt. Two district governors were replaced in Sangin in 2009, one for allowing Taliban fighters to attack local farmers who had received government agricultural aid and the other for his overly draconian administration of justice.[59] The Taliban also took measures to strengthen the military chain of command to improve adherence by field commanders to directives from Quetta (This is discussed further in the next section). While attacks on schools and extrajudicial killings declined in 2010 and 2011, they did not disappear altogether.[60] [quote id="2"] The Taliban benefited from extensive social resources in establishing the post-2002 insurgency. Shared education, ideology, and military experience all endowed a powerful horizontal network that helped the Taliban mobilize its fighting groups and maintain the coherence of a movement that contained many rival fronts and shuras. The Taliban were also able to develop and exploit vertical links with disgruntled villages and disenfranchised sub-tribal communities, which helped the group to seize control of rural areas from pro-government warlords. The situation is more mixed with regard to the Taliban’s success in developing legitimacy by establishing state-like structures and services. The Taliban sought to reestablish the Islamic emirate in the areas they controlled and took care to listen to the concerns of locals. But the group’s ability to govern was severely hampered by the conflict. Only in the administration of justice were the Taliban able to provide a public service that was valued by local Afghans. Shoring up insurgent morale and public support was an extensive Taliban propaganda campaign that utilized many forms of media — including jihadi magazines, radio, night letters, and sophisticated uses of social media — and contained narratives tailored for local Afghans and Pakistanis as well as global audiences.[61]

Military Adaptation in War

War involves a dynamic struggle between two or more armed parties, each trying to outwit and outfight the other.[62] By its nature, war demands that those engaged in this bloody struggle be prepared to adapt both to their environment and to the other side’s strategy and tactics. Military history is replete with examples of how fighting forces have adapted under battlefield pressure,[63] as well as how they have taken advantage of newly available technologies.[64] Those militaries that fail to adapt quickly or extensively enough are at greater risk of defeat and find that, even if they do end up winning the war, the price of victory was higher than necessary.[65] Notwithstanding these realities about adaptation, military organizations can nevertheless be slow to change. That is in part because, through training, planning, and equipment, militaries invest heavily in excelling at particular methods of waging war. This, in turn, creates a “competency trap,” whereby it becomes difficult to abandon existing ways of doing things.[66] So, how and when do militaries adapt? The literature on military change identifies the shock of defeat as a key driver.[67] Although militaries have powerful incentives to adapt based on their battlefield setbacks, higher-ups sometimes fail to appreciate and act upon lessons learned on the ground. This points to another key factor in military adaptation identified in the literature: namely, effective organizational leadership. When the innovations originate from below, i.e., on the battlefield, all that is required are senior leaders who are prepared to support the necessary changes throughout the organization.[68] In some cases, innovations will flow from the top, for example, when senior leaders champion organizational change in order to harness new technology, incorporate foreign military lessons, or respond to new political direction.[69] In a study published in 2010 on British military operations in Afghanistan, I identified two key enablers of military adaptation. One is the degree of centralization within an organization. Here it is about getting the balance right. Military adaptation requires sufficient delegation of authority so that battlefield commanders have the latitude to try out new tactics when the old ones prove ineffective.[70] It also requires sufficient centralized direction to ensure that organization resources are committed to developing and rolling out new tactics and to acquiring the equipment necessary to operate in new ways. A second key enabler is personnel turnover: Fresh ideas can travel into organizations with people. This is well understood in business, in what has become, in many sectors, a global hunt for talent. It applies in the military context with changes of command and the rotation of units into and out of theatres of operation.[71] In an important correction to my model, Kristen Harkness and Michael Hunzeker identified political considerations as a further factor critical in enabling military adaptation. In a study of the failure to adapt in the British counterinsurgency campaign in Southern Cameroons in 1960–61, they found that “British politicians chose to sacrifice military effectiveness for broader strategic and political interests, thus subverting bottom-up adaptation.” Their research highlights the importance of political leadership in setting overarching objectives for military campaigns, putting in place any high-level operational constraints, and allocating the resources necessary for adaptation.[72] Until now, scholarship on military adaptation has focused on the armed forces of states — that is, organizations with centralized authority exercised through a formal hierarchy and structured into functionally based subunits.[73] Indeed, through a process of transnational emulation of professional norms and practices, state-based militaries around the world have come to adopt remarkably similar organizational structures since the 19th century.[74] However, non-state military actors are more heterogeneous. Some emulate the hierarchies, units, and uniforms of state-based militaries, to varying degrees of fidelity. Others have a hybrid structure, with subunit formation reflecting local circumstances, and a less centralized and more informal hierarchy in which authority is often exercised through patronage networks. This variation can be seen in the military forces of Afghanistan’s foremost warlords during the late 1990s, specifically the more hierarchical and formally structured army of Ismail Khan and the patrimonial and semi-regular forces of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostrum.[75] In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military commanders perceived themselves to be at a disadvantage when it came to military adaptation, believing that, with their flatter hierarchies and networked structures, insurgent groups found it easier to adapt.[76] Certainly, the less regimented culture and informal hierarchies of insurgent groups reduce the social and organizational barriers to experimentation. At the same time, as noted above, military adaptation requires sufficient organizational capacity to identify operational problems and develop tactical and technological solutions.[77] Modern militaries devote considerable resources to developing such capacities whereas insurgencies are less able to do so, suggesting that insurgencies may find it more difficult to ensure wider adoption of new tactics and integration of new technologies. The literature on military adaptation thus leads to the following questions when considering the Taliban. First, how did the Taliban adapt to battlefield setbacks? Second, what role did Taliban leadership — military and political — play in enabling that adaptation? Third, how centralized is the Taliban, and how has the group’s organizational structure affected military adaptation? And, finally, as the insurgency grew, is there evidence that new ideas about military matters had a significant impact on the Taliban?

Military Adaptation and Taliban Resilience

The Taliban have proven to be highly adaptive adversaries. During the war with the Soviets, the Afghan mujahedeen developed a pretty standard repertoire of guerrilla tactics. In particular, these involved planting mines in roads, ambushing convoys, and conducting raids against military bases.[78] Experience gained in this conflict shaped Taliban thinking about how they should fight. However, this did not stop the Taliban from adapting after the fall of the Islamic emirate. As noted above, the deployment of Western combat forces into southern and eastern Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007 increased pressure on the Taliban insurgency. The group responded with a number of adaptations to improve its ability to mass and control its forces in the field. The Taliban also adapted tactics to take advantage of bomb technology and to reduce exposure to Western firepower. The Taliban’s loose organizational structure, based primarily on a large number of semi-autonomous fronts linked to various shuras, presented a fundamental problem for the Quetta Shura in terms of managing the war effort. Initially, the Quetta Shura tried to get fronts to cooperate by offering financial incentives. The Taliban also tried to mass forces by moving experienced fighting groups across provinces, usually within the same mahaz network. By 2008, the Taliban leadership realized that this attempt to reform the mahaz system was not working. Anecdotal evidence from Helmand province illustrates the problem. In Kajaki, an Afghan interpreter hired by the British to listen to Taliban communications “described almost comical attempts by different commanders to shirk combat and foist the responsibility on other commanders.”[79] Around this time the Peshawar Shura began to develop a more centralized command system for Taliban fighters in the east and northeast. This new system involved the creation of provincial military commissions to plan large-scale operations, manage logistics, and deal with disputes between front commanders, as well as the appointment of district military commissioners (Nizami Massuleen) to ensure that field commanders complied with direction from the Peshawar Shura. This type of centralized system was alien to Taliban culture. So where did it come from? The Pakistani military’s extensive support for the Taliban, including providing military advisers, no doubt contributed to the creation and functioning of this more centralized system. But recent work by Claudio Franco and Antonio Guistozzi suggests that the Taliban’s organizational innovations originated in the more regimented structure of Hezb-i Islami, a rival mujahedeen party during the Soviet war. The Peshawar Shura was formed partly out of a breakaway faction from Hezb-i Islami in 2006. In this way, Hezb-i Islami’s ideas about how to organize the insurgency came into the Taliban. This more centralized system was subsequently adopted, with some reluctance, by the southern Taliban when Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir was appointed to head the Quetta Military Commission in 2009. There is a complicated but important backstory here: Zakir, a prominent Taliban commander from northern Helmand, had fallen out with his erstwhile patron, Mullah Baradar, and so he aligned instead with the Peshawar Shura. It was only under pressure from Peshawar that Baradar appointed Zakir to oversee the Quetta Military Commission. From this position, which he occupied until 2014, Zakir was able to ensure that the new centralized system rolled out across the south.[80] In addition, from 2008 on, foreign aid flowing through Pakistan was increasingly directed toward the Peshawar Shura, which allowed them to progressively outspend the Quetta Shura in funding the war.[81] This, in turn, enabled Peshawar to push its professionalization effort on Taliban fronts in the south as well as the east.[82] The result was a somewhat cumbersome double chain of command, in which Taliban units belonging to a particular front would respond to both their parent networks and the Peshawar or Quetta military commissions (whichever had given direction).[83] As one field commander noted in 2011, “If we see an ISAF convoy or police or army, we have orders to attack them. But if we make a plan to attack someplace, I ask Haji Mullah [his mahaz chief]. Sometimes we get orders from the nizami commission as well.”[84] Taliban interviewees also confirmed that the military commissions took over the task of resolving problems among commanders: “When some small problems come between to Taliban commanders, they are solved by the nizami commission in a very short time.”[85] Where necessary, a mediator figure — “a Pakistani mullah,” sent from Quetta — would be dispatched to sort out conflict between commanders when the district military commissioners were unable to cope on their own.[86] Thus, while it enabled more coordination between fronts and fighting groups, the Taliban’s new centralized system did not foster state-like command and control. The Taliban also adapted tactics in response to battlefield pressures. In Helmand, for instance, the group made wide use of fairly conventional infantry assaults in 2006 and 2007 in an attempt to overrun British outposts. The exact number of Taliban fighters killed in action over this period is unknown, but British defense intelligence estimated it to be in the thousands.[87] In response to these growing losses, Taliban field units adapted by moving toward greater use of asymmetric tactics. Taliban commanders interviewed across nine districts in Helmand reported this change. Three of these interviewees confirmed that the imperative to reduce Taliban battlefield casualties drove the shift in tactics.[88] Nevertheless, the Taliban still engaged in occasional large-scale attacks and paid a heavy price when they did so. This included, most spectacularly, an assault on Lashkar Gah in October 2008 by a 300-strong force, with the objective of decapitating the provincial government and discrediting the British mission. This attack was repulsed by airpower, leaving around 150 Taliban dead.[89] Perhaps having learned from such setbacks, in 2010 the Quetta Military Commission issued a general order instructing field units to avoid direct combat and to make greater use of guerrilla tactics.[90] [quote id="3"] Based on extensive interviews with Taliban commanders and officials, Giustozzi shows how alongside the new tactics came a number of “technological innovations,” including the introduction of anti-aircraft heavy machine guns, heavy mortars, advanced anti-armor weapons, and large-scale use of sniper rifles and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).[91] Taliban interviewees admit to having received military equipment from Iran, and some said they had received military supplies from Russia.[92] Interviewees are far more careful in discussing support the Taliban received from the Pakistani Army. It is very likely, however, that these Taliban technological innovations were facilitated by equipment and training provided by Pakistan. The Taliban’s most significant technology-enabled military adaptation was the move to industrial-scale use of IEDs. In Quetta and Peshawar, the Taliban established Mine Commissions to lead this effort. In 2006, around 30 percent of all coalition fatalities were caused by IEDs. The next year, the share rose to almost 40 percent. From 2008 to 2010, IEDs were responsible for more than half of all coalition troop deaths.[93] By late 2008, use of IEDs had quadrupled in Helmand from the previous year. The number of such devices detected in Helmand jumped from around 100 per month in late 2008 to more than 450 per month in the summer of 2009 (they caused 80 percent of British fatalities that summer). This number continued to rise in 2010, to more than 600 in February and 700 in March.[94] Initially, most improvised explosive devices were made using recycled Soviet mines and unexploded ISAF ordnance. To meet demand, however, the Taliban had to switch to large-scale production of explosives using fertilizers from Pakistan.[95] By 2009, 80 percent of IEDs used these types of homemade explosives.[96] Western forces responded to the threat by deploying far more capable armored vehicles. The Taliban’s homemade explosives were about twenty times less powerful than military explosives, so it was difficult for the group to produce IEDs large enough to destroy such vehicles. U.S. and British forces also invested more heavily in IED detection capabilities. The Taliban responded by reducing the metal content in the devices to make them harder to detect. By 2011, the Taliban were producing IEDs on an industrial scale in Helmand, Kandahar, and Khost.[97] Hunting down IED makers became a priority for U.S. and coalition intelligence and special operations forces. One Taliban source gives insight into the impact of this counter-IED campaign on the Haqqani network: It lost almost 100 IED makers in 2013 and around 75 in 2014.[98] According to Taliban sources, the Iranians began to provide remotely triggered mines capable of penetrating Western armored vehicles in 2010 and increased the supply in 2011 and 2012.[99] Such extensive use of IEDs made it increasingly difficult for U.S. and coalition forces to move around. In 2006–07, the British had only two IED disposal teams for the whole of Helmand. There were six teams by late 2008 and fourteen by late 2009, but this was still not nearly enough. A British military review of the IED threat concluded that it had created “a defensive mindset” in British forces, who were increasingly focused on simply not getting blown up. The situation gradually improved for U.S. and international forces with the deployment of new armored vehicles, better training and equipment for detecting IEDs, and the targeting of IED production. By 2011, the proportion of coalition troops killed by IEDs fell below 50 percent. It dropped further, to around 30 percent, in 2012.[100] Since the coalition mission ended in December 2014, bringing with it the withdrawal of Western combat forces, the burden of fighting the Taliban has fallen on the Afghan National Security Forces, whose unarmored trucks and lack of counter-IED capabilities leave them highly vulnerable to such devices. Professionalization of the war effort by the Peshawar Shura, including adoption of military commissions by the Quetta Shura, was critical to the Taliban’s ability to adapt militarily. With a shift in tactics came a new military training regime, reinforced by directives from Quetta and Peshawar compelling the tactical commanders to undergo training and receive regular advice on guerrilla tactics. One Taliban commander in Helmand noted in early 2012 that “now we are all focused a lot on getting training of IEDs, making of Fedayeen vests, getting ready of Fedayeen bombers and guerrilla fighting.”[101] According to another commander, Taliban units undergo “15 or 20” days of training every four months.[102] One interviewee from Sangin said that the Taliban “decided to open new training centers for mujahedeen.”[103] Yet another offered a contradictory and altogether more convincing view, given U.S. and British military operations: “We don’t have a secure place for our training. One day we get training in one area and the other day we get training in another area.”[104] Many Taliban interviewees from Helmand reported “foreign Taliban” (in this case meaning fighters from Pakistan) entering their districts for a week or two to provide military training. These men are most likely members of mobile training teams dispatched from Quetta or Peshawar that move from village to village.[105] Pakistani and Iranian military advisers appear to have provided significant support to the Taliban training effort.[106] This centrally directed and resourced training regime greatly increased the Taliban’s capacity to absorb new weapons and bomb-making technology into general use by field forces.[107] The ability to adapt has been key to the success of the Taliban insurgency. Early tactics learned during the Soviet war — ambushing military convoys and raiding enemy bases — proved suicidal in the face of Western artillery and airpower. The loose structure of the Taliban, based on the mahaz system, also greatly limited the group’s ability to mass force and achieve decisive outcomes on the battlefield. The Taliban adapted in two major ways: first, by introducing some degree of centralized command of fighting groups through a system of provincial military commissions and district military commissioners; and, second, by shifting to guerrilla warfare tactics and avoiding direct engagement with enemy forces. The latter adaptation involved a massive increase in the use and sophistication of IEDs, significantly hindering freedom of movement by international and Afghan security forces. The typical drivers of military adaptation are present in the case of the Taliban. Growing battlefield losses drove the Taliban to find new ways to fight and organize. This effort accelerated when Mullah Zakir assumed leadership of the Quetta Military Commission in 2009. The Taliban’s political leadership, in the form of the Quetta Shura old guard, was not keen on Zakir and his organizational reforms, but pressure from the Peshawar Shura backed by Pakistani funds swept aside these concerns. The decentralized structure of the Taliban had given local commanders too much latitude to fight when and how they liked. Under Zakir, some semblance of centralized command was superimposed on the mahaz system. This, over time, enabled the rolling out of new tactics, training, and bomb technologies. Finally, new ideas travelled with people into the Taliban: Organizational and tactical innovations came not only from the Pakistani ISI (as previously believed) but were also adopted when a breakaway faction of Hezb-i Islami was absorbed into the Taliban movement, forming the Peshawar Shura.

Conclusion: The Problem with U.S. Strategy

The resilience of an insurgency is substantially shaped by its social resources and its ability to adapt. The importance of these factors is identified in the relevant theoretical literature and is furthermore evident in the case of the Afghan Taliban. The group was founded on a powerful horizontal network. In establishing a post-2002 insurgency, however, the Taliban were able to exploit vertical links into host communities as well. The group was less successful in its efforts to rebuild the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan but garnered some legitimacy from the efficiency of Taliban courts. The Taliban also adapted militarily, in terms of tactics and supporting technologies, as well as in the command of insurgent fighting groups. The latter improvements to the Taliban’s chain of command, and the overall professionalization of the insurgent war effort led by the eastern Taliban, also increased the group’s capacity to adapt tactically. Previous studies have further highlighted the importance of foreign support for the Taliban and of their ability to operate from sanctuaries in Pakistan. The combination of the group’s social resources, ability to adapt, and trans-border support make the Taliban’s resurgence from what had looked like utter defeat not all that surprising. Ultimately, insurgencies win by not losing, especially when facing off against a foreign great power. Essentially, the insurgents need only outwait the foreign interloper. This has been the Taliban’s basic strategy. Under President Trump, the United States has decided to double down in Afghanistan. One element of the “new” Trump strategy involves getting tough with Pakistan for failing to crack down on the Taliban. On Jan. 1, 2018, the president tweeted that Pakistan was playing the United States for “fools” by giving “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”[108] His comments triggered an immediate suspension of U.S. military assistance to Pakistan.[109] The Trump administration is gambling hugely by cracking down on Pakistan given Islamabad’s capacity to make things far worse both by interfering with the U.S. logistical routes through Pakistan, and by increasing support to the Taliban.[110] Even in the unlikely event that the Pakistan Army withdraws its support for the Afghan Taliban, the United States would still have to contend with an adaptive insurgency that has strong social roots. This is where the other element of the Trump strategy to intensify the relatively modest U.S. military effort in Afghanistan becomes problematic. Around 11,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Afghanistan, 8,400 of whom are committed to supporting NATO’s Resolute Support mission to “train, advise and assist” the Afghan security forces. In August 2017, Trump approved the deployment of an additional 3,900 troops to Afghanistan. Gen. Joseph Vogel, head of U.S. Central Command, declared that in 2018 U.S. forces would “focus on offensive operations and ... look for a major effort to gain the initiative very quickly as we enter into the fighting season.”[111] It is hard to see how such a modest increase in U.S. ground forces could have a decisive effect. The U.S. military’s last attempt to turn the tables on the Taliban came in late 2009 and early 2010, when there were around 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and about 40,000 troops from coalition partners.[112] Afghan capabilities, insofar as they have grown since 2010, can hardly make up for the withdrawal of Western combat forces.[113] Indeed, the Afghan security forces have steadily lost ground across the country since 2014, with major Taliban gains that year in the south (Helmand and Uruzgan provinces), east (Ghanzi, Wardak, Kapisa, and Logar provinces) and north (Kunduz province).[114] According to the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, only around 70 percent of Afghanistan’s 407 districts were under government control in late 2015. Two years later, that share was down to just over half of the districts.[115] History is instructive here: When the United States got bogged down in drawn-out wars against peasant armies in Korea and Vietnam, it resorted to major bombing campaigns to break the stalemate. This failed to work in both of those wars.[116] In Afghanistan, history is repeating itself. In December 2017, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, revealed that a major campaign by U.S. air forces was targeting some 500 Taliban drug laboratories in southern areas, bringing the number of airstrikes in 2017 to three times more than had occurred in 2016.[117] Afghan civilians have borne the brunt of this bombing campaign: The United Nations reported a 52 percent increase in civilian deaths caused by airstrikes in 2017 in comparison to the year before.[118] Civilian casualties notwithstanding, the United States is pursuing a targeted bombing campaign. Noting that the Taliban earn around $200 million a year through its taxation of the opium trade, Nicholson declared, “We’re hitting the Taliban where it hurts, which is their finances.” He added: “The Taliban have three choices: reconcile, face irrelevance or die.”[119] According to the leading analyst on the Afghan opium trade, David Mansfeld, the U.S. military is grossly overestimating both the Taliban’s ability to collect taxes and the amount of poppy being destroyed in the bombings. Mansfeld finds accordingly that the bombing campaign is having far less impact on Taliban revenue than is claimed by U.S. military commanders.[120] [quote id="4"] In a January 2018 Foreign Affairs article titled “Why the Taliban Isn’t Winning in Afghanistan,” Seth G. Jones argues that “Although the Taliban has demonstrated a surprising ability to survive and conduct high-profile attacks in cities like Kabul, it is weaker today than most recognize.”[121] Jones is only partly right. Citing various Afghan opinion polls, Jones argues that public support for the Taliban has plummeted thanks to its extremist ideology, brutal tactics, and reliance on both the drug trade and support from Pakistan. He fails to note, however, that polling in Afghanistan is famously unreliable and that public views of the Taliban are especially difficult to gauge in areas under Taliban control. He is on safer ground in noting that few non-Pashtun Afghans recognize the legitimacy of the Pashtun-dominated Taliban and that Afghanistan’s growing urban population abhors the socially regressive ideology of the Taliban. Some in the Taliban leadership have long understood these realities and foresee the Taliban entering government only through a power-sharing arrangement.[122] These days the Taliban’s main problem is not the group’s decline in popularity but its waning cohesiveness. In November 2016, Michael Semple and I spent a week conducting interviews with seven senior Taliban figures. Our subjects included two former deputy ministers, a former provincial governor, and two former senior military commanders. What we discovered surprised us. We had expected Taliban confidence to have been boosted by recent battlefield success. Instead, those we interviewed reported widespread disillusion within the movement, with the state of Taliban leadership, and with a seemingly endless war. Multiple interviewees told us that many Taliban members feel that the war lost direction and purpose after the withdrawal of foreign combat forces. The Taliban’s current leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, is widely seen as ineffective and lacking the moral authority of the group’s founder, Mullah Omar. This is undermining the ideological cornerstone of the Taliban, namely obedience to the emir. Several factions are vying for power within the movement, most notably the Ishaqzai-dominated Mansour network based in northern Helmand (led by Mullah Rahim, the Taliban governor of Helmand).[123] Thus, while the Taliban maintains strong vertical ties with rural communities, which have supported the group’s battlefield gains since 2014, the horizontal network holding the insurgency together is weakening.[124] Sending more U.S. troops into Afghanistan and pushing them out into the field is likely to provide some short-term gains. Importantly, the presence of a Marine battalion in Helmand helps prevent the provincial capital from falling to the Taliban. Yet this marginal increase in combat-force levels will not break the strategic stalemate in Afghanistan when massive U.S. military power failed to do so in 2010. Rather, sending in more troops and conducting more airstrikes may well make the Taliban stronger. Meanwhile, destroying drug processing and production facilities will hurt not only the Taliban but also anybody involved in opium farming, which is just about every farmer in Helmand. It stands to once again drive them into the arms of the insurgents. And just as before, public patience is likely to wear thin at apparent U.S. military carelessness and mounting civilian casualties.[125] In the end, ramping up the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan risks reenergizing the Taliban’s sense of purpose and uniting a movement that may be beginning to unravel. If the United States is not careful, it could end up bombing its way to defeat in Afghanistan.   The author would like to acknowledge the generous funding of this project by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC Grant ES/L008041/1, “The Taliban's War: The Other Side of the Taliban Conflict, 20012015”).   Theo Farrell is professor and executive dean of law, humanities, and the arts at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He was previously professor of war in the modern world and head of the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. He is a fellow of the U.K. Academy of Social Sciences and former president of the British International Studies Association. Professor Farrell is the author of Unwinnable: Britain’s War in Afghanistan, 2001–2014 (Penguin Random House, 2017), which was shortlisted for the RUSI Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History and the British Army Military Book of the Year. It was also named as a book of the year in the Times and the Evening Standard. Image: isafmedia [post_title] => Unbeatable: Social Resources, Military Adaptation, and the Afghan Taliban [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => unbeatable-social-resources-military-adaptation-and-the-afghan-taliban [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-09 09:09:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-09 13:09:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=573 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => How have the Taliban come back so successfully after virtual defeat following the 9/11 attacks? Its resiliency stems from two factors: its social resources and its ability to adapt militarily. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Less studied is how the Taliban have been the makers of their own success. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => In the end, the Taliban never fully invested in reconstituting their Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Instead, the military campaign took precedence. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => [H]ow centralized is the Taliban, and how has the group’s organizational structure affected military adaptation? ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => Professionalization of the war effort by the Peshawar Shura, including adoption of military commissions by the Quetta Shura, was critical to the Taliban’s ability to adapt militarily. ) ) [style] => scholarly [type] => Scholarly [style_label] => The Scholar [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 56 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] Michael E. O’Hanlon, “A Flawed Masterpiece,” Foreign Affairs 81 (May/June 2002): 48, 55, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2002-05-01/flawed-masterpiece. [2] Mujib Mashal and Najim Rahim, “Afghan Forces Push Taliban Out of Kunduz Center, Officials Say,” New York Times, Oct. 4, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/05/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-kunduz.html. [3] Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, Quarterly Report to the United States Congress, July 30, 2016, 86, https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/quarterlyreports/2016-07-30qr.pdf. [4] Theo Farrell, Unwinnable: Britain’s War in Afghanistan, 20012014 (London: The Bodley Head, 2017); Jack Fairweather, The Good War: The Battle for Afghanistan, 200614 (London: Jonathan Cape, 2014); Daniel P. Bolger, Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014); David H. Ucko and Robert Egnell, Counterinsurgency in Crisis: Britain and the Challenges of Modern Warfare (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013); Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan (London: Bloomsbury, 2012); Sten Rynning, NATO in Afghanistan: The Liberal Disconnect (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012); David P. Auerswald and Stephen M. Saideman, NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014); Sherard Cowper-Coles, Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign (London: Harper Press, 2011); Frank Ledwidge, Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011); Tim Bird and Alex Marshall, Afghanistan: How the West Lost Its Way (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011); M.J. Williams, The Good War: NATO and the Liberal Conscience in Afghanistan (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); Seth G. Jones, In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan (New York: W.W. Norton, 2009). [5] Chris Kolenda, “Endgame: Why American Interventions Become Quagmires,” PhD thesis, King’s College London, 2017; Sarah Chayes, Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security (New York: W.W. Norton, 2016); Antonio Giustozzi, The Army of Afghanistan: A Political History of a Fragile Institution (London: Hurst, 2015); Astri Suhrke, When More Is Less: The International Project in Afghanistan (London: Hurst, 2011); Peter Marsden, Afghanistan: Aid, Armies and Empires (London: I.B. Tauris, 2009). [6] Peter Bergen with Katherine Tiedemann, ed., Talibanistan: Negotiating the Borders Between Terror, Politics, and Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Vahid Brown and Don Rassler, Fountainhead of Jihad: The Haqqani Nexus, 19732012 (London: Hurst, 2013); Carlotta Gall, The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 20012014 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). [7] Carlotta Gall, “Saudis Bankroll Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports Afghan Government,” New York Times, Dec. 6, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/world/asia/saudi-arabia-afghanistan.html; Ahmad Majidyar, “Afghan Intelligence Chief Warns Iran and Russia Against Aiding Taliban,” The Middle East Institute, Feb. 5, 2018, http://www.mei.edu/content/io/afghan-intelligence-chief-warns-iran-and-russia-against-aiding-taliban; Justin Rowlatt, “Russia ‘Arming the Afghan Taliban’, Says US,” BBC News, Mar. 23, 2018, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-43500299. The extent of Pakistan support to the Taliban is documented in Steve Coll, Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 20012016 (London: Allen Lane, 2018); and Gall, The Wrong Enemy. [8] Coll, Directorate S, 329-340. [9] Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: The Story of the Afghan Warlords (London: Pan Macmillan, 2001); Gilles Dorronsoro, Revolution Unending: Afghanistan, 1979 to the Present (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005); Kamal Matinuddin, The Taliban Phenomenon: Afghanistan, 19941997 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban/Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 19702010 (London: Hurst, 2012); Rob Johnson, The Afghan Way of War: Culture and Pragmatism: A Critical History (London: Hurst, 2011). [10] Antonio Giustozzi, Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan (London: Hurst, 2007); Antonio Giustozzi, ed., Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field (London: Hurst, 2009). [11] In total, 282 interviews with Taliban and 138 interviews with non-Taliban Afghan locals were conducted by Afghan researchers over two periods, from 2011–12 and 2014–15. Those interviewed were not paid for their interviews. Interviews were recorded in field notes and transcribed into English. The research project was led by myself, and the field research was supervised by Dr. Antonio Giustozzi. In conformity with the project protocols, I do not reveal the precise location and date of the interviews in order to protect the anonymity of the interviewees. The findings from the 2011–12 pilot project were published as Theo Farrell and Antonio Giustozzi, “The Taliban at War: Inside the Helmand Insurgency, 2004–2011,” International Affairs 89 (2013): 845-71. The overall findings of the main project will be published as Antonio Giustozzi, The Taliban at War (London: Hurst, forthcoming). [12] Jeremy M. Weinstein, Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 43-44. [13] Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger, ISIS: The State of Terror (London: William Collins, 2015). [14] Kieran Mitton, Rebels in a Rotten State: Understanding Atrocity in the Sierra Leone Civil War (London: Hurst, 2015). [15] Zachariah Cherian Mampilly, Rebel Rulers: Insurgent Governance and Civilian Life During War (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011), 52-55. [16] Weinstein, Inside Rebellion, 48-49. [17] Paul Staniland, Networks of Rebellion: Explaining Insurgent Cohesion and Collapse (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014). [18] Madhav Joshi and T. David Mason, “Between Democracy and Revolution: Peasant Support for Insurgency Versus Democracy in Nepal,” Journal of Peace Research 45 (2008): 765-82, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27640768. [19] Alpa Shah, “The Intimacy of Insurgency: Beyond Coercion, Greed or Grievance in Maoist India,” Economy and Society 42 (2013): 480-506. [20] Nelson Kasfir, “Rebel Governance — Constructing a Field of Inquiry: Definitions, Scope, Patterns, Order, Causes,” in Rebel Governance in Civil War, ed. Ana Arjona, Nelson Kasfir, and Zachariah Mampilly (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 22-23. [21] Bert Suykens, “Comparing Rebel Rule Through Revolution and Naturalization: Ideologies of Governance in Naxalite and Naga India,” in Rebel Governance in Civil War, ed. Arjona et al., 138-57. [22] Mampilly, Rebel Rulers, 63-64. [23] Till Forster, “Dialogue Direct: Rebel Governance and Civil Order in Northern Cote d’Ivoire,” in Rebel Governance in Civil War, ed. Arjona et al., 203-25; and Suykens, “Comparing Rebel Rule Through Revolution and Naturalization.” [24] Zachariah Mampilly, “Performing the Nation-State: Rebel Governance and Symbolic Processes,” in Rebel Governance in Civil War, ed. Arjona et al., 77-78. [25] Johnson, The Afghan Way of War, 217-39. [26] Van Linschoten and Kuehn, An Enemy We Created, 45. Initially, it was believed that the Taliban originated in Kandahar in 1994 as a religious militant group that sought to bring law and order to southern Afghanistan and stop local warlords from abusing the area population. This view was most notably advanced in Rashid’s Taliban: The Story of the Afghan Warlords. However, van Linschoten and Kuehn have subsequently proven that the Taliban predated the 1990s and indeed fought in the mujahedeen war. This is also recounted in the published memoir of a former senior Taliban. See Abdul Salam Zaeff, My Life With the Taliban (London: Hurst, 2010). [27] On the mujahedeen as “brothers-in-arms” communities forged in war, see David B. Edwards, Caravan of Martyrs: Sacrifice and Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan (Oakland: University of California Press, 2017). [28] Christina Lamb, The Sowing Circles of Herat (London: HarperCollins, 2004). [29] Interview with local elder no. 7, Nad-e Ali district, Helmand, March 2012. [30] Mike Martin, An Intimate War: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict (London: Hurst, 2014), 125. [31] Interview with mahaz commander no. 2, Nangarhar, 2015. [32] Interview with national commission member, 2014; interview with former member of Rahbari Shura, 2014. [33] Giustozzi, Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop, 101. [34] Interview with local elder no. 3, Musa Qala, Helmand, 2012. [35] Interview with local elder no. 4, Musa Qala, Helmand, 2012. [36] Interview with Taliban cadre no. 10, Peshawar, 2015. A number of Taliban fronts also reactivated in Nangarhar in 2004–05, each with many hundreds of fighters. Interview with mahaz commander no. 1, Nangarhar, 2015; interview with mahaz commander no. 2, Nangarhar, 2015. [37] Interviews with two cadre, Miran Shah Shura, 2015. [38] Interviews with four Taliban leaders, Nangarhar, 2015. [39] See, for example, Graeme Smith, “What Kandahar’s Taliban Say,” in Decoding the New Taliban, 191-210. [40] On closed versus open political orders, see Douglas C. North, John Joseph Wallis, and Barry R. Weingast, Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009). [41] Interview with local elder no. 4, Nahr-e Seraj, 2011. [42] Carter Malkasian, Jerry Meyerle, and Megan Katt, “The War in Southern Afghanistan, 2001–2008,” unclassified report (Alexandria, VA: Center for Naval Analysis, July 2009): 11, 14, https://info.publicintelligence.net/CNA-WarSouthernAfghanistan.pdf. [43] Interview with local elder no. 3, Qarabagh, Ghanzi, 2014. [44] Farrell, Unwinnable, 226-28. [45] Interview with group of local elders no. 9, Nad-e Ali district, 2012. [46] Interview with elder no. 3, Nahr-e Seraj, 2011. [47] Martin, Brief History, 49. [48] Cited in Tom Coghlan, “The Taliban in Helmand: An Oral History,” in Decoding the New Taliban, 139. The British Army provided limited and reluctant support to the Afghan government’s poppy eradication program. Britain was the lead nation for the international counter-narcotics effort in Afghanistan; however, the British Army quickly realized that it risked losing local support in Helmand if its forces were too closely associated with the destruction of the poppy crop. The British got blamed for it anyway. See Farrell, Unwinnable, 227-28. [49] Interview with Taliban leader no. 14, Quetta, 2015. [50] Interview with local elder no. 3, Nahr-e Seraj, 2011; Taliban commander no. 2, Nad-e Ali, 2012; and Taliban commander no. 1, Marjah, 2011. [51] Thomas H. Johnson and Matthew C. DuPee, “Analysing the New Taliban Code of Conduct (Layeha): An Assessment of Changing Perspectives and Strategies of the Afghan Taliban,” Central Asian Survey 31 (2002): 84, https://doi.org/10.1080/02634937.2012.647844; see also Coghlan, “The Taliban in Helmand,” 148-49. [52] Interview with local elder no. 5, Nahr-e Seraj, 2011. Also confirmed by interviews with elder no. 1, Now Zad, 2011; elder no 6, Nad-e Ali, 2011; and elder no. 2, Garmsir, 2011. [53] Interview with local elder no. 7, Nahr-e Seraj, 2011; similar view was offered in interview with elder no. 5, Nahr-e Seraj, 2011. [54] Johnson and DuPee, “Analysing the New Taliban Code,” 85-86. [55] Interview with elder no. 3, Musa Qala, 2011. [56] Interviews with elder no. 4, Nahr-e Seraj, 2011; and elder no. 3, Musa Qala, 2011. [57] Interview with elder no. 4, Nahr-e Seraj, 2011. [58] Interview with local elder no. 1, Logar, February 2015; interview with local elder no. 2, Logar, February 2015; interview with local elder no. 10, Nangarhar, March 2015. [59] Phil Weatherill, “Targeting the Centre of Gravity: Adapting Stabilisation in Sangin,” RUSI Journal 156 (2011): 98, 22n, https://doi.org/10.1080/03071847.2011.606655. [60] Antonio Guistozzi and Claudio Franco, The Battle for the Schools: The Taleban and State Education (Berlin: Afghan Analysts Network, 2011), http://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/10/2011TalebanEducation.pdf. [61] Thomas H. Johnson, Taliban Narratives: The Use and Power of Stories in the Afghanistan Conflict (London: Hurst, 2017). [62] The dynamic competition at the heart of war is captured by Carl von Clausewitz’s description of it as “a duel on an extensive scale.” Carl von Clausewitz, On War (Middlesex: Penguin, 1987), 101. [63] Williamson Murray, Military Adaptation in War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011). [64] Theo Farrell, “Introduction: Military Adaptation in War,” in Military Adaptation in Afghanistan, ed. Theo Farrell, Frans Osinga, and James A. Russell (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013), 9-10. [65] The classic study is by Eliot A. Cohen and John Gooch, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War (New York: Free Press, 1990). [66] James G. March and Barbara Levitt, “Organizational Learning,” in The Pursuit of Organizational Intelligence, ed. J.G. March (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999), 78-79. [67] Barry R. Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain, and Germany Between the World Wars (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984); Stephen Peter Rosen, Winning the Next War: Innovation and the Modern Military (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991). [68] Philipp Rotmann, David Tohn, and Jaron Wharton, “Learning Under Fire: Progress and Dissent in the US Military,” Survival 51, no. 4 (August 2009): 31-48, https://doi.org/10.1080/00396330903168824. Thus, nonresponsive senior leaders within the military or the government can block necessary military adaptation. See Adam M. Jungdahl and Julia M. Macdonald, “Innovation Inhibitors in War: Overcoming Obstacles in the Pursuit of Military Effectiveness,” Journal of Strategic Studies 38 (2015): 467-99, https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2014.917628. [69] The importance of senior leaders with the vision and organizational standing to lead military innovation is explored in Rosen’s Winning the Next War. See also Theo Farrell, Sten Rynning, and Terry Terriff, Transforming Military Power Since the End of the Cold War: Britain, France and the United States, 1991-2012 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013). [70] The importance of sufficient “force autonomy” to enable military adaptation is also identified in Torunn Laugen Haaland, “The Limits to Learning in Military Operations: Bottom-Up Adaptation in the Norwegian Army in Northern Afghanistan, 2007–2012,” Journal of Strategic Studies 39, no. 7 (2016): 999-1022, https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2016.1202823. [71] I also identified a third enabling factor, poor organizational memory, that is not relevant for the Taliban case. Theo Farrell, “Improving in War: Military Adaptation and the British in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, 2006–2009,” Journal of Strategic Studies 33, no. 4 (2010): 567-94, https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2010.489712. [72] Kristen A. Harkness and Michael Hunzeker, “Military Maladaptation: Counterinsurgency and the Politics of Failure,” Journal of Strategic Studies 38, no. 6 (2015): 777-800, https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2014.960078. (Quote is from p. 778-79.) [73] James A. Russell, Innovation, Transformation, and War: Counterinsurgency Operations in Anbar and Ninewa Provinces, Iraq, 2005–2007 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011); Chad C. Serena, A Revolution in Military Adaptation: The US Army in the Iraq War (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011); Farrell et al., ed., Military Adaptation in Afghanistan; Stephen M. Saideman, Adapting in the Dust: Lessons Learned from Canada’s War in Afghanistan (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016). [74] Theo Farrell, “Transnational Norms and Military Development: Constructing Ireland’s Professional Army,” European Journal of International Relations 7 (2001): 309-26. [75] Antonio Giustozzi, Empires of Mud: War and Warlords in Afghanistan (London: Hurst, 2009). [76] Stanley McChrystal, My Share of the Task: A Memoir (London: Portfolio/Penguin, 2013), chap. 7–10. For a stinging critique of the U.S. military’s failure to adapt in Iraq, see Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (London: Allen Lane, 2006). [77] Francis G. Hoffman, “Learning Under Fire: Military Change in Wartime,” PhD thesis, King’s College London, 2015. [78] Ali Ahmad Jalali and Lester W. Grau, Afghan Guerrilla Warfare: In the Words of the Mujahideen Fighters (Minneapolis: Zenith Press, 2001); Russian General Staff, The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost, trans. and ed. Lester W. Gru and Michael A. Gress (University of Kansas Press, 2002), 62-72. [79] Coghlan, “The Taliban in Helmand,” 145. [80] Claudio Franco and Antonio Giustozzi, “Revolution in the Counter-Revolution: Efforts to Centralize the Taliban’s Military Leadership,” Central Asian Affairs 3, no. 3 (2016): 272-75, https://doi.org/10.1163/22142290-00303003. [81] On the rise of the Peshawar Shura, see Franco and Giustozzi, “Revolution in the Counter-Revolution,” 249-86. [82] On the importance of “resource control” to the leadership of insurgent groups, see Alec Worsnop, “Who Can Keep the Peace? Insurgent Organizational Control of Collective Violence,” Security Studies 26, no. 3 (2017): 482-516, https://doi.org/10.1080/09636412.2017.1306397. [83] Interview with Taliban commander no. 2, Nad-e Ali, 2012. This procedure is confirmed in interviews with Taliban commanders from other provinces (Baghlan, Kunduz, Wardak) conducted in 2011–12 as part of a project run by one of the authors. [84] Interview with Taliban commander no. 1, Marjah, 2011. [85] Interview with Taliban commander no. 1, Now Zad, 2011; also confirmed by interviews with Taliban commander no. 4, Garmsir, 2011; Taliban commander no. 4, Marjah, 2011; Taliban commander no. 2, 2011, Now Zad; and Taliban commander no. 4, Kajaki, 2011. [86] Interview with Taliban commander no. 5, Sangin, 2011. See also Antonio Giustozzi and Adam Baczko, “The Politics of the Taliban’s Shadow Judiciary, 2003–2013,” Central Asian Affairs 1 (2014): 199-224, https://doi.org/10.1163/22142290-00102003. [87] Interview with staff officer, Defense Intelligence, Ministry of Defense, London, November 2008. Tom Coghlan reports that “British commanders estimated that approximately 1,000 Taliban died during 2006.” He places less credence in newspaper reports of many thousands of Taliban dead. Coghlan, “The Taliban in Helmand,” 130. [88] Interviews with Taliban commander no. 8, Garsmir, 2011; Taliban commander no. 3, Kajaki, 2011; and Taliban commander no. 3, Marjah, 2011. [89] Interview with senior staff officer, 3 Commando Brigade, Ministry of Defense, London, July 1, 2010. For a dramatic account of the Taliban attack, see Ewen Southby-Tailyour, 3 Commando Brigade: Helmand Assault (London: Ebury Press, 2010), 55-66. [90] Interview with Taliban commander no. 3, Sangin. This is confirmed by 12 interviewees, with a number referring specifically to a “general order” from the Quetta Shura. [91] Antonio Giustozzi, The Taliban at War (London: Hurst, forthcoming), chap. 4. [92] Interview with former Taliban front commander, November 2016; interview with former Taliban provincial governor, November 2016. [93] Ian S. Livingston and Michael E. O’Hanlon, Afghanistan Index: Tracking Variables of Reconstruction and Security in Post-9/11 Afghanistan (Washington: Brookings Institution, May 2014), 11, figure 1.17, https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/index20140514.pdf. [94] Directorate Land Warfare, Lessons Exploitation Centre, Operation Herrick Campaign Study, March 2015 [redacted and publicly released version], Annex A to Annex E, chap. 3-6, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/492757/20160107115638.pdf; also Olivier Grouville, “Bird and Fairweather in Context: Assessing the IED Threat,” RUSI Journal 154 (2009): 40, https://doi.org/10.1080/03071840903255252. [95] Fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate are banned in Afghanistan. [96] Antonio Giustozzi, “Military Adaptation by the Taliban, 2002–11,” in Military Adaptation in Afghanistan, ed. Theo Farrell et al. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013), 251. [97] Giustozzi, The Taliban at War, chap. 6. [98] Interview with Taliban leader, Miran Shah Shura, 2015. [99] Interview with several Taliban commanders, Faryab, 2014; interview with Taliban commander, Kandahar, 2014; interview with Taliban leader, Miran Shah Shura, 2015. [100] Farrell, Unwinnable, 242-44. [101] Interview with Taliban commander no. 3, Marjah, 2011. [102] Interview with Taliban commander no. 4, Garmsir, 2011. [103] Interview with Taliban commander no. 6, Sangin, 2011. [104] Interview with Taliban commander no. 5, Marjah, 2011. [105] Interview with Taliban commander no. 3, Sangin, 2011. [106] Interviews with Taliban commander, Kandahar, 2014; and with Taliban cadre, Nangarhar, 2015. [107] On the importance of organizational capacity to “absorb” new military technologies, see Michael C. Horowitz, The Diffusion of Military Power: Causes and Consequences for International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010). [108] Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), Twitter post, Jan. 1, 2018, 4:12 a.m., https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/947802588174577664. [109] Haroon Janjua, “‘Nothing but Lies and Deceit’: Trump Launches Twitter Attack on Pakistan,” Guardian, Jan. 2, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/01/lies-and-deceit-trump-launches-attack-on-pakistan-tweet. [110] Mujib Mashal and Salman Masood, “Cutting Off Pakistan, U.S. Takes Gamble in Complex War,” New York Times, Jan. 5, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/05/world/asia/pakistan-aid-afghan-war.html. [111] Carlo Muñoz, “U.S. Forces to Go on the Offensive in Afghanistan, Says Top Commander,” Washington Times, Jan. 2, 2018, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jan/2/top-commander-us-forces-go-offensive-afghanistan/. [112] Farrell, Unwinnable, 292-324. [113] In a less-than-encouraging development, the U.S. Department of Defense for the first time in eight years classified the data on Afghan security forces’ operational readiness. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, Quarterly Report to the United States Congress, Oct. 30, 2017, 99-100, https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/quarterlyreports/2017-10-30qr.pdf. [114] Lauren McNally and Paul Bucala, “The Taliban Resurgent: Threats to Afghanistan’s Security,” Afghanistan Report no. 11 (Washington: Institute for the Study of War, March 2015): 13-17, 19-20, http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/AFGH Report.pdf. [115] Of the 407 districts in Afghanistan, 7% were under insurgent control or influence, 21% were contested, and 72% were under government control in November 2015. By October 2017, these ratios had shifted to 14% under insurgent control or influence, 30% contested, and 56% under government control. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Addendum to SIGAR’s January 2018 Quarterly Report to the United States Congress, Jan. 30, 2018, 1, https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/quarterlyreports/Addendum_2018-01-30qr.pdf. [116] On Korea, Robert A. Pape finds that U.S. bombing was unable to have a significant impact on the enemy war effort or the civilian economy, hence he concludes that no coercive leverage was produced. On Vietnam, he argues that the U.S. bombing campaign “succeeded in 1972 where it had failed from 1965 to 1968 because in the interim Hanoi had changed from a guerrilla strategy, which was essentially immune to air power, to a conventional offensive strategy, which was highly vulnerable to air interdiction.” Robert A. Pape, Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996), chap. 5 and 6 (Quote is from p. 209). [117] Eric Schmitt, “Hunting Taliban and Islamic State Fighters, From 20,000 Feet,” New York Times, Dec. 11, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/11/world/asia/taliban-isis-afghanistan-drugs-b52s.html. [118] U.N. figures comparing civilian deaths from U.S. airstrikes in the first nine months of 2016 and 2017. Shashank Bengali, “U.S. Airstrikes Rise Sharply in Afghanistan — and So Do Civilian Deaths,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 4, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-afghanistan-us-airstrikes-20171204-htmlstory.html. [119] Schmitt, “Hunting Taliban.” [120] Andrew Cockburn, “Mobbed Up: How America Boosts the Afghan Opium Trade,” Harper’s Magazine, April 2018, https://harpers.org/archive/2018/04/mobbed-up/. [121] Seth G. Jones, “Why the Taliban Isn’t Winning in Afghanistan: Too Weak for Victory, Too Strong for Defeat,” Foreign Affairs, January 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2018-01-03/why-taliban-isnt-winning-afghanistan. [122] Michael Semple, Theo Farrell, Anatol Lieven, and Rudra Chaudhuri, Taliban Perspectives on Reconciliation (London: Royal United Services Institute, September 2012), https://rusi.org/sites/default/files/taliban_perspectives_on_reconciliation.pdf. [123] Theo Farrell and Michael Semple, Ready for Peace? The Afghan Taliban After a Decade of War (London: Royal United Services Institute, January 2017), https://rusi.org/sites/default/files/201701_bp_ready_for_peace.pdf. [124] For more recent analysis supporting this view, see Antonio Giustozzi, “Do the Taliban Have Any Appetite for Reconciliation in Kabul?” Center for Research and Policy Analysis, Mar. 19, 2018, https://www.af-crpa.org/single-post/2018/03/20/Do-the-Taliban-Have-any-Appetite-for-Reconciliation-with-Kabul-Antonio-Giustozzi. [125] Sune Engel Rasmussen, “Afghan Civilians Count Cost of Renewed US Air Campaign,” Guardian, Sept. 5, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/05/afghan-civilians-count-cost-of-renewed-us-air-campaign. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) ) [2] => Array ( [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 569 [post_author] => 170 [post_date] => 2018-05-08 05:00:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-08 09:00:56 [post_content] => On any given day in Washington, dozens of think tanks that work on national security issues are busy drafting policy memos, meeting with embassy staff and foreign visitors, testifying before Congress, conducting press interviews, raising funds for their research, and hosting events, all in an effort to shape U.S. foreign policy. But in the weeks and months following the 2016 election, the normal rhythm of think tank work slowed considerably. The election of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president raised some fundamental, and at times, paralyzing questions for Washington’s think tank community. How did so many wonks both on the left and the right miss America’s growing disaffection with globalization, a phenomenon that helped bring Trump to power? It is incumbent upon everyone who works in national security to ask ourselves what that fact says about the disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country. With an administration that prides itself on disregarding conventional expertise, we must also pose the question: What role should think tanks play moving forward? Many of us in Washington are still mulling over those questions. But at the think tank where I work, the bipartisan Center for a New American Security (CNAS), my small team working on transatlantic security issues quickly came to the conclusion that it was time to try something different. Instead of spending most of our time interacting with other national security experts in Washington (both in and out of government) and meeting with allies and partners abroad, we needed to engage new audiences across the United States. We needed to escape the proverbial Beltway bubble. And because my program’s mandate is to focus on transatlantic relations, my team knew that whatever initiative we were going to develop would need to include European national security experts as well. In the spring of 2017, CNAS formally launched “Across the Pond, in the Field.”[1] Over the course of three years, the project will take teams made up of two Americans and two Europeans to 12 cities across the United States. The two American envoys come from CNAS, while the Europeans we’ve selected have been former ministers, current ambassadors, and think tank scholars. The project has multiple objectives. We want to expose Washingtonians and Europeans to a diverse range of American perspectives on transatlantic relations and U.S. foreign policy, something they don’t necessarily get in national capitals. We also want to create opportunities for the Europeans on these trips to develop lasting relationships with cities outside of Washington and New York. Finally, our aim is to engage in a series of debates on U.S. global engagement with “grass-top” leaders — local individuals in industry and the public sector who serve as opinion leaders in their communities. Our goal has never been to lecture or teach Americans what they ought to think. Instead, we try to foster a genuine exchange of ideas that will allow the Americans we meet to ask us hard questions and challenge some of our longstanding, core assumptions about the transatlantic relationship and broader U.S. foreign policy. Each trip that our teams go on follows the same general template. Over the course of two days, our small delegation hosts at least one large public event, speaks with members of the local press (which usually includes an editorial board meeting and AM talk radio), meets with business and political leaders, and visits a high school and/or a university. To date, we have visited Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, and Tampa. As one might expect, these trips have taught us a lot so far, both about how to conduct programming “outside the Beltway” and about how Americans today are thinking about the world more broadly. Of course, a three-city tour doesn’t lend itself to any conclusive generalizations, particularly because we aren’t hearing from a full cross section of America in terms of race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. But we believe that some of the early lessons from those three trips are worth sharing. Americans are generally eager to interact and engage about their country’s role in the world, but some remain skeptical. The first question we asked ourselves when we started this program was whether anyone would show up. Do Americans outside of Washington want to hear from and engage in debates with the foreign policy elites who are popularly portrayed by the media as out of touch and irrelevant? To our great relief, especially after our well-attended public event in our first stop in Pittsburgh, we have found that people do indeed show up. Sometimes they turn out in stunningly large numbers. Our public events regularly draw audiences between 100 and 200 people, and I’ve personally spoken to audiences across the country that range in size from 300 to 700 people. Between CNAS’ “Across the Pond” trips, my own personal invitations to speak to audiences in places like Ohio and New Hampshire, and anecdotes from colleagues running similar programs, there is no question that Americans are hungry to engage with policymakers and experts on foreign policy. That said, not everyone has welcomed us with open arms. In advance of our trip to Pittsburgh, I placed an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explaining the goals of our project and why it was important for folks like myself to get outside of Washington. The day that piece ran, CNAS received seven or eight phone calls — some profanity-laden — telling us to stay home. Because some of the calls included thinly veiled threats, we asked for police presence at our public event. Fortunately, we haven’t ever encountered that sentiment in person. But the fact that a program designed to seek and listen to alternative viewpoints can create such a visceral reaction has taught us a thing or two about just how deep the mistrust and animosity towards Washington really runs. Those phone calls reminded me of some of the reactions I encountered when I walked around the Washington monuments last summer with a video camera to ask American tourists what they thought about NATO. Most of the folks I approached were happy to offer a few comments. On a few occasions, however, parents held their children close and told me to back away, noting that they never talk to the “lamestream media.” My efforts to reassure them by stating calmly that I did not work for a TV or radio station failed. What has become clear to me both through that experience and our city visits is that we may never find ways to engage certain sectors of the population, particularly those that reject the premise that dialogue in itself is a useful exercise. Working for a think tank in Washington means I come from a different tribe and for some people, that’s enough reason to keep me at arm’s length. [quote id="1"] Finding a willing conservative, public audience in a large American city is difficult. Many U.S. cities are home to nonprofits such as the World Affairs Councils of America or the American Committees on Foreign Relations. The mission of these organizations is to create opportunities for dialogue with global leaders and policymakers. They play a critical role in educating both their members and the general public about pressing national security challenges. However, because many U.S. cities (even in red states) tilt blue, the audiences that those organizations draw tend to be heavy on the Democrats’ side. One of the major challenges we face in working with people outside of the Beltway has been identifying partner organizations that can help us reach a more politically diverse set of Americans. In the case of Pittsburgh, that meant leaving the downtown area and driving an hour to a neighboring red county to hold an event at a public library. In the case of Tampa, it meant spending hours on the phone finding libertarian and conservative groups and asking to help publicize our public event downtown. Those calls aren’t always easy to make. You spend an enormous amount of time explaining who you are, what you do, who funds your work, why you’re coming to town, and why they should care. In most cases, after a couple of calls, people offer to help. Occasionally, though, Washington’s image as an elitist, out-of-touch, and globalist hub fuels skepticism about the motives behind our project and ends the conversation. Form and format matter and can easily make or break efforts to engage Americans in an honest and civil debate. Americans might be interested in engaging on foreign policy, but they aren’t in the mood for a lecture, especially from a bunch of elitist wonks from the coast. That’s why we have very deliberately banned speeches at every event we attend or host. For large public forums, our moderator starts with one or two questions for our panelists and then immediately goes to the audience, often collecting four or five questions at a time in order to maximize the number of people that we can hear from. Audiences have reacted positively to that format, often noting that they were surprised and relieved that we didn’t open with a long lecture. We also try to host a reception after our public events where people can approach our delegation one-on-one. With an audience of 100 to 200 people or more, it’s impossible to engage in an ideal dialogue. However, using some of these formats has helped us hear from as many people as possible. Another important lesson from this project is the importance of humility and a willingness to admit your mistakes, especially regarding policies that your audience might oppose. It is impossible to foster a genuine exchange of ideas if you start in a defensive crouch. In some of the events we’ve hosted, I have intentionally outlined some of the policies that I believe we got wrong during the Obama administration in which I served. Our European guests also have been refreshingly honest about some of their own policy errors or miscalculations. This kind of openness and honesty can help disarm an American audience that is regularly bombarded with accusatory and divisive stories about folks on the other side of the aisle. No single foreign policy issue occupies the minds of Americans today — their questions vary by the hour. Looking at polling data on American threat perceptions, it is easy to get the impression that Americans are singularly worried about terrorism.[2] In the three cities we visited, however, we did not encounter many questions about terrorism or the Islamic State. Instead, we heard a wide array of questions and opinions on everything from NATO to North Korea to NAFTA. Unsurprisingly, the headlines shape the questions people ask, as do the backgrounds and expertise of our European guests. For example, the British Labor Party politician we took to Salt Lake City was peppered with questions about Brexit. The current Swedish ambassador to the United States was asked about her country’s efforts to be fossil-free by 2050. The former German defense minister took some pointed questions on defense spending. Some conspiracy theories and misleading narratives have taken root. Broadly speaking, the Americans we’ve met both at public events and in one-on-one meetings have been very well-informed. But in the age of disinformation[3] and with a president who has openly admitted to creating facts out of whole cloth,[4] it is not uncommon to stumble upon sometimes disturbing myths, conspiracy theories, or falsehoods. This is especially true on the issues of immigration and refugees. The current Swedish ambassador to the United States was asked by an audience member if Muslims living in her country were taking over Swedish culture or outproducing Swedes. On another trip, a local resident asked the current Danish ambassador to the United States if it was safe to travel to Europe because he had heard “there is a terrorist attack every single day and that people are getting robbed by gangs of refugees.” In Pittsburgh, I recorded a podcast with the former president of the Pittsburgh Rotary Club, who, in a discussion about U.S. and European immigration policies, claimed —  falsely —  that some predominantly Muslim cities in both Michigan and North Carolina have fully implemented Sharia.[5] While this project isn’t about lecturing the Americans we meet, we have seized on opportunities to engage in myth busting where appropriate. The issue of Russia has become so politicized that it’s dangerous to raise. Of all the issues we’ve debated to date, none is as politically charged as Russia, specifically Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Recent polling data has shown the emergence of a noticeable split among Democrats and Republicans on their views towards Russia, attempts to engage the Russians, and the president’s own relationship with Russia.[6] For nearly two decades, Americans on both sides of the aisle have held similarly negative views toward Russia. But that ended after the 2016 election. Democrats now hold a far less positive view towards Russia than Republicans do[7] — only 15 percent of Democrats have a favorable view of Russia, while 30 percent of Republicans do. Like domestic issues such as gun violence and the Second Amendment, one’s views on Russia now can easily reveal political party affiliation. We have felt that partisan divide on Russia in every city we have visited. Merely mentioning Russia quickly morphs into a scathing discussion about U.S. politics. Democrats are accused of conducting a “witch hunt.” Republicans are accused of being AWOL on Russian election meddling. There are also some fascinating twists and turns in all the Russia-related finger-pointing. Republicans who have attended our events like to remind Democrats that they once mocked presidential candidate Mitt Romney for stating that Russia was America’s great threat. Democrats at our events like to remind Republicans that they still mock former President Barack Obama for his Russian “reset” policy, even though many Republicans now support Trump’s effort to do something similar. In our discussions, we try our best to get away from Russian interference in our election and ask some of our European guests to describe their country’s experiences with Russian aggression and what they’re doing about it. Europeans have been dealing with Russian acts of intimidation, energy coercion, and disinformation campaigns far longer than the United States. Sharing those experiences helps our audiences appreciate the scope of the problem. It also serves as a useful reminder that the transatlantic relationship isn’t always about America teaching or lecturing Europe. In many cases, such as how to grapple with Russian disinformation, we Americans can learn a lot from our European allies. U.S. mayors and other local politicians don’t feel hindered by today’s hyper-partisanship and are making up for the paralysis across Washington. After visits to only three cities, it’s hard to offer generalizable findings about anything that we’ve observed. We have found it refreshing, however, to hear so many stories from local politicians in the cities we have visited about their efforts to rise above the party politics currently paralyzing the nation’s capital. Unlike their counterparts in Congress, the mayors and county executives we’ve met are extending hands across the aisle, developing new relationships at home and abroad, and forming alliances across state lines to advance common agendas on everything from climate change to the opioid crisis.  Americans of all political stripes are tired of carrying the proverbial burden of the West. Irrespective of party affiliation, hometown, or age, many of the Americans we have met have expressed some level of frustration with burden-sharing in international matters. That sentiment takes different forms: America does too much for European defense, America is the world’s policeman, or America provides too much aid to other countries. The basic message is that America is unfairly doing too much of something. What that means for the future of U.S. foreign policy, though, is far from clear. For some, Trump’s “America First” slogan and his accompanying policies on everything from trade to Syrian refugees are the answer. For others, however, the feeling that America is doing or has done too much in the world doesn’t necessarily translate into opposition to free trade or a desire to leave the NATO alliance. In fact, a higher percentage of Americans in 2017 believed that global trade was good for the U.S. economy and consumers than in 2016.[8] American support for the NATO alliance is also on the rise.[9] But there is a palpable sentiment that America needs to encourage others to share a greater portion of the burden when it comes to global challenges. No future U.S. president can afford to ignore this. Even in cases where they support global engagement, Americans express a clear desire for more “leadership” from our partners and allies. CNAS’ “Across the Pond” project isn’t a scientific study about American attitudes, nor is it an attempt for policy elites to teach Americans in faraway places how to think about transatlantic relations and U.S. foreign policy. What it is at its core is a much-needed attempt at civil discourse and debate, free of insults and partisan attacks. But what about its impact, a term deeply familiar to those of us working in think tanks. In other words, what’s the point? [quote id="2"] We don’t survey the people we meet through this project, so it is hard to know, short of a lot of positive feedback, whether our events are breaking through the partisan noise and helping folks learn from each other. There are, however, a few concrete ways to measure change. The CNAS intern pool, often dominated by applicants from the East Coast, has become more geographically diverse. We are now receiving applications from every city we’ve visited, and we hope that will continue as we visit another nine cities. The Transatlantic Security Program also produces a weekly podcast and puts out a weekly newsletter, via email, on transatlantic issues. We have seen an increase in the number of subscribers to those two products, which helps CNAS with national outreach. Perhaps the biggest impact, though, has been in regards to my own personal views about transatlantic relations. I have spent more than 20 years working on Europe and advocating for a strong partnership with European allies. Over the course of the last year, I have worried that Trump’s sometimes benign, sometimes antagonistic views towards Europe were moving the two sides of the Atlantic away from their shared history and shared values. I have warned that making the transatlantic relationship more transactional would spell disaster. But as some of the people we’ve engaged outside of Washington have reminded me in recent months, it seems Europe has adjusted quite well to this new era. Contrary to my warnings, our European allies haven’t abandoned us just because we have a president who questions the utility of NATO and supports Brexit. Are these relationships more durable than I realized? Is the values aspect of the transatlantic relationship overstated? These are the questions my colleagues and I don’t necessarily encounter in the near constant cycle of meetings and conferences across Washington. Many of us, myself included, can find ourselves trapped in defending the status quo. For example, U.S. presidents always reiterate America’s unwavering commitment to NATO’s Article 5 clause on their first trip to Brussels. When Trump failed to do this last summer, Washington pundits, scholars, and journalists spent weeks warning about the consequences of departing from that tradition. This project gives us an opportunity to interact with people who don’t necessarily react the same way to a president that regularly challenges the bipartisan consensus on U.S. foreign policy. Finally, “Across the Pond” is an attempt to mine the country for fresh ideas. Not all of the answers for addressing Chinese cyber-attacks, Russian disinformation campaigns, or a brewing trade war with Europe — to name just a few of today’s challenges — can be found in the White House Situation Room or large conference tables at Washington think tanks. Policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic must engage chambers of commerce, trade associations, and the private sector where one finds a greater degree of agility and innovation. Former policymakers on these trips also need to signal to universities what kind of skill sets governments will need in the future. For example, with so many U.S. adversaries relying on asymmetric tactics designed to undermine America’s technological edge, the U.S. government will need more graduates with backgrounds in both policy and technology. These are some of the conversations we’re having on these trips. On their letterhead, program materials, and websites, think tanks often make oversized claims about their impact. They are either solving intractable problems or charting a course towards a better world. Or both. We certainly aren’t prepared to argue that our “Across the Pond, in the Field” project is going to change the world. We do believe, however, that it is a much-needed attempt to break out of the conventional think tank model. That doesn’t mean we’ll stop researching and working on those tough policy dilemmas in Syria and North Korea. All of that important work will continue. But we will continue to implement this project in parallel to give us (and our European guests) the chance to pause, get outside the Beltway, question our core assumptions, and hear from folks that look at the world differently. Our next stop will be Grand Rapids, Michigan in June.   Julie Smith directs the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and is the former deputy national security advisor to former Vice President Joseph Biden. [post_title] => Getting Out and About: Talking with Americans Beyond Washington About Their Place in the World [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => getting-out-and-about-talking-with-americans-beyond-washington-about-their-place-in-the-world [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-14 15:37:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-14 19:37:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=569 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => A small team at CNAS is getting out of the Beltway “bubble” to talk to Americans about what role the United States should play on the international scene. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => We want to expose Washingtonians and Europeans to a diverse range of American perspectives on transatlantic relations and U.S. foreign policy. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => “Across the Pond” is an attempt to mine the country for fresh ideas. ) ) [style] => strategist [type] => Strategist [style_label] => The Strategist [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 170 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] This project is made possible through the government of the Federal Republic of Germany through funds of the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Additional funds provided by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. [2] In a 2018 Pew Research Center poll, “defending against terrorism” ranked among the public’s leading priorities for the president and Congress, with nearly three-quarters (73 percent) saying it is a top priority. See Kristin Bialik, “State of the Union 2018: Americans’ Views on Key Issues Facing the Nation,” Pew Research Center, Jan. 18, 2018, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/01/29/state-of-the-union-2018-americans-views-on-key-issues-facing-the-nation/. [3] Darrell M. West, “How to Combat Fake News and Disinformation,” Brookings Institution, Dec. 18, 2017, https://www.brookings.edu/research/how-to-combat-fake-news-and-disinformation/. [4] Josh Dawsey, Damian Paletta, and Erica Werner, “In Fundraising Speech, Trump Says He Made Up Trade Claim in Meeting with Justin Trudeau,” Mar. 15, 2018, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2018/03/14/in-fundraising-speech-trump-says-he-made-up-facts-in-meeting-with-justin-trudeau/?utm_term=.a91a8dea0453. [5] Julianne Smith and Andy Dlinn, “Andy Dlinn Talks Transatlantic Relations, Meaning Behind ‘America First,’" Center for a New American Security, Nov. 3, 2017, https://www.cnas.org/publications/podcast/andy-dlinn-talks-transatlantic-relations-meaning-behind-america-first. [6] According to YouGov polling, in July of 2014 just 10 percent of Democrats and nine percent of Republicans considered Russia “an ally” or “friendly” to U.S. interests. Three years later, in July of 2017, those numbers were 11 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Recently, in light of the Mueller probe, that gap has started to close. See Dylan Matthews, “Trump has Changed How Americans Think About Politics,” Vox, Jan. 30, 2018, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/30/16943786/trump-changed-public-opinion-russia-immigration-trade. [7] See the second chart, “Americans’ Opinions of Russia, By Party,” in Megan Brenan, “Americans, Particularly Democrats, Dislike Russia,” Gallup, Mar. 5, 2018, http://news.gallup.com/poll/228479/americans-particularly-democrats-dislike-russia.aspx?g_source=link_NEWSV9&g_medium=tile_1&g_campaign=item_1642&g_content=Americans%2c%2520Particularly%2520Democrats%2c%2520Dislike%2520Russia. [8] “Munich Security Report 2018: To the Brink – and Back,” Munich Security Conference Foundation, Nov. 28, 2017, 22, https://www.securityconference.de/en/discussion/munich-security-report/munich-security-report-2018/. [9] “Pew: NATO Approval on the Rise,” American Interest, May 24, 2017, https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/05/24/pew-nato-approval-on-the-rise/. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) ) ) ) [2] => Array ( [acf_fc_layout] => wgt_featured_articles [wgt_type] => manual [qty] => 3 [posts] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 436 [post_author] => 9 [post_date] => 2018-02-06 04:00:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-06 09:00:44 [post_content] => In early 1992, the Pentagon’s primary policy office — the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy — prepared a draft classified document known as the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG).[1] In late February and early March, that document was leaked to the New York Times and the Washington Post, both of which published extensive excerpts. Those excerpts, which highlighted the most striking language and themes of the document, detailed a blueprint for American strategy in the post-Cold War era. The United States would not retrench dramatically now that its superpower rival had been vanquished. Instead, it would maintain and extend the unchallenged supremacy it had gained when the Soviet empire collapsed. Washington would cultivate an open, democratic order in which it remained firmly atop the international hierarchy. It would discourage any competitor from challenging for global leadership. It would prevent emerging or resurgent threats from disrupting a broadly favorable environment. And to protect this advantageous global order, America would retain unrivaled military power. In essence, the DPG outlined an unabashed program for perpetuating U.S. primacy.[2] For this reason, and also because it immediately became caught up in election-year politics, the DPG ignited controversy when it was leaked, drawing harsh appraisals from critics on both the left and right. Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden condemned the document as a radical assertion of American hegemony — “literally a Pax Americana.”[3] Patrick Buchanan, a prominent conservative pundit and Republican presidential candidate, alleged that the DPG represented “a formula for endless American intervention in quarrels and war when no vital interest of the United States is remotely engaged.”[4] More than a decade later, the episode still smoldered. Writing after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, journalist Craig Unger described the DPG as the product “of a radical political movement led by a right-wing intellectual vanguard.” Another assessment labeled the DPG a “disturbing” manifestation of a “Plan…for the United States to rule the world.”[5] More recently, the DPG has received less breathless treatment from insightful academic observers and former U.S. officials.[6] But even from some scholars, the DPG has continued to draw sharp invective. One leading diplomatic historian has critiqued the DPG as a radical rejection of multilateralism and a plan for Washington to serve as the world’s policeman.[7] Another has termed it a program to “remake the world,” “exterminate the evil-doers,” and forge “the Second American Empire.”[8] As former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman observes, “Probably no defense planning document since the end of World War II, with the possible exception of NSC-68…has received as much attention and discussion.”[9] Yet if the DPG has long been a fount of controversy, only now is declassification of relevant U.S. government records making it possible to fully understand the document’s role in the development of U.S. strategic thinking about the post-Cold War era during the administration of George H.W. Bush. That development actually began before the Cold War ended, as the administration pondered the requirements of U.S. security and global order in a remarkably fluid environment. It subsequently continued amid profound international crises in Europe and the Persian Gulf, which led the administration to refine key aspects of its geopolitical thinking. That thinking was brought into more comprehensive form with the DPG, which outlined a holistic approach to post-Cold War strategy and which was — despite the public furor sparked by its disclosure — broadly affirmed by the administration during its final months. The DPG, then, did not stand alone. It was one important piece of the larger process by which the Bush administration crafted a strategy of American primacy. This essay re-creates that process, examining the evolution of Bush-era strategic thinking. It explores the more formal planning and strategy processes the administration undertook, as well as the ways that key crises, long-standing beliefs, and other influences shaped official views of America’s place in the post-Cold War world. It does so primarily by examining newly declassified documents that illuminate the administration’s strategic outlook and offer a more detailed portrait of how America selected a unipolar strategy for a unipolar order. This is an important subject for historians. Although political scientists widely agree that the United States pursued a strategy meant to sustain its geopolitical preeminence after the Cold War, and historians have begun to analyze how key initiatives such as German reunification served this objective, there has yet to be a comprehensive examination, based on the archival record, of how that strategy emerged.[10] This essay not only puts the DPG in its proper context; it also traces the origins of America’s approach to the post-Cold War world. Three arguments emerge from this analysis. First, the DPG was not, as is commonly believed, a radical document or an outlier from Bush administration strategic thinking. It was, in many ways, the logical culmination of that thinking. From the outset, Bush and his advisers had believed that America should not pull back geopolitically as the Cold War ended. Rather, they insisted that America should lean forward to advance its interests and values and ward off new or resurgent dangers. In their view, the United States should double down on the globalist endeavors of the post-World War II era in the favorable but uncertain climate of the post-Cold War world. These core themes were reinforced by two major international crises — the collapse of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany, and the Persian Gulf crisis and war — which underscored the logic of American primacy. In this context, the DPG served primarily to weave together the various intellectual threads of U.S. strategic thinking. The document’s sharp language and undisguised ambition provoked concern and criticism (including from some within the administration), but its basic content represented merely the most unvarnished and coherent articulation of an assertive approach to post-Cold War geopolitics. [quote id="1"] Second, this primacist strategy flowed from a potent mix of influences. It had its deepest roots in ingrained beliefs about the imperative of promoting American values abroad and the long-standing U.S. role in upholding the liberal international order that had emerged after World War II. As Bush’s presidency unfolded, these firmly held ideas were reinforced by strong perceptions of both opportunity and danger. Events of the Bush years made clear that America had tantalizing opportunities to lock in its Cold War victory and shape a uniquely favorable international environment, but they also raised the specter of upheaval and instability. In these circumstances, the administration concluded that a grand strategy based on consensual and preeminent American leadership offered the best — indeed the only — approach for grabbing hold of great possibilities, while also ensuring that one period of great danger did not simply lead to another. Third, the choice of a primacist strategy was, on the whole, a reasonable one. That choice was based on a plausible and intellectually defensible reading of what the end of the Cold War meant for the world and for U.S. policy. Moreover, the problems of American primacy over the past 25 years should not obscure the fact that some key premises of the strategy devised by the Bush administration held up relatively well over time. Whether American primacy and the international system it supports will continue to endure amid the growing challenges the United States confronts today remains to be seen. But with a quarter-century of hindsight, the Bush administration’s strategic thinking — with the DPG as its most candid articulation — seems fairly incisive.

Early Thinking About Post-Cold War Strategy

In retrospect, the choice of a primacist grand strategy can seem overdetermined or even inevitable, given the many influences that ultimately pushed the Bush administration in that direction. But as the Cold War ended, there was a wide-ranging public debate over what international role America should play. Paul Kennedy’s 1987 best-seller, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, had popularized the notion that America risked succumbing to “imperial overstretch” brought on by excessive global commitments.[11] These arguments were often reinforced by the rise of economic competitors such as Japan, which had — many critics alleged — exploited America’s postwar largesse and was poised to displace Washington as global economic leader. “The Cold War is over,” one common saying went. “Japan and Germany won.”[12] Moreover, given that many features of America’s globalism had emerged in the context of the superpower contest with Moscow, the winding down of that competition produced calls for a reassessment of Washington’s global role. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, commentators as varied as Jeane Kirkpatrick and Patrick Buchanan on the right, and Bill Clinton and Al Gore on the left, argued for greater strategic restraint, based on the idea that America lacked the ability or the need to carry on such an ambitious global project after the Cold War. There was “a widespread awareness that we have come to the end of the postwar era,” Clinton said in 1988. “We don’t dominate as we once did.”[13] Likewise, Kirkpatrick argued in a prominent article in 1990 that “it is time to give up the dubious benefits of superpower status” and again become “a normal country in a normal time.”[14] As the 1980s ended, calls for retrenchment were often accompanied by demands for dramatic reductions in America’s alliance commitments, overseas presence, and military spending. Analysts with respected think tanks such as the Brookings Institution, and even former secretaries of defense such as Harold Brown, suggested that the United States could reduce defense spending by as much as half if the Soviet threat continued to fade.[15] Democrat Charles Schumer, then a U.S. representative from New York, talked about “deep reductions in the defense budget.”[16] Other respected congressional observers, such as Sen. Sam Nunn and Rep. Les Aspin, called for lesser but still significant cuts.[17] These arguments were contested by defense hawks and analysts, such as the neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer, who argued for a more muscular approach to the post-Cold War world.[18] But throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, demands would persist for a substantial “peace dividend” and a more circumscribed U.S. foreign policy. This was not, however, the approach that the Bush administration chose. Amid the erosion and eventual collapse of the Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe, Bush and his top aides were consumed with superpower relations and crisis management almost from the outset of his presidency, and key officials — Bush included — sometimes seemed wary of declaring the bipolar competition over during much of 1989.[19] Even so, during the first 18 months of Bush’s presidency U.S. officials frequently discussed — in forums both public and private, in ways both systematic and not — what sort of international environment might follow the Cold War and what strategic approach Washington should take in that environment. And even when the outlines of the post-Cold War world were but dimly apparent, these discussions converged around an unmistakable theme: that the United States should not retrench geopolitically, but should lean forward to exploit advantageous change, repress incipient dangers, and mold the new international order. From the start, the sources of this idea were ideological as well as geopolitical. Like countless U.S. officials before him, Bush believed that America had a distinctive moral calling to advance human freedom and well-being and that this responsibility required a self-confident, assertive foreign policy. “We just must not lose sight…of our own raison d’etre as a nation,” he had written in his diary in 1975. “We must be Americans. We must be what we are.”[20] Indeed, while Bush was generally not considered a highly ideological figure, he was certainly part of a long-standing ideological consensus on the moral necessity of U.S. power. America had been the “dominant force for good in the world,” Bush declared during his 1988 campaign, and would remain so in the future.[21] The administration’s early thinking was equally framed by another enduring idea: that American power was indispensable to the preservation of a stable, prosperous, democratic world order. Bush and key aides such as Brent Scowcroft and James Baker were products of World War II and the Cold War. They believed that U.S. engagement had been essential to defeating Nazism and communism, to reconciling former enemies and taming historical antagonisms in Europe and Asia after 1945, and to providing the climate of security and prosperity in which the West had thrived.[22] And just as the drafters of NSC-68 had written that U.S. leadership would be needed “even if there were no Soviet threat,” the Bush administration believed that the imperative of maintaining and advancing a stable, liberal world environment would outlast the Cold War. “America has set in motion the major changes under way in the world today,” Bush asserted in 1988. “No other nation, or group of nations, will step forward to assume leadership.”[23] Or, as a senior National Security Council staffer put it in early 1990, “it’s not as though somehow our postwar responsibilities have ended and our mission is at a conclusion” even though the Soviet threat was waning.[24] From the time Bush took office, these ingrained ideas were reinforced by perceptions of prevailing international trends. In some ways, these changes seemed all to the good. The ebbing of superpower tensions was removing long-standing threats to American interests and raising the possibility that the Cold War would soon end decisively, on U.S. terms. “Containment is being vindicated,” an early classified directive signed by Bush stated, “as the peoples of the world reject the outmoded dogma of Marxism-Leninism in a search for prosperity and freedom.”[25] Looking beyond superpower relations, the rapid spread of democracy and free markets over the previous decade had rendered the international environment more reflective of U.S. values and created openings to advance American security and influence. In the coming years, Robert Zoellick, then State Department counselor, wrote in 1989, “we must concentrate on building a new age of peace, democracy, and economic liberty.”[26] Bush himself asked in a major speech in May of that year:
What is it we want to see? It is a growing community of democracies anchoring international peace and stability, and a dynamic free-market system generating prosperity and progress on a global scale.[27]
At the same time, administration officials also argued that Washington must remain vigilant. In early 1989, Bush and his national security adviser, Scowcroft, were particularly concerned that positive changes in Soviet policy under Mikhail Gorbachev might ultimately be reversed, confronting Washington with a revived challenge. Bush wrote in an early study directive on U.S. defense policy:
It would be reckless to dismantle our military strength and the policies that have helped to make the world less dangerous and foolish to assume that all dangers have disappeared or that any apparent diminution is irreversible.”[28]
Looking beyond the Soviet Union, there were other potential threats. “Security threats were not invented by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,” Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney said, “and threats will remain long after that party’s gone out of business.”[29] Studies commissioned by the Defense Department in the late 1980s emphasized the potential proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the eruption of crises and wars in the Middle East or South Asia, the growth of international terrorism and drug trafficking, and even resurgent economic or political frictions in Europe and East Asia.[30] If anything, the breakdown of bipolarity might encourage such disorder by removing the geopolitical constraints that had long structured world politics. As Peter Rodman, counselor to the National Security Council, put it in a background briefing for reporters in early 1990, “We see a new era of uncertainties, new possible sources of instability, new concerns.”[31] If allowed to fester, these concerns might eventually grow into first-order security challenges in their own right. From the earliest months of the Bush administration, there was thus a consensus that reduced Cold War tensions did not imply a dramatic U.S. retrenchment. In January 1989, Secretary of State James Baker reminded a Cabinet meeting that the “U.S. is both an Atlantic and Pacific power with allies in both regions.”[32] In July, Bush privately reassured the South Korean defense minister that “the U.S. will continue to be a Pacific power with many friends in the region.”[33] Similarly, he made clear that whatever changes occurred in Europe, the United States would remain strategically and militarily engaged so as to discourage a resurgence of historical tensions. “West European countries see the U.S. presence as stabilizing,” Bush explained in a conversation with Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia. “Our view…is that we shouldn’t withdraw and declare peace.”[34] The end of the Cold War might mark a radical break with the past, U.S. officials believed, but it should not usher in radical change in U.S. grand strategy. Rather, Washington should essentially double down on its successful postwar initiatives — the maintenance of alliances and favorable geopolitical balances in key regions, the commitment to playing a leadership role in key international institutions, the efforts to shape a global environment ideologically and economically congenial to the United States — in the more favorable climate that was emerging. These themes were ubiquitous as the administration initiated more systematic planning for post-Cold War strategy. Bush’s first National Security Strategy was drafted by Scowcroft’s staff in late 1989 and early 1990. It represented the administration’s first opportunity to offer a comprehensive assessment of America’s role in a rapidly evolving world, and it was written as the administration grappled with momentous changes in the Soviet bloc. Unsurprisingly, then, the report dealt at length with those changes, arguing that they vindicated the containment strategy pursued since the late 1940s. Yet the National Security Strategy also looked past the Cold War, arguing that America must “help shape a new era, one that moves beyond containment and that will take us into the next century.” Change — “breath-taking in its character, dimension, and pace” — was certain and the United States was likely to confront a range of emerging or resurgent threats. But U.S. global interests were enduring and so Washington would sustain its core alliances and forward military deployments in Europe and East Asia, and it would encourage the further spread of democracy and markets, while also taking the lead in addressing new sources of international tension. “The pivotal responsibility for ensuring the stability of the international balance remains ours,” the National Security Strategy affirmed, “even as its requirements change in a new era.”[35] The counterpart to the National Security Strategy was a major defense review carried out from 1989 to 1990, largely under the leadership of Gen. Colin Powell, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The need for such an exercise was obvious as the easing of superpower tensions exerted downward pressure on the defense budget. “We know it will get smaller,” said Powell. “That is inevitable.”[36] Bush himself argued to resist efforts to “naively cut the muscle out of our defense posture,” but as early as by late 1989 Cheney was conceding that the administration might have to cut as much as $180 billion (out of a total defense budget of roughly $300 billion) over a period of six years.[37] The task, then, was to fashion a new defense concept that could reconcile the realities of coming budget cuts with the enduring requirements of global stability and American influence. “Our challenges,” the 1990 National Security Strategy explained, were to adapt America’s military strength “to a grand strategy that looks beyond containment, and to ensure that our military power, and that of our allies and friends, is appropriate to the new and more complex opportunities and challenges before us.”[38] [quote id="2"] The result of this process — which emerged after significant bureaucratic and inter-service wrangling — was the “Base Force” concept for sizing the U.S. military. The Base Force accepted non-trivial reductions in U.S. military power, envisioning eventual cuts of approximately 25 percent in personnel levels, reductions in carrier battle groups and other power-projection tools, and withdrawal of portions of the American contingent in Europe. Yet as Pentagon officials stressed, unchallenged U.S. military power underwrote global security commitments, dampened long-standing rivalries in key regions, and gave Washington immense diplomatic leverage. Moreover, while there was now less chance of war with Moscow, the potential for conflict remained in the Korean Peninsula; the Persian Gulf; and even Central America, where U.S. forces had recently toppled Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. The Base Force thus preserved large-scale overseas deployments in Europe and East Asia; maintained the critical air, naval, and logistical capabilities necessary to dominate the global commons and project power overseas; and preserved intensive research and development efforts to sustain America’s military-technological edge, particularly at the higher ends of the conventional spectrum.[39] “America must possess forces able to respond to threats in whatever corner of the globe they may occur,” Bush said in unveiling the Base Force concept in 1990; it must “protect the gains that 40 years of peace through strength have earned us.”[40] The logic of the Base Force prefigured a great deal of post-Cold War strategic thinking. Its key architects — Powell, Lt. Gen. Lee Butler, and others — rooted their recommendations in the idea that the declining Soviet danger might simply be replaced by the “rise of new hegemonic powers” in regions of strategic importance. They believed that “the United States was the only power with the capacity to manage the major forces at work in the world.” And so they concluded that a high degree of military dominance was critical to preserving the international stability and geopolitical gains offered by the end of the Cold War. In fact, the “Base Force” label was meant to make clear that there was a minimum level of military primacy below which America “dare not go” (as Powell put it) if it were to maintain and expand the stable, liberalizing international order that Washington had built in the West after World War II. “What we plan for,” Powell subsequently explained of the strategy, “is that we’re a superpower. We are the major player on the world stage with responsibilities around the world, with interests around the world.” All of these ideas would figure prominently in subsequent Pentagon planning efforts under Bush and later.[41] Early in Bush’s presidency, then, there was broad internal agreement that America would continue to act as guarantor and stabilizer of the international system. It would encourage favorable trends, hold back threatening ones, and keep the unequaled hard power necessary to do so effectively. This mind-set would influence how the administration approached key crises in 1989-1990. Those crises, in turn, would sharpen official views on America’s global role.

The Collapse of the Bloc and German Reunification

The first such crisis involved the collapse of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe and the redrawing of the region’s political map. This crisis began in mid-1989, with the accelerating breakdown of the Communist regimes, and intensified with the opening of the Berlin Wall in November. That event raised the prospect of German reunification, which then proceeded via an internal track made up of rapidly increasing ties between the two German states, and an external track of multilateral diplomacy primarily involving the United States, France, Britain, and the Soviet Union. By the fall of 1990, Germany was reunified within NATO, and the Warsaw Pact was disintegrating as countries throughout Eastern Europe initiated democratic and free-market reforms and requested withdrawal of Soviet troops. In roughly a year, the bipolar order in Europe had been transformed.[42] U.S. policy played little role in initiating those transformations. Bush admitted to Gorbachev in December 1989, “We were shocked by the swiftness of the changes that unfolded.”[43] As events raced ahead, however, the administration became deeply engaged, endorsing and actively pushing for German reunification under Western auspices. “No approach on our part toward Germany is without risk,” Scowcroft wrote in a memo to Bush, “but at this point the most dangerous course of all for the United States may be to allow others to set the shape and character of a united Germany and or the future structure of European security.”[44] By mid-1990 and after, the administration was even considering eventual expansion of NATO further into the former Warsaw Pact area to discourage post-Cold War instability and foster political and economic reform.[45] Existing scholarship has explored the contours of U.S. policy on these issues.[46] More salient here is that events in Europe in 1989 and 1990 powerfully interacted with the main currents in American thinking about the post-Cold War world. In one sense, the breakdown of Soviet rule in Eastern Europe provided a breathtaking demonstration of just how immense the possibilities might be in this emerging era. “We were witnessing the sorts of changes usually only imposed by victors at the end of a major war,” Scowcroft later wrote in his memoir. Reunification on Western terms, he had observed contemporaneously, in November 1989, would “rip the heart out of the Soviet security system” in Eastern Europe and mark a “fundamental shift in the strategic balance.”[47] Moreover, the transitions underway in Eastern Europe were underscoring the possibility for further advances by free markets and free political systems. “We are witnessing the transformation of almost every state in Eastern Europe into more democratic societies, dominated by pluralistic political systems matched to decentralized economies,” Scowcroft wrote in a memo to the president.[48] This prospect was a principal driver of U.S. policy in 1989 and 1990. U.S. officials studiously engaged Moscow in the multilateral diplomacy surrounding reunification, and they carefully avoided humiliating Gorbachev over the catastrophic retreat of Soviet influence. Privately, however, Bush and Scowcroft intended to exploit U.S. strength and Soviet weakness to remake the European order on American terms. “The Soviets are not in a position to dictate Germany’s relationship with NATO,” Bush said at a meeting with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in early 1990. “To hell with that. We prevailed and they didn’t.”[49] Accordingly, the administration encouraged Kohl to move briskly toward reunification, while also pressing Moscow to accept reunification within NATO and decisively rejecting Soviet proposed alternatives such as a neutralized Germany. As they did so, American officials treated Gorbachev with great respect in their bilateral dealings, and Bush and Kohl arranged for concessions — especially German financial assistance to Moscow — to ensure Soviet acquiescence. Yet the guiding assumption remained that Washington and its allies must move decisively to lock in epochal changes. “There is so much change in Eastern Europe,” Bush said in January 1990. “We should seize the opportunity to make things better for the world.”[50] [quote id="3"] The process of German reunification thus offered tantalizing opportunities to ensure American dominance in post-Cold War Europe. At the same time, that process also reinforced the idea that such strategic assertiveness was necessary to manage emerging dangers. Reunification was deeply worrying to Poland, France, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, which feared that a united Germany might once again dominate Europe. As NATO Secretary General Manfred Wörner privately warned Bush as the diplomacy surrounding reunification heated up, “The Old Pandora’s box of competition and rivalry in Europe” might be reopened.[51] More broadly, there were widespread fears that the collapse of Soviet authority in Eastern Europe could unleash ethnic violence or resurgent nationalist rivalries within that region. “The outlines of ancient European antagonisms are already beginning to emerge,” Scowcroft wrote in late 1989. A “power vacuum is developing” as Soviet influence receded.[52] For the Bush administration, these concerns powerfully underscored the need not to retract U.S. influence but to maintain and expand it. By this logic, keeping a reunified Germany within NATO would preclude resurgent instability by tying the new German state to the West and thereby eliminating the competitive security dynamics that might otherwise emerge. As Baker warned, “Unless we find a way to truly anchor Germany in European institutions we will sow the seeds for history to repeat itself.”[53] Moreover, integrating a reunified Germany into NATO would ensure that the alliance remained relevant after the Cold War, thereby also ensuring a continued role for U.S. power in Europe. The alternatives, Scowcroft warned Bush in a key memorandum, were dangerous: “Twentieth century history gives no encouragement to those who believe the Europeans can achieve and sustain this balance of power and keep the peace without the United States.”[54] From late 1989 onward, this perspective propelled efforts not simply to bring a reunified Germany into NATO but also to adapt that alliance to preserve its utility after the Cold War. Amid German reunification, the Bush administration secured alliance reforms meant to make a strong and vibrant NATO more acceptable to a retreating Soviet Union. The alliance adjusted its force posture to take account of the decreasing Soviet threat, deemphasized the role of nuclear weapons, and stressed NATO’s political (as opposed to strictly military) functions. Likewise, the administration took steps to accommodate European desires for greater influence over their own security affairs in the post-Cold War era, while reaffirming NATO’s primacy on European defense. “Our essential goal,” noted one administration strategy memo from 1990, was “a viable NATO that is the foundation for Atlantic cooperation on political and security concerns and maintains the position of the United States as a European power.[55] What made this goal achievable was that there was widespread European support for a strong and perhaps expanded U.S. role. Although the French did seek a more independent European security identity as the Cold War ended, neither they nor any other ally sought the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Europe. As British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd would say in 1990, “European security without the United States simply does not make sense.”[56] Even the Soviets and their erstwhile allies agreed. Although he initially resisted German reunification within NATO (and Moscow would later object to NATO expansion during the 1990s and after), Gorbachev ultimately concluded that a united Germany tied to Washington was preferable to an independent, neutral Germany. “The presence of American troops can play a containing role,” Gorbachev acknowledged in a conversation with Baker.[57] And as early as the spring of 1990, Warsaw Pact countries such as Poland and Hungary were inquiring about eventual NATO membership as a guarantee of their own security.[58] The United States did not immediately undertake NATO expansion in the early 1990s, largely for fear of antagonizing Moscow at a time when Soviet troops had yet to be fully withdrawn from Eastern Europe, and because U.S. officials had yet to study or debate the issue in sufficient detail to reach internal consensus.[59] But even in 1990 and 1991, the Bush administration was tentatively taking exploratory steps, such as extending NATO military liaison relationships to the bloc countries, and the basic geopolitical logic of expansion was starting to take hold. The Office of the Secretary of Defense and the State Department Policy Planning Staff believed, as the National Security Council’s director for European security affairs, Philip Zelikow, put it in October 1990, that it was important “to keep the door ajar and not give the East Europeans the impression that NATO is forever a closed club.”[60] Internal documents argued that expansion would help avoid nationalist frictions and security dilemmas in Eastern Europe. Moreover, as one State Department official subsequently wrote in 1992,
Democratization and economic development have a better chance of succeeding if national security concerns in the Eastern democracies were reduced by credible, multilateral security guarantees.[61]
In several respects, then, the European crisis of 1989 to 1990 underscored and helped to clarify key elements of Bush administration thinking. This episode reinforced the idea that U.S. ascendancy and the weakening of traditional rivals had created a moment of transition in which Washington could act decisively to achieve lasting structural changes. It affirmed the notion that American influence and U.S.-led institutions could serve a critical stabilizing purpose amid geopolitical uncertainty. Finally, this episode offered evidence for the idea that insofar as U.S. power promoted stability in the international system, its maintenance and even expansion after the Cold War might be more welcomed than resisted. Many of these ideas would soon reappear in the American reaction to a second major international crisis.

The Persian Gulf Crisis and War

The Persian Gulf crisis and war of 1990 to 1991 followed hard upon German reunification. It had an equally pronounced impact on U.S. views of the post-Cold War order. On Aug. 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein’s forces invaded Kuwait in a bid to bring that oil-rich kingdom under Iraqi control and thereby redress the Baathist regime’s desperate financial and domestic plight. The United States, however, promptly spearheaded a decisive response. The Bush administration mobilized a diverse diplomatic coalition against Iraq while also coordinating a multinational military deployment used first to protect Saudi Arabia and then to evict Saddam from Kuwait. Washington would ultimately deploy nearly 550,000 personnel, 2,000 tanks, 1,990 aircraft, and 100 warships to the Persian Gulf. Its coalition partners would contribute 270,000 troops, 66 warships, 750 combat aircraft, and 1,100 tanks. When, after several months of military preparations and crisis diplomacy, Saddam refused to withdraw, the U.S.-led coalition prosecuted a brief but punishing war to force him out. That conflict did not ultimately oust Saddam from power, as some U.S. officials had hoped, but it did liberate Kuwait and leave Iraq far weaker and more isolated than before.[62] If German reunification primarily demonstrated the opportunities of the new era, the Gulf crisis primarily highlighted the dangers. Most immediately, Saddam’s invasion threatened the security of critical Gulf oil supplies. It also highlighted larger post-Cold War perils. The crisis showed, as Bush noted in a speech on Aug. 2, that “threats…can arise suddenly, unpredictably, and from unexpected quarters.”[63] More specifically, the invasion raised the prospect that aggressive dictatorships, armed with unconventional weapons, might exploit the fluidity of the post-Cold War world to make bold plays for hegemony in crucial regions. Saddam “has clearly done what he has to do to dominate OPEC, the Gulf and the Arab world,” Cheney said at a National Security Council meeting on Aug. 3.[64] This fear of incipient chaos and destabilizing aggression pushed U.S. officials toward a strong response. “This is the first test of the post [-Cold] war system,” Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger commented. “If [Saddam] succeeds, others may try the same thing. It would be a bad lesson.”[65] As early as Aug. 2, Bush framed the crisis as an illustration of why the United States needed to maintain globe-spanning military power, capable of “rapid response” to crises.[66] Similarly, officials continually reiterated that U.S. engagement was essential to ensuring that the end of bipolarity ushered in something better and not something worse. “We did not stand united for forty years to bring the Cold War to a peaceful end in order to make the world safe for the likes of Saddam Hussein,” Baker said in late 1990. America should defend the position of strategic advantage that its Cold War victory had enabled.[67] The Gulf crisis further affirmed that belief by revealing, far more starkly than before, that only Washington could play the crucial stabilizing role. For all the talk during the 1980s about the economic rise of Japan and Germany, when the Gulf crisis broke only America was uniquely capable of spearheading a decisive multilateral response. U.S. diplomacy was central to mobilizing the Gulf War coalition by providing subsidies for key members such as Egypt, offering diplomatic cover to vulnerable participants, and persuading reluctant actors such as the Soviet Union and China not to stand in the way.[68] U.S. power was even more central in the military arena: No other country had the forces necessary to confront Saddam in his own backyard. “It’s only the United States that can lead,” Bush noted in his diary in September. “All countries in the West clearly have to turn to us.”[69] What the Gulf crisis equally demonstrated was robust global demand for such U.S. leadership. Twenty-seven nations ultimately provided military forces for the coalition effort. Coalition partners also provided $53.8 billion in monetary support and in-kind contributions, nearly covering the total U.S. bill of $61.1 billion.[70] This historic multilateral support for U.S. policy was partially a function of easing Cold War gridlock in the U.N. Security Council and partially reflected the heinous nature of Saddam’s aggression. Yet it also showed that the energetic use of U.S. power was widely seen as vital to upholding stability and safeguarding public goods such as global oil flows in the post-Cold War era. “We are protecting their interest as well as ours,” one administration memo explained, “and it is only fair that they share the burden.”[71] Foreign officials acknowledged this dynamic. “The Japanese people, in the last 45 years, have been used to peace provided by you,” Prime Minister Kaifu Toshiki told Bush at a meeting in September 1990. The Gulf crisis showed that this reliance had hardly ended.[72] [quote id="4"] The realization that Washington had a chance to establish a model of assertive but consensual primacy was at the forefront of U.S. policy in the Gulf crisis. The administration’s multilateralism and talk of a “New World Order” sometimes gave the impression that Bush believed that the United Nations would be the primary provider of international security in the 1990s.[73] Yet in reality, that multilateralism rested on a growing belief that the end of the Cold War was making it possible to gain broader international support — including through institutions such as the United Nations — for energetic American leadership in pursuit of both U.S. interests and global security. As Bush and Scowcroft later acknowledged, their diplomacy was meant to give “a cloak of acceptability to our efforts and mobilize world opinion behind the principles we wished to project.” Scowcroft expanded on this idea. “The United States henceforth would be obligated to lead the world community to an unprecedented degree,” he wrote. It should therefore “pursue our national interest, wherever possible, within a framework of concert with our friends and the international community.”[74] This concept of enlightened American primacy would soon reappear in the DPG and other administration planning documents. In the meantime, the war underscored just how pronounced that primacy was. Saddam’s roughly million-man army was eviscerated by U.S. forces, which had built advanced, high-tech weapons and capabilities for use against the Soviets in Central Europe and were now deploying them against a weaker regional adversary. In particular, the Gulf War showcased American dominance in high-intensity conventional conflict, made possible by unparalleled strengths in capabilities ranging from precision-guided munitions to infra-red technology. It further demonstrated how the training and doctrinal reforms made since Vietnam had allowed U.S. forces to utilize these capabilities with astonishing lethality. As one postwar assessment noted, Operation Desert Storm revealed that America had achieved “a revolutionary advance in military capability.”[75] Combined with the fact that the Soviet Union, consumed by internal turmoil, had largely been left on the sidelines, the result was to display just how significant the emerging post-Cold War power disparity was between Washington and any potential rival. “The U.S. clearly emerges from all of this as the one real superpower in the world,” Cheney observed in April 1991.[76] Ironically, this military dominance did not secure quite the result U.S. officials had sought, as Saddam Hussein survived the war in power, with a much-reduced but still-threatening military. The Bush administration declined the opportunity to double down on operational success by pursuing Saddam’s forces to Baghdad or otherwise explicitly seeking regime change. In part, this was because the administration hoped — and had, from intelligence sources, some reason to believe — that the historic drubbing Saddam had suffered would cause the Iraqi military to overthrow him. “We genuinely believed…that the magnitude of the defeat was so overwhelming that the army would take out Saddam when the war was over,” Robert Gates, Bush’s deputy national security adviser, later recalled.[77] Bush also mistakenly believed, as he told French officials at the time, that Saddam’s “armor was so decimated that they no longer constitute a military threat to their neighbors.”[78] Yet from a broader perspective, this restraint owed to the fact that an administration fully committed to perpetuating American leadership in the post-Cold War era was also wary of going too far. Bush did not want to fragment the Gulf War coalition by exceeding its U.N. mandate. He and his advisers also worried that ridding Iraq of Saddam might require a full-scale military occupation for which there were no existing plans. “We do not want to screw this up with a sloppy, muddled ending,” Bush said.[79] This restraint was later criticized, for contrary to what Bush and his commanders had expected, a significant portion of Saddam’s forces — including elite Republican Guard divisions and Iraqi armor — had escaped destruction. Moreover, the war was followed not by a Sunni military coup but by Shia and Kurdish uprisings that caused Saddam’s generals to rally around him as the only figure who could preserve a unified Iraq.[80] The Bush administration declined to intervene in this bloody civil war, fearful that doing so might fracture the Iraqi state and bring Iranian-backed Shia groups to dominance. The concern, one State Department adviser recalled, was that “this was going to create a new Lebanon.”[81] As a result, Saddam clung to power and remained capable of threatening the Gulf. “Even in its presently weakened state,” Assistant Secretary of Defense Henry Rowen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee several months after the conflict, “Iraq is still much stronger than any of its neighbors to the south.”[82] In fairness to Bush — and in light of later U.S. experience invading and occupying Iraq — prudence may still have been the better part of wisdom in 1991. In any event, the somewhat muddled outcome of the Persian Gulf War simply increased the tendency to expand U.S. activism after the Cold War. In particular, it ensured that Washington would retain a sizable military presence in the Gulf — where it had previously relied on a light-footprint, “over the horizon” approach — as a way of keeping Saddam’s regime contained. “Saddam Hussein is sanctioned forever,” Bush told European officials in April 1991.[83] And in general, the Gulf War further set the stage for an ambitious post-Cold War strategy. The imperative of unmatched U.S. military power; the need for decisive action to head off emergent upheaval; the sense that there was no good alternative to American leadership; the evidence that leadership employed for the collective good could enjoy broad international acceptance: All of these components of the administration’s strategic paradigm gained strong support from the crisis. As administration officials subsequently attempted a more systematic expression of post-Cold War policy, they would draw heavily on this mind-set.

To the Defense Planning Guidance

Official thinking about such a policy statement occurred in the context of two key developments in 1991 and 1992. The first was the terminal decline of the Soviet Union. As scholars have noted, the administration’s policy toward Moscow in 1991 was often hedged and tentative, in part because of internal disagreements between the State and Defense Departments. Partially as a result, U.S. policy played only a marginal role in the Soviet disintegration.[84] Yet that disintegration further clarified America’s global position. America’s long-standing competitor had collapsed and Washington was now without military or ideological peers. “We were suddenly in a unique position,” Scowcroft later wrote, “without experience, without precedent, and standing alone at the height of power.”[85] The need to articulate a strategy for this new situation took on greater salience. That imperative was strengthened by issues at home. The Gulf War had, in many ways, shown the value of U.S. military dominance. Yet as the Soviet Union unraveled, calls for a post-Cold War peace dividend intensified; many observers, including most candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, advocated cuts significantly beyond what the Base Force envisioned. Clinton advocated cutting military spending by one-third over five years. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown advocated a 50 percent cut over the same period; Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa called for 50 percent cuts over ten years.[86] In these circumstances, it seemed essential to identify a persuasive paradigm for global engagement after the passing of the Soviet threat. That task fell to the Pentagon — particularly Wolfowitz’s Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy — which attempted to offer a coherent statement of American purpose in its classified Defense Planning Guidance. Wolfowitz’s staff took the drafting of the report as an opportunity to assess the “fundamentally new situation” in global affairs and to “set the nation’s direction for the next century.”[87] Preparatory work began as early as mid-1991 and, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Wolfowitz’s staff (led by adviser Zalmay Khalilzad) drew up a nearly final version by mid-February 1992.[88] The strategic vision conveyed by the DPG was based on an unvarnished reading of global power dynamics. With the “collapse of the Soviet Union,” “the discrediting of Communism as an ideology with global pretensions and influence,” and the success of American arms in the Gulf, the United States had established an enviable power position. Moreover, the United States led a “system of collective security and…democratic ‘zone of peace’” that bound the developed West tightly to it. All this amounted to what Cheney publicly described as unprecedented “strategic depth” — a dearth of existential threats, combined with tremendous leeway and influence in shaping global events.[89] The core aim of U.S. strategy, then, should be to extend this situation well into the future. As the DPG stated:
Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival…that poses a threat on the order of that formerly posed by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration…and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.
Washington must therefore prevent any adversary from commanding Europe, East Asia, or the Persian Gulf; it should prevent a new hostile superpower from reasserting control over the territory of the former Soviet Union. The goal, in other words, was to avoid a return to bipolarity or multipolarity, and to lock in a U.S.-led unipolar order.[90] The United States should also seek to sustain and even improve this unipolar order by thwarting other emerging threats and further transforming global politics to American advantage. According to the DPG, America would “limit international violence” by confronting dangers such as regional conflict, international terrorism, and the proliferation of nuclear arms as well as other advanced weapons. It would also make the international environment still more congenial by advancing “the spread of democratic forms of government and open economic systems,” particularly in key regions such as the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The Kremlin had “achieved global reach and power” because a totalitarian regime had consolidated control of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Preventing another such threat from arising entailed extending the “democratic zone of peace” into the former Soviet empire and beyond.[91] The DPG was a Pentagon document, but it was not blind to the fact that achieving these ambitious goals would require more than military power. Proactive diplomacy and economic statecraft would be essential to promoting democracy and markets, countering terrorism, and impeding proliferation. Most important, maintaining American primacy would require convincing other leading nations to support rather than oppose it. As Khalilzad wrote,
We must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order.
The United States should thus promote a positive-sum global economy that would help other countries prosper. It should provide international security, leadership in addressing critical challenges, and other common goods that would persuade key second-tier nations to welcome American preeminence. In essence, the DPG made a version of the argument that would later gain currency among international-relations scholars: that unipolarity need not invite concerted counterbalancing so long as Washington used its power to support a benign and broadly beneficial global system.[92] The DPG, then, was a more nuanced document than some critics later claimed. Yet there was no mistaking another core message: that unrivaled American military might was the hard-power backbone of the post-Cold War order. U.S. force deployments and alliance commitments provided stability and influence in key regions from East Asia to Europe to the Persian Gulf; the DPG even raised the prospect of extending security guarantees to former members of the Soviet bloc. American military dominance fostered a peaceful international environment in which open markets and open political systems could prosper; it would also dissuade potential rivals from seeking to challenge American leadership. “We must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role,” the DPG stated. Finally, given the enduring uncertainty of global affairs, unrivaled military primacy would provide the ability to address emerging threats and dangers before they fundamentally disrupted the post-Cold War system. America would not be “righting every wrong,” the document stated, but:
We will retain the preeminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends, or which could seriously unsettle international relations.[93]
To be clear, the DPG did not advocate unrestrained interventionism, for such a view would have been badly out of step with the instincts of key administration leaders. Bush had declined to intervene militarily amid the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in mid-1991, on grounds that there was no vital U.S. interest at stake. “We don’t want to put a dog in this fight,” he wrote in his diary.[94] Similarly, Cheney and Wolfowitz had long understood that any perception that Washington was going about in search of monsters to destroy would drain public support for an assertive post-Cold War policy. “One of the reasons the [Gulf] operation was so successful was that its purposes were very clear and it had public support,” Wolfowitz had commented in 1991. “That doesn’t translate into a blank check to go around the world using force.” Powell, for his part, had argued that same year that America should use force only in cases where U.S. forces could win decisively and then exit the scene, avoiding the sort of open-ended, indecisive missions that had led to such a fierce domestic backlash in Vietnam. “If…military force regrettably turns out to be” necessary, he said, “I think it should be used in a decisive way.”[95] Both halves of the DPG’s formulation regarding the role of American military power were thus important. “The world order,” the document stated forthrightly, “is ultimately backed by the U.S.”[96] But preserving domestic support for such a strategy required avoiding unnecessary interventions and using American power selectively. So how much military power was required to pursue the DPG strategy? The document was somewhat fuzzy regarding specifics, but it left no uncertainty that Washington needed a superiority that was not just unmatched but unrivaled. An initial draft of the document, from September 1991, had stated that “U.S. forces must continue to be at least a generation ahead.”[97] The February 1992 version emphasized the imperative of winning decisively in confrontations with Saddam-like challengers — who might be armed with nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction — as well as the role of vast technological superiority in upholding deterrence. Furthermore, the document affirmed that the United States would act on a multilateral basis when possible but that it must be able “to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated or when an immediate response is…necessary.”[98] In its totality, the DPG expressed a strikingly ambitious vision for American strategy. Yet it was nonetheless basically aligned with the Bush administration’s broader perspective as expressed to date. So many core themes of the document — the promotion of democracy and market economics, the need for globe-spanning and preponderant military power, the idea that Washington could pursue an enlightened sort of leadership that would invite support rather than opposition — were reiterations or refinements of earlier ideas. Nor was the idea of precluding the rise of a new hostile superpower particularly novel. It drew on the same logic that had impelled Bush to prevent Saddam from dominating the Persian Gulf, and thereby amassing dangerous levels of geopolitical power, and the basic concept of using the Cold War’s end to lock in a more favorable international order. (It also drew on an older U.S. strategic concept, dating to World War II, of preventing rivals from controlling key regions of the world.[99]) In effect, the DPG drew together the administration’s core post-Cold War concepts and linked them to a more explicit overall ambition of preserving U.S. international supremacy. It was not a sharp break with the administration’s strategic thinking; it can more properly be seen as the culmination thereof. [quote id="5"] Yet the February 1992 DPG was also still a draft document, and for a time it appeared to be dead on arrival. Late that month the document leaked to the New York Times and Washington Post. Reacting to the DPG’s more striking language and ideas — which were emphasized in the media reporting — critics lambasted the Pentagon’s blueprint. Biden declared that “what these Pentagon planners are laying out is nothing but a Pax Americana.”[100] Sen. Alan Cranston memorably accused the administration of seeking to make America “the one, the only main honcho on the world block, the global Big Enchilada.”[101] The Washington Post editorial board lamented the DPG’s “muscle-flexing unilateralism” as a rejection of Gulf War-era multilateralism.[102] Sen. Edward Kennedy charged that the DPG “aimed primarily at finding new ways to justify Cold War levels of military spending.”[103] Other observers noted that the DPG seemed focused on stymieing the rise not only of American adversaries but also of traditional allies such as Germany and Japan and non-hostile powers such as India.[104] Blindsided by the leak and subsequent chorus of boos, the Bush administration wavered. National Security Council talking points encouraged Bush to play down the DPG in an upcoming meeting with German officials. “Kohl may express displeasure about the leaked Pentagon paper suggesting that the U.S. wants to block the rise of any new superpower, including German-led Europe,” NSC officials wrote in March 1992. “You should explain that we want to see a stronger, more united Europe.”[105] In public, Bush explained that he had not formally approved — or even read — Khalilzad’s draft. Cheney and Wolfowitz subsequently called upon a top Pentagon aide, Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, to rewrite the February 1992 draft. The redraft toned down the language of the earlier version while also playing up the importance of alliance relationships and multilateralism. By May, leading newspapers were reporting that the administration had pulled back from its radical vision. “Pentagon Drops Goal of Blocking New Superpowers,” the New York Times proclaimed.[106] The reality, however, was different. The DPG was not, after all, some great substantive departure from administration views on post-Cold War strategy. As noted earlier, many of the key military concepts expressed in the document — the imperative of maintaining military primacy based on high-end technological superiority and the need to head off the emergence of new regional hegemons — had played key roles in the development of the Base Force. Similarly, a document finalized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in January 1992 significantly foreshadowed the DPG, arguing that America must “preserve a credible capability to forestall any potential adversary from competing militarily with the United States.”[107] During early 1992, moreover, Powell and Cheney had publicly advocated some of the core themes of the DPG in speeches and congressional testimony. “We are…the world’s sole remaining superpower,” Powell had said. “Seldom in our history have we been in a stronger position relative to any challengers we might face. This is a position we should not abandon.”[108] These views were not held solely by Pentagon officials. The president himself largely kept quiet about the DPG in public. But Bush did nonetheless convey that he “was broadly supportive of the thrust of the Pentagon document” once he learned of it following the leaks, one reporter noted in March, and his private statements confirm this assessment. “We must remain the active leader of the entire world,” he wrote in a note to White House aides that month. “We must not only have the convictions about democracy and freedom, but we must have a strong National Defense posture.”[109] As discussed subsequently, Bush would also strongly endorse many key tenets of the report in his final National Security Strategy. Likewise, at the State Department, James Baker implicitly affirmed other aspects of the DPG. He noted in early April that although multilateralism would always be the first preference, America would never relinquish the right to act unilaterally when necessary. “We can hardly entrust the future of democracy or American interests exclusively to multilateral institutions,” he said.[110] This is not to say that there was no internal debate or controversy over the DPG. State Department officials — still smarting from intense internal debates over how to handle the breakup of the Soviet Union — offered some anonymous critiques of the DPG, terming the language overblown and counterproductive to the goal of maintaining positive relationships with rising powers such as India.[111] The DPG also leaned further forward than some U.S. officials would have liked with respect to the potential future expansion of NATO. At the NSC, Scowcroft, a stickler for good process, was displeased that the document had leaked and that the debate had played out publicly as opposed to privately. Similarly, Bush and those around him understood that the muscular language of the document was likely to cause political problems for leaders of allied countries, such as Germany and Japan, that the DPG seemed to identify as potential future competitors. “I know the leak of this draft Pentagon report didn’t help,” read Bush’s suggested talking points for the aforementioned meeting with Kohl.[112] Finally, administration higher-ups were clearly nonplussed that the rhetoric of the DPG occasionally seemed to undercut the emphasis on multilateralism that had characterized U.S. policy during the Gulf War. The administration had always recognized that such multilateralism was both dependent on, and a means of advancing, American leadership. But the DPG’s blunt advocacy of preserving American primacy seemed likely to dispel the warm feelings Washington had earned through its reliance on the U.N. Security Council during the Gulf crisis, and to present the image of a superpower determined to maintain hegemony for its own narrow purposes. This was presumably why Scowcroft termed the DPG “arrogant” (as he later put it) and likely to cause diplomatic headaches.[113] Yet these concerns pertained mainly to language, process, and atmospherics, and not to core strategic content. Put differently, it would have been hard to identify any leading officials who did not think that the United States should maintain unrivaled military capabilities, favorable power balances in key regions, and a global network of security alliances, while also working to promote a stable international environment in which democracy and markets were prevalent and U.S. influence was unsurpassed. Scowcroft, for instance, may have criticized the DPG after the fact (and after the Iraq War of 2003 had soured his relationship with Cheney), but at the time his NSC staff does not seem to have objected to the basic ideas — as distinct from the language — conveyed in the report. Indeed, when a revised version of the document — which was substantively quite similar — was subsequently submitted for clearance, the White House approved it with only minor edits.[114] And though State Department officials would later offer, in an end-of-administration review, a vision of post-Cold War policy that placed greater emphasis on international economics and other non-military challenges (as was appropriate in a State Department document), the core premises of the analysis were not dramatically different from those of the DPG. One collection of State Department papers noted, for instance, that “for the first time in fifty years we do not face a global military adversary” and stressed the remarkably advantageous nature of that situation. It spoke of the need to prevent proliferation of WMD to authoritarian regimes, for “such a development would dramatically destabilize important parts of the world, and could even threaten the physical security of the United States.” It stressed the importance of promoting free markets and free political institutions. Above all, it argued that no one else could lead in these tasks:
The bottom line is that in this time of uncertainty, the United States has a unique role to play — as a provider of reassurance and architect of new security arrangements; as an aggressive proponent of economic openness; as an exemplar and advocate of democratic values; as a builder and leader of coalitions to deal with the problems of a chaotic post-Cold War world.[115]
In sum, there was far more consensus than debate about the basic merits of the strategy described in the DPG.[116] As all this indicates, efforts — whether at the time or later — to sharply distinguish between the primacist strategy embodied by the DPG and the liberal internationalist approach favored by other observers rest on a false dichotomy. For the DPG did advance a strategy of liberal internationalism. It emphasized maintaining U.S. leadership of alliances and other institutions, promoting liberal norms, and fostering an open and inclusive international order, in part by ensuring that America retained the preponderant military power and strategic influence needed to accomplish these goals. In the same way, the State Department papers just referenced recognized that American leadership and power were essential components of promoting a cooperative, stable international environment, just as Bush and Scowcroft had recognized during the Gulf War that any “New World Order” would ultimately have to rest on the unrivaled might and unequaled exertions of the United States. The Bush administration recognized, in other words, what some scholars would subsequently become prone to ignoring — that liberal internationalism and U.S. hegemonic leadership were two sides of the same coin.[117] Yet if all this is true, then what caused the public blowup when the DPG was leaked? Much of that furor stemmed from the same factors that had caused insiders some discomfort. Because the administration had used such high-flown multilateral rhetoric during the Persian Gulf War — albeit as a way of asserting American leadership — the DPG’s unembarrassed support for U.S. geopolitical superiority was unavoidably jarring to many outside observers. “I was a little surprised somebody would put this kind of thing down on paper,” the diplomatic historian John Lewis Gaddis told a reporter.[118] The political context simply fanned the flames. On the right, the DPG landed in the middle of a surprisingly competitive Republican presidential primary, in which Buchanan was calling for geopolitical retrenchment and a more narrowly nationalistic approach to foreign affairs.[119] The leak of the DPG also occurred amid heated debates about military spending levels and as Democratic presidential candidates sought to outdo each other in their critique of Bush’s foreign policy. It was hardly a coincidence that key players in these debates were among the harshest critics of the DPG. Paul Tsongas publicly blasted the administration for ignoring the United Nations; Clinton’s deputy campaign manager, George Stephanopoulos, labeled the DPG exercise “an excuse for big budgets.”[120] The controversy’s intensely political nature would become clear after Clinton won the presidency — and proceeded to follow a national security policy that tracked fairly closely with what the document recommended. Contrary to what the New York Times reported, in fact, the DPG was quietly affirmed by the Bush administration in its final months in office. Wolfowitz and Cheney accepted Libby’s revised draft, which was then approved (notwithstanding minor edits) by the White House. A public version was published in January 1993 as the Pentagon’s Regional Defense Strategy.[121] Although the revised paper had tamer language, Wolfowitz assured Cheney, “It is still a rather hard-hitting document which retains the substance you liked in the February 18th draft.”[122] Indeed, the Regional Defense Strategy fully committed to preserving American primacy in support of an open and congenial order. “America’s strategic position is stronger than it has been for decades,” it averred; Washington must “maintain the strategic depth that we won through forty years of the Cold War.” Likewise, the Regional Defense Strategy reaffirmed the value of U.S. alliances and forward deployments, and it made clear that America must be able to “preclude hostile nondemocratic powers from dominating regions critical to our interests.” The document emphasized protecting the post-Cold War order by confronting terrorism and weapons proliferation, and by extending “the remarkable democratic ‘zone of peace.’” While paying due regard to American alliances and international institutions, the Regional Defense Strategy also left no doubt that Washington would use force — alone, if need be — to defeat serious threats to its interests. Finally, the strategy made explicit the idea that America should “dominate the military-technological revolution” as a means of sustaining its preeminence and deterring current or potential rivals. The Regional Defense Strategy, in other words, was simply the DPG in another guise.[123] Admittedly, the document did not explicitly restate the idea that Washington should prevent the rise of any new hostile superpower.[124] Yet this was a distinction without a difference because the goal of preventing hostile nondemocratic powers from dominating key regions — which ran throughout the document — amounted to the same thing. [quote id="6"] At the close of Bush’s presidency, the administration found other ways of conveying this basic commitment to a primacist strategy. In late 1992, Bush dispatched U.S. troops to provide humanitarian assistance to starving civilians in Somalia. He had done so reluctantly, out of fears that this deployment would result in the sort of open-ended mission he had earlier resisted in the Gulf and the Balkans. As a result, while humanitarian concerns ultimately drove Bush to approve the mission, he sought to define it as narrowly as possible — to limit it to the delivery of aid and the creation of infrastructure for future deliveries. He made clear in two major policy addresses that Washington should always be wary of “running off on reckless, expensive crusades.” But Bush also used these addresses, in December 1992 and January 1993, to further spell out his now-familiar vision for global strategy, a vision that was premised on using unrivaled U.S. influence to promote geopolitical stability, avoid a return to the more threatening climate of earlier decades, and “win the democratic peace…for people the world over.”[125] Bush’s final National Security Strategy put forward much the same idea. The 1993 iteration was Bush’s foreign policy valedictory, issued in the name of the president himself. It represented his concluding effort to enshrine a prudent yet ambitious post-Cold War strategy. Lest there be any thought that the Regional Defense Strategy did not reflect administration policy, or that it was issued simply as a sop to Cheney’s Defense Department as Bush’s tenure expired, the National Security Strategy explicitly endorsed the approach laid out in that document, and even echoed — verbatim — concepts including the importance of “strategic depth” and the democratic “zone of peace.” The lessons of the new era, the National Security Strategy argued, were already clear:
that we cannot be sure when or where the next conflict will arise; that regions critical to our interests must be defended; that the world must respond to straightforward aggression; that international coalitions can be forged, though they often will require American leadership; that the proliferation of advanced weaponry represents a clear, present, and widespread danger; and that the United States remains the nation whose strength and leadership are essential to a stable and democratic world order.
To this end, the document endorsed the retention of critical power-projection capabilities and overweening military power; it called for the United States to promote the forces of global “integration” against threatening “fragmentation.” The National Security Strategy made clear that post-Cold War stability would ultimately rest on “an enduring global faith” in America, and it left little doubt that the United States intended to leave behind an era of balanced power and geopolitical divisions, and to shape a unipolar order in its own image. “Our policy has one overriding goal: real peace — not the illusory and fragile peace maintained by a balance of terror, but an enduring democratic peace based on shared values.”[126] That vision, it turned out, long outlasted Bush’s presidency. There was initially some indication that the Clinton administration might undertake a more effacing approach to world affairs, and on the stump Clinton had pledged to pursue defense cuts far greater than those made by Bush. Yet, as the Clinton administration found itself facing largely the same global panorama as its predecessor, it ultimately embraced a strategy very similar to that charted during the Bush years. As early as September 1993, National Security Adviser Anthony Lake gave a major address noting that the defining “feature of this era is that we are its dominant power” and arguing that Washington must use that dominance to promote continued global stability, to prevent aggressive dictators from menacing the post-Cold War order, and to aggressively promote free markets and democracy. “We should act multilaterally where doing so advances our interests,” Lake added, “and we should act unilaterally when that will serve our purpose.”[127] Likewise, the Pentagon committed to retaining the capacity to defeat two major regional aggressors nearly simultaneously, and in 1996 the Joint Chiefs of Staff released a document advocating “full spectrum dominance” to mold the international environment and constrain potential rivals.[128] All of these concepts could have been ripped straight from the 1992 DPG. Indeed, the outcome of the Pentagon’s Bottom Up Review, undertaken in 1993, demonstrates the strength of the lineage between Bush-era planning efforts and those that followed. Clinton’s first secretary of defense, Les Aspin, had initiated a thoroughgoing review of U.S. military strategy as part of an effort to further reduce defense spending. But as his Pentagon considered the opportunities and imperatives of the post-Cold War world, it ended up embracing its predecessor’s strategy. The final report of the Bottom Up Review emphasized the importance of preventing aggressive authoritarians from dominating key regions. It concluded that America “must field forces capable, in concert with its allies, of fighting and winning two major regional conflicts that occur nearly simultaneously.” This “two MRC” construct was deemed crucial because, as Aspin wrote, “We do not want a potential aggressor in one region to be tempted to take advantage if we are already engaged in halting aggression in another.” Moreover, maintaining a two-MRC capability would serve as insurance against the prospect that any major power might seek to compete militarily with Washington. It would
provide a hedge against the possibility that a future adversary might one day confront us with a larger-than-expected threat, and then turn out, through doctrinal or technological innovation, to be more capable than we expect, or enlist the assistance of other nations to form a coalition against our interests.
Maintaining this dominant force, in turn, was necessary so that
we can replace the East-West confrontation of the Cold War with an era in which the community of nations, guided by a common commitment to democratic principles, free-market economics, and the rule of law, can be significantly enlarged.[129]
The continuity of basic strategy, moreover, was more than rhetorical. U.S. military spending would decline somewhat under Clinton, to around 3 percent of gross domestic product by the late 1990s (although this decline was partially due to the robust economic growth of that decade). But because most other countries reduced their defense spending faster than Washington did, the United States still accounted for roughly 35 to 40 percent of global defense spending, and it preserved military capabilities far in excess of those of all U.S. rivals combined.[130] Like the Bush administration, the Clinton administration also repeatedly proved willing to use those capabilities to face down threats to stability in critical regions, such as when it dispatched additional troops to the Persian Gulf in 1994 after Saddam Hussein once again threatened Kuwait, or when it dispatched two carrier strike groups to the Western Pacific after China sought to use military exercises and missile tests to intimidate Taiwan in 1995 and 1996. That latter episode represented a deliberate display of American primacy. As Secretary of Defense William Perry announced, “Beijing should know, and this [U.S. fleet] will remind them, that while they are a great military power, the premier military power in the Western Pacific is the United States.”[131] More broadly, the Clinton administration would undertake a range of policies that fit squarely within the framework laid down by the Bush administration: retention and updating of U.S. alliances in the Asia-Pacific, expansion of NATO in Europe, promotion of democratic concepts and market reforms in countries from Haiti to Russia, active containment of Saddam’s Iraq and other aggressive authoritarian regimes, and efforts to stymie nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere. And rhetorically, the Clinton administration embraced the idea of America as the “indispensable nation,” the country with a unique responsibility for upholding global peace and security — and the unique privileges that came with that role.[132] Administrations changed, but the basic logic of post-Cold War strategy endured. In fact, as scholars have now extensively documented, a commitment to maintaining American primacy, and to using that primacy to shape an eminently favorable global environment, became a theme of fundamental, bipartisan continuity throughout the post-Cold War era. This is not to say that there was no change in U.S. strategy from the early 1990s onward, for particular policies and rhetorical and diplomatic styles did shift considerably over time — witness the approaches of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama to Iraq, for instance. Similarly, which of the three key regions of Eurasia would receive the greatest attention from U.S. policymakers also shifted during this period. But the first-order judgments about American strategy remained remarkably consistent, and many core objectives and initiatives persisted as well.[133] Long after the initial firestorm touched off by the leak of the DPG had been mostly forgotten, the basic ideas and policies the document propounded remained quite relevant.

Conclusion

Twenty-five years after it was drafted, the DPG remains a source of controversy in some circles. While some historians and other analysts have begun to better understand the content and nature of that document, critics have continued to see it as “unsettling” and even “Strangelovian.” Likewise, some scholars persist in deeming the DPG an unprecedented assertion of American hegemony.[134] As a review of the declassified record demonstrates, however, the reality was more prosaic — but also, perhaps, more interesting. The DPG offered a program for the retention and improvement of America’s post-bipolar primacy, but it was hardly unique in its arguments. Rather, the DPG fit comfortably within the dominant strategic paradigm of the Bush administration, even if the rhetoric was sharper than many officials would have liked. Even before the superpower conflict ended, Bush and his advisers had argued that the United States must lean forward in shaping a promising but potentially perilous post-Cold War world. The logic of American primacy was then reinforced by crises in Europe and the Persian Gulf. After the Soviet collapse, the DPG drew together the key elements of a coalescing strategic mind-set and made the case for American primacy in its starkest and most explicit terms. The DPG thus encapsulated the Bush administration’s choice of an ambitious post-Cold War strategy, one that was reaffirmed by subsequent administrations. Interestingly, then, a review of Bush administration strategic planning makes the DPG appear both more and less important than it was often seen to be at the time. The document was arguably more important in the sense that it represented the earliest, most comprehensive, and most candid statement of American strategy after the Soviet collapse, and in the sense that its core concepts would endure. Yet it was arguably less important than sometimes thought in the sense that its basic content was not particularly controversial within the administration and that it was only one element of a much larger process by which Bush and his advisers came to identify and articulate a post-bipolar approach to global statecraft. The Bush administration’s choice of that strategy, in turn, drew on a mix of important factors. There were, certainly, the long-standing beliefs — both ideological and geopolitical — about America’s role in the world, which influenced the administration’s outlook from the outset. More immediately, there was the potent cocktail of optimism and wariness that shaped U.S. strategic thinking at the dawn of a new era. Bush and his aides clearly perceived that Washington had a historic opportunity to solidify a post-bipolar order in which U.S. interests and values would be far more privileged than before; they also worried that any lack of assertive American leadership would open the door to multipolar instability and tumult. The result was to push the United States toward an expansive approach meant to reap the benefits while avoiding the dangers of the post-Cold War world. If nothing else, the emerging record of the Bush administration’s approach to global strategy indicates that some interpretations of the forty-first president’s statecraft need to be revised. For years, the standard depiction of Bush’s foreign policy, offered by eminent scholars such as Jeremi Suri as well as former policymakers such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, was that Bush was an adept crisis manager but lacked the vision to identify a new global role for America. Yet in light of the evidence presented here — as well as recent assessments by scholars such as Jeffrey Engel — this interpretation is no longer persuasive.[135] Over the course of his presidency, Bush and his advisers did establish a clear and relatively coherent vision for post-Cold War strategy. That vision was quite ambitious; it was readily apparent in administration strategy documents and key policies. And it would persist, in its broad outlines, long after Bush left office. [quote id="7"] But was this a wise strategy? Since the early 1990s, there has developed a substantial literature critiquing the U.S. decision to pursue a primacist strategy, and thus critiquing — implicitly or explicitly — the Bush administration’s role in making that choice.[136] A full assessment of post-Cold War strategy would require more extensive analysis than is possible here.[137] With the perspective of a quarter-century, however, a more positive view of the Bush administration’s strategic decision-making seems warranted. For one thing, that decision-making was rooted in a generally reasonable assessment of the international environment and America’s role therein as the Cold War ended. As Bush-era officials were acutely aware, this was indeed a moment when the geopolitical tectonic plates were shifting more rapidly and disruptively than at any time since World War II. Many leading international relations scholars were predicting that the post-Cold War world would be a nasty place characterized by multipolar instability, rampant nuclear proliferation, and great-power revisionism by Germany and Japan.[138] Moreover, the major international crises of this period demonstrated that the United States did have a unique capacity to provide stability and leadership amid profound uncertainty and that there was fairly widespread international support for Washington to play this role. In these circumstances, it was hardly surprising or unreasonable that the Bush administration chose a form of consensual but assertive American primacy as the best approach to protecting international security and U.S. interests. Nor was it surprising that subsequent presidents affirmed this basic concept. And in retrospect, many key judgments and premises of that approach have fared passably well with time. Bush administration decision-making was, for instance, based on a fairly accurate assessment of the durability of American primacy. At the dawn of the post-Cold War era, leading academic observers often predicted that unipolarity would rapidly give way to a multipolar system in which Japan, Germany, or a united Europe balanced against the United States.[139] Yet for more than a quarter-century after the Cold War, the United States remained by far the most powerful and capable actor in international affairs. Today, the ongoing rise of China has narrowed America’s lead but not nearly erased it. As the most systematic assessment of global power dynamics today concludes, “Everyone should start getting used to a world in which the United States remains the sole superpower for decades to come.”[140] The Bush administration believed that American preeminence could last for some time; the trajectory of international politics over the course of a generation affirms that judgment more than it undercuts it. The trajectory of international politics also affirmed a second belief, which was that assertive American leadership would attract more countries than it repelled. Today, of course, rivals such as Russia and China are contesting American primacy, as part of an effort to assert their own prerogatives. Yet what is remarkable is that the post-Cold War era has not, at least so far, produced a concerted, multilateral counter-balancing campaign against the dominant country in the international system, and that many key second- and third-tier states have continued to align with Washington. Japan, Germany, and other major industrial countries have remained largely content to be part of the strategic and economic community led by the United States. Front-line states in Eastern Europe and other regions have often seemed to fear American abandonment more than American domination. As Zachary Selden has argued, the dominant tendency has been to balance with the United States against threats to the international system — like those now posed by Russia and China — rather than to balance against the preeminent power that America has wielded.[141] Finally, there is now significant scholarship to support the idea that a primacist strategy indeed accomplished some of the most important goals the Bush administration initially set out. In a recent book, Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth provide a robust body of evidence and analysis demonstrating that the persistence of assertive American engagement did have the effect of suppressing security competitions and instability in key strategic theaters while also providing the overall climate of reassurance in which the international economy could continue to thrive.[142] Other scholars have noted the role of America’s post-Cold War policies in assisting the continued spread of democracy and market institutions, and in limiting nuclear proliferation in East Asia and Eastern Europe.[143] Not least, even consistent critics of America’s post-Cold War strategy, such as John Mearsheimer, have acknowledged that a persistent U.S. presence in key regions such as Europe and East Asia helped to avoid the major interstate wars that characterized many earlier historical eras, and to avert a rapid return to the more unstable and violent climate that many observers feared when the Cold War ended.[144] All of these points could, surely, be debated at length. Yet if a key premise of a primacist strategy was that assertive American engagement would help produce a more stable and liberal international order than one might otherwise have expected, then there is a defensible argument to be made that this premise, too, looks fairly good twenty-five years later. A primacist strategy has never been without its problems, from the economic costs associated with a global military presence to the fact that the United States has periodically succumbed to the temptation to overuse its tremendous power. Today, moreover, the United States faces more serious challenges to its primacy and global interests than at any other time in the post-Cold War era, from a rising China, a resurgent Russia, and an international rogues’ gallery that is more empowered and better armed than at any moment since Saddam Hussein’s defeat in 1991. Not least, there is some uncertainty as to whether American leaders and the body politic still support such an engaged and assertive strategy, and the policies and mannerisms of the Trump administration may well pose their own challenge to U.S. effectiveness and leadership on the global stage.[145] Yet when one considers the more constructive effects that a primacist strategy has arguably had, and the fact that some of its foundational premises have proven fairly solid over time, one does, perhaps, gain a greater degree of appreciation for the logic of America’s post-Cold War strategy, and for the Bush administration’s role in shaping that strategy at a moment of great promise and uncertainty in international affairs. Hal Brands is a Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is the author or editor of several books, including Making the Unipolar Moment: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Rise of the Post-Cold War Order (2016), What Good is Grand Strategy? Power and Purpose in American Statecraft from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush (2014), Latin America’s Cold War (2010), From Berlin to Baghdad: America’s Search for Purpose in the Post-Cold War World (2008), and The Power of the Past: History and Statecraft (co-edited with Jeremi Suri, 2015). He was a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow from 2015 to 2016. He has also consulted with a range of government offices and agencies in the intelligence and national security communities. ISSN (Print): 2576-1021 ISSN(Online): 2576-1153 Image: Wikimedia Commons [post_title] => Choosing Primacy: U.S. Strategy and Global Order at the Dawn of the Post-Cold War Era [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => choosing-primacy-u-s-strategy-global-order-dawn-post-cold-war-era-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-26 05:48:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-26 09:48:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=436 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => Newly declassified U.S. government records shed some light onto U.S. strategic thinking about the post-Cold War era and the infamous Defense Planning Guidance. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 1, Issue 2 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The DPG was not, as is commonly believed, a radical document or an outlier from Bush administration strategic thinking. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => From the earliest months of the Bush administration, there was thus a consensus that reduced Cold War tensions did not imply a dramatic U.S. retrenchment. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => There were widespread fears that the collapse of Soviet authority in Eastern Europe could unleash ethnic violence or resurgent nationalist rivalries within that region. ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The Gulf crisis demonstrated robust global demand for U.S. leadership. ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The DPG was nonetheless basically aligned with the Bush administration’s broader perspective as expressed to date. ) [5] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The DPG was quietly affirmed by the Bush administration in its final months in office. ) [6] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The DPG encapsulated the Bush administration’s choice of an ambitious post-Cold War strategy, one that was reaffirmed by subsequent administrations. ) ) [style] => scholarly [type] => Scholarly [style_label] => The Scholar [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => 554 ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 9 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] This article significantly expands on arguments first made in the author’s recent book. See Hal Brands, Making the Unipolar Moment: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Rise of the Post-Cold War Order (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2016). [2] See Draft of FY 94-99 Defense Planning Guidance (DPG), in Vesser to Secretaries of Military Departments, CJCS, et al., Feb. 18, 1992, Electronic Briefing Book (EBB) 245, National Security Archive (NSA). [3] Barton Gellman, “Keeping the U.S. First,” Washington Post, March 11, 1992. [4] Quoted in Joshua Muravchik, The Imperative of American Leadership: A Challenge to Neo-Isolationism (Washington: American Enterprise Institute Press, 1996), 136. [5] Craig Unger, The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America’s Future (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 148; David Armstrong, “Dick Cheney’s Song of America: Drafting a Plan for Global Dominance,” Harper’s, October 2002, 76, https://harpers.org/archive/2002/10/dick-cheneys-song-of-america/ [6] See Melvyn P. Leffler, “Dreams of Freedom, Temptations of Power,” in The Fall of the Berlin Wall: The Revolutionary Legacy of 1989, ed. Jeffrey A. Engel (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 132-69; Eric S. Edelman, “The Strange Career of the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance,” in In Uncertain Times: American Policy After the Berlin Wall and 9/11, edited by Melvyn P. Leffler and Jeffrey W. Legro (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011); Paul Wolfowitz, “Shaping the Future: Planning at the Pentagon, 1989-1993,” in In Uncertain Times, edited by Leffler and Legro, 44-62; Zalmay Khalilzad, The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House, My Journey Through a Turbulent World (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2016), Chapter 7; James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet (New York: Penguin, 2004), 198-215. [7] Lloyd Gardner, The Long Road to Baghdad: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy From the 1970s to the Present (New York: The New Press, 2008), 98-100. [8] Richard Immerman, Empire for Liberty: A History of American Imperialism From Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), 218-20. [9] Edelman, “Strange Career,” 63. There is also a smaller body of literature arguing that the DPG was not as important as all this attention might make it seem. See, for instance, Ionut Popescu, Emergent Strategy and Grand Strategy: How American Presidents Succeed in Foreign Policy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017), 123-25. [10] Political scientists differ considerably on whether that strategy has been wise. See, variously, Barry Posen, Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014); John Mearsheimer, “Imperial by Design,” National Interest 111 (January/February 2011): 16-34; Peter Feaver, “American Grand Strategy at the Crossroads: Leading From the Front, Leading From Behind, or Not Leading at All,” in America’s Path: Grand Strategy for the Next Administration, eds. Richard Fontaine and Kristin Lord (Washington: Center for a New American Security, 2012), 59-70. On German reunification and NATO expansion, see Mary Elise Sarotte, “Perpetuating U.S. Preeminence: The 1990 Deals to ‘Bribe the Soviets Out’ and Move NATO In,” International Security 35, no. 1 (2010): 110-37; Joshua Shifrinson, “Deal or No Deal? The End of the Cold War and the U.S. Offer to Limit NATO Expansion,” International Security 40, no. 4 (Spring 2016): 7-44. [11] Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (New York: Vintage, 1987); Peter Schmeisser, “Taking Stock: Is America in Decline?” New York Times, April 17, 1988, http://www.nytimes.com/1988/04/17/magazine/taking-stock-is-america-in-decline.html?pagewanted=all. [12] Quoted in Homer A. Neal, Tobin Smith, and Jennifer McCormick, Beyond Sputnik: U.S. Science Policy in the Twenty-First Century (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008), 81. [13] Schmeisser, “Taking Stock: Is America in Decline?”; Patrick Buchanan, “America First — and Second, and Third,” National Interest 19 (Spring 1990): 77-82. [14] Jeane Kirkpatrick, “A Normal Country in a Normal Time,” National Interest 21 (Fall 1990): 40-44. [15] See Patrick Tyler, “Halving Defense Budget in Decade Suggested,” Washington Post, Nov. 21, 1989. [16] Alan Murray and Jeffrey Birnbaum, “Post-Cold War Budget Is Here, So Where Is the Peace Dividend?” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 29, 1990. [17] Patrick Tyler and Molly Moore, “Soviet Defense Spending Cut As Promised, CIA Reports,” Washington Post, Nov. 15, 1989; Helen Dewar, “Nunn Warns Pentagon to Fill Blanks in Budget,” Washington Post, March 23, 1990. [18] Charles Krauthammer, “Universal Dominion: Toward a Unipolar World,” National Interest 18 (Winter 1989-1990): 46-49. [19] Michael R. Beschloss and Strobe Talbott, At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1993). [20] Bush Diary, Feb. 15, 1975, in George H.W. Bush, All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings (New York, 1999), 215. [21] “Bush: ‘Our Work Is Not Done; Our Force Is Not Spent,’” Washington Post, Aug. 19, 1988. [22] Jeffrey A. Engel, “A Better World…but Don’t Get Carried Away: The Foreign Policy of George H.W. Bush Twenty Years On,” Diplomatic History 34, no. 1 (2010): 25-46. [23] Andrew Rosenthal, “Differing Views of America’s Global Role,” New York Times, Nov. 2, 1988; “A Report to the National Security Council by the Executive Secretariat on United States Objectives and Programs for National Security,” April 14, 1950, https://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/coldwar/documents/pdf/10-1.pdf. [24] “Foreign Press Center Background Briefing,” March 20, 1990, CF00209, Peter Rodman Files, George H.W. Bush Library (GHWBL). [25] National Security Review-3, “Comprehensive Review of U.S.-Soviet Relations,” Feb. 15, 1989, NSR File, GHWBL. [26] RBZ (Robert B. Zoellick) Draft, “Points for Consultations with European Leaders,” Nov. 27, 1989, Box 108, James A. Baker III Papers, Mudd Library, Princeton University. [27] Remarks at U.S. Coast Guard Academy, May 24, 1989. [28] NSR-12, “Review of National Defense Strategy,” March 3, 1989, NSR File, GHWBL. [29] Cheney Remarks to American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 4, 1990, Federal News Service transcript. [30] See The Future Security Environment: Report of the Future Security Environment Working Group, submitted to the Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy (Washington: Government Printing Office, October 1988). [31] “Background Briefing by Senior Administration Official,” March 20, 1990, CF00209, Peter Rodman Files, GHWBL; also Michael Hayden to Scowcroft, March 15, 1990, CF00209, Peter Rodman Files, GHWBL. [32] “Talking Points: Cabinet Meeting — January 23, 1989,” Box 108, Baker Papers, Princeton. [33] Memorandum of Conversation (MemCon) between Bush and Lee Sang Hoon, July 20, 1989, OA/AD 91107, Presidential MemCon Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHBWL. [34] MemCon between Bush and Vaclav Havel, Feb. 20, 1990, OA/AD 91107, Presidential MemCon Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHBWL. [35] National Security Strategy of the United States (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1990), 1-2; also Hayden to Scowcroft, March 15, 1990, CF00209, Peter Rodman Files, GHWBL. [36] Powell Remarks to National Press Club, June 22, 1990, Federal News Service transcript. [37] Alan Murray and David Wessel, “Bush Is Likely to Seek Defense Increase For ’91, Despite Reduction in Tensions,” Wall Street Journal, Nov. 28, 1989; David Hoffman, “Bush Cautions Against Big Defense Cuts,” Washington Post, Jan. 13, 1990. [38] National Security Strategy (1990), 23. [39] Lorna S. Jaffe, The Development of the Base Force, 1989-1992 (Washington: Joint History Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1993); Wolfowitz, “Shaping the Future,” 48-54; Michael Gordon, “Pentagon Drafts Strategy for Post-Cold War World,” New York Times, Aug. 2, 1990. [40] Remarks in Aspen, Colorado, Aug. 2, 1990. Coincidentally, this speech was delivered less than 24 hours after Saddam Hussein’s forces had invaded Kuwait. [41] Don Oberdorfer, “Strategy for Solo Superpower: Pentagon Looks to ‘Regional Contingencies,’” Washington Post, May 19, 1991; Jaffe, Development of the Base Force, 7-8, 29. For a similar assessment, see Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Military Strategy of the United States (January 1992), http://history.defense.gov/Portals/70/Documents/nms/nms1992.pdf?ver=2014-06-25-123420-723. [42] See State Department Bureau of Public Affairs, “Movement Toward German Unification, March 1989-July 1990,” Box 2, Zelikow-Rice Files, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. [43] Excerpts from Soviet Transcript of Malta Summit, Dec. 2-3, 1989, EBB 296, NSA. [44] Scowcroft to Bush, undated, CF00182, Robert Blackwill Files, GHWBL. [45] The debate over what, precisely, the Bush administration promised Moscow regarding future NATO enlargement during 1989 to 1990 has generated a substantial literature of its own. What can briefly be said here is that Washington never provided the Soviets with a formal pledge that NATO would not expand further into Eastern Europe, and U.S. policymakers certainly did not believe that they were constrained from doing so. During negotiations with Gorbachev in February 1990, Baker did float — as a trial balloon — the idea that Moscow might accept reunification of Germany within NATO in exchange for NATO not expanding its military structures into the former East Germany. But even that more limited assurance was overtaken within days as it quickly became clear that a reunified Germany could not sit half inside and half outside of NATO. The argument that the United States subsequently violated an agreement not to expand NATO is, therefore, inaccurate. Some Russian observers, however, may have believed that there was some type of informal understanding on NATO expansion (in part because, in early 1990, West German officials sometimes floated this idea publicly), and the perception that such an assurance had existed played some role in the subsequent souring of U.S.-Russian relations. Moreover, in the early 1990s, the Clinton administration appears to have told Russian officials that expansion was not being contemplated, which led to increased Russian annoyance once expansion unfolded. See Mark Kramer, “The Myth of a No-NATO-Enlargement Pledge to Russia,” Washington Quarterly 32, no. 2 (2009): 39-61; Mary Elise Sarotte, “Not One Inch Eastward? Bush, Baker, Kohl, Genscher, Gorbachev, and the Origin of Russian Resentment Toward NATO Enlargement in February 1990,” Diplomatic History 34, no. 1 (2010): 119-40; James Goldgeier, “Promises Made, Promises Broken? What Yeltsin Was Told About NATO in 1993 and Why It Matters,” War on the Rocks, July 12, 2016, https://warontherocks.com/2016/07/promises-made-promises-broken-what-yeltsin-was-told-about-nato-in-1993-and-why-it-matters/. [46] See Mary Elise Sarotte, 1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009); Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice, Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995). [47] Scowcroft to Bush, Nov. 29, 1989, OA/ID 91116, Chron Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHWBL; George Bush and Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed (New York: Vintage, 1999), 230. [48] Scowcroft to Bush, undated (late 1989), OA/ID 91116, Chron Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHWBL; also Bush to Kohl, undated, CF00717, Condoleezza Rice Files, GHWBL. [49] Bush and Scowcroft, World Transformed, 253. [50] MemCon between Bush and Douglas Hurd, Jan. 29, 1990, OA/ID 91107, Presidential MemCon Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHWBL. See also Sarotte, “Perpetuating U.S. Preeminence”; Joshua Shifrinson, “Deal or No Deal?” [51] MemCon between Bush and Wörner, Feb. 24, 1990, OA/ID 91107, Presidential MemCon Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHWBL; also Gorbachev-Mitterrand TelCon, Nov. 14, 1989, EBB 293, NSA; Thatcher-Gorbachev Conversation, Sept. 23, 1989, EBB 293, NSA; Meeting between Kohl and Walesa, Nov. 10, 1989, Cold War International History Project. [52] Scowcroft to Bush, Dec. 22, 1989, OA/ID 91116, Chron Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHWBL. [53] Bush and Scowcroft, World Transformed, 273. [54] Scowcroft to Bush, Dec. 22, 1989, OA/ID 91116, Chron Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHWBL. [55] Zelikow to Gates, Nov. 28, 1990, OA/ID CF00293, Heather Wilson Files, GHWBL; also “President’s Intervention on the Transformation of the North Atlantic Alliance,” July 1990, CF00290, Heather Wilson Files, GHWBL. [56] London to State, Dec. 11, 1990, CF01468, Philip Zelikow Files, GHWBL. [57] Gorbachev-Baker Meeting, Feb. 9. 1990, in Masterpieces of History: The Peaceful End of the Cold War in Europe, 1989, eds. Svetlana Savranskaya, Thomas Blanton, and Vladislav Zubok (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2010), 683; also USDEL Secretary Namibia to State, March 20, 1990, Department of State FOIA Electronic Reading Room. [58] “Summit Intervention Statement,” undated (1991), CF01693, Summit Briefing Books, NSC Files, GHWBL; also Sicherman to Ross and Zoellick, March 12, 1990, Box 176, Baker Papers, Princeton; MemCon between Baker and Mr. Balladur, June 3, 1991, Box 110, Baker Papers, Princeton. [59] “Points to Be Made for Working Dinner With Prime Minister Mulroney in Canada,” undated, CF01010-CF01010-009, Briefing Books/Briefing Materials, European and Soviet Directorate Files, GHWBL. [60] Zelikow to Gates, Oct. 26, 1990, OA/ID CF00293, Heather Wilson Files, NSC Files, GHWBL. [61] Stephen Flanagan to Ross and Zoellick, May 1, 1992, OA/ID CF01526, Barry Lowenkron Files, GHWBL; also “Rome Declaration on Peace and Cooperation,” Nov. 8, 1991, CF01526, Barry Lowenkron Files, GHWBL. [62] Max Boot, War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today (New York: Penguin, 2006), 337-38; “Sharing of Responsibility for the Coalition Effort in the Persian Gulf (Feb 8 Update),” OA/ID CF01110 to CF01362, Virginia Lampley Files, Box 53, FOIA 1998-0099-F, GHWBL. Other helpful sources include Lawrence Freedman and Efraim Karsh, The Gulf Conflict, 1990-1991: Diplomacy and War in the New World Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993); Kevin Woods, The Mother of All Battles: Saddam Hussein’s Strategic Plan for the Persian Gulf War (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2008); Christian Alfonsi, Circle in the Sand: Why We Went Back to Iraq (New York: Doubleday, 2006); Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor, The Generals’ War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1995); and many others. [63] Remarks in Aspen, Colorado, Aug. 2, 1990, APP. [64] NSC Meeting, Aug. 3, 1990, Richard Haass Files, Box 42, FOIA 1998-0099-F, GHWBL. [65] NSC Meeting, Aug. 3, 1990, Richard Haass Files, Box 42, FOIA 1998-0099-F, GHWBL. [66] Remarks in Aspen, Colorado. As noted previously, this was the same speech in which Bush publicly introduced the Base Force. [67] James Baker, “America’s Strategy in the Persian Gulf Crisis,” Department of State Dispatch, Dec. 10, 1990, http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/briefing/dispatch/1990/html/Dispatchv1no15.html. [68] James A. Baker III, The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War, and Peace, 1989-1992 (New York: Putnam, 1995), 1-16, 275-99. [69] Bush Diary, Sept. 7, 1990, in Bush, All the Best, 479. [70] Office of Management and Budget, “United States Costs in the Persian Gulf Conflict and Foreign Contributions to Offset Such Costs,” Report No. 20, October 1992, in Darman to Bush, Oct. 15, 1992, Department of Defense FOIA Electronic Reading Room. [71] “Talking Points” for Bush’s meeting, undated, Box 1, CF00946, Robert Gates Files, GHWBL; also “Executive Summary,” Aug. 27, 1990, Box 1, CF00946, Robert Gates Files, GHWBL. [72] Bush-Kaifu MemCon, Sept. 29, 1990, Digital National Security Archive (DNSA). [73] Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the Persian Gulf Crisis and the Federal Budget Deficit, Sept. 11, 1990. [74] Bush and Scowcroft, World Transformed, 491, 400. [75] William J. Perry, “Desert Storm and Deterrence,” Foreign Affairs 70, no. 4 (1991): 66-67, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/iraq/1991-09-01/desert-storm-and-deterrence; also Department of Defense, Conduct of the Persian Gulf War: Final Report to Congress, April 1992, Department of Defense FOIA Electronic Reading Room. [76] Cheney Remarks to American Business Council Conference, April 9, 1991, Federal News Service; also “America’s Postwar Agenda in Europe,” March 1991, CF01468, Zelikow Files, GHWBL. [77] Robert Gates Oral History, 59, Presidential Oral History Program, Miller Center, University of Virginia. [78] Bush-Dumas MemCon, Feb. 28, 1991, GHWBL. [79] Herbert S. Parmet, George Bush: The Life of a Lone Star Yankee (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2001), 483. See also Gates Oral History, 59; Richard Cheney Oral History, June 21, 2006, 27, Box 7, Baker Oral History Collection, Mudd Library, Princeton; Alfonsi, Circle in the Sand, 172-76. [80] See Gordon and Trainor, Generals’ War, 416-29, 444-46. These issues were compounded by the decision of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf — who handled the cease-fire negotiations in the absence of detailed instructions — to permit Iraqi forces to fly helicopters in the struggle against rebellious forces. [81] Dennis Ross Oral History, Aug. 2, 2001, 42-43, Presidential Oral History Program, Miller Center, University of Virginia. [82] Rowen Statement to Senate Foreign Relations Committee, June 6, 1991, CF01391, Virginia Lampley Files, GHWBL. [83] Bush-Santer-Delors MemCon, April 11, 1991, GHWBL. [84] James M. Goldgeier and Michael McFaul, Power and Purpose: U.S. Policy Toward Russia After the Cold War (Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2003), 18-40. [85] Bush and Scowcroft, World Transformed, 564. [86] Alan Murray, “Growth Formulas: Democratic Candidates Offer Host of Proposals to Spark the Economy,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 6, 1992; “Differences Among the Democratic Candidates,” New York Times, Feb. 16, 1992; Norman Kempster, “U.S. Candidates’ Stand on Foreign Issues,” Los Angeles Times, March 17, 1992. [87] Draft of FY 94-99 DPG; Barton Gellman, “Keeping the U.S. First; Pentagon Would Preclude a Rival Superpower,” Washington Post, March 11, 1992. The version of the DPG quoted here consists of the text that was released to the National Security Archive through the FOIA process as well as the text that earlier became available through media leaks. [88] On the process and context, see Wolfowitz, “Shaping the Future”; Edelman, “Strange Career”; see also Popescu, Emergent Strategy and Grand Strategy, 123-25. [89] Draft of FY 94-99 DPG; Cheney Remarks to Senate Budget Committee, Feb. 3, 1992, Federal News Service. [90] Draft of FY 94-99 DPG. [91] Draft of FY 94-99 DPG. [92] Ibid.; also William Wohlforth, “The Stability of a Unipolar World,” International Security 24, no. 1 (Summer 1999): 5-41; G. John Ikenberry, Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011). [93] Draft of FY 94-99 DPG; Patrick Tyler, “U.S. Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No Rivals Develop,” New York Times, March 8, 1992. [94] Diary entry, July 2, 1991, in Bush, All the Best, George Bush, 527; Bush-Wörner MemCon, June 25, 1991, GHWBL. [95] Quotes from Don Oberdorfer, “Strategy for Solo Superpower: Pentagon Looks to ‘Regional Contingencies,’” Washington Post, May 19, 1991. [96] Draft of FY 1994-1999 DPG; Patrick Tyler, “U.S. Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No Rivals Develop,” New York Times, March 8, 1992. [97] Dale Vesser to Libby, Sept. 3, 1991, EBB 245, NSA. [98] Draft of FY 94-99 DPG. [99] See Melvyn P. Leffler, A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992). [100] Melissa Healy, “Pentagon Cool to U.S. Sharing Its Power,” Los Angeles Times, March 9, 1992. [101] Barton Gellman, “Aim of Defense Plan Supported by Bush: But President Says He Has Not Read Memo,” Washington Post, March 12, 1992. [102] “The New Pentagon Paper,” Washington Post, May 27, 1992. [103] Barton Gellman, “Pentagon War Scenario Spotlights Russia,” Washington Post, Feb. 20, 1992. [104] Gellman, “Aim of Defense Plan Supported by Bush”; also Tyler, “U.S. Strategy Plan.” [105] See Scowcroft, “Meeting with Chancellor Kohl of Germany,” March 19, 1992, OA/ID CF01414, Hutchings Country Files, GHWBL. [106] Patrick Tyler, “Pentagon Drops Goal of Blocking New Superpowers,” New York Times, May 24, 1992; “Pentagon Abandons Goal of Thwarting U.S. Rivals,” Washington Post, May 24, 1992; Memo to Cheney, March 26, 1992, EBB 245, NSA; “Issues in the Policy and Strategy Section,” April 14, 1992, EBB 245, NSA. [107] Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Military Strategy of the United States, January 1992, http://history.defense.gov/Portals/70/Documents/nms/nms1992.pdf?ver=2014-06-25-123420-723. [108] “The Future of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era: Hearings Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives(Washington: Government Printing Office, 1992), 367; also Cheney and Powell Remarks to Senate Budget Committee, Feb. 3, 1992, Federal News Service. [109] Bush note to speechwriters, March 14, 1992, in Bush, All the Best, George Bush, 551; Gellman, “Aim of Defense Plan.” [110] Baker Remarks to Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, April 2, 1992, Box 169, Baker Papers. [111] Patrick Tyler, “Senior U.S. Officials Assail Lone-Superpower Policy,” New York Times, March 11, 1992; also Edelman, “Strange Career.” [112] “Chancellor Kohl of Germany,” undated (March 1992), OA/ID CF01414, Country Files, Hutchings Files, GHWBL. [113] On Scowcroft’s views, see Bartholomew Sparrow, The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security (New York: Hachette, 2015), 485-86. [114] See Memo from Don Pulling, April 23, 1992, in EBB 245, NSA; also Wolfowitz to Cheney, May 5, 1992; Wolfowitz to Cheney, May 13, 1992, EBB 245, NSA. [115] See Lawrence Eagleburger to Warren Christopher, Jan. 5, 1993, Freedom of Information Act, in author’s possession. I thank Jim Goldgeier for sharing this document with me. [116] Partially in response to the DPG saga, there was a wider-ranging academic debate over the value of U.S. primacy.  Robert Jervis, “International Primacy: Is the Game Worth the Candle?” International Security 17, no. 4 (Spring 1993): 52-67; Samuel P. Huntington, “Why International Primacy Matters,” International Security 17, no. 4 (Spring 1993): 68-83. [117] On this debate, see G. John Ikenberry, “The Future of the Liberal World Order: Internationalism After America,” Foreign Affairs 90, no. 3 (May/June 2011): 56-68; vs. Robert Kagan, The World America Made (New York: Vintage, 2012). [118] Peter Grieg, “Hot Debate Over U.S. Strategic Role: Draft Pentagon Paper Stirs Up Controversy on How, and Why, Military Funds Are Spent,” Christian Science Monitor, March 16, 1992. [119] On Buchanan’s views, see, for instance, Robin Toner, “Buchanan, Urging New Nationalism, Joins ’92 Race,” New York Times, Dec. 11, 1991. [120] Patrick Tyler, “Lone Superpower Plan: Ammunition for Critics,” New York Times, March 10, 1992. [121] Dick Cheney, Defense Strategy for the 1990s: The Regional Defense Strategy, January 1993, EBB 245, NSA. [122] Wolfowitz to Cheney, May 5, 1992; also, Wolfowitz to Cheney, May 13, 1992; Memo from Don Pulling, April 23, 1992, all in EBB 245, NSA. In his own account, Wolfowitz recalls that the Department of Defense could not get the revised version approved by the White House or other interagency actors. In fact, the revised DPG (which was subsequently published as the Regional Defense Strategy) was approved by the White House in the spring of 1992. And as Wolfowitz himself notes, “Far from being an extreme strategy developed by a small group of Defense Department officials, the DPG not only reflected the consensus thinking of the first Bush administration but became generally accepted defense policy under President Clinton.” See Wolfowitz, “Shaping the Future,” 59, 206. [123] Dick Cheney, Defense Strategy for the 1990s: The Regional Defense Strategy, January 1993, EBB 245, NSA. [124] On this point, see Popescu, Emergent Strategy and Grand Strategy, 123-24. [125] Remarks at Texas A&M University, Dec. 15, 1992; remarks at West Point, Jan. 5, 1993. [126] National Security Strategy of the United States (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1993), ii, 1, 6, 13. [127] Anthony Lake, “From Containment to Enlargement,” Sept. 21, 1993, https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/lakedoc.html. [128] Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review, May 1997, Section 3, “Defense Strategy”; Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Vision 2010, 2; also Alexandra Homolar, “How to Last Alone at the Top: U.S. Strategic Planning for the Unipolar Era,” Journal of Strategic Studies 34, no. 2 (2011): 202-12. [129] Les Aspin, Report on the Bottom Up Review, issued by Defense Department, October 1993, iii-iv, 7-8. [130] For military spending figures, consult the data available through the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s annual reports and military spending database, available at https://www.sipri.org/databases/milex; also Homolar, “How to Last Alone at the Top.” [131] Art Pine, “U.S. Faces Choices on Sending Ships to Taiwan,” Los Angeles Times, March 20, 1996. [132] On Clinton-era statecraft, see Andrew J. Bacevich, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of American Diplomacy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002); Patrick Porter, “The American Way: Power, Habit, and Grand Strategy,” International Security, forthcoming. [133] See, on this continuity, Leffler, “Dreams of Freedom, Temptations of Power”; Brands, Making the Unipolar Moment; P. Edward Haley, Strategies of Dominance: The Misdirection of U.S. Foreign Policy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006); Posen, Restraint. [134] Eugene Jarecki, The American War of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril (New York: Free Press, 2008), 12; also Joan Hoff, A Faustian Foreign Policy From Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush: Dreams of Perfectibility (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 138. [135] Jeremi Suri, “American Grand Strategy From the Cold War’s End to 9/11,” Orbis (Fall 2009): 611-27; Zbigniew Brzezinski, Second Chance: The Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower (New York: Basic Books, 2007). For another early interpretation that has been overtaken, see Hal Brands, From Berlin to Baghdad: America’s Search for Purpose in the Post-Cold War World (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008). For a more positive recent take, see Jeffrey Engel, When the World Seemed New: George H.W. Bush and the End of the Cold War (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2017). [136] For instance, Posen, Restraint; Mearsheimer, “Imperial by Design”; Stephen Walt, “The End of the American Era,” National Interest 116 (2011): 6-16. [137] But see Hal Brands, American Grand Strategy in the Age of Trump (Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2018), Chapter 1. [138] John Mearsheimer, “Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War,” Atlantic Monthly, August 1990, 35-50. [139] Kenneth Waltz, “The Emerging Structure of International Politics,” International Security 18, no. 2 (1993): 44-79; Christopher Layne, “The Unipolar Illusion: Why New Great Powers Will Rise,” International Security 17, no. 4 (1993): 5-51. [140]  Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, “The Once and Future Superpower: Why China Won’t Overtake the United States,” Foreign Affairs 95, no. 3 (2016): 91-104. [141] Zachary Selden, “Balancing Against or Balancing With? The Spectrum of Alignment and the Endurance of American Hegemony,” Security Studies 22, no. 2 (2013): 330-64. [142] Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, America Abroad: The United States’ Global Role in the 21st Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). [143] See Paul Miller, “American Grand Strategy and the Democratic Peace,” Survival 52, no. 2 (2012): 49-76; John Dumbrell, Clinton’s Foreign Policy: Between the Bushes, 1992-2000 (New York: Routledge, 2009), 41-61; Mark Kramer, “Neorealism, Nuclear Proliferation, and East-Central European Strategies,” in Unipolar Politics: Realism and State Strategies After the Cold War, edited by Ethan Kapstein and Michael Mastanduno (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 385-463. [144] John Mearsheimer, “Why Is Europe Peaceful Today?” European Political Science 9, no. 2 (2010): 387-97. [145] See Hal Brands, “Is American Internationalism Dead? Reading the National Mood in the Age of Trump,” War on the Rocks, May 16, 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/05/is-american-internationalism-dead-reading-the-national-mood-in-the-age-of-trump/. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) ) [1] => Array ( [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 413 [post_author] => 59 [post_date] => 2018-01-31 04:00:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-31 09:00:52 [post_content] => In discussing the subject of “the objective” in war it is essential to be clear about, and to keep clear in our minds, the distinction be­tween the political and military objective. The two are different but not separate. Nations do not wage war for war’s sake, but in pursuance of policy. The military objective is only the means to a political end. — Basil Liddell Hart, Strategy: The Indirect Approach (1967)   Liddell Hart’s famous book, which includes this observation, was first published as The Decisive Wars of History in 1929.[1] Here was found the early version of his much-quoted definition of strategy as the “art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill the ends of policy.”[2] André Beaufre later recalled the impact the book made on him as a young French officer after World War I, disillusioned with the state of French strategic thinking.[3] Before the war, Ferdinand Foch, who became commander in chief of Allied forces, had made his name directing the École de Guerre, formulating what Beaufre described as a “Prussian school.” Foch insisted upon the necessity of a “decisive battle” achieved through “bloody sacrifice” and this had resulted in a “systematically extreme strategy.” After the war, a new school, led by Marshal Philippe Pétain, dismissed strategy as irrelevant to modern warfare and concentrated instead on assessing “tactics and matériel.” This was the context in which Beaufre picked up his French translation of Liddell Hart’s book. He found it a “breath of fresh air” and vital to the “rediscovery of strategy.” Later in his career Beaufre became an acclaimed strategic thinker, with his own definition that followed Liddell Hart in accepting the centrality of politics. For Beaufre, strategy was the “the art of the dialectic of two opposing wills using force to resolve their dispute.”[4] Liddell Hart continues to be cited whenever strategy is being defined. Arthur Lykke is responsible for a definition popular in military circles: “Strategy equals ends (objectives toward which one strives) plus ways (courses of action) plus means (instruments by which some end can be achieved).” In making the case for this definition, Lykke argued that:
Military strategy must support national strategy and comply with national policy, which is defined as “a broad course of action or statements of guidance adopted by the government at the national level in pursuit of national objectives.” In turn, national policy is influenced by the capabilities-and limitations of military strategy.[5]
Here he used the Liddell Hart quote with which this article opens as his authority for his contention that military means must serve political ends. That strategy has something to do with translating political requirements into military plans now appears to be self-evident, yet for the period from the Napoleonic Wars up to the aftermath of World War I, it played no part in discussions of the meaning of strategy. Instead prevailing definitions concentrated on how best to prepare forces for battle, with tactics coming into play once battle was joined. In a previous article, I considered the origins of this earlier approach, demonstrating that while strategy first entered the modern European lexicon in 1771, the word itself would not have posed any difficulty to an audience schooled in the classics of Greek and Roman military literature and already familiar with cognate terms such as stratagem.[6] The early use of the term reflected the stratagem tradition, referring to ruses and other indirect means of avoiding pitched battles. The term also helped to fill a gap in the lexicon, distinguishing the higher military art from the more mechanical requirements of tactics. The meaning shifted during the first decades of the 19th century under the influence of the Napoleonic wars and the theories of Baron Antoine-Henri de Jomini as well as Carl von Clausewitz. This is how strategy became linked with battle, stressing the importance of defeating the enemy forces in order to achieve a decisive result. In this article, I show how little the general meaning of the term changed during the 19th century. Throughout Europe, discussion about strategy and tactics continued to be shaped by the sharp focus on battle and what this required of commanders. Whereas the early discussions concerning strategy in the late 18th century opened up new possibilities for thinking about the changing art of war, later discussion shut it down and thus constrained thinking. Despite the strong nationalist sentiments that shaped thinking about war, the participants in this debate were normally senior military figures who were still serving or were recently retired and were primarily concerned with officer education. They read each other’s books, if necessary in translation, and studied the same great battles of history from which they drew similar lessons.[7] The stress on the importance of military history, which meant careful study of the great battles of the past, taken out of their wider context, encouraged a profoundly conservative approach to strategy. The accepted Jominian view was expressed in the mid-19th century in a moderately influential book by a Swiss general with French training. Gen. Guillame-Henri Dufour explained how strategy looked back while tactics must look forward. Strategy, he suggested, was subject to timeless principles, while tactics was changing all the time and so varied with the “arms in use at different periods.” This meant that:
Much valuable instruction in strategy may therefore be derived from the study of history: but very grave errors would result if we attempt to apply to the present days the tactics of the ancients. [8]
Leaving aside the question of whether the principles of strategy were really timeless when new technologies were transforming the practice of war, this view helps explain why there was far more focus on tactics than strategy. It reflects the practical nature of the literature, which was full of detailed advice, illustrated with diagrams, on how to cope with all battlefield contingencies. Accepting the limitations of Google N-gram,[9] the graph below is illustrative in terms of the relative importance attached to military tactics and military strategy over the past couple of centuries in the English language (a French version produces a similar result). It demonstrates that, until World War II, tactics appeared far more often than strategy in books on military matters. Regular discussion of strategy only really began in the run up to World War I. This is not surprising, as the basic focus was on the need to prepare officers to lead troops into battle. The starting point for the debate on strategy (or grand tactics) was how to raise the sights of those who were normally preoccupied with the drills and maneuvers necessary for battle, but also needed to understand the challenges involved in getting forces in the optimum position when the moment for battle came. At a time when symmetry in the composition and capabilities of armies was assumed, as was the convention that the decision of battle would be accepted, tactical competence could make all the difference. This practical focus came at the expense of the theoretical. With such a sharp focus there was little interest in exploring alternatives ways of resolving differences by force. In order to demonstrate the stagnant nature of 19th century writing on military strategy, I first turn to the British discourse of the period. At this time, the British were largely consumers of foreign concepts. The definition of strategy that initially had the most influence, and that lingered for the rest of the century, was that developed by the Prussian Dietrich von Bülow. He distinguished between strategy and tactics largely in terms of whether the operations in question were undertaken within sight of the enemy.[10] Conceptually, Jomini was the larger influence. His works were required reading for the officer class of Europe and the United States. Bülow’s contribution was not acknowledged because his core theories were so dated. Although Clausewitz’s work was known, it took until late in the century before his ideas began to have a strong and palpable influence. I then examine the challenge that came from two major conflicts — the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War — noting how the largely apolitical view of strategy was not dislodged by reflections on these experiences. By the start of the 20th century, the idea that strategy and policy represented two distinct competencies was being challenged, in part as a delayed reaction to these wars, but also because of the looming prospect of another great European war. Up to this point, the occasional references to grand strategy in the literature were no more than etymological false positives. In other words, these usages meant something different from our current understanding of the term.[11] Only the British maritime strategist Julian Corbett saw the possibilities in the run-up to World War I. After the war, the combined efforts of John Fuller and Liddell Hart not only established grand strategy as essential to thinking about war, but also redefined strategy so that it was no longer linked directly to battle. Strategy could now address many contingencies and so became an arena for intense theorizing.

The British Consume Strategy

In Part I of this article, I drew attention to the 18th century belief that classical authors provided vital keys to military wisdom.[12] This was reflected in the reading habits of British officers. During the course of that century, there was a growing interest in foreign — in particular French — authors. This included the Chevalier de Folard, Marshal de Saxe, Frederick the Great, and Comte de Guibert.[13] The sensitivity to foreign publications meant that the arrival of the concept of strategy in France and Prussia was also noted in Britain. A 1779 article in the Critical Review, for example, discussed the introduction to the German edition of Leo’s Taktiká by Johann von Bourscheid.[14] This is where the French distinction (from Guibert) between greater and lesser tactics was reported along with a complaint that the “ancients” were better at finding great commanders. Was this, the anonymous author asked, because there was once a “comprehensive and systematical theory of instruction while our modern generals merely confine themselves to mechanical exercises?” The answer from Bourscheid was that this “defect” could only be addressed by a “systematical instruction in strategy.” This is why he had translated a “didactic work on that subject.”[15] A couple of years later, however, when the same journal reviewed translations of Guibert and Joly de Maizeroy,[16] there was no reference to strategy. The review of Guibert opened with a complaint that would appear regularly over the next century: The principles of tactics, “or the art of war in general,” had “hitherto hardly been established with any tolerable degree of certainty or precision.”[17] It is also important to keep in mind when evaluating the British debate that during the Napoleonic years, while the French were demonstrating the possibilities of new forms of warfare, this was not matched by any advances in the concept of “strategy.” One of the most important French texts during this period was Gay de Vernon’s Traité élémentaire d’art militaire et de fortification, which gained its authority from being approved by the emperor himself. Vernon did not write of strategy or even of grand tactics but of “la tactique générale.”[18] In the translation available from 1817, this appeared as “grand tactics” and related to the rules of “attack and defence of two hostile corps d’armée acting on uniform ground.”[19] Over the first years of the 19th century, there was little discussion of the concept in Britain, and even then it appeared as part of an effort to introduce an apparently parochial English military audience to current debates in countries where the discussion of these matters was more advanced. Thus, the British Military Library described itself as “comprehending a complete body of military knowledge,” including selections “from the most approved and respectable foreign military publications.” The editors had “spared no expense to procure the most respectable Military Journals and other works published upon the Continent.” In 1804, it included extensive excerpts from Bülow, without attribution and excluding his discussion of how best to define strategy, but with lots of diagrams and formulae. Strategy was described as commencing with establishing a base, and tactics as commencing with the unfolding of the line of order of battle.[20] Another publication, The New Military Dictionary, also advertised its adoption of French terminology. In the first edition, in 1802, there was no mention of strategy, but it did define tactics as the “knowledge of order, disposition, and formation, according to the exigency of circumstances in warlike operations.” The item on tactics referred to a higher branch — la grande tactique — that should be thoroughly understood by all general officers, although it was sufficient for more junior officers to look at the less demanding minor tactics. There was also, following the practice of other dictionaries, a lengthy discussion of stratagems, described as one of the “principal branches of the art of war,” related to surprise and deception, plus the obligatory minor reference to stratarithmometry.[21] In 1805, strategy made an appearance as “the art or science of military command.” The editor observed that the term did “not exist in any of our English lexicographers,” and there was no agreed view. “Neither the dogmatic authors nor the military [agree] unanimously of its nature and definition; Some give too much, and the others too little extended and the whole consonant with the strategy.” Strategy was the “art of knowing how to command, and how to conduct the different operations of war.” The readers were introduced to Nockhern de Schorn’s distinction between grande and petite strategie, the higher and the lower, the one for the “officer of superior rank, whose mind is well stored with military theory,” and the second that “appertains to the staff and to a certain proportion of the subaltern officers.”[22] In 1810, however, preceding the entry for strategy in the New Military Dictionary was strategics, using Malorti de Martemont’s translation of Bülow, distinguishing between what was in and out of the visual circle. Tactics was now defined as “the distribution of things by mechanical arrangement to make then subservient to the higher principles of military science, i.e., of strategy.”[23] [quote id="1"] Bülow was the first in the field largely by virtue of this relatively early translation. Clausewitz’s On War was not translated until 1873, although a review did appear in the Metropolitan Magazine in 1835.[24] Jomini’s Precis was published in English translation in 1862 (in a U.S. edition), before his Treatise in 1865, although sections of the Treatise had become available in an English translation as early as 1823.[25] This did not mean that their work was ignored in the English debate. Officers were often fluent in French and occasionally in German. Moreover, two of the most influential commentators, both former major-generals, William Napier and John Mitchell, were au fait with the continental literature. Napier, an accomplished military historian, was one of the few in Britain at the time who could have written an original book on strategy; but, though he was asked to do so, he declined.[26] He introduced Jomini to a British audience in a lengthy, anonymous article about The Treatise in 1821, focusing on Jomini’s consideration of the vital importance of directing the mass of the army against a decisive point. Napier also reaffirmed the importance of military genius. “It is in strategy,” he wrote, “that the great qualities with which a general may be endowed will have ample room to display themselves: fine perception, unerring judgement, rapid decision, and unwearied activity both of mind and body, are here all requisite.”[27] Thereafter, his own approach to strategy was largely based on the maxims of Napoleon as interpreted by Jomini. He endorsed a book by a civilian, Edward Yates, who sought to produce a treatise on the military sciences “on the model of the best treatises on the Mathematical sciences.”[28] Mitchell[29] was an avowed follower of Georg Heinrich von Berenhorst and familiar with the work of Clausewitz. He wrote that Clausewitz contributed “a very able, though lengthy, and often obscure book on War.” Clausewitz was destined to be represented as something of an intellectual challenge. For the rest of the century, whenever he was mentioned, it came with a warning that he was difficult to follow.  Mitchell deplored the lack of a British contribution to the “science of arms” despite the country’s accomplishments in other fields. The idea that “generals, like poets, must be born such; and that learning and knowledge are but secondary objects to a military man” he dismissed as “excuses for ignorance.” When it came to strategy and tactics, he added what had also become a standard comment, that
no two writers have in our time, agreed about the exact meaning of either; a fact which already tells against modern pretension, for no science ever made any great progress so long as its most important technical terms remained vague and undefined.[30]
He then went on to offer his contribution, essentially by delineating the tasks that went under each heading. Tactics was the “science that instructs us in the choice, power, effect, and combination of arms.” It was about “how the individual soldier is to be trained” so that the “thousands” could be instructed “to execute the commands of the one with exact and simultaneous uniformity.” It therefore included “everything that is, or should be, taught on the drill-ground, in order to render the soldier, whether acting individually or in mass, as formidable a combatant as may be consistent with his moral and physical powers.” Strategy, by contrast, was the “art [not a science] of marching with divisions, or with entire armies.” It was about
employing the tactical soldier to the best advantage against the enemy; and, therefore, presupposes in the strategist a perfect knowledge of tactics; it is generalship, in fact, and includes of course what has lately been termed the science of battles.[31]
This did not catch on. From 1846 to 1851, a committee of officers from the Royal Engineers produced three volumes for an Aide-mémoire to the Military Sciences in order “to supply, as far as practicable, the many and common wants of Officers in the Field, in the Colonies, and remote Stations, where books of reference are seldom to be found.” In the first volume, Lt. Col. C. Hamilton Smith provided a “Sketch of the Art and Science of War.” This contained an early reference to “great operations” (the French concept of grande tactique) and then a reference to strategics, “a term to which it has been vainly endeavored to affix a strict definition” from Folard to Klausewitz [sic], Dufour, and Jomini. A “dialectician,” noted Smith, “might hint that a distinction might be pointed out between Strategics and Strategy, or Strategique and Strategie; but no inconvenience seems to have arisen from the promiscuous use of both.” He attempted to distinguish between Jomini making war upon a map as strategics, while activities that are then
strategical in their direction, and tactical in the execution, such as landings, march manoeuvres, passage of rivers, retreats, winter-quarters, ambuscades, and convoys, might take the denomination of Strategy, so long as they are executed without the presence of an enemy prepared for resistance; for then they become Tactics.
Here strategy would be comparable to grand tactics. He set out essentially Jominian principles, adding that:
The study of all past wars, ancient and modern, the systems of war of Frederick the Great, of the French Revolution, of Napoleon, and, finally, of the Duke of Wellington, will all be found to have derived their success and glory by conducting the armies in harmony with these principles ; and the loss of battles, failures in campaigns and entire wars, will be seen to originate in the non-observance of them, either through the prejudices raised by ignorance or routine, political interference, or unavoidable geographical causes.[32]
This was the “clearest general strategic statement likely to be known to British officers” in the early 1850s.[33] The Crimean War (1853-56), conducted incompetently by the British army, still “failed to initiate much serious thought … about its strategic role or tactical doctrine.”[34] Military history was viewed as “a great quarry of principles and examples to be judiciously selected to bolster pre-conceived idea or traditional doctrines.”[35]

The Unchanging Meaning of Strategy

The debate, such as it was, often concerned the boundary line between strategy and tactics. In 1856, Lt. Col. Patrick McDougall, superintendent of studies at the Royal Military College and Napier’s son-in-law, noted wearily that although the “science of war” had been divided into these two branches, “no very cogent reason exists for such separation, the objects as well as the principles of both being identical.” The distinction between strategy and tactics was “arbitrary,” because in both cases “the aim was to place a body of troops in the right position at the right time in fighting order superior to that body which your enemy can there oppose you.” Nonetheless, “such distinction having been made, it is better to preserve it.” Here he displayed the (unacknowledged) influence of Bülow, distinguishing between strategy and tactics according to whether one was in the “actual presence or eyesight of an enemy, however great or small the distances which separate them.” McDougall approached the issue largely in terms of demands on a commander’s time. Tactical activity was quite rare, despite handling troops in the presence of the enemy being the most “prominent and showy quality in a commander.” By contrast, the preparation of troops for battle, as opposed to directing them in battle, was “called forth and exercised in the ratio of twenty to one.” That was why he was so preoccupied with looking after the army, marching, bivouacking, provisions, and movement.[36] Col. Edward Hamley’s The Operations of War became the core British Army text for much of the rest of the century. It was much more substantial than McDougall’s book and earned an international reputation.[37] Until 1894, his was the sole text used in the entrance examination for the Camberley Staff College. In 1907, it was revived as an essential primer on strategy for the army, though not readopted at the Staff College.[38] Hamley — a professor of military history, strategy, and tactics at the Staff College, and its commandant from 1870-1878 — was a clever and versatile writer, yet still looked back to the practice of the Napoleonic Wars. Unlike McDougall, he stressed the importance of actual fighting. There was no point in getting an army into “situations which it cannot maintain in battle.” His view of strategy was that it did its job by reducing the need for actual fighting. The aim, which was pure Jomini (whose influence pervades the book), was to “effect superior concentrations on particular points,” getting the army into such a position that it enjoyed critical advantages. Otherwise, too much would be left to tactics. Yet, like McDougall, he was not convinced of the need for a sharp separation of tactics and strategy. His concern was that an officer untrained in strategy would rely simply on the routines of military affairs. Strategy meant moving beyond precedent, that is, beyond existing scripts, to be able to “meet new circumstances with new combinations.” This was why it deserved careful study.[39] Gen. Francis Clery’s book, Minor Tactics, first published in 1875, went through many editions (the 13th in 1896) and was based on a “course of lectures delivered to sub-Lieutenants studying at Sandhurst.” In this work, Clery distinguished strategy and tactics largely on the basis of size, though as always, “The issue, to which all military operations tend, is a battle.”[40] The lack of a fixed view about the terminology, though not the underlying issue, can be illustrated by Col. G. F. R. Henderson, considered one of the ablest military historians of his time and a charismatic teacher at the Staff College, Camberley. His concern was that officer education was failing to develop the skills necessary for great generalship. While this was a consistent theme, Henderson’s approach to terminology evolved rapidly. In a lecture to the United Services Institute in 1894, he noted that officers learned about minor tactics to pass examinations for promotion.[41] He complained that “the higher art of generalship, that section on military science to which formations, fire, and fortifications are subordinate, and which is called grand tactics, has neither manual nor text-book.” Henderson regretted that he could not find an exact definition of the difference between minor and grand tactics. He offered his own:
Minor Tactics includes the formation and disposition of the three arms for attack and defence, and concern officers of every rank; whilst Grand Tactics, the art of generalship, includes those stratagems, manoeuvres, and devices by which victories are won, and concern only those officers who may find themselves in independent command. [42]
Minor tactics were more or less mechanical, while grand tactics were less predetermined, that is they could not be identified by following the standard scripts.
They are to Minor Tactics what Minor Tactics are to drill, i.e. the method of adapting the power of combination to the requirements of battle; they deal principally with moral forces; and their chief end is the concentration of superior force, moral and physical, at the decisive point.
Henderson’s thinking was influenced by his studies of the Civil War. As a company officer, he wrote The Campaign of Fredericksburg: A Tactical Study for Officers, the focus of which was indicated by the subtitle. In 1898, now at the Staff College, he wrote an admired biography of Stonewall Jackson.[43] Grand tactics was forgotten, and strategy came to the forefront. His descriptions still combined elements of Bülow (what was and was not in the enemy’s sight) with Jomini (with references to strategy being worked out on the map).[44] In 1898, Henderson lectured on how strategy should be taught. As I note below, this lecture was interesting for its observations on the interaction of strategy and policy, but it also reflected Henderson’s conviction that the status of strategy needed to be elevated. The tactician, he noted, was the “more popular personage than the strategist, poring over his map, and leaving to others the perils and the glories of the fight.” The strategist only really came into his own when looking beyond the principles of warfare — “which to a certain extent are mechanical, dealing with the manipulation of armed bodies” — to what he called the “spirit of warfare.” This involved the moral element that could inspire troops, the elements of “surprise, mystery, strategem.” Henderson criticized Hamley for his neglect of these elements, for they were not “mere manoeuvres,” but in practice were “the best weapons of the strategist.” The published version of his lecture included an appendix on “strategical procedure,” which began: “The object of the strategist is to concentrate superior force on the field of battle.” [45] In 1902, Henderson wrote the entry on strategy for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Here he observed that civilians continually confounded strategy with tactics.[46] Despite his earlier complaint that grand tactics lacked definition, when it came to strategy, the problem was the opposite: “Almost every military writer of repute has tried his hand at it, and the only embarrassment is to choose the best.” As such, he adopted the definition employed by the official text-book of the British infantry. Strategy was “the art of bringing the enemy to battle, while tactics are the methods by which a commander seeks to overwhelm him when battle is joined.” This meant that “while the two armies are seeking to destroy each other it remains in abeyance, to spring once more into operations as soon as the issue is decided.” Thus, the end of strategy was “the pitched battle,” and the aim was to gain every “possible advantage of numbers, ground, supplies, and moral” to ensure the “enemy’s annihilation.” Thus, throughout the 19th century, British definitions encouraged the view that there was no sharp distinction between strategy and tactics, for the same unit would be involved in one and then the other. At issue were the requirements of officer education, and in particular the balance between mechanical drills, with their fixed scripts, and the need to move beyond those scripts. This required a flexibility of mind and imagination to be able to handle the larger challenges that would be faced in a campaign. This occurred at the strategic level, but the demands of strategy also involved paying attention to very practical matters for which the texts offered clear guidance: how to move forces over long distances, paying attention to medical needs, as well as food and accommodation. When it came to the very highest levels of command, knowledge of military history — looking back rather than forward — was seen as the best form of instruction. The effect was to reinforce the fixation with battle in military discourse, which continued throughout the 19th century. The fact that Henderson could make exactly the same points talking about grand tactics in 1894 and then strategy in 1902 (using the same reference to Napoleon’s observation in his published maxims that this level required the study of military history) was telling.

The Impact of the Civil War

The most likely challenge to the established frames of reference for thinking about war and strategy was a major conflict. The Napoleonic Wars had set the frames for the century. The wars that followed this set of great and iconic battles lacked the unexpected and distinctive features sufficient to challenge these frames. The Civil War, by virtue of its length and ferocity, posed more of a challenge, yet its impact on how strategy was conceptualized was also limited, even in the United States. Russell Weigley notes that “the experience of the Civil War failed to inspire any impressive flowering of American strategic thought.” The output from West Point reflected stagnation. American writers stuck to unimaginative concepts of European-style war, not even exploring whether the Indian wars had much to say about strategy.[47] American strategic thought had a strong French influence from the start. The first textbook at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was a translation of Gay de Vernon’s Traité élémentaire d’art militaire et de fortification, which included a separate section on grand tactics written by the translator.[48] A key position at West Point was the chair of civil and military engineering (a focus which itself says something about the practical nature of officer training). Dennis Mahan occupied it from 1832-1871. One of Mahan’s protégés was Henry Halleck, who became known as a cautious Union general during the Civil War. In 1846, he published a series of lectures, entitled the Elements of Military Art and Science. In this work, he observed that strategy could be “regarded as the most important, though least understood, of all the branches of the military art.”[49] Mahan’s writings adopted a similar Jominian framework.[50] Yet little time was spent by West Point cadets actually studying strategy, and there was a general distrust of the learned professional soldier as opposed to the inspired military genius. Col. Henry L. Scott’s Military Dictionary simply expanded the standard definitions to provide a reminder of the topics that might come under the headings:
The art of concerting a plan of campaign, combining a system of military operations determined by the end to be attained, the character of the enemy, the nature and resources of the country, and the means of attack and defense.
Having quickly disposed of strategy, Scott’s next entry on “street-fighting” was far longer as this was clearly a more enthralling topic. An earlier entry on battle discussed at greater length the views of “Professors of Strategy” on how battle was best approached.[51] Whether Jomini’s ideas as interpreted by his American followers influenced the conduct of the Civil War has been questioned, not least by Carol Reardon.[52] Carl von Decker’s Tactics of the Three Arms[53] was considered better for instruction, while another writer who had fought with Napoleon, Marshal Marmont, had not only reached a far higher rank but also had a more dynamic style.[54] Nor did Jomini play much of a role in the lively debate that lasted the course of the Civil War in the North on how that war should be best conducted. My concern, however, is with definitions of strategy. As with most definitions (including that of Clausewitz), Jomini’s definition alluded to a wider theory, but was not dependent upon it. Despite the experience of the war, in its aftermath no other work commanded the same authority. The war highlighted the importance of political context and showed how it affected strategy, but not to the extent of forcing a reappraisal of strategy’s essentially military character. Cornelius J. Wheeler, who took over at West Point from Mahan in 1865 and held the position until 1884, showed more interest in war as a political phenomenon, but the stress was still on following Jomini.[55] Only with his successor, James Mercur, do we start to see new possibilities. The first object of the “art of war,” he explained was “to determine the time, place and character of battles and conflicts so that the greatest benefit may result from victory and the least injury from defeat.” This was to be accomplished by strategy, including logistics. The second objective was “[t]o make one’s self stronger than the enemy at the time and place of actual combat.” This required “Logistics, Discipline, Grand and Minor Tactics, and Military Engineering.”[56] Strategy took priority, but without knowledge of the other branches its limitations could not be understood. Mercur opened his discussion of strategy by setting as its first goal taking “advantage of all means for securing success.” The second aim was to “cause the greatest benefits to result from victory and the least injury from defeat.” The first involved “questions of statesmanship and diplomacy.” Mercur’s list of what this entailed would feature in later considerations of grand strategy, such as “managing the military resources of a nation”; and “conducting international intercourse that when war becomes necessary or desirable, favorable alliances may be made with strong power, and hostile combinations of nations may be avoided.” He urged that due weight be given to “financial and commercial considerations” including when choosing campaign objectives, and when deciding on how to organize and train military forces.[57]  He even discussed what would now be called the “security dilemma.”[58] The organization of armies may “constantly suggest an early conflict, and thus produce an irritation which may soon lead to open hostility.” He observed that when it came to choosing when to accept or avoid conflict “statesmanship becomes strictly strategical.” Yet after that promising opening, the analysis became entirely orthodox, with the “hostile army” selected as the strategic objective.[59] Mercur’s book was only used as a text for a short period and is now largely forgotten. [quote id="2"] The only book-length study of any note, according to Weigley, was Capt. Bigelow’s Principles of Strategy: Illustrated Mainly from American Campaigns.[60] Bigelow was amongst those who took the view that a grasp of strategy was essential for officers of all grades, writing that, “A lieutenant in charge of a scouting party may be confronted with problems which nothing but generalship will enable him to solve.” Although his basic definition of strategy — the art of conducting war beyond the presence of the enemy — was entirely conventional, he sought to redress the balance between tactics and strategy, complaining that too many writers favored tactical skill at the expense of strategic skill. Most importantly, he divided strategy into three kinds: “regular, political, and tactical.” Tactical strategy was about getting “better men than the enemy’s upon the field of battle,” while political strategy focused on “undermining the political support of the opposing army, or at effecting recall from the war.” These forms of strategy were normally practiced in combination. He was not proposing a new hierarchy, and his discussions suggested that the tactical and political forms of strategy were all, in the end, geared toward the purpose of regular strategy, which was to destroy the hostile army. Yet in his discussion of Gen. William T. Sherman’s campaign, Bigelow was at least starting to assess variations on the standard scripts.[61] Sherman wrote a war memoir published as a magazine article with the intriguing but, to modern eyes, misleading title of “The Grand Strategy of the Wars of the Rebellion.” Despite the fact that his Georgia campaign challenged assumptions about how wars should be fought — with the morale of the adversary’s population the target as much as the adversary army — he stressed that the principles of war were fixed and unchanging. They were “as true as the multiplication table, the law of gravitation, or of virtual velocities, or any other invariable rule of natural philosophy.” He found that his best guide was a treatise by France J. Soady, which was actually a compilation of thoughts extracted from major texts, although it did refer to Sherman as a “man of genius” and gave a favorable account of his Georgia campaign.[62] The lack of progress in the American debate is illustrated by an article published in 1908 titled, “The Conduct of War.” In it, the author, Capt. Matthew Steele, argued that it was better to read military history than military textbooks. Military writers undertook to define strategy, yet it resulted in “definitions as various as the writers were numerous.” With each, the term meant what most suited the author’s treatise. Steele adduced that the term could not be defined. Instead, “its meaning must be arrived at by [a] sort of process of absorption.” According to him, there was only one principle of strategy that has “undergone no alteration either real or apparent.” In the end, it all came down to being “strongest at the decisive point.”[63]

The Impact of the Franco-Prussian War

The other great conflict that might have been expected to have a major influence on thinking about warfare was the Franco-Prussian War. The shock to the French led to urgent efforts to reform the army and restore an interest in strategy. To the fore was Gen. Jules Louis Lewal, who became director of the revived École de Guerre and at one point became minister of war.[64] His project included developing a professional general staff and encouraging a hitherto dormant interest in Clausewitz. A new translation of Clausewitz’s work was published in French in 1886.[65] Lewal, according to Luvaas, “was reluctant to admit the existence of strategy as such,” and eventually came to see it as little more than mobilization, doubting that there would be much choice as to where a battle would actually be fought.[66] The debate was substantial, but the inclination was still to look backward rather than forward, returning to the Napoleonic era and the spirit of that time. Victor Derrécagaix summarized the debate on strategy in the late 1880s by observing that some who were “desirous of finding in new arguments a remedy for past mistakes” had sought new theories. He continued:
Others have denied that there is such a thing as strategy, and attributed all the results of war to tactics. For a small number strategy is the conception, and tactics is the execution. According to some writers strategy is the science of operations; tactics, that of battles.
Derrécagaix concluded that it was best to stick with Jomini. Strategy was about maneuvering armies in the theater of operations, while tactics was about disposing them upon the battlefield. His contribution was to identify the principles of Napoleon’s system and note that Field Marshal Helmuth Graf von Moltke had achieved victory through their sound application.[67] This debate, therefore, reaffirmed the importance of eliminating the enemy army as a fighting force. The intellectual and emotional effort went into demonstrating how offensive élan could contribute to a weaker force overcoming a stronger. While still instructing young officers at the start of the 20th century, Ferdinand Foch stressed the importance of tactics over strategy. “Following a study which has led to so many learned theories," he asserted that “fighting is the only means of reaching the end.” Strategy was “not worth anything without tactical efficiency.”[68] The stress elsewhere in the military literature was also on battle: According to Gen. Jules Lewal, the objective in warfare “was to win, overwhelm the adversary materially and morally, to oblige him to ask for mercy,” while for Gen. Adolphe Messimy, “Victory is not achieved through the possession of a town or territory, but through the destruction of the adversarial forces.” For Lt. Col. Léonce Rousset, “One has to think exclusively of battle. All efforts, all thoughts, all preparations have to pertain to its success.” Lt. Col. Hippolyte Langlois added that the main aim was “to ensure that one wins the battle.”[69] The German debate was more substantial, although established definitions of strategy remained intact. The architect of the Prussian victory in the wars of German unification, Field Marshal Moltke, was more cautious in drawing lessons from his successful campaign, and had a subtle understanding of strategic practice. As a follower of Clausewitz, he shared the view that tactical successes drove strategic outcomes. That is why, to him, strategy was a “system of expedients.” Preparations for battle must be meticulous. But whereas Clausewitz saw the completion of battle as a task for strategy, it was Moltke’s view that once battle began strategy became “silent” as tactics took over. Only once battle was over could strategy come back into play.[70] A number of those who worked closely with Moltke wrote their own books on strategy, including Wilhelm von Blume and Gen. Bronsart von Schellendorf.[71] They followed established definitions of the term. Blume warned against disregarding “the nature of strategy to seek to transform it into a learned system exactly determined,” and stressed the importance of tactics as dealing with the “proper ordering” of the action of troops “towards the object of fighting.” He asserted that all that was “not embraced under the head of tactics is strategy.” This included the “decision as to when and for what object battle shall be joined, the assembly of the necessary forces, and the reaping of the proper result.” One of the more thoughtful contributions was Prince Kraft’s Letters on Strategy. Kraft, who had held more junior roles during the wars of 1866 and 1870 but now had access to Moltke’s papers, observed how the strategist, while not at personal risk, must decide “whether a battle is to be fought or not; on his fiat depends the lives of thousands.” Although he took the accepted line that “it must always be the aim of strategy to unite the greatest possible strength for the tactical blow,” and that it was impossible to be too strong for a decisive battle, he also allowed that there were occasions when actions might have to be taken for purely political reasons, such as storming a particular fortress. He was also aware of campaigns that lacked declarations of war or a concluding peace treaty, or when fighting occurred when there was no actual war. This raised in his mind whether other ideas might one day be held “upon what we now describe as Peace and War, Policy and Strategy.”[72] [quote id="5"] One vital question addressed in the German debate was whether the second phase of the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War represented the future more than the first. After the French army had been comprehensively defeated in a conventional battle at Sedan, there followed a period of irregular French resistance. Moltke remained troubled for the rest of his life by the thought that the 1866 war against Austria marked the end of Kabinetskrieg, a Cabinet War — one decided upon and settled by governments and fought by professional armies. Instead, future war would take the form of a Volkskrieg, with the whole nation engaged in the military effort, rendering it bloodier and harder to conclude. Any peace negotiations would be less straightforward than those following the complete elimination of the enemy army. Yet he did not see any alternative strategic objective. This theme was picked up in one of the most influential books of the period. Colmar von der Goltz, a rising star in the German army, explored the implications in Das Volk in Waffen.[73] The logic pointed to the exhaustion of the belligerent nations rather than victory through a few great decisive battles, until the exhaustion itself created the conditions for one side to make a breakthrough. The entire resources of the nation would be engaged, and conscript armies would be formed. Battle would still be necessary, however, and that remained the business of strategy. The counter to Goltz’s pessimism was to put the effort into developing an even bolder plan for the opening stage of a war so that it could be won on conventional lines before it was allowed to turn into such a titanic struggle. This was the approach taken by Moltke’s successor, Count Alfred von Schlieffen, who worked on a plan to ensure the “annihilation” of the French Army in the event of a war, warning that failure to do so would mean an “endless war.”[74] In 1879, a young historian, Hans Delbrück, reviewed Frederick the Great’s Military Testament and concluded that Frederick had been no fan of battle. For him, it had been at most an occasional and necessary evil. This was a provocative claim, for Frederick had been portrayed as setting the path that Napoleon followed, thus pointing to the modern way of warfare. Goltz was one of the first to respond. The debate over Frederick’s philosophy of war and its implications for strategy continued for the next three decades. As Foley notes, Delbrück succeeded in uniting an otherwise fragmented officer corps against him.[75] He also came up with another heresy: He suggested that Clausewitz himself had seen the possibility of an alternative to winning through decisive battle (based on his reading of Clausewitz’s notes about revising On War). Delbrück set out his challenge to established German views in an 1889 article arguing that it was possible to win wars by maneuver as well as great battles.[76] Here came the distinction between Niederwerfungsstrategie, a strategy of annihilation that would eliminate the enemy’s army as a fighting force through battle, and Ermattungsstrategie, a strategy of exhaustion (or attrition) in which battles would not be decisive, but there would instead be an accumulation of pressure that would wear the enemy down. The implication of Delbrück’s argument was that, whatever the general staff’s preferences, the conditions might not fit the plans and war might take a quite different form to the one intended. At issue was also a definition of strategy. The military’s view was that there was a “single, correct and legitimate form of strategy,” geared toward battle, such that Delbrück’s exploration of how, employing Clausewitz’s schema, a different policy might lead to a different strategy missed the point. [77] Looking back over the strategic thinkers of the 19th century, Lt. Gen. Rudolf von Caemmerer of the German Army mocked Bülow for having claimed at its start to be writing in the spirit of the age. In practice, argued Caemmerer, Bülow completely failed to understand the century’s new spirit, as exemplified by Napoleon. Instead of looking forward to an age of decisive battles, he was looking back to a war of positions.[78] Caemmerer did not entertain the thought that the same mistake was being repeated, by assuming that the great encounters of the previous century were setting the terms for 20th century wars. He failed to consider the possibility that some equally transformational changes were underway.

Strategy and Policy

The argument between Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and Moltke about the best approach to take toward French resistance after September 1870 raised the issue of the extent to which military operations should be shaped by political considerations. Moltke insisted that while policy must set the goals “in its action, strategy is independent of policy as much as possible. Policy must not be allowed to interfere in operations.”[79] The evident flaw in Moltke’s argument, which Bismarck pointed out, was that the political considerations then in play, including the possibility of other states coming to the aid of France as irregular French resistance continued, had little to do with preparing to fight a pitched battle. Bismarck confessed that he had not read Clausewitz, but he saw clearly the continuing role of politics once war had begun. He wrote:
To fix and limit the objects to be attained by the war, and to advise the monarch in respect of them, is and remains during the war just as before it a political function, and the manner in which these questions are solved cannot be without influence on the conduct of the war.[80]
This remained the view of the German army. While the militarist Gen. Friedrich von Bernhardi accepted that war was a means to an end that existed “entirely outside its domain” and so could “never itself lay down the purpose by fixing at will the military object,” he was clear that politicians should not “interfere in the conduct of war itself and attempt to order to take a particular course to actually reach the military targets. Attempts to do so put at risk military success.”[81] The sentiment of political non-interference was universal across European armies. The regularity and insistence with which it was expressed betrayed an underlying anxiety that it was not the easiest position to defend. In addition, the more Clausewitz was read, the more the relationship between strategy and policy came to the fore. However, this was a slow process, and did not get beyond the formula that, though the statesman set the objectives, the general must have independence when deciding on action.[82] This was also the position reached in the British debate, although influenced more by the Civil War than the Franco-Prussian War.[83] President Abraham Lincoln, after all, had not only hired and fired generals according to their strategic competence, but also had engaged directly on what needed to be done to win the war. In a classic example of the inseparability of strategy and policy, when Gen. George Meade, the victor of Gettysburg, spoke triumphantly of driving “the invaders from our soil,” Lincoln was distressed that the Confederate States Army had been able to retreat. The generals needed to get that idea out of “their heads,” he complained, for the “whole country is our soil.” The enemy was “within your easy grasp,” he wrote to Meade, “and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely.”[84] A biography of Lincoln by his two secretaries published in 1890 observed that “talk of military operations without the direction and interference of an Administration is as absurd as to plan a campaign without recruits, pay, or rations.”[85] Yet in his review of the evident tensions between the generals and the political leadership on both sides during this war, British commentator G. F. R. Henderson reasserted the importance of preventing politicians from interfering in military decision-making:
That the soldier is but the servant of the statesman, as war is but an instrument of diplomacy, no educated soldier will deny. Politics must always exercise a supreme influence on strategy; yet it cannot be gainsaid that interference with the commander in the field is fraught with the gravest danger.[86]
At the same time, Henderson was acutely aware of the growing importance of the contextual factors that would determine whether it would be possible to get into an optimal position for battle. In his lecture “Strategy and its Teaching,” for all its concluding conformity, Henderson underlined how much good strategy depended on good statesmanship. “It is difficult, if not impossible, to divorce soldiering and statesmanship. The soldier must often be the adviser of the statesman.” Strategy should be “concerned as much with preparation for war as with war itself.” He spoke of these preparations as the “Peace Strategy” (that is, strategy pursued at a time of peace as opposed to one geared toward achieving peace). [87] This aspect of strategy was given more attention, as the state of alliances became more salient in assessing the likely character of a future war. Thus T. Miller Maguire, a barrister, who was a regular commentator on international affairs, referred to “international strategy” in a lecture he gave at the Royal United Services Institution in 1906.[88] The poor performance of the British army in the Boer War led to introspection as well as respect for Germany’s growing strength and the leading role of its general staff, and interest in German military thinking. This interest resulted in the translation of key German texts into English. Maguire, quoted above, even complained about the unwarranted influence of German ideas in British military doctrine:
We are overwhelmed with translations of the literary labours of German generals; our tables groan beneath the ponderous and dreadfully dull tomes of a generation of writers who seem to thrive on knowledge of the minutest details of two campaigns — 1866 and 1870 — and of these only. [89]
The greater awareness of Clausewitz brought with it his insistence on war as a continuation of politics, although as much, if not more, interest was shown in his discussions of friction and the interaction of the offense and the defense.[90] Stewart Murray, who provided a short guide to Clausewitz, insisted that during actual operations the statesman should exercise the greatest possible restraint, and avoid all interference, except when demanded by overwhelming political necessity.” If pre-war preparations were inadequate, that would clearly be a political failure more so than a military one. Politicians were responsible for the war as much as the peace policy, for “preparing, ordering, guiding, and controlling of war.” [91] Moreover, as Lt. Col. Walter James observed, it was, at times, advantageous to follow a more political than purely military strategy to bring home to an enemy the futility of resistance.[92] The established view depended on a clear division of labor between the statesman and the commander. This would only work if they understood one another. A debate at the Staff College among senior officers in 1911 indicated the extent to which questions of politics kept on intruding into strategic matters. The received view was that the education of officers required that they write “strategical papers, referring to military operations in which they might one day be engaged,” but as they did so they should keep clear of political matters. Yet one officer, Col. Launcelot E. Kiggell, observed that when studying and teaching war “politics were at the back of all strategical problems.”[93]

The Naval Contribution

The period beginning in the late 1880s also saw a growing influence of naval thinking on wider strategy. It was surprising that it took so long, given the well-established importance of the Royal Navy to Britain’s international standing. Introducing a book published in 1891, Rear Adm. Philip Columb observed that there had been an abundance of literature describing war on land — here he mentioned Hamley — but little attention had been given to naval war: “Of writers of naval strategy there were absolutely none; writers on naval tactics were few and far between.”[94] He did not offer his own definition of strategy, other than to refer in passing to the standard distinction between strategy “determining the locality of battle,” and tactics its “conduct.”[95] In his introduction, Colomb expressed his pleasure at the recent publication of what he described as a work complementary to his own, written by an American, Alfred Thayer Mahan, the son of Dennis Mahan. The younger Mahan developed his theories at a relatively late age after being put in charge of the new U.S. Naval War College in 1886.[96] He focused on the importance of control of the sea to Britain’s rise as a great power, thus providing a broad and historical context to naval operations. By advocating that America follow the British example, he can be seen as a pioneer of grand strategy, although this was only by implication. It was not a term he used.[97] In 1911, Mahan published his original lectures in a revised and expanded form under the title Naval Strategy, but the revisions did not extend to his definition of strategy, which he had developed in his first book. When he began, Stephen Luce, the first president of the Naval War College, urged him to follow Jomini, although he appears to have required little persuading to do so. In his introduction to The Influence of Sea Power, Mahan identified the point of contact between armies or fleets as “the dividing line between tactics and strategy.” He shared Jomini’s belief in the permanence of the general principles that came under the heading of strategy. This is why they could be deduced from history. Tactics, by contrast, were more subject to the “unresting progress of mankind.”[98] When it came to battle, the organized forces of the enemy provided the strategic objective, just as they would do on land. His definition of grand tactics was taken directly from Jomini: “the art of making combinations preliminary to battle as well as during their progress.” [quote id="3"] Yet there was one sense in which Mahan did accept a difference between naval and military strategy. Military strategy tended to be confined to a “combination, either or wholly distinct or mutually dependent, but always regarded as actual or immediate scenes of war.” This could be considered too narrow for the naval sphere. Here there were positions that could be occupied at times of peace that would be of value at times of war. From this came his definition of the goals of naval strategy: “to found, support, and increase, as well in peace as in war, the sea power of a country.”[99] This was somewhat circular, as the purpose of strategy was to increase the power that made the strategy possible. Nevertheless, the stress on peacetime was significant. If the opportunity could be taken to establish naval bases at critical points across the globe, for example, then wartime operations should be much easier. In fact, as with Henderson, the importance of peacetime preparedness as an aspect of strategy was already being picked up by army theorists. As Mahan noted, the importance of certain geographical points as “strategic” in their importance went back to early 19th century strategists such as the Archduke Charles. In Colomb’s work, great stress also was placed on the importance of advantageous strategic positions. Mahan worked with a narrow definition of strategy while emphasizing the potential political and economic consequences of naval operations. This stress on the wider context and the importance of peacetime dispositions pushed naval thought to a more expansive definition of strategy. This was an opportunity to build upon Clausewitz’s view of politics and war, which his disciples in the German general staff had found awkward, but Mahan came to Clausewitz late, and his works had little evident influence on Mahan’s thinking. This was not the case with the British maritime theorist Sir Julian Corbett, an influential civilian who studied Clausewitz.[100] Corbett believed that naval and military strategy should be considered in relation to each other, and that both needed to be released from the fallacy “that war consists entirely of battles between armies and fleets.” He went back to the assumption of the pre-Napoleonic period that the main objective was territory and not the enemy armed forces, whose destruction was at most a means to an end. Thus, he defined strategy as “the art of directing forces to the ends in view.” In 1906, in his “Strategical Terms and Definitions Used in Lectures on Naval History” pamphlet, Corbett divided strategy into “major” (or “grand”) dealing with ulterior objects and “minor” dealing with “primary objects,” which were essentially concerned with war plans and operational plans respectively. The vital feature of major/grand strategy was that it involved the “whole resources of the nation for war” and not just armed force. In 1911, when he revised these notes, he left it as a distinction between major and minor.[101] The distinction, however, represented a breakthrough in thinking about strategy. The ends of major or grand strategy were a matter for the statesman while the army or navy was responsible for the minor strategy, whose purpose was how to achieve those ends. The ulterior and primary objects had to be kept in mind when planning operations. With major strategy, there was a tension between the use of the army and navy as instruments in war while keeping in view the politico-diplomatic position of the country, along with the commercial and financial. This led to the “deflection of strategy by politics” and was “usually regarded as a disease.” This was, however, “inherent in war:” Neither strategy nor diplomacy ever had a clean slate. This interaction had to be accepted by commanding officers as part of the inevitable “friction of war.”[102]

After the Great War

There was no evident need to reappraise the concept of strategy after the end of World War I.[103] Despite the fact that at the war’s start the “narrow political vision” of the soldiers was “matched by the remarkable military ignorance of the political leaders,”[104] the interaction of strategy and policy was still being viewed as it had been prior to the war. One widely read book by Maj. Gen. Wilkinson Bird still kept the political and military aspects of war-making separate. He defined strategy “as the direction or management of war” and divided his definition into a peace strategy so “that should war take place it may be waged with every prospect of success.” This would involve questions of funding and alliances, as well as describing the interests to be protected and the “localities where the enemy may be struck.” In the event of war, “the primary purposes of military strategy are to allot and dispose the forces so that the victory in battle will be probable, and if gained will be decisive.” He expressed concern with the fact that “non-military considerations” formed “a large item in the broader aspects of policy” and would encourage “the tendency to meddle with the conduct of operations which some statesman appear to have found difficulty in resisting.”[105] Even by 1927, the diplomat, politician, and military historian, Sir William Oman, recognized he was being controversial when he urged the need for “the directing classes in any nation” to “have a certain general knowledge of the history of the Art of War” and not feel “bound to accept blindfold the orders of their military mentors.” He was aware that he was ignoring warnings of “amateur strategy.” Still, he could not accept the view that once a political leader set down the political ends of war, it could “wash his hands of the whole matter, and make no comment, criticism, or interference on what the military authority may do.” It was not good enough to see the political role as simply making sure that the military had “whatever men, money and munitions as required.” The military were as fallible as anybody else. However sparingly used, the civilian leadership “must retain some power to comment, to criticize, even to quash.” It was dangerous to lay down a strict and rigid rule of non-interference by the civil power.[106] The views of Col. John “Boney” Fuller and Capt. Basil Liddell Hart had both been shaped by the fighting on the Western Front and they originally made their names by developing ideas for the mechanization for the Army. In 1923, Fuller, the senior and more original of the two, picked up on Corbett’s reference to grand strategy.[107] Once it was accepted that the effectiveness of the military instrument had to be discussed in the context of the other instruments of state policy, then it was clear that a military victory was no longer adequate. The focus of war, insisted Fuller, should be “to enforce the policy of the nation at the least cost to itself and to the enemy and, consequently, to the world.” The grand strategist had to understand commerce and finance, as well as politics, culture, and history, in order to “form the pillars of the military arch which it is his duty to construct.” Fuller offered a completely new approach to warfare in his 1926 book, The Foundations of the Science of War.[108] The ambition and complexity of the book’s arguments limited its appeal. In the book, Fuller argued that the aim of military operations was to encourage a form of nervous breakdown on the enemy side rather than to emerge victorious from battle. With grand strategy, “the political object” was to win the war, while with grand tactics the object was the “destruction of the enemy’s plan.” The object of strategy was “to disintegrate the enemy’s power of cooperation” and of tactics “to destroy his activity.” Yet while this was a bolder conceptual framework, Fuller’s actual understanding of strategy remained orthodox. In lectures given in the early 1930s, he was still describing strategy in terms of battle: “the advance to the battlefield is a strategical act.” As soon as there was contact, tactics would “begin to shape themselves.”[109] It is important to note that, although grand tactics has been compared to contemporary descriptions of the “operational level,” for Fuller it does not appear simply as an intermediate stage between strategy and minor tactics. Minor tactics, he explained, reflected a “different expression of force.” Whereas grand tactics were concerned with the “mental destruction” of the enemy, minor tactics came into play when it was necessary to move into physical destruction (“when the mind of the enemy’s commander can only be attacked through the bodies of his men”).[110] As Milevski notes, Fuller’s use of the term strategy is often “odd.” Fuller admitted to Liddell Hart that "'I find it most difficult to suggest a suitable definition of strategy.’”[111] On strategy, Liddell Hart, though more derivative in his ideas, produced sharper and, in the end, more lasting language.[112] The key conceptual breakthrough came in a short piece written in June 1924 titled “The Napoleonic Fallacy,” which was published in a relatively obscure journal, although it was eventually reworked (as was Liddell Hart’s habit) in his first theoretical book, Paris; Or the Future of War[113] and in subsequent books. There was no new definition of strategy, but, following Fuller, he established that the objective of war was a good peace — an “honourable, prosperous, and secure existence.” This set as the military’s aim to subdue the enemy’s “will to resist, with the least possible human and economic loss.” On this basis, and in contrast to “The Napoleonic Fallacy,” the “destruction of the enemy’s armed forces is but a means and not necessarily an inevitable or infallible one to the attainment of the real objective.” It was “the function of grand strategy to discover and exploit the Achilles’ heel of the enemy nation; to strike not against its strongest bulwark but against its most vulnerable spot.”[114] [quote id="4"] In a letter in late November 1927, Liddell Hart denied that he was offering a “one-sided refutation of battle as a means of victory,” but more an argument “to remedy the lopsidedness which has arisen through over-emphasis on battle as the all-important means to victory.” Here he identified for the first time his theory of “The Strategy of the Indirect Approach,” according to which “the dislocation of the enemy’s moral, mental or material balance is the vital prelude to an attempt at his overthrow.”[115] This was the theme of his most lasting book, The Decisive Wars of History,[116] in which he rejected Clausewitz’s definition — “the employment of battle as a means to gain the object of war” because this took for granted the necessity of battle. He preferred a definition he attributed to Moltke: “the practical adaptation of the means placed at a general’s disposal to the attainment of the object.”[117] From this definition, he formulated his own: “the distribution and transmission of military means to fulfill the ends of policy.” Much later, “transmission” was replaced by “employment.”[118] He limited tactics to matters concerned with “the fighting.” Grand strategy was about the coordination and direction of all the resources of the nation to the attainment of the political object of the war. Unlike Fuller, Liddell Hart saw no need for a separate concept of grand tactics. His definitions were part of a package of propositions geared to the promotion of his indirect approach so as to avoid desperate frontal assaults. In his wariness of battle, he was looking back to the 18th century and some of the ideas that animated the earliest discussions of strategy. But the advantage of his definitions was that they did not require accepting the whole package. The key shift was to accept that there were a number of ways to use armed force, and that the most advantageous way in a given scenario depended on a keen understanding of the political context. During the interwar years, references to grand strategy became increasingly frequent. This was the combined result of more thought being given to World War I and the rise of aggressive militarism in the 1930s. In a book published during World War II, the historian Cyril Falls did not seem to understand that the term grand strategy was of comparatively recent origin. He considered strategy to be a matter for the “commander-in-chief, and described tactics as the “art of fighting,” beginning where strategy ended. This left the demarcation point between the two hard to identify. This was an observation that could have been made a century earlier. Or else, Falls suggested, perhaps strategy referred to what was done on a great scale and tactics on a minor scale, or else strategy was “the province of the virtuoso, tactics that of the artisan.” In practice, the strategic choices were usually limited, and so it was the slog of tactics that got results.[119] Also during the war, Field Marshall Lord Wavell, who had begun his military career in the Boer War and ended it as commander-in-chief for India, challenged Liddell Hart’s view that strategy was gaining in importance: “I hold that tactics, the art of handling troops on the battlefield, is and always will be a more difficult and more important part of the general’s task than strategy, the art of bringing forces to the battlefield in a favorable position.”[120] It was after World War II that Liddell Hart’s definition began to stick, helped by his growing reputation as a prophet of limited war and the publication of his classic book on strategy in 1967. In a volume published in 1970 titled Problems of Modern Strategy, Michael Howard opened his essay observing that Liddell Hart’s definition was “as good as any, and better than most.”[121]

Conclusion

In the same volume as Howard’s essay, the French political theorist Raymond Aron noted that the appropriate contrast for strategy was tactics, but that “modern authors” tended to contrast it instead with “policy.” The result was that there was “now no difference between what was once called a policy and what one now calls strategy.”[122] In 2005, Hew Strachan made a similar point. The view of strategy developed by the early 20th century was “based on universal principles, institutionalized, disseminated, and at ease with itself.” Strategy was only one of the components of war, but it was “the central element sandwiched between national policy on the one hand and tactics on the other.” If there was a problem it “lay not in its definition but in its boundaries with policy.”[123] This was a natural consequence of the decline of the soldier-sovereigns and the need to manage relations between the civil and military spheres, each with its distinct role and responsibilities. As this article has shown, there was a boundary problem on the other side as well. Numerous writers observed that the distinction between strategy and tactics was hardly clear-cut. It was difficult to separate out the preparations for fighting and actual fighting, or to distinguish activities according to the responsible level of command. This was why ideas of grand tactics kept on intruding. It was also the area in which writers on colonial wars saw the most significant difference with regular warfare. The impact of colonial wars, which was the main preoccupation of the army, was more ambiguous because these wars tended to be seen as special cases.[124] This particular boundary problem, unlike that with policy, was manageable because all the activities were military responsibilities. The boundary problem between strategy and policy went to the heart of civil-military relations and by the start of the 20th century was increasingly hard to play down. The proper relationship was supposed to involve the government setting policy which would be handed down as the objectives of the war to the military commanders responsible for strategy. They would then turn them into war plans. The basic problem, perhaps more in theory than in practice, was that war plans were always expected to come down to the elimination of the enemy army as a fighting force. That is how strategy was presented for purposes of officer education. Without such a sharp focus on defeating the enemy army, discussions of strategy would have opened up earlier. In that case, however, the need to cover a great variety of types of engagement would have undermined all efforts to provide detailed advice on standardized operations. The narrow approach therefore facilitated the military curriculum but at the expense of failing to prepare officers for contingencies other than those of a pitched battle. After World War I, a narrow approach to strategy appeared inadequate. Historian Edward Mead Earle brought scholars interested in the increasingly pressing questions of national security to a seminar in Princeton, where a broader view of the subject emerged. In his introduction to his landmark collection of essays, Makers of Modern Strategy, published in 1943, Earle explained that, narrowly defined, strategy was “the art of military command, of projecting and directing a campaign,” where tactics was “the art of handling forces in battle.” But war and society had “become more complicated,” and so “strategy has of necessity required increasing consideration of nonmilitary factors, economic, psychological, moral, political, and technological.” Strategy, therefore, was not “an inherent element of statecraft at all times.” His definition tended toward grand strategy:
In the present-day world, then, strategy is the art of controlling and utilizing the resources of a nation — or a coalition of nations — including its armed forces, to the end that its vital interests shall be effectively promoted and secured against enemies, actual, potential, or merely presumed.[125]
As Strachan pointed out in another article, the category of grand strategy was not always helpful because it suggested that it was in some way comparable to military strategy.[126] The original concept was closely connected to war and could be taken to refer to all of those things, including military preparations and action, required to prosecute war effectively. This included peacetime preparations for conflict, such as allocating military budgets and forming alliances. But these preparations might be undertaken in such a way that they made war unlikely (deterrence) and so, over time, could be hard to distinguish from a more general foreign and defense policy. Thus, just as strategy lost its specificity when it became unhinged from battle, so too did grand strategy lose its specificity as it became detached from war. Instead of discussions on strategy staying close to those on tactics they moved to a much higher plane. In the period under discussion, an “operational level” was not identified.[127] A number of theorists did write about grand tactics, largely referring to the more demanding actions needed prior to actual battle, at which point ordinary tactics would come into play. Strategy itself best covered what is now considered the operational level, and the introduction of the latter can be seen as a response to the loss of a purely military definition of strategy.[128] These different categories — grand strategy/policy, strategy, grand tactics/operations, tactics — could be seen as representing different levels of command, and so serve as a way of delineating the responsibilities of each. But the issue was always the dynamic interaction between these distinct concepts, and the more categories, the more complicated that interaction became. When strategy only entailed preparing for battle, it was a chapter heading, a set of practical issues that any commander would need to address when moving large bodies of men, properly equipped and provisioned, into position for the coming encounter. Once battle was no longer the certain objective and the relationship between military means and political ends was opening up a range of operational possibilities, the topic of strategy became more challenging for purposes of officer education. But for the same reasons it also became much more interesting for theorists. Instead of looking to the past to help deduce the unchanging principles of war, strategy came to mean looking to the future to explore new ways in which changing political circumstances might interact with new forms of armed force. There is an unavoidable tension between strategy as theory, a way of thinking about the interplay of political and military affairs, and strategy as guidance, a way of preparing for likely contingencies. The first breaks down boundaries. The second requires boundaries to keep the task manageable. By the end of the 19th century, the study of strategy had become routine for practitioners, but of little interest for theorists. By the end of the 20th century, it had become a matter of endless fascination for theorists, but a puzzle for practitioners.   Sir Lawrence Freedman is professor emeritus of war studies at King’s College London. Freedman became professor of war studies at King’s College in 1982. In 2002, he became head of the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at King’s College. In June 2009, he was appointed to serve as a member of the official inquiry into Britain and the 2003 Iraq War. Before joining King’s College, Freedman held research appointments at Nuffield College Oxford, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London, and the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London. Elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1995, he was appointed official historian of the Falklands Campaign in 1997. His most recent books are Strategy: A History (2013) and The Future of War: A History (2017). ISSN (Print): 2576-1021 ISSN(Online): 2576-1153 Image: The British Library [post_title] => The Meaning of Strategy, Part II: The Objectives [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => meaning-strategy-part-ii-objectives [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-26 05:49:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-26 09:49:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=413 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => By the end of the 19th century, the study of strategy had become routine for practitioners, but of little interest for theorists. By the end of the 20th century, it had become a matter of endless fascination for theorists, but a puzzle for practitioners. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 1, Issue 2 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The item on tactics referred to a higher branch — la grande tactique — that should be thoroughly understood by all general officers ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Military writers undertook to define strategy, yet it resulted in “definitions as various as the writers were numerous.” ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The period beginning in the late 1880s saw a growing influence of naval thinking on wider strategy. ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => During the interwar years, references to grand strategy became increasingly frequent. ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The German debate was more substantial, although established definitions of strategy remained intact. ) ) [style] => scholarly [type] => Scholarly [style_label] => The Scholar [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => 561 ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 59 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] I am grateful to Beatrice Heuser and Hew Strachan for their comments on an earlier draft of this article. [2] Basil Liddell Hart, Strategy: The Indirect Approach (London: Faber, 1967), 351. In the original version published in The Decisive Wars of History (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1929), strategy was defined as the art of “the distribution and transmission of military means.” [3] Général d’Armée André Beaufre, “Liddell Hart and the French Army, 1919-1939,” The Theory and Practice of War: Essays Presented to Captain B. H. Liddell Hart on his 70th Birthday, ed. Michael Howard (London: Cassell, 1965). [4] André Beaufre, Introduction à la stratégie (Paris: Libraire Armand Colin, 1963). Published in English as Introduction to Strategy (New York: Praeger, 1965) [Introduction à la stratégie, Paris, 1963)]. [5] Col. Arthur Lykke Jr., “Strategy = E + W + M,” Military Review LXIX, no. 5 (May 1989): 2-8. [6] Lawrence Freedman, “The Meaning of Strategy, Part I: The Origins,” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 1 (October 2017), https://tnsr.org/2017/10/meaning-strategy-part-origin-story. [7] Beatrice Heuser, The Evolution of Strategy: Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 120-121. [8] Guillame-Henri Dufour, Strategy and Tactics, trans. William Craighill (New York: Van Nostrand, 1864), 8. [9] The Google Books N-gram Viewer displays a graph showing how those phrases have occurred in a corpus of books over the selected years. [10] Dietrich Heinrich von Bülow, The Spirit of the Modern System of War, trans. Malorti de Martemont (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013). [11] Lukas Milevski, The Evolution of Modern Grand Strategic Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). [12] Freedman, “The Meaning of Strategy, Part I." [13] Ira Gruber, Books and the British Army in the Age of the American Revolution (University of North Carolina Press, 2010), Part I. [14] Johann W. von Bourscheid, trans. Kasier Leo des Philosophen Strategie und Taktik in 5 Bänden (Vienna: Jospeh Edler von Kurzboeck, 1777-1781). [15] “Foreign Articles,” The Critical Review, or, Annals of Literature 48 (October 1779): 310, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015071095007;view=1up;seq=23. [16] Joly de Maizeroy, A System of Tactics, Practical, Theoretical and Historical, trans. Thomas Mante (London: Cadell, 1781); Comte de Guibert, A General Essay on Tactics, trans. Lt. Douglas (London: J. Millar, 1781). [17] It is notable that the reviewer clearly found the section of Guibert dealing with politics more interesting than that on the purely military issues. It did refer to elementary and “great,” rather than “grand” tactics. The Critical Review: Or, Annals of Literature 52 (December 1781). Another review of Maizeroy [The Monthly Review, Or, Literary Journal: Vol. 71: From July to December, Inclusive, 1784 (London: R. Griffiths, 1785)] noted his enthusiasm for classical texts and wondered whether these could provide guidance of tactics under modern conditions, and regretted the concentration on the higher tactics while taking the knowledge of the elementary for granted. [18] Simon-François Gay de Vernon, Traité élémentaire d’art militaire et de fortification: à l'usage des élèves de l’École polytechnique, et des élèves des écoles militaries, 2 vols. (Paris: Libr. Allais, 1805), 79. [19] John Michael O’Connor, A Treatise on the Science of War and Fortification (New York: J. Seymour, New York, 1817), 104. [20] British Military Library, 2 vols. (London: Richard Phillips, 1804). [21] Charles James, New and Enlarged Military Dictionary, Part I (London: T Egerton, 1802), https://books.google.com/books?id=pixOAAAAYAAJ&q=stratarithmetry#v=onepage&q=stratarithmetry&f=false. The now lost word “stratarithmometry,” which was spelled in a number of different ways, was concerned with drawing up an army or any part of it in a geometric figure. [22] Charles James, New and Enlarged Military Dictionary, 2nd ed. (London: T Egerton, 1805), 915-916. Milevski notes its appearance, but not the fact that this was borrowed directly from Nockhern de Schorn. Milevski, Evolution, 15. [23] Charles James, New and Enlarged Military Dictionary, 3rd. ed. (London: T Egerton, 1810), https://books.google.com/books?id=-l0UAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false. [24] Unsigned review of Carl von Clausewitz, "On War," Metropolitan Magazine (May and June, 1835): 64-71, 166-176; this was also published in the Military and Naval Magazine of the United States V and VI (August and September issues, 1835): 426-436, 50-63. Clausewitz’s The Campaign Of 1812 In Russia, trans. Francis Egerton (London: John Murray, 1843) was translated into English in 1843, so he was appreciated at first largely as a military historian more than theorist; Christopher Bassford, The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America, 1815-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994). [25] J. A. Gilbert, An Exposition of the First Principles of Grand Military Combinations and Movements, Compiled from the Treatise upon Great Military Operations by the Baron de Jomini (London: T. Egerton, 1825). [26] Jay Luvaas, The Education of an Army: British Military Thought, 1815-1940 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1964), 18. The proposed title was “The Philosophy of War.” [27] William Napier, “Review of Traité des grandes opérations militaires,” Edinburgh Review XXXV (1821): 377-409. [28] Edward Yates, Elementary Treatise on Tactics and on Certain Parts of Strategy (London: Boone, 1855), 1. His distinction between strategy and tactics owes much to Bülow: “Strategy is that division of the science of war, which superintends the direction of all operations and the construction of all combinations, except during the intervals of action; the instant at which the opposing forces, of whatever magnitude, come into sight of one another.” At this point, strategy left “its presidency,” until the two armies lost sight of one another, and then it would return. Tactics was what was left over; it was “that division of the science of war which presides over all operations over whatever strategy does not preside.” [29] Luvaas, Education, Chapter 2. [30] John Mitchell, Thoughts on Tactics (London: Longman et al., 1838), https://archive.org/details/thoughtsontacti00mitcgoog. [31] Mitchell, Thoughts. Brian Holden Reid has emphasized the anti-intellectual culture of the army over the 19th century in Brian Holden Reid, Studies in British Military Thought: Debates with Fuller and Liddell Hart (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996), 67, 70. [32] Committee of the Corps of Royal Engineers, eds., Aide-memoire to the military sciences, 3 vols. (London: John Weale, High Holbern, 1846-52), 5-7. For another example of guidance on strategy involving repetition of Jomini, see Hon. F A Thesiger, Strategy, A lecture delivered at the United Services Institute of West India, Poona, 1862 (Bombay, Alliance Press, 1863). [33] Hew Strachan, “Soldiers, Strategy and Sebastopol,” The Historical Journal 21, no. 2 (1978): 307. [34] Brian Bond, The Victorian Army and the Staff College, 1854–1914 (London: Eyre Methuen, 1972). For a less damning verdict see Hew Strachan, From Waterloo to Balaclava: Tactics, Technology, and the British Army 1815-1854 (Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985). [35] A. W. Preston, “British Military Thought 1856–1890,” The Army Quarterly 89, no. 1 (October 1964), 60. [36] Lt. Col. P. L. McDougall, The Theory of War: Illustrated by Numerous Examples from Military History (London: Longmans, 1856), 2-3. [37] Edward Bruce Hamley, The Operations of War: Explained and Illustrated (London: William Blackwood, 1866). It was read by Moltke. [38] Luvaas, Education, 151. It stayed in print until 1923. [39] Hamley, The Operations of War, 55-7. Hamley struck a modern note with his stress on the need to “read the theatre of war” and references to the “narrative of campaigns” — essentially a way of thinking through the demands of strategy. [40] Maj. Gen. C. Francis Clery, Minor Tactics, 13th ed. (London: Kegan Paul, 1896), 1. [41] Here Henderson had Clery in mind. [42] Col. G. F. R. Henderson, “Lessons from the Past for the Present,” Lecture at the United Services Institution, May 25, 1894, published in a collection of his essays: Col. G. F. R. Henderson, Science of War: A Collection of Essays and Lectures 1891-1903, ed. Neill Malcom (London: Longmans, Green & Co.: 1906), 168. [43] Lt. Col. G. F. R. Henderson, Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War, 2 vols. (London: Longman Green, 1898). For an appreciation of Henderson, see Jay Luvaas, “G. F. R. Henderson and the American Civil War,” Military Affairs 20, no. 3 (Autumn 1956): 139-15. Also, see Luvaas, Education, Chapter 7. [44] He noted that “strategy, unfortunately, is an unpopular science, even among soldiers, requiring both in practice and in demonstration constant and careful study of the map, the closest computation of time and space, a grasp of many factors, and the strictest attention to the various steps in the problems it presents … the determining factor in civilised warfare …trained common sense.” [45] Lt. Col G. F. R. Henderson, “Strategy and its Teaching,” Journal of the Royal United Services Institution XLII (July 1898), 761. [46] Strategy, from the Encyclopedia Britannica supplement 1902. Reprinted in Henderson, Science of War. While strategy was clearly the higher art Henderson was strongly of the view that this did not mean that strategy was “the province of the few” while “tactics of the many,” so that only those expecting high command “need trouble about what is perhaps the most important branch of the art of war.” Yet soldiers could not know if circumstances would push them into command at a critical moment. Those without this knowledge would be “terribly one-sided creatures.” [47] Russell F. Weigley, “American Strategy from Its Beginnings through the First World War,” Makers of Modern Strategy, ed. Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 438-9. See also Brian McAllister Linn, The Echo of Battle (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009). [48] This was unusual as a key text first translated into English by an American (see footnotes 18 and 19). Michael Bonura, Under the Shadow of Napoleon: French Influence on the American Way of Warfare from Independence to the Eve of World War II (New York: NYU Press, 2012), 76. [49] Henry Hallek, Elements of the Military Art and Science (New York: 1846). See Azar Gat, The Development of Military Thought: The Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 16-22. Halleck did note the importance of the “Policy of War,” or “the relations of war with the affairs of state.” [50] Dennis Mahan, Elementary Treatise on Advanced Guard, Outposts, and Detachment Service of Troops (New York: Wiley, 1847; revised, 1862). [51] Col. H. L. Scott, Military Dictionary (New York: Van Nostrand, 1861), 574. This had not been prepared “in view of the existing disturbances.” [52] Carol Reardon, With a Sword in One Hand and Jomini in the Other: The Problem of Military Thought in the Civil War North (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012). [53] Carl von Decker, The Three Arms or Divisional Tactics, Maj. Inigo Jones, trans. (London: Parker, Furnivall, and Parker, 1848). The translator, Maj. Inigo Jones, had improved the text, however, by interspersing Decker’s thoughts with some from Jomini. [54] Interestingly there was both a Union translation and edition: Marshal Marmont, The Spirit of Military Institutions, trans. Henry Coppee (Philadelphia: J P. Lippincott, 1862); and one from the Confederacy: Marshal Marmont, The Spirit of Military Institutions, trans. Col. Frank Schaller (Columbia, S.C.: Rvans and Cogswell, 1864). Marmont worked with established definitions of strategy. [55] Junius Wheeler, A course of instruction in the elements of the art and science of war. For the use of cadets of the United States military academy (New York: Van Nostrand, 1878), 11. He defined strategy as “the science of directing, with promptitude, precision and clearness, masses of troops to gain possession of points of importance in military operations.” [56] James Mercur, The Art of War: Prepared for the Cadets of the United States Military Academy (New York: John Wiley, 1898), 16, 140. Grand tactics referred to “planning battles, perfecting the preliminary arrangements, conducting them during their process and securing the results of victory, or avoiding the consequences of defeat.” [57] Mercur, The Art of War, 272. [58] Ken Booth and Nicholas Wheeler, The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics (London: Palgrave, 2007). [59] Mercur, The Art of War, 272. [60] Russell F. Weigley, “American Strategy from Its Beginnings through the First World War,” in Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy, 438-9. Linn also accepts that Bigelow was “insightful and original.” [61] John Bigelow Jr., Principles of Strategy: Illustrated Mainly from American Campaigns (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1894). [62] Gen. W. T. Sherman, “The Grand Strategy of the Wars of the Rebellion,” The Century Magazine (February 1888): 582-597. Lt. Col. Frances Soady, Lessons of war as taught by the great masters and others; selected and arranged from the various operations of war (London: W. H. Allen, 1870). [63] Capt. Matthew Steele, “The Conduct of War,” Journal of the Military Service Institution of the United States XVII (1908): 22-31. Here he was quoting from Colmar Freiherr Von der Goltz, The Conduct of War, trans. Maj. G. F. Lereson (London: Kegan Paul et al, 1899), whose work is discussed below. Steele noted that strategy could “not even be held to a military sense; there is a political as well as a military strategy, and they both fall within the scope of the conduct of war.” [64] J. L. Lewal, Introduction à la partie positive de la stratégie (Paris: Librarie Militaire Baudoin, 1892). See Gat, The Development of Military Thought, 123. [65] Published as Théorie de la Grande Guerre, trans. Lt. Col. De Vatry. See Beatrice Heuser, Reading Clausewitz (London: Pimlico, 2002), 15. A much earlier edition was out of print. [66] Jay Luvaas, “European Military Thought and Doctrine,” in Howard, ed., The Theory and Practice of War, 78. [67] Victor Bernard Derrécagaix, Modern War, Vol. 1 Strategy, trans. C. W. Foster (Washington: James Chapman, 1888), 3-4. [68] Marshal Foch, The Principles of War, trans. Hilaire Belloc (New York: Henry Holt, 1920). This was first published in French in 1903. [69] Cited in Heuser, Evolution, 144-5. [70] Antonio Echevarria II, After Clausewitz: German Military Thinkers Before the Great War (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 2000), 142. [71] Wilhelm von Blume, Strategie (Berlin: E.S. Mittler und Sohn, 1882); Gen. Bronsart von Schellendorff, The Duties of the General Staff, 4th ed. (London: H.M.S.O., 1905), 2 vols. (London: Kegan Paul, 1877-1880). [72] Kraft fought in the wars of German unification, but did not exercise senior command. Gen. Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen, Letters on Strategy, 2 vols. (London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner &​ Co., Ltd., 1898), 1-2, 11. [73] Colmar von der Goltz, Das Volk in Waffen (Berlin: R. von Decker, 1883). Published in Britain in 1905 (based on 5th edition in 1898), trans. Philip Ashworth (London: Hugh Rees, 1906). [74] Robert T. Foley. ed., Alfred von Schlieffen’s Military Writings (London: Frank Cass, 2003), 172 [75] Robert J. Foley, German Strategy and the Path to Verdun: Erich von Falkenhayn and the Development of Attrition, 1870–1916 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 39-40; Gat, The Development of Military Thought; Echevarria II, After Clausewitz. [76] Hans Delbrück, “Die Strategie des Perikles erläutert durch die Strategie Friedrichs des grossen,” Preußische Jahrbücher 64 (1889). [77] Arden Bucholz, Hans Delbrück & the German Military Establishment (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1985), 35. Delbrück’s magnum opus, Geschichte der Kriegskunst im Rahmen der politischen Geschichte, was published in 4 vols. from 1900 to 1920. A further 3 vols. in the series were completed by other writers by 1936. Delbrück had a limited influence on British and American debates. His significance was first identified in Gordon A. Craig, "Delbrück: The Military Historian," Edward Mead Earle, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy; Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy. His work did not begin to appear in English until 1975: Hans Delbrück, trans. Walter J. Renfroe, Jr., History of the Art of War within the Framework of Political History, 4 vols. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1975-1985). [78] Lt. Gen. Rudolf von Caemmerer, The Development of Strategical Science During the 19th century (Berlin: Baensch, 1904), trans. Lt. Gen. Karl von Donat (London: Hugh Rees, 1905). [79] Daniel Hughes, Moltke on the Art of War: Selected Writings (Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1995), 35. See also Barry Quintin, Moltke and his Generals: A Study in Leadership (Solihull, Helion & Co., 2015). [80] Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 105-7. [81] Friedrich von Bernhardi, Vom heutingen Kriege (Berlin: Mittler, 1912); Friedrich von Bernhardi, On War of To-day, trans. Karl von Donat, 2 vols. (London: Hugh Rees, 1912-13), vol. 2. [82] See, for example, Commandant Mordacq, Politique et stratégie dans une démocratie (Paris: Plon-Nourrit, 1912); Benoît Durieux, Clausewitz en France: Deux siècles de réflexion sur la guerre (1807-2007) (Paris: Bibliothèque Stratégique, 2008). [83] In Luvaas, Education, 109, he notes that MacDougall was the first European to include lessons from the Civil War into a military text. Hamley was criticized in a Spectator article for his inaccuracies on the American war: “Hamley’s Operations of War,” The Spectator 39 (June 23, 1866), 695-696. [84] Eliot Cohen, Supreme CommandSoldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), 40-41. [85] John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham Lincoln: A History IV (New York: The Century Co., 1890), 359-360. [86] Henderson, Stonewall Jackson, Vol. 1, Chapter 7. [87] Lt. Col. G. F. R. Henderson, “Strategy and its Teaching,” Journal of the Royal United Services Institution XLII (July 1898): 761. [88] T. Miller Maguire, “International Strategy Since 1891 and its Present Condition,” Journal of the Royal United Services Institution 50, no. 1 (1906): 637-655. [89] T. Miller Maguire, Our Art of War as Made in Germany (London: Simpkin, Marshall, 1900), 2. The timing suggests he had Goltz particularly in mind. Maguire was unusual in seeing strategy as a way for the weaker power to avoid battle on unfavorable terms. Geoffrey Demarest, T. Miller Maguire and the Lost Essence of Strategy (U.S. Army War College, Strategy Research Paper, 2008). [90] See Bassford, The Reception of Clausewitz. For example, Henderson described Clausewitz as “the most profound of all writers on war,” but “geniuses and clever men have a distressing habit of assuming that everyone understands what is perfectly clear to themselves.” As Henderson was thinking of instructing officers, he observed the Prussian’s uselessness for men of “average intelligence.” [91] Stewart Murray, The Reality of War: A Companion to Clausewitz (London: Hugh Rees, 1914), 128-133, https://archive.org/details/realityofwarcomp00murruoft. [92] Lt. Col. Walter James, Modern Strategy: An Outline of the Principles Which Guide the Conduct of Campaigns (London: Blackwood, 1903), 17, 18. Though James had a conventional view of strategy as being “concerned with the movement of troops before they come into actual collision,” his description of what this involved indicated just how broad the discussion was becoming. It included “the selection of the country in which to fight” and “the objects against which the armies should be directed.” [93] Bond, Victorian Army, 266. [94] Rear-Adm. P. H. Colomb, Naval Warfare: Its Ruling Principles and Practice Historically Treated (London: W. H. All, 1891), v-viii. [95] Rear-Adm. P. H. Colomb, Naval Warfare, 76. [96] Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783 (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1890) and The Influence of Sea Power Upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793–1812 (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1892). Robert Seager, Alfred Thayer Mahan: The Man and His Letters (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1977). For a collection of his writings, see Alfred Thayer Mahan, Mahan on Naval Strategy: Selections from the Writings of Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, with an introduction by John Hattendorf (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1991). [97] Jon Tetsuro Sumida, Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1999). Milevski, Evolution, 29, describes Mahan as implying grand strategy. [98] Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power, 8. [99] Alfred Thayer Mahan, Mahan on Naval Strategy, 22. [100] J. J. Widen, Theorist of Maritime Strategy: Sir Julian Corbett and His Contribution to Military and Naval Thought (Abingdon; Routledge, 2016); Donald M. Schurman, Julian S. Corbett, 1854–1922 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1981). See also Azar Gat, Development of Military Thought. [101] In an earlier work, he had referred to “higher” strategy. Milevski, Evolution, 37. [102] Julian Corbett, Some Principles of Maritime Strategy (Longmans, Green & Co., 191), 308. The “The Green Pamphlet” of 1909 appears as an appendix. [103] See for example William Keith Naylor, Principles of Strategy with Historical Illustrations (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: General Services School Press, 1921): ‘‘The division between strategy and tactics is generally known and everyone fairly knows under which head to place any single act, without knowing distinctly the grounds on which the classification is founded.” Naylor stuck with Jomini. German military writing kept the old definitions. [104] Hew Strachan, The First World War, Vol. I: To Arms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 99. [105] Gen. W. Bird, The Direction of War: A Study of Strategy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1920), 14, 27, 43. The list of authorities he provides are largely those mentioned in this study based on the Napoleonic wars. He does not include Corbett. This was, however, part of a series of which Corbett was the general editor. [106] Sir Charles Oman, “A Defence of Military History,” The Study of War for Statesmen and Citizens, ed. Sir George Aston (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1927), v-vi, 40-1. The former Foreign Secretary, Viscount Grey of Fallodon, introduced the volume observing that civilians who may play a part in government in time of war should study the principles of war, and particularly the great mistakes that civilian governments have made in military and naval strategy (adding he must share responsibility for some of those in the recent war). [107] J. F. C. Fuller, The Reformation of War (London: Hutchinson and Co, 1923), 214. On Fuller, see Gat, Fascists and Liberal Visions of War (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998) and Brian Holden Reid, Studies in British Military Thought. [108] J. F. C. Fuller, The Foundations of the Science of War (London: Hutchinson, 1926). [109] Reid, Studies in British Military Thought, 107-8, 154-5. [110] J. F. C. Fuller, Foundations, 110. [111] Milevski, Evolution, 51. [112] His first effort at definitions was unsuccessful. In 1923, he distinguished between tactics as the “domain of weapons” and concerned with destruction, while strategy was the “the science of communications,” largely concerned with movement. B. H. Liddell Hart, “The Next Great War,” Royal Engineers Journal XXXVIII (March 1924). An excellent source on the development of Liddell Hart’s concepts is Lt. Col. Richard M. Swain, B. H. Liddell Hart; Theorist for the 21st Century (Fort Leavenworth, KA: Advanced Operational Studies School for Advanced Military Studies, U. S. Command and General Staff College, 1986). See also Swain’s “B. H. Liddell Hart and the Creation of a Theory of War, 1919-1933,” Armed Forces & Society 17, no. 1 (1990): 35-51 and Brian Bond, Liddell Hart: A Study of his Military Thought (London: Cassell,1977). [113] B.H. Liddell Hart, Paris: Or, The Future of War (London: Dutton, 1925). [114] B. H. Liddell Hart, “The Napoleonic Fallacy; The Moral Objective in War,” Empire Review 1 (May 1925), 510-520. For the date of composition, see B. H. Liddell Hart, Memoirs, 2 vols. (London: Cassell, 1965), I, 75. [115] Swain, “B. H. Liddell Hart,”42. The extent to which Liddell Hart’s ideas derived from Corbett and Fuller is well-known. Less appreciated, perhaps, is his debt to Sun Tzu, which he read for the first time in 1927. He later attested to Sun Tzu’s impact upon him and quoted him liberally. “In one short book,” he observed, “was embodied almost as much about the fundamentals of strategy and tactics as I had covered in more than twenty books.” B. H. Liddell Hart, “Foreword” in Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Samuel B. Griffith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963), vii. See also Derek M. C. Yuen, Deciphering Sun Tzu: How to Read the Art of War (London: Hurst & Co, 2014). The links between Sun Tzu’s formulations and his own are pronounced. [116] B. H. Liddell Hart, The Decisive Wars of History (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1929). [117] Robert Foley has been unable to trace this quote and notes that Liddell Hart’s source is unclear, and is possibly a poor translation. “Can Strategy be Reduced to a Formula of S=E+W+M?” Defence in Depth (November 2014), https://defenceindepth.co/2014/11/03/can-strategy-be-reduced-to-a-formula-of-s-e-w-m. [118] “Transmission” was removed in the 1954 version, published as “Strategy: The Indirect Approach” (always his preferred title). The 1967 edition has the definition now generally used. [119] Cyril Falls, Ordeal by Battle (London: Methuen, 1943), vol. 5, 74. He mentions Fuller in passing but not Liddell Hart, although there is a slighting reference to the indirect approach: “the neophyte may imagine that the ideal procedure would be to march straight round the enemy’s flank and get astride his communications. … But it would only serve against an army which could be relied upon to submit tamely to the process.” [120] Lord Wavell, Soldiers and Soldiering (London: Jonathan Cape, 1953), 47. Cited in Bernard Brodie, Strategy in the Missile Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959), 12-14. [121] Michael Howard, “The Classic Strategists,” Problems of Modern Strategy, ed. Alastair Buchan (London: Chatto & Windus for the Institute for Strategic Studies, 1970), 47. He also opened with Liddell Hart in Michael Howard, “The Forgotten Dimensions of Strategy,” Foreign Affairs (Summer 1979), 975-986. A reader for the National Defense University published in 1980, while including a rather long-winded definition of strategy from the Joint Chiefs, opened with Howard’s essay and a number of extracts from Liddell Hart’s book. Col. George Holt Jr. and Col. Walter Milliken, Strategy: A Reader (Washington, DC: National Defense University, 1980), iii. The Joint Chiefs’ definition was: “the art and science of developing and using political, economic, psychological, and military forces as necessary during peace and war, to afford maximum support to policies, in order to increase the probabilities and favorable consequences of victory and to lessen the chances of defeat.” [122] Raymond Aron, “The Evolution of Modern Strategic Thought,” in Buchan, Problems of Modern Strategy, 14-15. [123] Hew Strachan, “The lost meaning of strategy,” Survival 47, no. 3 (2005), 36. [124] “It is a singular feature of small wars that from the point of view of strategy the regular forces are upon the whole at a distinct disadvantage as compared to their antagonists.” Col. C. E. Callwell, Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice (London: HMSO, 1896). [125] Edward Meade Earle, “Introduction,” Makers of Modern Strategy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1943), viii. On Earle see Michael Finch, ‘'Edward Mead Earle and the Unfinished Makers of Modern Strategy,” Journal of Military History 80, no. 3 (2016): 781-814; David Ekbladh, “Present at the Creation: Edward Mead Earle and the Depression Era Origins of Security Studies,” International Security 36, no. 3 (Winter 2011/12): 107–141. [126] Hew Strachan, “Strategy and Contingency,” International Affairs 87, no. 6 (2011): 1281-1296. Strachan’s writing on these issues were collected together in The Direction of War: Contemporary Strategy in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013). [127] Justin Kelly and Mike Brennan identify a reference in the 1982 Field Manual 100-5 to an “operational level of war,” which involved “planning and conducting campaigns” as the source of what they consider to be a major confusion. Alien: How Operational Art Devoured Strategy (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 2009). The idea, however, had already been introduced by Edward N. Luttwak, “The Operational Level of War,” International Security 5, no. 3 (Winter 1980-1981): 61-79. [128] Jean Colin saw grand tactics as having a place between strategy and tactics. Strategy was about the general control of operations. It “concerns itself with the combining of movements regulated so as to obtain a predetermined result.” Grand tactics concerns itself with the combined movements which prepare battle, and also organizes the march of divisions up to the point where they become engaged. Jean Colin, The Transformations of War, trans. Bvt. Maj. L.H.R. Pope-Hennessy (London: High Rees, 1912). ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) ) [2] => Array ( [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 414 [post_author] => 100 [post_date] => 2018-01-31 04:00:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-31 09:00:19 [post_content] => When scholars discuss the contemporary international order, they tend to do so in abstract terms. Older forms of international order — the balance of power between great states and shifts in that balance — could be measured in concrete terms by counting men under arms, factories, artillery pieces, and so on. Today, however, the composition of the U.S.-led liberal international order is more difficult to articulate. Richard Fontaine has characterized today’s world order as a “web of norms, institutions, rules, and relationships”[1] that “range from maritime rules and trade regimes to norms against forcible conquest and in support of state sovereignty” and “institutions like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, as well as a variety of key alliances and arrangements.”[2] In a similar vein, Robin Niblett has defined the liberal international order in terms of principles — “open markets, democracy, and individual human rights” — undergirded by institutions such as those forged at Bretton Woods in 1944.[3] Such descriptions make the liberal international order sound profoundly important, which is not surprising since they are generally provided as predicates for arguments that this order is fraying and in need of reinvigoration or repair.[4] Yet the descriptions of what, precisely, the international order is — and, for that matter, the laments over its uncertain state — are also undeniably amorphous. That vagueness has fueled accusations by newly resurgent nationalists that the liberal international order is at best a fanciful notion or, more sinister, a scheme perpetrated by a “globalist” elite to advance parochial interests at the expense of the national interest.[5] This charge has in turn been rebutted by scholars such as John Bew, who observes that notions of world order, far from a latter-day globalist innovation, have preoccupied policymakers from across the ideological spectrum for more than a century.[6] Yet another objection to notions of international order could be posed: that however noble such ideas may be, they are of little practical use to the policymaker engaged in the daily business of international relations. Indeed, even some defenders of the international order characterize it as “a work of abstract art”[7] and note that “the link between the pursuit of world order and American security and prosperity has always been “hard to sustain when subjected to s[k]eptical questioning.”[8] A complete argument in defense of the liberal international order requires demonstrating that this order is not merely abstract or vaguely laudable but of concrete value to the national security of the United States and its allies. This essay seeks to make that case by examining American policy toward Iran as an example of the international order in action. The essay draws upon my experience as director for Iran at the National Security Council from 2006 to 2007 and as the council’s senior director for the Middle East from 2007 to 2008. At its best, U.S. policy toward Iran melded the unilateral exercise of American power with utilization of the norms, institutions, and relationships that make up the international order to advance a vital national security interest — namely, preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Yet an examination of American policy toward Iran also sheds light on practical problems the international order faces and how those problems might be addressed. That Iran should provide a case study in how the international order works to advance American security is no doubt ironic given that it is a classic revisionist state, railing against and seeking to undermine that very order, skillfully and not without some success.

Iran Policy Under George W. Bush

Iran’s nuclear activities were a preoccupation of the George W. Bush administration nearly from its outset. This was most memorably illustrated by the 2002 State of the Union address, in which the president decried Iran’s support for terrorism, its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and its domestic repression. He famously described Iran as part of an “axis of evil.”[9] Within the Bush administration, however, Iran’s nuclear program came to be seen as a subset of the broader array of threats posed by Tehran, which included terrorism and attempts to stymie American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush administration internally debated different approaches for dealing with these various dangers, from regime change to sanctions to diplomacy.[10] What ultimately became U.S. policy for addressing Iran’s nuclear program — leading directly, if distantly, to the conclusion of a nuclear agreement in 2015 — was less the product of U.S. initiative than a reaction to external developments. Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities were publicly exposed in 2002 by the National Council of Resistance of Iran and shortly thereafter acknowledged by Iran.[11] Threatened with referral to the U.N. Security Council over having violated its 1974 nuclear safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran had entered into negotiations with the “EU-3” — the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Those talks, likely reinforced by Iranian worries of U.S. military action in the wake of Washington’s interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, produced two successive agreements: the Tehran Statement in 2003 and the Paris Agreement of 2004. Neither deal stuck, however. The EU-3’s efforts to negotiate a long-term replacement foundered in August 2005 when, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president, Tehran rejected the EU-3’s latest proposal and removed U.N. seals from its uranium conversion equipment. The IAEA Board of Governors, in turn, condemned Iran’s violations of its safeguards agreement and referred it to the U.N. Security Council in February 2006. While by no means the starting point for the Bush administration’s Iran policy, this was a meaningful turning point. Events of 2005 and 2006 inaugurated a prolonged, steady escalation in Iran’s nuclear activities, and they marked the beginning of an American strategy of looking to the international order to address the threat posed by those activities. Institutions both formal and informal, political and economic, were at the heart of this effort. The first component of the new strategy consisted of an attempt to secure U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Iran and imposing international sanctions. From 2006 to 2008, five were adopted: Resolutions 1696, 1737, 1747, 1803, and 1835. All but two of these resolutions passed unanimously; Qatar cast the sole vote against Resolution 1696, and Indonesia abstained from voting on Resolution 1803.[12] [quote id="1"] The strategy’s second component consisted of a U.S.-led effort to isolate Iran’s financial system; this was later expanded to target other sectors of the Iranian economy. Unlike the first leg of the strategy, this one relied on international arrangements that had a lower profile than the U.N. Security Council and, in some cases, were outright ad hoc. Utilizing extraterritorial sanctions adopted by Congress and executive orders promulgated by President Bush, American officials were able to threaten overseas banks with exclusion from the U.S. financial system — and, later, the ability even to utilize U.S. dollars — should they continue their relationships with Iranian banks designated under American or U.N. sanctions. The resulting economic pressure on Iran was possible only because of American dominance of the international financial system — and the related preeminence of the U.S. dollar — and the degree to which that system had, over the course of decades, become integrated across national boundaries.[13] It would be tempting to see the latter effort’s success as evidence of the efficacy of the unilateral exercise of American power.[14] In reality, however, the two policy initiatives depended on each other for success. The U.N. sanctions, while impressive on paper, were unlikely on their own to have made a significant impact on Iran’s economy or that government’s decision-making. The ad hoc financial sanctions, in turn, would not have succeeded without the U.N. resolutions to undergird them. Those resolutions provided international legitimacy to what was otherwise the naked exercise of unilateral power by Washington, an important consideration in the wake of the ongoing war in Iraq. U.S. allies in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere could argue with American tactics (and did so vociferously) but not with the objective or even the broader strategy, both of which were tacitly endorsed by the Security Council. The resolutions also laid a foundation for likeminded states to impose their own sanctions on Iran, by providing both political cover and a legal basis for doing so — which was a necessity for some states. This strategy was not without costs and compromise. The decision to work around allied governments and directly warn their financial and commercial communities caused frictions that Iran sought to exploit. The need to secure Russian and Chinese agreement, along with that of various other reluctant states in the European Union and elsewhere, meant that U.N. resolutions were frequently delayed and diluted. It also required the United States to participate in the sort of nuclear diplomacy with Iran that Washington had previously resisted. The first U.N. resolution on Iran, Resolution 1696, was preceded by the first offer to Tehran by the “P5+1” (the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members, plus Germany), in the form of an “incentives package” delivered on the group’s behalf by the EU’s foreign policy chief — then Javier Solana — in June 2006. (This was subsequently revised and presented again in mid-2008.) Furthermore, what was primarily a multilateral strategy nevertheless depended on the threat or actual use of unilateral American power to succeed. For Iran, refusal to comply with the U.N. resolutions carried the risk of further sanctions or even a U.S.-led military attack, of which the Bush administration explicitly and repeatedly warned. This threat likely also explained, in part, Moscow and Beijing’s willingness to endorse U.N. sanctions, though both pointedly refused to accept American secondary sanctions, even as they quietly took steps to comply with them. While this sort of unilateral warning enjoyed no international endorsement, it was nevertheless employed in support of what was essentially a multilateral effort. That also probably dampened other states’ anger at the U.S. use of extraterritorial sanctions, which are often seen as violating state sovereignty, a key international norm.[15] The Bush administration’s success in bringing international pressure to bear against Iran’s nuclear program was largely the product of two major factors. The first was a perceived threat — shared by the United States and allies in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere — stemming from Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities. This view was sharpened by Iran’s behavior on the nuclear front — keeping its facilities secret and reportedly engaging in research related to nuclear weapons[16] — and beyond, such as its threats toward Israel.[17] The second factor was Washington’s ability to leverage the web of norms, institutions, and relationships that make up the international order. This also helps to explain why the United States has been far less successful in rallying international support to confront other issues emanating from Iran. U.S. allies in Europe and Asia simply do not share the American assessment of the gravity of the risks posed by Iran’s non-nuclear activities, and the international norms and institutions that deal with those matters are far less developed than those that exist to address proliferation. In the Middle East, where U.S. allies tend to strongly share Washington’s estimation of Iran, there was little in the way of a “regional order” — even an informal one — upon which to fall back in the absence of international action. By the time of the 2008 presidential election, U.S. strategy toward Iran had lost its momentum. Security Council Resolution 1835, adopted in September 2008 in response to IAEA reports of continued Iranian obstructionism, was the weakest of the U.N. resolutions regarding Iran adopted to that point; it imposed no new sanctions. This faltering in the pressure campaign is often attributed to the publication of a National Intelligence Estimate[18] in 2007 that asserted Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons programs in 2003 and had not restarted them as of 2007.[19] The document was widely interpreted as contradicting Bush administration assertions that Iran harbored ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons, even though the suspension it referred to related only to “weaponization” work, not to Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, which were ongoing. As Bush administration National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley later noted, the National Intelligence Estimate “was misinterpreted as an all-clear when it wasn’t that at all.”[20] [quote id="2"] While the estimate was undoubtedly a hindrance to U.S. diplomacy — and a political millstone around the necks of European leaders facing constituencies skeptical of sanctions against Iran — the document’s role has been exaggerated. Even if Iran had suspended its weaponization efforts, as the document asserted, that did not make the expansion of its nuclear infrastructure, nor its record of proliferation and of threatening neighbors, less concerning to the U.S. and allied governments, whatever the consequences for public messaging. What’s more, U.S. allies largely did not accept the NIE’s conclusions.[21] Instead, the loss of diplomatic momentum has two other roots. The first was that the strategy had simply failed to achieve its intended result. Iran continued to expand its nuclear activities despite the mounting sanctions. Second, and perhaps more important, the international context was especially inauspicious. The United States and Russia were in a tense standoff over Moscow’s military campaign in Georgia. Opposition to the Iraq War, then in its sixth year, was pronounced abroad and increasingly bitter in the United States itself amid the presidential campaign. The global financial crisis, meanwhile, dampened enthusiasm for further use of economic weapons against Iran, which was in turn buoyed by sky-high oil prices.

Iran Policy Under the Obama Administration

This was the context in which Barack Obama inherited the unresolved Iran nuclear file. Yet for all of the divisiveness of the 2008 presidential campaign on matters of foreign policy, the Obama administration largely kept in place the strategy pursued by the Bush administration. Engagement with Iran was a centerpiece of Obama’s campaign, but some of Obama’s efforts continued initiatives begun during the Bush administration. For example, the Bush administration dispatched Undersecretary of State Bill Burns to participate in a P5+1 meeting with Iran for the first time in August 2008.[22] There were also discontinuities: Obama and other U.S. officials engaged in repeated, direct outreach to Iranian officials.[23] Indeed, European officials worried in the summer of 2008 that Obama’s seeming readiness to engage directly with Iran without preconditions would undermine the P5+1’s approach on the nuclear issue.[24] In addition, the Obama administration is widely perceived to have deemphasized efforts to counter Iran’s non-nuclear activities in the Middle East. Obama was skeptical of U.S. military commitments in the region, emphasizing, for example, the need to withdraw combat forces from Iraq and shift resources to Afghanistan.[25] The precise impact of all of these changes is unclear. Obama and his aides often argued that American outreach to Iran was vital to securing support for subsequent sanctions.[26] Others have observed that these sanctions built incrementally on those adopted during the Bush presidency.[27] Likewise, Obama viewed his restraint in the Middle East as serving U.S. interests,[28] whereas critics saw his focus on the nuclear issue to the exclusion of Iran’s regional behavior as undermining American leverage.[29] Whatever one’s view of events, some external developments were consequential. One such development was the discovery in September 2009 that Iran was building yet another clandestine uranium enrichment facility, at Fordow. This news undermined the narrative that Iran had abandoned its nuclear ambitions and showed that it was not acting in good faith on its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as Tehran had consistently claimed. Another external development that proved critical came in February 2010, when Iran commenced production of more highly enriched uranium.[30] This followed the failure in October 2009 of the “fuel swap” proposal, under which Iran would have exported its low-enriched uranium to a third country to be further enriched and fabricated into fuel rods for its Tehran Research Reactor.[31] The unsuccessful fuel-swap proposal had not sought to enforce existing U.N. resolutions, as it did not require Iran to halt the enrichment of uranium, but neither did it contradict them, as it offered no sanctions relief. More nettlesome to international diplomacy was the Obama administration’s apparent encouragement of a last-ditch effort by Turkey and Brazil to revive the proposal, an ad hoc initiative that ran contrary to Washington’s parallel pursuit, via the P5+1, of a new U.N. sanctions resolution against Iran.[32] These events were the basis for passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, the last of the six resolutions the council adopted regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, the Obama administration, with increasingly vigorous prodding from Congress, continued to expand the campaign of ad hoc financial sanctions against Iran.[33] Once again, these sanctions leaned heavily on institutions of the international order, such as the U.S. dollar’s role in oil transactions, the relative concentration of the international shipping insurance industry, and the tight integration of global financial transaction networks, the latter of which were instrumental to the “SWIFT” sanctions.[34] The United States was joined in these efforts by the European Union, which in July 2010 adopted a wide-ranging package of sanctions against Iran.[35] In January 2012 an oil embargo followed.[36] Like the U.S. sanctions, these powerful EU measures capitalized on the integrated nature of the global economy. In 2012, however, the United States abruptly shifted its diplomatic strategy, pivoting from the multilateral process that had dominated from 2006 to 2011 to one that was, in essence, unilateral. The Obama administration had developed a channel to Iran via Oman that it used to secure the release of three American hikers detained by Iranian authorities.[37] It then utilized that channel to begin a bilateral nuclear negotiating track with Tehran without informing other members of the P5+1.[38] It was these negotiations, rather than the P5+1 talks that continued in parallel, that ultimately produced, in November 2013, what became known as the “Joint Plan of Action.” (JPOA)[39] This interim accord was the blueprint for the document — formally the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) — endorsed by the U.N. Security Council in Resolution 2231 in July 2015.[40] Negotiating an accord bilaterally with Iran in this manner was expedient. Whether it was effective is debatable. The United States made major concessions in the bilateral talks, foremost among them dropping any insistence that Iran permanently suspend its enrichment and reprocessing-related activities. Had these concessions been offered in the P5+1 talks, it is not clear that the channel would have made a difference to Iran’s willingness to reach a deal. To the extent that the more restricted channel did have an effect on the talks, it was most likely in providing a level of secrecy that made the parties more comfortable discussing their negotiating positions without fear that they would be publicly exposed. Even this is debatable, however, as the talks that led from the JPOA to the JCPOA were conducted in the P5+1 format without significant leaks. What’s more, the shift in U.S. strategy carried costs. The revelation of the secret bilateral channel roiled the P5+1, creating friction between the United States and France and pushing Britain and Germany to “the sidelines,” according to then-French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.[41] The agreement reached between the United States and Iran did not comply with the six earlier U.N. resolutions, for which Washington had previously invested significant time and effort to secure Russian and Chinese backing. Instead, Washington unilaterally changed the terms offered to Iran by the international community. The shift in negotiating format, together with skillful Iranian diplomacy, affected the discussion itself; instead of grappling over what Iran had to do to meet its international obligations and be re-integrated into the global order, the talks became about what infringement of purported Iranian “rights” could be imposed by the United States and, in turn, what level of nuclear activity the United States could tolerate in Iran. [quote id="4"] Security Council Resolution 2231 not only departed significantly from the terms of previous U.N. resolutions on Iran but also represented a fait accompli in Washington. Congress was generally wary of Iran and had played a key role in pushing some of the most powerful sanctions against that country. It had adopted legislation requiring the Obama administration to submit any nuclear agreement for congressional review. By first securing Security Council endorsement of the JCPOA, however, the administration effectively rendered congressional review moot. The Obama administration’s argument — that because the agreement had already been codified by the Security Council, it could not be unilaterally changed by the United States — presented the broader U.S. government with a binary option to accept the deal as it was or reject altogether a diplomatic resolution to the crisis and consider other options, such as a military operation. The irony was that the agreement had, in broad strokes, not been the product of an international negotiation but of bilateral discussions between the United States and Iran, regarding which Congress had been kept in the dark. Ultimately, congressional opponents were unable to muster the votes needed to overturn the agreement, and it moved ahead.[42] At first blush, the JCPOA is a victory for multilateralism. Indeed, even Fabius praised the agreement as a “historic success” for all parties involved and said it demonstrated that “diplomatic action can yield spectacular results.”[43] But that perception of success obscures how the international order was damaged by the methods used to reach the agreement. First, the United States unilaterally put aside six U.N. resolutions on Iran, all measures it had negotiated, without first coordinating with its allies — just as those allies had worried Washington might do in 2008.[44] This arguably weakened the authority of the U.N. Security Council and risked lending credence to arguments that the Security Council is merely an instrument of American power. That no doubt pleased the Iranian government, which had long decried the resolutions as “illegal.”[45] Second, by using Security Council endorsement against domestic opponents, the Obama administration risked further delegitimizing the United Nations specifically and internationalism in general among already-skeptical American conservatives. Pew Research Center has found a growing partisan gap in U.S. perceptions of the United Nations in recent decades. In 1990, Pew polling found, 68 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of Democrats viewed the United Nations favorably. By 2016, Democratic support for the United Nations had climbed to 80 percent while Republican support had dropped to 43 percent.[46] The perception that the United Nations can be used to circumvent conservative political views at home further erodes internationalist sentiments among Republicans. And neglecting to build a domestic consensus, however expedient it may have been to reach agreement, meant that the nuclear deal was not placed on a footing that would weather political changes in the United States.

Iran Policy Under the Trump Administration

Few Republicans criticized the Iran deal — or internationalism, for that matter — as harshly as Donald Trump. As a candidate and in the early days of his presidency, Trump swore at times that he would “dismantle” the agreement.[47] At other times he adopted a milder line, arguing that it should be rigorously enforced despite its flaws.[48] Ultimately, the Iran policy that his administration announced after several months of review reflected a compromise between these positions. He asserted in October 2017 that he sought to nest the JCPOA in a strengthened, comprehensive Iran strategy. But he also said that he would walk away from the agreement if an understanding could not be reached with allies on addressing what he perceived as its shortcomings and if Congress did not adopt new legislation overseeing implementation.[49] Trump’s decision not to unilaterally withdraw was well-founded, whatever his concerns about the deal’s substance. American withdrawal, especially if followed by an effort to reimpose secondary sanctions punishing European and other international firms for business dealings with Iran, would have been galling to U.S. partners in Europe and Asia. Whatever their concerns about the agreement’s negotiation, those allies by and large support the deal and perceive it as serving not only their commercial interests but also their national security interests by forestalling Iran’s nuclear progress as well as potential military conflict. Precisely because of their concerns about the deal’s negotiation, they would find a U.S. effort to force their hands through punitive sanctions especially unfair — it would amount to Washington punishing its allies for adhering to an agreement that the United States and Iran had negotiated bilaterally. Nor should it be presumed, however, that U.S. allies are naïve. Congressional debate over the JCPOA in 2015 played out in public view; few predictions about U.S. foreign policy during the 2016 election campaign were surer bets than the presumption that a Republican administration would be unenthusiastic about the deal. Furthermore, the historical record does not support the notion that diplomatic agreements are sacrosanct. Indeed, they often face pressure or dissolve when circumstances or governments change. While abrupt swings are far from the norm in U.S. foreign policy, neither are they rare. After Obama took office, his administration quickly repudiated the Bush administration’s plans for missile defenses in Europe, angering Poland but pleasing Russia.[50] Obama also abandoned the Bush administration’s understandings[51] with the Israeli government regarding settlements.[52] U.S. officials denied that any “enforceable agreements” existed[53] and moved ahead with a new policy.[54] Reactions to these decisions appeared to be rooted more in whether a person agreed or disagreed with them than in principled beliefs that administrations should honor their predecessors’ commitments. American credibility is not, of course, irrelevant. But U.S. policymakers are unlikely to advocate adhering to policies they consider bad simply to sustain credibility. Preserving this sort of credibility internationally requires more concerted efforts to build domestic coalitions that will sustain policies beyond an administration’s term. Whatever one’s opinion of the JCPOA’s merits and flaws, there is good reason to think that U.S. withdrawal from the agreement would chiefly benefit Iran. Such a step would open a rift between the United States and its allies in Europe and Asia. If the agreement survived America’s pullout, enforcement would likely be weaker without U.S. oversight. Whatever pressure Washington managed to generate through renewed sanctions enforcement would be impaired by resistance from Iran and from European and Asian states, which would be its proximate targets. The U.S.-led campaign for secondary sanctions against Iran in the mid-2000s demonstrates that such measures can be effective despite allies’ objections if there is strategic convergence among allies and if the measures are undergirded, at least in theory, by U.N. action. But when there is strategic divergence and no effort at the United Nations, any economic effect of such measures is difficult to sustain and must be weighed against serious diplomatic costs; the Clinton administration’s experience seeking to enforce the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act in the 1990s demonstrates this.[55] [quote id="3"] For all of these reasons, the Trump administration’s decision appears sound — namely, to leverage other states’ desire for the United States to remain within the JCPOA to win those states’ cooperation with strict enforcement and a broader effort to challenge Iran. Such bargaining is not incompatible with the ideas of internationalism and global order; that interests are shared does not imply that states will not seek to shift the burden of securing them on to the United States, and American policymakers are right to resist. What is vital, however, is that Washington’s diplomacy not only advances U.S. interests but also preserves and strengthens the international system, lest short-term gains be outweighed by long-term costs. To be successful, the United States must not only articulate a clear policy toward Iran but also explain how it serves U.S. and partners’ interests and rally allies in support. This strategy should be implemented across multiple policy tools — economic, diplomatic, and military — not in sequence but as a single, concerted campaign. The history of U.S. policy toward Iran suggests that this will require patience and compromise but may ultimately be rewarding. A united international front has the twin benefits of spreading a policy’s costs and amplifying its effectiveness.

Conclusion

The international order may be a web of norms, institutions, and relationships, but an understanding lies at its core. American leadership of the international order is largely embraced by allies, giving the United States tremendous global influence. But U.S. allies do not subordinate their interests any more than the United States does. Rather, this enduring dynamic reflects confidence that the United States will advance shared interests, even if it ultimately does so to serve its own. And it reflects a mutual agreement that the international order generates outcomes that serve shared interests better than purely transactional relationships could, and that these outcomes justify the compromises required to maintain that order. The recent history of U.S. policy toward Iran demonstrates how the international order works in action and how it can provide Washington with tremendous leverage to accomplish policy goals, especially when utilized in concert with other instruments of American power. That history also demonstrates the mutual dependence at the heart of the international order. After all, European powers made little headway against Iran in the early 2000s absent American involvement, just as the United States could not have imposed the pressure it brought to bear against Iran without the (sometimes reluctant) support of allies and the use of international institutions. Yet that history also illustrates a temptation for U.S. officials, confronted with a preeminent role and outsize influence, to use these resources not as assets to be assiduously preserved and nurtured but as mere tools of U.S. foreign policy — or domestic politics — like any others. As the American appetite for global leadership and internationalist spirit have waned in the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the global financial crisis, this tendency seems to have grown. It was on display when the Obama administration pivoted from the P5+1 process to a bilateral one and used the U.N. Security Council as a domestic political cudgel. It was similarly exhibited by those who wish to use international sanctions to coerce allies absent any effort to bridge diverging aims and strategies with respect to Iran. Treating the international order in this manner risks eroding it. Every state acts out of self-interest. If a state perceives that its economic or political dependence on the United States is a liability rather than the price of an international order that ultimately advances its security and prosperity, that state will inevitably develop workarounds and hedging strategies. The international order is not fixed or predictable like a domestic legal system. Rather, it is dynamic and relies on the balance of self-interest among allies. Iran and its fellow revisionists take gratification from friction between the United States and its allies, and they share the overarching goal of diminishing U.S. influence in global affairs. Should the United States and allied policymakers fail to defend the international order, they will discover to their dismay that the loss is not at all abstract but has concrete consequences for their states’ prosperity and security.   Michael Singh is Managing Director and Lane-Swig Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and former senior director for Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration. ISSN (Print): 2576-1021 ISSN(Online): 2576-1153 Image: Obama White House [post_title] => The International Order and Nuclear Negotiations with Iran [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => international-order-nuclear-negotiations-iran [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-26 05:47:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-26 09:47:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=414 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => The international order is not just an abstract concept, but rather is of concrete value to U.S. national security, as exemplified by America's policy toward Iran. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 1, Issue 2 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => That Iran should provide a case study in how the international order works to advance American security is no doubt ironic. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => By the time of the 2008 presidential election, U.S. strategy toward Iran had lost its momentum. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => Whatever one’s opinion of the JCPOA’s merits and flaws, there is good reason to think that U.S. withdrawal from the agreement would chiefly benefit Iran. ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => At first blush, the JCPOA is a victory for multilateralism. ) ) [style] => strategist [type] => Strategist [style_label] => The Strategist [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => 556 ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 100 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] Richard Fontaine, “Salvaging Global Order,” National Interest online, March 10, 2015, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/salvaging-the-global-order-12390. [2] Richard Fontaine, “The U.S. Response to Today’s Global Order and Tomorrow’s Threats,” Journal of International Affairs online, March 15, 2017, https://jia.sipa.columbia.edu/us-response-global-order. [3] Robin Niblett, “Liberalism in Retreat,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2017, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2016-12-12/liberalism-retreat. [4] See, for example, Richard N. Haass, “World Order 2.0,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2017, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2016-12-12/world-order-20. [5] See Michael Anton, “America and the Liberal International Order,” American Affairs, no. 1 (Spring 2017), https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2017/02/america-liberal-international-order/. [6] John Bew, “World Order: Many-Headed Monster or Noble Pursuit?” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 1 (October 2017): 14–35. [7] Bew, “World Order.” [8] John A. Thompson as quoted by Bew in “World Order.” [9] George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, Washington DC, Jan. 29, 2002, https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020129-11.html. [10] For further detail, see David Crist, Twilight War (New York: Penguin Books, 2012), 442–460. [11] Paul Kerr, “IAEA to Visit Two ‘Secret’ Nuclear Sites in Iran,” Arms Control Today, Jan. 1, 2003, https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_01-02/irannuclear_janfeb03. [12] The texts and voting tallies for all of these resolutions can be accessed at http://www.un.org/en/sc/documents/. [13] See Juan Zarate, Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare (New York: PublicAffairs, 2013). [14] See, for example, Jana Winter and Dan De Luce, “Iran Nuclear Deal Critics Push Plan for ‘Global Economic Embargo,’” Foreign Policy, Sept. 14, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/09/14/iran-sanctions-memo/. [15] This view was enshrined in the European Union’s “blocking statute” of Nov. 22, 1996, adopted in response to the first U.S. extraterritorial sanctions on Iran. Text of the statute can be found at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31996R2271:EN:HTML. [16] For more information, see the annex to the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General, “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” International Atomic Energy Agency, November 18, 2011, https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/gov2011-65.pdf. [17] Louis Charbonneau, “In New York, Defiant Ahmadinejad says Israel will be ‘Eliminated,’” Reuters, Sept. 24, 2012, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-assembly-ahmadinejad/in-new-york-defiant-ahmadinejad-says-israel-will-be-eliminated-idUSBRE88N0HF20120924. [18] “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities,” National Intelligence Estimate (Washington: National Intelligence Council, November 2007), https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/Newsroom/Press Releases/2007 Press Releases/20071203_release.pdf. [19] George W. Bush, Decision Points (New York: Random House, 2010), 419. [20] Stephen Hadley as quoted in Tabassum Zakaria and Mark Hosenball, “Special Report: Intel Shows Iran Nuclear Threat Not Imminent,” Reuters, March 23, 2012, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-usa-nuclear/special-report-intel-shows-iran-nuclear-threat-not-imminent-idUSBRE82M0G020120323. [21] Condoleezza Rice, No Higher Honor (New York: Random House, 2011), 618. [22] “U.S. Reverses Course, Will Send Envoy to Talks with Iran,” CNN, July 16, 2008, http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/16/us.iran/index.html. [23] Trita Parsi, Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy (Yale University Press: 2017). [24] Glenn Kessler, “Europe Fears Obama Might Undercut Progress With Iran,” Washington Post, June 22, 2008,  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/21/AR2008062101658.html. [25] Barack Obama, interview by Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny, New York Times, Nov. 1, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/01/us/politics/02obama-transcript.html. [26] Remarks by the President at the United States Military Academy Commencement Ceremony, West Point, NY, May 28, 2014, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/05/28/remarks-president-united-states-military-academy-commencement-ceremony. [27] Glenn Kessler, “Fact Checker: Obama’s Claim That His Administration ‘Built a Coalition That Imposed Sanctions on the Iranian Economy,” Washington Post, June 2, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/06/02/obamas-claim-that-his-administration-built-a-coalition-that-imposed-sanctions-on-the-iranian-economy/. [28] David Samuels, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru,” New York Times, May 5, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/magazine/the-aspiring-novelist-who-became-obamas-foreign-policy-guru.html. [29] Michael Doran, “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” Mosaic, Feb. 2, 2015, https://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/2015/02/obamas-secret-iran-strategy/. [30] International Atomic Energy Agency Director General, “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” International Atomic Energy Agency, Feb. 18, 2010, http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IAEA_Report_Iran_18Feb2010.pdf. [31] “Official Proposals on the Iranian Nuclear Issue, 2003-2013,” Arms Control Association, July 2015,  https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Iran_Nuclear_Proposals. [32] Laura Rozen, “W.H. Pushes Back on Letter Leak,” Politico, May 28, 2010, https://www.politico.com/story/2010/05/wh-pushes-back-on-letter-leak-037938. [33] Jay Solomon, The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals That Reshaped the Middle East (New York: Random House, 2016), 142-67. [34] Solomon, Iran Wars, 202-04. [35] “Council Decision of 26 July 2010 Concerning Restrictive Measures Against Iran and Repealing Common Position 2007/140/CFSP,” Official Journal of the European Union 53 (July 27, 2010): 25, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2010.195.01.0025.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2010:195:TOC. [36] “Council Decision 2012/35/CFSP of 23 January 2012 Amending Decision 2010/413/CFSP Concerning Restrictive Measures Against Iran,” Official Journal of the European Union 55 (Jan. 24, 2012): 22, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2012.019.01.0022.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2012:019:TOC. [37] Parsi, Losing an Enemy, 217. [38] Laurent Fabius, “Inside the Iran Deal: A French Perspective,” Washington Quarterly 39, no. 3 (Fall 2016): 7-38, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2016.1232630. [39] “The Iran Nuclear Deal: Full Text,” CNN, Nov. 24, 2013, http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/24/world/meast/iran-deal-text/index.html. [40] United Nations Security Council, “Resolution 2231 (2015),” S/Res/2231, July 20, 2015,  https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/unsc_resolution2231-2015.pdf. [41] Fabius, “Inside the Iran Deal.” [42] Jennifer Steinhauer, “Democrats Hand Victory to Obama on Iran Nuclear Deal,” New York Times, Sept. 10, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/11/us/politics/iran-nuclear-deal-senate.html. [43] Fabius, “Inside the Iran Deal.” [44] Glenn Kesssler, “Europe Fears Obama Might Undercut Progress with Iran,” Washington Post, June 22, 2008, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/21/AR2008062101658.html. [45] “Iran Calls New UNSC Resolution Illegal and Unfortunate,” Payvand News, Sept. 28, 2008, http://www.payvand.com/news/08/sep/1311.html. [46] “Favorable Views of the UN Prevail in Europe, Asia, and U.S.,” Pew Research Center, Sept. 20, 2016, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/20/favorable-views-of-the-un-prevail-in-europe-asia-and-u-s/. [47] Transcript of Donald Trump’s Speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Washington DC, March 22, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/donald-trumps-full-speech-to-aipac/. [48] Eric Cortellessa, “In Call With Riyadh, Trump Vows to ‘Rigorously Enforce’ Iran Deal,” Times of Israel, Jan. 30, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-call-with-riyadh-trump-commits-to-rigorously-enforce-iran-deal/. [49] Remarks by President Trump on Iran Strategy, Washington DC, Oct. 13, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/10/13/remarks-president-trump-iran-strategy. [50] Peter Baker, “White House Scraps Bush’s Approach to Missile Shield,” New York Times, Sept. 17, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/world/europe/18shield.html. [51] Elliott Abrams, “Hillary Is Wrong About the Settlements,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2009, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB124588743827950599. [52] Letter From President Bush to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, April 14, 2004, https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2004/04/20040414-3.html. [53] Hillary Clinton, “Remarks With Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman,” State Department, June 17, 2009, https://2009-2017.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/rm/2009a/06/125044.htm. [54] Daniel Dombey, “Clinton Clashes With Israelis Over Settlers,” Financial Times, June 17, 2009, https://www.ft.com/content/614c98a4-5b98-11de-be3f-00144feabdc0. [55] Kenneth M. Pollack, The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America, (Random House, 2005), 286-89. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) ) ) ) [3] => Array ( [acf_fc_layout] => wgt_newsletter [mc4wp] => 61 ) [4] => Array ( [acf_fc_layout] => wgt_textblock [main_title] => Latest Roundtables [intro_title] => What is a Roundtable? [intro_text] => Roundtables are where we get to hear from multiple experts on either a subject matter or a recently published book. These collections of essays allow for detailed debates and discussions from a variety of viewpoints so that we can deeply explore a given topic or book. ) [5] => Array ( [acf_fc_layout] => wgt_featured_roundtables [wgt_type] => auto [qty] => 3 [posts] => ) ) ) [queried_object_id] => 2 [request] => SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.ID = 2 AND wp_posts.post_type = 'page' ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC [posts] => Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 436 [post_author] => 9 [post_date] => 2018-02-06 04:00:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-06 09:00:44 [post_content] => In early 1992, the Pentagon’s primary policy office — the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy — prepared a draft classified document known as the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG).[1] In late February and early March, that document was leaked to the New York Times and the Washington Post, both of which published extensive excerpts. Those excerpts, which highlighted the most striking language and themes of the document, detailed a blueprint for American strategy in the post-Cold War era. The United States would not retrench dramatically now that its superpower rival had been vanquished. Instead, it would maintain and extend the unchallenged supremacy it had gained when the Soviet empire collapsed. Washington would cultivate an open, democratic order in which it remained firmly atop the international hierarchy. It would discourage any competitor from challenging for global leadership. It would prevent emerging or resurgent threats from disrupting a broadly favorable environment. And to protect this advantageous global order, America would retain unrivaled military power. In essence, the DPG outlined an unabashed program for perpetuating U.S. primacy.[2] For this reason, and also because it immediately became caught up in election-year politics, the DPG ignited controversy when it was leaked, drawing harsh appraisals from critics on both the left and right. Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden condemned the document as a radical assertion of American hegemony — “literally a Pax Americana.”[3] Patrick Buchanan, a prominent conservative pundit and Republican presidential candidate, alleged that the DPG represented “a formula for endless American intervention in quarrels and war when no vital interest of the United States is remotely engaged.”[4] More than a decade later, the episode still smoldered. Writing after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, journalist Craig Unger described the DPG as the product “of a radical political movement led by a right-wing intellectual vanguard.” Another assessment labeled the DPG a “disturbing” manifestation of a “Plan…for the United States to rule the world.”[5] More recently, the DPG has received less breathless treatment from insightful academic observers and former U.S. officials.[6] But even from some scholars, the DPG has continued to draw sharp invective. One leading diplomatic historian has critiqued the DPG as a radical rejection of multilateralism and a plan for Washington to serve as the world’s policeman.[7] Another has termed it a program to “remake the world,” “exterminate the evil-doers,” and forge “the Second American Empire.”[8] As former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman observes, “Probably no defense planning document since the end of World War II, with the possible exception of NSC-68…has received as much attention and discussion.”[9] Yet if the DPG has long been a fount of controversy, only now is declassification of relevant U.S. government records making it possible to fully understand the document’s role in the development of U.S. strategic thinking about the post-Cold War era during the administration of George H.W. Bush. That development actually began before the Cold War ended, as the administration pondered the requirements of U.S. security and global order in a remarkably fluid environment. It subsequently continued amid profound international crises in Europe and the Persian Gulf, which led the administration to refine key aspects of its geopolitical thinking. That thinking was brought into more comprehensive form with the DPG, which outlined a holistic approach to post-Cold War strategy and which was — despite the public furor sparked by its disclosure — broadly affirmed by the administration during its final months. The DPG, then, did not stand alone. It was one important piece of the larger process by which the Bush administration crafted a strategy of American primacy. This essay re-creates that process, examining the evolution of Bush-era strategic thinking. It explores the more formal planning and strategy processes the administration undertook, as well as the ways that key crises, long-standing beliefs, and other influences shaped official views of America’s place in the post-Cold War world. It does so primarily by examining newly declassified documents that illuminate the administration’s strategic outlook and offer a more detailed portrait of how America selected a unipolar strategy for a unipolar order. This is an important subject for historians. Although political scientists widely agree that the United States pursued a strategy meant to sustain its geopolitical preeminence after the Cold War, and historians have begun to analyze how key initiatives such as German reunification served this objective, there has yet to be a comprehensive examination, based on the archival record, of how that strategy emerged.[10] This essay not only puts the DPG in its proper context; it also traces the origins of America’s approach to the post-Cold War world. Three arguments emerge from this analysis. First, the DPG was not, as is commonly believed, a radical document or an outlier from Bush administration strategic thinking. It was, in many ways, the logical culmination of that thinking. From the outset, Bush and his advisers had believed that America should not pull back geopolitically as the Cold War ended. Rather, they insisted that America should lean forward to advance its interests and values and ward off new or resurgent dangers. In their view, the United States should double down on the globalist endeavors of the post-World War II era in the favorable but uncertain climate of the post-Cold War world. These core themes were reinforced by two major international crises — the collapse of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany, and the Persian Gulf crisis and war — which underscored the logic of American primacy. In this context, the DPG served primarily to weave together the various intellectual threads of U.S. strategic thinking. The document’s sharp language and undisguised ambition provoked concern and criticism (including from some within the administration), but its basic content represented merely the most unvarnished and coherent articulation of an assertive approach to post-Cold War geopolitics. [quote id="1"] Second, this primacist strategy flowed from a potent mix of influences. It had its deepest roots in ingrained beliefs about the imperative of promoting American values abroad and the long-standing U.S. role in upholding the liberal international order that had emerged after World War II. As Bush’s presidency unfolded, these firmly held ideas were reinforced by strong perceptions of both opportunity and danger. Events of the Bush years made clear that America had tantalizing opportunities to lock in its Cold War victory and shape a uniquely favorable international environment, but they also raised the specter of upheaval and instability. In these circumstances, the administration concluded that a grand strategy based on consensual and preeminent American leadership offered the best — indeed the only — approach for grabbing hold of great possibilities, while also ensuring that one period of great danger did not simply lead to another. Third, the choice of a primacist strategy was, on the whole, a reasonable one. That choice was based on a plausible and intellectually defensible reading of what the end of the Cold War meant for the world and for U.S. policy. Moreover, the problems of American primacy over the past 25 years should not obscure the fact that some key premises of the strategy devised by the Bush administration held up relatively well over time. Whether American primacy and the international system it supports will continue to endure amid the growing challenges the United States confronts today remains to be seen. But with a quarter-century of hindsight, the Bush administration’s strategic thinking — with the DPG as its most candid articulation — seems fairly incisive.

Early Thinking About Post-Cold War Strategy

In retrospect, the choice of a primacist grand strategy can seem overdetermined or even inevitable, given the many influences that ultimately pushed the Bush administration in that direction. But as the Cold War ended, there was a wide-ranging public debate over what international role America should play. Paul Kennedy’s 1987 best-seller, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, had popularized the notion that America risked succumbing to “imperial overstretch” brought on by excessive global commitments.[11] These arguments were often reinforced by the rise of economic competitors such as Japan, which had — many critics alleged — exploited America’s postwar largesse and was poised to displace Washington as global economic leader. “The Cold War is over,” one common saying went. “Japan and Germany won.”[12] Moreover, given that many features of America’s globalism had emerged in the context of the superpower contest with Moscow, the winding down of that competition produced calls for a reassessment of Washington’s global role. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, commentators as varied as Jeane Kirkpatrick and Patrick Buchanan on the right, and Bill Clinton and Al Gore on the left, argued for greater strategic restraint, based on the idea that America lacked the ability or the need to carry on such an ambitious global project after the Cold War. There was “a widespread awareness that we have come to the end of the postwar era,” Clinton said in 1988. “We don’t dominate as we once did.”[13] Likewise, Kirkpatrick argued in a prominent article in 1990 that “it is time to give up the dubious benefits of superpower status” and again become “a normal country in a normal time.”[14] As the 1980s ended, calls for retrenchment were often accompanied by demands for dramatic reductions in America’s alliance commitments, overseas presence, and military spending. Analysts with respected think tanks such as the Brookings Institution, and even former secretaries of defense such as Harold Brown, suggested that the United States could reduce defense spending by as much as half if the Soviet threat continued to fade.[15] Democrat Charles Schumer, then a U.S. representative from New York, talked about “deep reductions in the defense budget.”[16] Other respected congressional observers, such as Sen. Sam Nunn and Rep. Les Aspin, called for lesser but still significant cuts.[17] These arguments were contested by defense hawks and analysts, such as the neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer, who argued for a more muscular approach to the post-Cold War world.[18] But throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, demands would persist for a substantial “peace dividend” and a more circumscribed U.S. foreign policy. This was not, however, the approach that the Bush administration chose. Amid the erosion and eventual collapse of the Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe, Bush and his top aides were consumed with superpower relations and crisis management almost from the outset of his presidency, and key officials — Bush included — sometimes seemed wary of declaring the bipolar competition over during much of 1989.[19] Even so, during the first 18 months of Bush’s presidency U.S. officials frequently discussed — in forums both public and private, in ways both systematic and not — what sort of international environment might follow the Cold War and what strategic approach Washington should take in that environment. And even when the outlines of the post-Cold War world were but dimly apparent, these discussions converged around an unmistakable theme: that the United States should not retrench geopolitically, but should lean forward to exploit advantageous change, repress incipient dangers, and mold the new international order. From the start, the sources of this idea were ideological as well as geopolitical. Like countless U.S. officials before him, Bush believed that America had a distinctive moral calling to advance human freedom and well-being and that this responsibility required a self-confident, assertive foreign policy. “We just must not lose sight…of our own raison d’etre as a nation,” he had written in his diary in 1975. “We must be Americans. We must be what we are.”[20] Indeed, while Bush was generally not considered a highly ideological figure, he was certainly part of a long-standing ideological consensus on the moral necessity of U.S. power. America had been the “dominant force for good in the world,” Bush declared during his 1988 campaign, and would remain so in the future.[21] The administration’s early thinking was equally framed by another enduring idea: that American power was indispensable to the preservation of a stable, prosperous, democratic world order. Bush and key aides such as Brent Scowcroft and James Baker were products of World War II and the Cold War. They believed that U.S. engagement had been essential to defeating Nazism and communism, to reconciling former enemies and taming historical antagonisms in Europe and Asia after 1945, and to providing the climate of security and prosperity in which the West had thrived.[22] And just as the drafters of NSC-68 had written that U.S. leadership would be needed “even if there were no Soviet threat,” the Bush administration believed that the imperative of maintaining and advancing a stable, liberal world environment would outlast the Cold War. “America has set in motion the major changes under way in the world today,” Bush asserted in 1988. “No other nation, or group of nations, will step forward to assume leadership.”[23] Or, as a senior National Security Council staffer put it in early 1990, “it’s not as though somehow our postwar responsibilities have ended and our mission is at a conclusion” even though the Soviet threat was waning.[24] From the time Bush took office, these ingrained ideas were reinforced by perceptions of prevailing international trends. In some ways, these changes seemed all to the good. The ebbing of superpower tensions was removing long-standing threats to American interests and raising the possibility that the Cold War would soon end decisively, on U.S. terms. “Containment is being vindicated,” an early classified directive signed by Bush stated, “as the peoples of the world reject the outmoded dogma of Marxism-Leninism in a search for prosperity and freedom.”[25] Looking beyond superpower relations, the rapid spread of democracy and free markets over the previous decade had rendered the international environment more reflective of U.S. values and created openings to advance American security and influence. In the coming years, Robert Zoellick, then State Department counselor, wrote in 1989, “we must concentrate on building a new age of peace, democracy, and economic liberty.”[26] Bush himself asked in a major speech in May of that year:
What is it we want to see? It is a growing community of democracies anchoring international peace and stability, and a dynamic free-market system generating prosperity and progress on a global scale.[27]
At the same time, administration officials also argued that Washington must remain vigilant. In early 1989, Bush and his national security adviser, Scowcroft, were particularly concerned that positive changes in Soviet policy under Mikhail Gorbachev might ultimately be reversed, confronting Washington with a revived challenge. Bush wrote in an early study directive on U.S. defense policy:
It would be reckless to dismantle our military strength and the policies that have helped to make the world less dangerous and foolish to assume that all dangers have disappeared or that any apparent diminution is irreversible.”[28]
Looking beyond the Soviet Union, there were other potential threats. “Security threats were not invented by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,” Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney said, “and threats will remain long after that party’s gone out of business.”[29] Studies commissioned by the Defense Department in the late 1980s emphasized the potential proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the eruption of crises and wars in the Middle East or South Asia, the growth of international terrorism and drug trafficking, and even resurgent economic or political frictions in Europe and East Asia.[30] If anything, the breakdown of bipolarity might encourage such disorder by removing the geopolitical constraints that had long structured world politics. As Peter Rodman, counselor to the National Security Council, put it in a background briefing for reporters in early 1990, “We see a new era of uncertainties, new possible sources of instability, new concerns.”[31] If allowed to fester, these concerns might eventually grow into first-order security challenges in their own right. From the earliest months of the Bush administration, there was thus a consensus that reduced Cold War tensions did not imply a dramatic U.S. retrenchment. In January 1989, Secretary of State James Baker reminded a Cabinet meeting that the “U.S. is both an Atlantic and Pacific power with allies in both regions.”[32] In July, Bush privately reassured the South Korean defense minister that “the U.S. will continue to be a Pacific power with many friends in the region.”[33] Similarly, he made clear that whatever changes occurred in Europe, the United States would remain strategically and militarily engaged so as to discourage a resurgence of historical tensions. “West European countries see the U.S. presence as stabilizing,” Bush explained in a conversation with Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia. “Our view…is that we shouldn’t withdraw and declare peace.”[34] The end of the Cold War might mark a radical break with the past, U.S. officials believed, but it should not usher in radical change in U.S. grand strategy. Rather, Washington should essentially double down on its successful postwar initiatives — the maintenance of alliances and favorable geopolitical balances in key regions, the commitment to playing a leadership role in key international institutions, the efforts to shape a global environment ideologically and economically congenial to the United States — in the more favorable climate that was emerging. These themes were ubiquitous as the administration initiated more systematic planning for post-Cold War strategy. Bush’s first National Security Strategy was drafted by Scowcroft’s staff in late 1989 and early 1990. It represented the administration’s first opportunity to offer a comprehensive assessment of America’s role in a rapidly evolving world, and it was written as the administration grappled with momentous changes in the Soviet bloc. Unsurprisingly, then, the report dealt at length with those changes, arguing that they vindicated the containment strategy pursued since the late 1940s. Yet the National Security Strategy also looked past the Cold War, arguing that America must “help shape a new era, one that moves beyond containment and that will take us into the next century.” Change — “breath-taking in its character, dimension, and pace” — was certain and the United States was likely to confront a range of emerging or resurgent threats. But U.S. global interests were enduring and so Washington would sustain its core alliances and forward military deployments in Europe and East Asia, and it would encourage the further spread of democracy and markets, while also taking the lead in addressing new sources of international tension. “The pivotal responsibility for ensuring the stability of the international balance remains ours,” the National Security Strategy affirmed, “even as its requirements change in a new era.”[35] The counterpart to the National Security Strategy was a major defense review carried out from 1989 to 1990, largely under the leadership of Gen. Colin Powell, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The need for such an exercise was obvious as the easing of superpower tensions exerted downward pressure on the defense budget. “We know it will get smaller,” said Powell. “That is inevitable.”[36] Bush himself argued to resist efforts to “naively cut the muscle out of our defense posture,” but as early as by late 1989 Cheney was conceding that the administration might have to cut as much as $180 billion (out of a total defense budget of roughly $300 billion) over a period of six years.[37] The task, then, was to fashion a new defense concept that could reconcile the realities of coming budget cuts with the enduring requirements of global stability and American influence. “Our challenges,” the 1990 National Security Strategy explained, were to adapt America’s military strength “to a grand strategy that looks beyond containment, and to ensure that our military power, and that of our allies and friends, is appropriate to the new and more complex opportunities and challenges before us.”[38] [quote id="2"] The result of this process — which emerged after significant bureaucratic and inter-service wrangling — was the “Base Force” concept for sizing the U.S. military. The Base Force accepted non-trivial reductions in U.S. military power, envisioning eventual cuts of approximately 25 percent in personnel levels, reductions in carrier battle groups and other power-projection tools, and withdrawal of portions of the American contingent in Europe. Yet as Pentagon officials stressed, unchallenged U.S. military power underwrote global security commitments, dampened long-standing rivalries in key regions, and gave Washington immense diplomatic leverage. Moreover, while there was now less chance of war with Moscow, the potential for conflict remained in the Korean Peninsula; the Persian Gulf; and even Central America, where U.S. forces had recently toppled Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. The Base Force thus preserved large-scale overseas deployments in Europe and East Asia; maintained the critical air, naval, and logistical capabilities necessary to dominate the global commons and project power overseas; and preserved intensive research and development efforts to sustain America’s military-technological edge, particularly at the higher ends of the conventional spectrum.[39] “America must possess forces able to respond to threats in whatever corner of the globe they may occur,” Bush said in unveiling the Base Force concept in 1990; it must “protect the gains that 40 years of peace through strength have earned us.”[40] The logic of the Base Force prefigured a great deal of post-Cold War strategic thinking. Its key architects — Powell, Lt. Gen. Lee Butler, and others — rooted their recommendations in the idea that the declining Soviet danger might simply be replaced by the “rise of new hegemonic powers” in regions of strategic importance. They believed that “the United States was the only power with the capacity to manage the major forces at work in the world.” And so they concluded that a high degree of military dominance was critical to preserving the international stability and geopolitical gains offered by the end of the Cold War. In fact, the “Base Force” label was meant to make clear that there was a minimum level of military primacy below which America “dare not go” (as Powell put it) if it were to maintain and expand the stable, liberalizing international order that Washington had built in the West after World War II. “What we plan for,” Powell subsequently explained of the strategy, “is that we’re a superpower. We are the major player on the world stage with responsibilities around the world, with interests around the world.” All of these ideas would figure prominently in subsequent Pentagon planning efforts under Bush and later.[41] Early in Bush’s presidency, then, there was broad internal agreement that America would continue to act as guarantor and stabilizer of the international system. It would encourage favorable trends, hold back threatening ones, and keep the unequaled hard power necessary to do so effectively. This mind-set would influence how the administration approached key crises in 1989-1990. Those crises, in turn, would sharpen official views on America’s global role.

The Collapse of the Bloc and German Reunification

The first such crisis involved the collapse of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe and the redrawing of the region’s political map. This crisis began in mid-1989, with the accelerating breakdown of the Communist regimes, and intensified with the opening of the Berlin Wall in November. That event raised the prospect of German reunification, which then proceeded via an internal track made up of rapidly increasing ties between the two German states, and an external track of multilateral diplomacy primarily involving the United States, France, Britain, and the Soviet Union. By the fall of 1990, Germany was reunified within NATO, and the Warsaw Pact was disintegrating as countries throughout Eastern Europe initiated democratic and free-market reforms and requested withdrawal of Soviet troops. In roughly a year, the bipolar order in Europe had been transformed.[42] U.S. policy played little role in initiating those transformations. Bush admitted to Gorbachev in December 1989, “We were shocked by the swiftness of the changes that unfolded.”[43] As events raced ahead, however, the administration became deeply engaged, endorsing and actively pushing for German reunification under Western auspices. “No approach on our part toward Germany is without risk,” Scowcroft wrote in a memo to Bush, “but at this point the most dangerous course of all for the United States may be to allow others to set the shape and character of a united Germany and or the future structure of European security.”[44] By mid-1990 and after, the administration was even considering eventual expansion of NATO further into the former Warsaw Pact area to discourage post-Cold War instability and foster political and economic reform.[45] Existing scholarship has explored the contours of U.S. policy on these issues.[46] More salient here is that events in Europe in 1989 and 1990 powerfully interacted with the main currents in American thinking about the post-Cold War world. In one sense, the breakdown of Soviet rule in Eastern Europe provided a breathtaking demonstration of just how immense the possibilities might be in this emerging era. “We were witnessing the sorts of changes usually only imposed by victors at the end of a major war,” Scowcroft later wrote in his memoir. Reunification on Western terms, he had observed contemporaneously, in November 1989, would “rip the heart out of the Soviet security system” in Eastern Europe and mark a “fundamental shift in the strategic balance.”[47] Moreover, the transitions underway in Eastern Europe were underscoring the possibility for further advances by free markets and free political systems. “We are witnessing the transformation of almost every state in Eastern Europe into more democratic societies, dominated by pluralistic political systems matched to decentralized economies,” Scowcroft wrote in a memo to the president.[48] This prospect was a principal driver of U.S. policy in 1989 and 1990. U.S. officials studiously engaged Moscow in the multilateral diplomacy surrounding reunification, and they carefully avoided humiliating Gorbachev over the catastrophic retreat of Soviet influence. Privately, however, Bush and Scowcroft intended to exploit U.S. strength and Soviet weakness to remake the European order on American terms. “The Soviets are not in a position to dictate Germany’s relationship with NATO,” Bush said at a meeting with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in early 1990. “To hell with that. We prevailed and they didn’t.”[49] Accordingly, the administration encouraged Kohl to move briskly toward reunification, while also pressing Moscow to accept reunification within NATO and decisively rejecting Soviet proposed alternatives such as a neutralized Germany. As they did so, American officials treated Gorbachev with great respect in their bilateral dealings, and Bush and Kohl arranged for concessions — especially German financial assistance to Moscow — to ensure Soviet acquiescence. Yet the guiding assumption remained that Washington and its allies must move decisively to lock in epochal changes. “There is so much change in Eastern Europe,” Bush said in January 1990. “We should seize the opportunity to make things better for the world.”[50] [quote id="3"] The process of German reunification thus offered tantalizing opportunities to ensure American dominance in post-Cold War Europe. At the same time, that process also reinforced the idea that such strategic assertiveness was necessary to manage emerging dangers. Reunification was deeply worrying to Poland, France, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, which feared that a united Germany might once again dominate Europe. As NATO Secretary General Manfred Wörner privately warned Bush as the diplomacy surrounding reunification heated up, “The Old Pandora’s box of competition and rivalry in Europe” might be reopened.[51] More broadly, there were widespread fears that the collapse of Soviet authority in Eastern Europe could unleash ethnic violence or resurgent nationalist rivalries within that region. “The outlines of ancient European antagonisms are already beginning to emerge,” Scowcroft wrote in late 1989. A “power vacuum is developing” as Soviet influence receded.[52] For the Bush administration, these concerns powerfully underscored the need not to retract U.S. influence but to maintain and expand it. By this logic, keeping a reunified Germany within NATO would preclude resurgent instability by tying the new German state to the West and thereby eliminating the competitive security dynamics that might otherwise emerge. As Baker warned, “Unless we find a way to truly anchor Germany in European institutions we will sow the seeds for history to repeat itself.”[53] Moreover, integrating a reunified Germany into NATO would ensure that the alliance remained relevant after the Cold War, thereby also ensuring a continued role for U.S. power in Europe. The alternatives, Scowcroft warned Bush in a key memorandum, were dangerous: “Twentieth century history gives no encouragement to those who believe the Europeans can achieve and sustain this balance of power and keep the peace without the United States.”[54] From late 1989 onward, this perspective propelled efforts not simply to bring a reunified Germany into NATO but also to adapt that alliance to preserve its utility after the Cold War. Amid German reunification, the Bush administration secured alliance reforms meant to make a strong and vibrant NATO more acceptable to a retreating Soviet Union. The alliance adjusted its force posture to take account of the decreasing Soviet threat, deemphasized the role of nuclear weapons, and stressed NATO’s political (as opposed to strictly military) functions. Likewise, the administration took steps to accommodate European desires for greater influence over their own security affairs in the post-Cold War era, while reaffirming NATO’s primacy on European defense. “Our essential goal,” noted one administration strategy memo from 1990, was “a viable NATO that is the foundation for Atlantic cooperation on political and security concerns and maintains the position of the United States as a European power.[55] What made this goal achievable was that there was widespread European support for a strong and perhaps expanded U.S. role. Although the French did seek a more independent European security identity as the Cold War ended, neither they nor any other ally sought the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Europe. As British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd would say in 1990, “European security without the United States simply does not make sense.”[56] Even the Soviets and their erstwhile allies agreed. Although he initially resisted German reunification within NATO (and Moscow would later object to NATO expansion during the 1990s and after), Gorbachev ultimately concluded that a united Germany tied to Washington was preferable to an independent, neutral Germany. “The presence of American troops can play a containing role,” Gorbachev acknowledged in a conversation with Baker.[57] And as early as the spring of 1990, Warsaw Pact countries such as Poland and Hungary were inquiring about eventual NATO membership as a guarantee of their own security.[58] The United States did not immediately undertake NATO expansion in the early 1990s, largely for fear of antagonizing Moscow at a time when Soviet troops had yet to be fully withdrawn from Eastern Europe, and because U.S. officials had yet to study or debate the issue in sufficient detail to reach internal consensus.[59] But even in 1990 and 1991, the Bush administration was tentatively taking exploratory steps, such as extending NATO military liaison relationships to the bloc countries, and the basic geopolitical logic of expansion was starting to take hold. The Office of the Secretary of Defense and the State Department Policy Planning Staff believed, as the National Security Council’s director for European security affairs, Philip Zelikow, put it in October 1990, that it was important “to keep the door ajar and not give the East Europeans the impression that NATO is forever a closed club.”[60] Internal documents argued that expansion would help avoid nationalist frictions and security dilemmas in Eastern Europe. Moreover, as one State Department official subsequently wrote in 1992,
Democratization and economic development have a better chance of succeeding if national security concerns in the Eastern democracies were reduced by credible, multilateral security guarantees.[61]
In several respects, then, the European crisis of 1989 to 1990 underscored and helped to clarify key elements of Bush administration thinking. This episode reinforced the idea that U.S. ascendancy and the weakening of traditional rivals had created a moment of transition in which Washington could act decisively to achieve lasting structural changes. It affirmed the notion that American influence and U.S.-led institutions could serve a critical stabilizing purpose amid geopolitical uncertainty. Finally, this episode offered evidence for the idea that insofar as U.S. power promoted stability in the international system, its maintenance and even expansion after the Cold War might be more welcomed than resisted. Many of these ideas would soon reappear in the American reaction to a second major international crisis.

The Persian Gulf Crisis and War

The Persian Gulf crisis and war of 1990 to 1991 followed hard upon German reunification. It had an equally pronounced impact on U.S. views of the post-Cold War order. On Aug. 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein’s forces invaded Kuwait in a bid to bring that oil-rich kingdom under Iraqi control and thereby redress the Baathist regime’s desperate financial and domestic plight. The United States, however, promptly spearheaded a decisive response. The Bush administration mobilized a diverse diplomatic coalition against Iraq while also coordinating a multinational military deployment used first to protect Saudi Arabia and then to evict Saddam from Kuwait. Washington would ultimately deploy nearly 550,000 personnel, 2,000 tanks, 1,990 aircraft, and 100 warships to the Persian Gulf. Its coalition partners would contribute 270,000 troops, 66 warships, 750 combat aircraft, and 1,100 tanks. When, after several months of military preparations and crisis diplomacy, Saddam refused to withdraw, the U.S.-led coalition prosecuted a brief but punishing war to force him out. That conflict did not ultimately oust Saddam from power, as some U.S. officials had hoped, but it did liberate Kuwait and leave Iraq far weaker and more isolated than before.[62] If German reunification primarily demonstrated the opportunities of the new era, the Gulf crisis primarily highlighted the dangers. Most immediately, Saddam’s invasion threatened the security of critical Gulf oil supplies. It also highlighted larger post-Cold War perils. The crisis showed, as Bush noted in a speech on Aug. 2, that “threats…can arise suddenly, unpredictably, and from unexpected quarters.”[63] More specifically, the invasion raised the prospect that aggressive dictatorships, armed with unconventional weapons, might exploit the fluidity of the post-Cold War world to make bold plays for hegemony in crucial regions. Saddam “has clearly done what he has to do to dominate OPEC, the Gulf and the Arab world,” Cheney said at a National Security Council meeting on Aug. 3.[64] This fear of incipient chaos and destabilizing aggression pushed U.S. officials toward a strong response. “This is the first test of the post [-Cold] war system,” Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger commented. “If [Saddam] succeeds, others may try the same thing. It would be a bad lesson.”[65] As early as Aug. 2, Bush framed the crisis as an illustration of why the United States needed to maintain globe-spanning military power, capable of “rapid response” to crises.[66] Similarly, officials continually reiterated that U.S. engagement was essential to ensuring that the end of bipolarity ushered in something better and not something worse. “We did not stand united for forty years to bring the Cold War to a peaceful end in order to make the world safe for the likes of Saddam Hussein,” Baker said in late 1990. America should defend the position of strategic advantage that its Cold War victory had enabled.[67] The Gulf crisis further affirmed that belief by revealing, far more starkly than before, that only Washington could play the crucial stabilizing role. For all the talk during the 1980s about the economic rise of Japan and Germany, when the Gulf crisis broke only America was uniquely capable of spearheading a decisive multilateral response. U.S. diplomacy was central to mobilizing the Gulf War coalition by providing subsidies for key members such as Egypt, offering diplomatic cover to vulnerable participants, and persuading reluctant actors such as the Soviet Union and China not to stand in the way.[68] U.S. power was even more central in the military arena: No other country had the forces necessary to confront Saddam in his own backyard. “It’s only the United States that can lead,” Bush noted in his diary in September. “All countries in the West clearly have to turn to us.”[69] What the Gulf crisis equally demonstrated was robust global demand for such U.S. leadership. Twenty-seven nations ultimately provided military forces for the coalition effort. Coalition partners also provided $53.8 billion in monetary support and in-kind contributions, nearly covering the total U.S. bill of $61.1 billion.[70] This historic multilateral support for U.S. policy was partially a function of easing Cold War gridlock in the U.N. Security Council and partially reflected the heinous nature of Saddam’s aggression. Yet it also showed that the energetic use of U.S. power was widely seen as vital to upholding stability and safeguarding public goods such as global oil flows in the post-Cold War era. “We are protecting their interest as well as ours,” one administration memo explained, “and it is only fair that they share the burden.”[71] Foreign officials acknowledged this dynamic. “The Japanese people, in the last 45 years, have been used to peace provided by you,” Prime Minister Kaifu Toshiki told Bush at a meeting in September 1990. The Gulf crisis showed that this reliance had hardly ended.[72] [quote id="4"] The realization that Washington had a chance to establish a model of assertive but consensual primacy was at the forefront of U.S. policy in the Gulf crisis. The administration’s multilateralism and talk of a “New World Order” sometimes gave the impression that Bush believed that the United Nations would be the primary provider of international security in the 1990s.[73] Yet in reality, that multilateralism rested on a growing belief that the end of the Cold War was making it possible to gain broader international support — including through institutions such as the United Nations — for energetic American leadership in pursuit of both U.S. interests and global security. As Bush and Scowcroft later acknowledged, their diplomacy was meant to give “a cloak of acceptability to our efforts and mobilize world opinion behind the principles we wished to project.” Scowcroft expanded on this idea. “The United States henceforth would be obligated to lead the world community to an unprecedented degree,” he wrote. It should therefore “pursue our national interest, wherever possible, within a framework of concert with our friends and the international community.”[74] This concept of enlightened American primacy would soon reappear in the DPG and other administration planning documents. In the meantime, the war underscored just how pronounced that primacy was. Saddam’s roughly million-man army was eviscerated by U.S. forces, which had built advanced, high-tech weapons and capabilities for use against the Soviets in Central Europe and were now deploying them against a weaker regional adversary. In particular, the Gulf War showcased American dominance in high-intensity conventional conflict, made possible by unparalleled strengths in capabilities ranging from precision-guided munitions to infra-red technology. It further demonstrated how the training and doctrinal reforms made since Vietnam had allowed U.S. forces to utilize these capabilities with astonishing lethality. As one postwar assessment noted, Operation Desert Storm revealed that America had achieved “a revolutionary advance in military capability.”[75] Combined with the fact that the Soviet Union, consumed by internal turmoil, had largely been left on the sidelines, the result was to display just how significant the emerging post-Cold War power disparity was between Washington and any potential rival. “The U.S. clearly emerges from all of this as the one real superpower in the world,” Cheney observed in April 1991.[76] Ironically, this military dominance did not secure quite the result U.S. officials had sought, as Saddam Hussein survived the war in power, with a much-reduced but still-threatening military. The Bush administration declined the opportunity to double down on operational success by pursuing Saddam’s forces to Baghdad or otherwise explicitly seeking regime change. In part, this was because the administration hoped — and had, from intelligence sources, some reason to believe — that the historic drubbing Saddam had suffered would cause the Iraqi military to overthrow him. “We genuinely believed…that the magnitude of the defeat was so overwhelming that the army would take out Saddam when the war was over,” Robert Gates, Bush’s deputy national security adviser, later recalled.[77] Bush also mistakenly believed, as he told French officials at the time, that Saddam’s “armor was so decimated that they no longer constitute a military threat to their neighbors.”[78] Yet from a broader perspective, this restraint owed to the fact that an administration fully committed to perpetuating American leadership in the post-Cold War era was also wary of going too far. Bush did not want to fragment the Gulf War coalition by exceeding its U.N. mandate. He and his advisers also worried that ridding Iraq of Saddam might require a full-scale military occupation for which there were no existing plans. “We do not want to screw this up with a sloppy, muddled ending,” Bush said.[79] This restraint was later criticized, for contrary to what Bush and his commanders had expected, a significant portion of Saddam’s forces — including elite Republican Guard divisions and Iraqi armor — had escaped destruction. Moreover, the war was followed not by a Sunni military coup but by Shia and Kurdish uprisings that caused Saddam’s generals to rally around him as the only figure who could preserve a unified Iraq.[80] The Bush administration declined to intervene in this bloody civil war, fearful that doing so might fracture the Iraqi state and bring Iranian-backed Shia groups to dominance. The concern, one State Department adviser recalled, was that “this was going to create a new Lebanon.”[81] As a result, Saddam clung to power and remained capable of threatening the Gulf. “Even in its presently weakened state,” Assistant Secretary of Defense Henry Rowen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee several months after the conflict, “Iraq is still much stronger than any of its neighbors to the south.”[82] In fairness to Bush — and in light of later U.S. experience invading and occupying Iraq — prudence may still have been the better part of wisdom in 1991. In any event, the somewhat muddled outcome of the Persian Gulf War simply increased the tendency to expand U.S. activism after the Cold War. In particular, it ensured that Washington would retain a sizable military presence in the Gulf — where it had previously relied on a light-footprint, “over the horizon” approach — as a way of keeping Saddam’s regime contained. “Saddam Hussein is sanctioned forever,” Bush told European officials in April 1991.[83] And in general, the Gulf War further set the stage for an ambitious post-Cold War strategy. The imperative of unmatched U.S. military power; the need for decisive action to head off emergent upheaval; the sense that there was no good alternative to American leadership; the evidence that leadership employed for the collective good could enjoy broad international acceptance: All of these components of the administration’s strategic paradigm gained strong support from the crisis. As administration officials subsequently attempted a more systematic expression of post-Cold War policy, they would draw heavily on this mind-set.

To the Defense Planning Guidance

Official thinking about such a policy statement occurred in the context of two key developments in 1991 and 1992. The first was the terminal decline of the Soviet Union. As scholars have noted, the administration’s policy toward Moscow in 1991 was often hedged and tentative, in part because of internal disagreements between the State and Defense Departments. Partially as a result, U.S. policy played only a marginal role in the Soviet disintegration.[84] Yet that disintegration further clarified America’s global position. America’s long-standing competitor had collapsed and Washington was now without military or ideological peers. “We were suddenly in a unique position,” Scowcroft later wrote, “without experience, without precedent, and standing alone at the height of power.”[85] The need to articulate a strategy for this new situation took on greater salience. That imperative was strengthened by issues at home. The Gulf War had, in many ways, shown the value of U.S. military dominance. Yet as the Soviet Union unraveled, calls for a post-Cold War peace dividend intensified; many observers, including most candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, advocated cuts significantly beyond what the Base Force envisioned. Clinton advocated cutting military spending by one-third over five years. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown advocated a 50 percent cut over the same period; Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa called for 50 percent cuts over ten years.[86] In these circumstances, it seemed essential to identify a persuasive paradigm for global engagement after the passing of the Soviet threat. That task fell to the Pentagon — particularly Wolfowitz’s Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy — which attempted to offer a coherent statement of American purpose in its classified Defense Planning Guidance. Wolfowitz’s staff took the drafting of the report as an opportunity to assess the “fundamentally new situation” in global affairs and to “set the nation’s direction for the next century.”[87] Preparatory work began as early as mid-1991 and, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Wolfowitz’s staff (led by adviser Zalmay Khalilzad) drew up a nearly final version by mid-February 1992.[88] The strategic vision conveyed by the DPG was based on an unvarnished reading of global power dynamics. With the “collapse of the Soviet Union,” “the discrediting of Communism as an ideology with global pretensions and influence,” and the success of American arms in the Gulf, the United States had established an enviable power position. Moreover, the United States led a “system of collective security and…democratic ‘zone of peace’” that bound the developed West tightly to it. All this amounted to what Cheney publicly described as unprecedented “strategic depth” — a dearth of existential threats, combined with tremendous leeway and influence in shaping global events.[89] The core aim of U.S. strategy, then, should be to extend this situation well into the future. As the DPG stated:
Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival…that poses a threat on the order of that formerly posed by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration…and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.
Washington must therefore prevent any adversary from commanding Europe, East Asia, or the Persian Gulf; it should prevent a new hostile superpower from reasserting control over the territory of the former Soviet Union. The goal, in other words, was to avoid a return to bipolarity or multipolarity, and to lock in a U.S.-led unipolar order.[90] The United States should also seek to sustain and even improve this unipolar order by thwarting other emerging threats and further transforming global politics to American advantage. According to the DPG, America would “limit international violence” by confronting dangers such as regional conflict, international terrorism, and the proliferation of nuclear arms as well as other advanced weapons. It would also make the international environment still more congenial by advancing “the spread of democratic forms of government and open economic systems,” particularly in key regions such as the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The Kremlin had “achieved global reach and power” because a totalitarian regime had consolidated control of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Preventing another such threat from arising entailed extending the “democratic zone of peace” into the former Soviet empire and beyond.[91] The DPG was a Pentagon document, but it was not blind to the fact that achieving these ambitious goals would require more than military power. Proactive diplomacy and economic statecraft would be essential to promoting democracy and markets, countering terrorism, and impeding proliferation. Most important, maintaining American primacy would require convincing other leading nations to support rather than oppose it. As Khalilzad wrote,
We must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order.
The United States should thus promote a positive-sum global economy that would help other countries prosper. It should provide international security, leadership in addressing critical challenges, and other common goods that would persuade key second-tier nations to welcome American preeminence. In essence, the DPG made a version of the argument that would later gain currency among international-relations scholars: that unipolarity need not invite concerted counterbalancing so long as Washington used its power to support a benign and broadly beneficial global system.[92] The DPG, then, was a more nuanced document than some critics later claimed. Yet there was no mistaking another core message: that unrivaled American military might was the hard-power backbone of the post-Cold War order. U.S. force deployments and alliance commitments provided stability and influence in key regions from East Asia to Europe to the Persian Gulf; the DPG even raised the prospect of extending security guarantees to former members of the Soviet bloc. American military dominance fostered a peaceful international environment in which open markets and open political systems could prosper; it would also dissuade potential rivals from seeking to challenge American leadership. “We must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role,” the DPG stated. Finally, given the enduring uncertainty of global affairs, unrivaled military primacy would provide the ability to address emerging threats and dangers before they fundamentally disrupted the post-Cold War system. America would not be “righting every wrong,” the document stated, but:
We will retain the preeminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends, or which could seriously unsettle international relations.[93]
To be clear, the DPG did not advocate unrestrained interventionism, for such a view would have been badly out of step with the instincts of key administration leaders. Bush had declined to intervene militarily amid the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in mid-1991, on grounds that there was no vital U.S. interest at stake. “We don’t want to put a dog in this fight,” he wrote in his diary.[94] Similarly, Cheney and Wolfowitz had long understood that any perception that Washington was going about in search of monsters to destroy would drain public support for an assertive post-Cold War policy. “One of the reasons the [Gulf] operation was so successful was that its purposes were very clear and it had public support,” Wolfowitz had commented in 1991. “That doesn’t translate into a blank check to go around the world using force.” Powell, for his part, had argued that same year that America should use force only in cases where U.S. forces could win decisively and then exit the scene, avoiding the sort of open-ended, indecisive missions that had led to such a fierce domestic backlash in Vietnam. “If…military force regrettably turns out to be” necessary, he said, “I think it should be used in a decisive way.”[95] Both halves of the DPG’s formulation regarding the role of American military power were thus important. “The world order,” the document stated forthrightly, “is ultimately backed by the U.S.”[96] But preserving domestic support for such a strategy required avoiding unnecessary interventions and using American power selectively. So how much military power was required to pursue the DPG strategy? The document was somewhat fuzzy regarding specifics, but it left no uncertainty that Washington needed a superiority that was not just unmatched but unrivaled. An initial draft of the document, from September 1991, had stated that “U.S. forces must continue to be at least a generation ahead.”[97] The February 1992 version emphasized the imperative of winning decisively in confrontations with Saddam-like challengers — who might be armed with nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction — as well as the role of vast technological superiority in upholding deterrence. Furthermore, the document affirmed that the United States would act on a multilateral basis when possible but that it must be able “to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated or when an immediate response is…necessary.”[98] In its totality, the DPG expressed a strikingly ambitious vision for American strategy. Yet it was nonetheless basically aligned with the Bush administration’s broader perspective as expressed to date. So many core themes of the document — the promotion of democracy and market economics, the need for globe-spanning and preponderant military power, the idea that Washington could pursue an enlightened sort of leadership that would invite support rather than opposition — were reiterations or refinements of earlier ideas. Nor was the idea of precluding the rise of a new hostile superpower particularly novel. It drew on the same logic that had impelled Bush to prevent Saddam from dominating the Persian Gulf, and thereby amassing dangerous levels of geopolitical power, and the basic concept of using the Cold War’s end to lock in a more favorable international order. (It also drew on an older U.S. strategic concept, dating to World War II, of preventing rivals from controlling key regions of the world.[99]) In effect, the DPG drew together the administration’s core post-Cold War concepts and linked them to a more explicit overall ambition of preserving U.S. international supremacy. It was not a sharp break with the administration’s strategic thinking; it can more properly be seen as the culmination thereof. [quote id="5"] Yet the February 1992 DPG was also still a draft document, and for a time it appeared to be dead on arrival. Late that month the document leaked to the New York Times and Washington Post. Reacting to the DPG’s more striking language and ideas — which were emphasized in the media reporting — critics lambasted the Pentagon’s blueprint. Biden declared that “what these Pentagon planners are laying out is nothing but a Pax Americana.”[100] Sen. Alan Cranston memorably accused the administration of seeking to make America “the one, the only main honcho on the world block, the global Big Enchilada.”[101] The Washington Post editorial board lamented the DPG’s “muscle-flexing unilateralism” as a rejection of Gulf War-era multilateralism.[102] Sen. Edward Kennedy charged that the DPG “aimed primarily at finding new ways to justify Cold War levels of military spending.”[103] Other observers noted that the DPG seemed focused on stymieing the rise not only of American adversaries but also of traditional allies such as Germany and Japan and non-hostile powers such as India.[104] Blindsided by the leak and subsequent chorus of boos, the Bush administration wavered. National Security Council talking points encouraged Bush to play down the DPG in an upcoming meeting with German officials. “Kohl may express displeasure about the leaked Pentagon paper suggesting that the U.S. wants to block the rise of any new superpower, including German-led Europe,” NSC officials wrote in March 1992. “You should explain that we want to see a stronger, more united Europe.”[105] In public, Bush explained that he had not formally approved — or even read — Khalilzad’s draft. Cheney and Wolfowitz subsequently called upon a top Pentagon aide, Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, to rewrite the February 1992 draft. The redraft toned down the language of the earlier version while also playing up the importance of alliance relationships and multilateralism. By May, leading newspapers were reporting that the administration had pulled back from its radical vision. “Pentagon Drops Goal of Blocking New Superpowers,” the New York Times proclaimed.[106] The reality, however, was different. The DPG was not, after all, some great substantive departure from administration views on post-Cold War strategy. As noted earlier, many of the key military concepts expressed in the document — the imperative of maintaining military primacy based on high-end technological superiority and the need to head off the emergence of new regional hegemons — had played key roles in the development of the Base Force. Similarly, a document finalized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in January 1992 significantly foreshadowed the DPG, arguing that America must “preserve a credible capability to forestall any potential adversary from competing militarily with the United States.”[107] During early 1992, moreover, Powell and Cheney had publicly advocated some of the core themes of the DPG in speeches and congressional testimony. “We are…the world’s sole remaining superpower,” Powell had said. “Seldom in our history have we been in a stronger position relative to any challengers we might face. This is a position we should not abandon.”[108] These views were not held solely by Pentagon officials. The president himself largely kept quiet about the DPG in public. But Bush did nonetheless convey that he “was broadly supportive of the thrust of the Pentagon document” once he learned of it following the leaks, one reporter noted in March, and his private statements confirm this assessment. “We must remain the active leader of the entire world,” he wrote in a note to White House aides that month. “We must not only have the convictions about democracy and freedom, but we must have a strong National Defense posture.”[109] As discussed subsequently, Bush would also strongly endorse many key tenets of the report in his final National Security Strategy. Likewise, at the State Department, James Baker implicitly affirmed other aspects of the DPG. He noted in early April that although multilateralism would always be the first preference, America would never relinquish the right to act unilaterally when necessary. “We can hardly entrust the future of democracy or American interests exclusively to multilateral institutions,” he said.[110] This is not to say that there was no internal debate or controversy over the DPG. State Department officials — still smarting from intense internal debates over how to handle the breakup of the Soviet Union — offered some anonymous critiques of the DPG, terming the language overblown and counterproductive to the goal of maintaining positive relationships with rising powers such as India.[111] The DPG also leaned further forward than some U.S. officials would have liked with respect to the potential future expansion of NATO. At the NSC, Scowcroft, a stickler for good process, was displeased that the document had leaked and that the debate had played out publicly as opposed to privately. Similarly, Bush and those around him understood that the muscular language of the document was likely to cause political problems for leaders of allied countries, such as Germany and Japan, that the DPG seemed to identify as potential future competitors. “I know the leak of this draft Pentagon report didn’t help,” read Bush’s suggested talking points for the aforementioned meeting with Kohl.[112] Finally, administration higher-ups were clearly nonplussed that the rhetoric of the DPG occasionally seemed to undercut the emphasis on multilateralism that had characterized U.S. policy during the Gulf War. The administration had always recognized that such multilateralism was both dependent on, and a means of advancing, American leadership. But the DPG’s blunt advocacy of preserving American primacy seemed likely to dispel the warm feelings Washington had earned through its reliance on the U.N. Security Council during the Gulf crisis, and to present the image of a superpower determined to maintain hegemony for its own narrow purposes. This was presumably why Scowcroft termed the DPG “arrogant” (as he later put it) and likely to cause diplomatic headaches.[113] Yet these concerns pertained mainly to language, process, and atmospherics, and not to core strategic content. Put differently, it would have been hard to identify any leading officials who did not think that the United States should maintain unrivaled military capabilities, favorable power balances in key regions, and a global network of security alliances, while also working to promote a stable international environment in which democracy and markets were prevalent and U.S. influence was unsurpassed. Scowcroft, for instance, may have criticized the DPG after the fact (and after the Iraq War of 2003 had soured his relationship with Cheney), but at the time his NSC staff does not seem to have objected to the basic ideas — as distinct from the language — conveyed in the report. Indeed, when a revised version of the document — which was substantively quite similar — was subsequently submitted for clearance, the White House approved it with only minor edits.[114] And though State Department officials would later offer, in an end-of-administration review, a vision of post-Cold War policy that placed greater emphasis on international economics and other non-military challenges (as was appropriate in a State Department document), the core premises of the analysis were not dramatically different from those of the DPG. One collection of State Department papers noted, for instance, that “for the first time in fifty years we do not face a global military adversary” and stressed the remarkably advantageous nature of that situation. It spoke of the need to prevent proliferation of WMD to authoritarian regimes, for “such a development would dramatically destabilize important parts of the world, and could even threaten the physical security of the United States.” It stressed the importance of promoting free markets and free political institutions. Above all, it argued that no one else could lead in these tasks:
The bottom line is that in this time of uncertainty, the United States has a unique role to play — as a provider of reassurance and architect of new security arrangements; as an aggressive proponent of economic openness; as an exemplar and advocate of democratic values; as a builder and leader of coalitions to deal with the problems of a chaotic post-Cold War world.[115]
In sum, there was far more consensus than debate about the basic merits of the strategy described in the DPG.[116] As all this indicates, efforts — whether at the time or later — to sharply distinguish between the primacist strategy embodied by the DPG and the liberal internationalist approach favored by other observers rest on a false dichotomy. For the DPG did advance a strategy of liberal internationalism. It emphasized maintaining U.S. leadership of alliances and other institutions, promoting liberal norms, and fostering an open and inclusive international order, in part by ensuring that America retained the preponderant military power and strategic influence needed to accomplish these goals. In the same way, the State Department papers just referenced recognized that American leadership and power were essential components of promoting a cooperative, stable international environment, just as Bush and Scowcroft had recognized during the Gulf War that any “New World Order” would ultimately have to rest on the unrivaled might and unequaled exertions of the United States. The Bush administration recognized, in other words, what some scholars would subsequently become prone to ignoring — that liberal internationalism and U.S. hegemonic leadership were two sides of the same coin.[117] Yet if all this is true, then what caused the public blowup when the DPG was leaked? Much of that furor stemmed from the same factors that had caused insiders some discomfort. Because the administration had used such high-flown multilateral rhetoric during the Persian Gulf War — albeit as a way of asserting American leadership — the DPG’s unembarrassed support for U.S. geopolitical superiority was unavoidably jarring to many outside observers. “I was a little surprised somebody would put this kind of thing down on paper,” the diplomatic historian John Lewis Gaddis told a reporter.[118] The political context simply fanned the flames. On the right, the DPG landed in the middle of a surprisingly competitive Republican presidential primary, in which Buchanan was calling for geopolitical retrenchment and a more narrowly nationalistic approach to foreign affairs.[119] The leak of the DPG also occurred amid heated debates about military spending levels and as Democratic presidential candidates sought to outdo each other in their critique of Bush’s foreign policy. It was hardly a coincidence that key players in these debates were among the harshest critics of the DPG. Paul Tsongas publicly blasted the administration for ignoring the United Nations; Clinton’s deputy campaign manager, George Stephanopoulos, labeled the DPG exercise “an excuse for big budgets.”[120] The controversy’s intensely political nature would become clear after Clinton won the presidency — and proceeded to follow a national security policy that tracked fairly closely with what the document recommended. Contrary to what the New York Times reported, in fact, the DPG was quietly affirmed by the Bush administration in its final months in office. Wolfowitz and Cheney accepted Libby’s revised draft, which was then approved (notwithstanding minor edits) by the White House. A public version was published in January 1993 as the Pentagon’s Regional Defense Strategy.[121] Although the revised paper had tamer language, Wolfowitz assured Cheney, “It is still a rather hard-hitting document which retains the substance you liked in the February 18th draft.”[122] Indeed, the Regional Defense Strategy fully committed to preserving American primacy in support of an open and congenial order. “America’s strategic position is stronger than it has been for decades,” it averred; Washington must “maintain the strategic depth that we won through forty years of the Cold War.” Likewise, the Regional Defense Strategy reaffirmed the value of U.S. alliances and forward deployments, and it made clear that America must be able to “preclude hostile nondemocratic powers from dominating regions critical to our interests.” The document emphasized protecting the post-Cold War order by confronting terrorism and weapons proliferation, and by extending “the remarkable democratic ‘zone of peace.’” While paying due regard to American alliances and international institutions, the Regional Defense Strategy also left no doubt that Washington would use force — alone, if need be — to defeat serious threats to its interests. Finally, the strategy made explicit the idea that America should “dominate the military-technological revolution” as a means of sustaining its preeminence and deterring current or potential rivals. The Regional Defense Strategy, in other words, was simply the DPG in another guise.[123] Admittedly, the document did not explicitly restate the idea that Washington should prevent the rise of any new hostile superpower.[124] Yet this was a distinction without a difference because the goal of preventing hostile nondemocratic powers from dominating key regions — which ran throughout the document — amounted to the same thing. [quote id="6"] At the close of Bush’s presidency, the administration found other ways of conveying this basic commitment to a primacist strategy. In late 1992, Bush dispatched U.S. troops to provide humanitarian assistance to starving civilians in Somalia. He had done so reluctantly, out of fears that this deployment would result in the sort of open-ended mission he had earlier resisted in the Gulf and the Balkans. As a result, while humanitarian concerns ultimately drove Bush to approve the mission, he sought to define it as narrowly as possible — to limit it to the delivery of aid and the creation of infrastructure for future deliveries. He made clear in two major policy addresses that Washington should always be wary of “running off on reckless, expensive crusades.” But Bush also used these addresses, in December 1992 and January 1993, to further spell out his now-familiar vision for global strategy, a vision that was premised on using unrivaled U.S. influence to promote geopolitical stability, avoid a return to the more threatening climate of earlier decades, and “win the democratic peace…for people the world over.”[125] Bush’s final National Security Strategy put forward much the same idea. The 1993 iteration was Bush’s foreign policy valedictory, issued in the name of the president himself. It represented his concluding effort to enshrine a prudent yet ambitious post-Cold War strategy. Lest there be any thought that the Regional Defense Strategy did not reflect administration policy, or that it was issued simply as a sop to Cheney’s Defense Department as Bush’s tenure expired, the National Security Strategy explicitly endorsed the approach laid out in that document, and even echoed — verbatim — concepts including the importance of “strategic depth” and the democratic “zone of peace.” The lessons of the new era, the National Security Strategy argued, were already clear:
that we cannot be sure when or where the next conflict will arise; that regions critical to our interests must be defended; that the world must respond to straightforward aggression; that international coalitions can be forged, though they often will require American leadership; that the proliferation of advanced weaponry represents a clear, present, and widespread danger; and that the United States remains the nation whose strength and leadership are essential to a stable and democratic world order.
To this end, the document endorsed the retention of critical power-projection capabilities and overweening military power; it called for the United States to promote the forces of global “integration” against threatening “fragmentation.” The National Security Strategy made clear that post-Cold War stability would ultimately rest on “an enduring global faith” in America, and it left little doubt that the United States intended to leave behind an era of balanced power and geopolitical divisions, and to shape a unipolar order in its own image. “Our policy has one overriding goal: real peace — not the illusory and fragile peace maintained by a balance of terror, but an enduring democratic peace based on shared values.”[126] That vision, it turned out, long outlasted Bush’s presidency. There was initially some indication that the Clinton administration might undertake a more effacing approach to world affairs, and on the stump Clinton had pledged to pursue defense cuts far greater than those made by Bush. Yet, as the Clinton administration found itself facing largely the same global panorama as its predecessor, it ultimately embraced a strategy very similar to that charted during the Bush years. As early as September 1993, National Security Adviser Anthony Lake gave a major address noting that the defining “feature of this era is that we are its dominant power” and arguing that Washington must use that dominance to promote continued global stability, to prevent aggressive dictators from menacing the post-Cold War order, and to aggressively promote free markets and democracy. “We should act multilaterally where doing so advances our interests,” Lake added, “and we should act unilaterally when that will serve our purpose.”[127] Likewise, the Pentagon committed to retaining the capacity to defeat two major regional aggressors nearly simultaneously, and in 1996 the Joint Chiefs of Staff released a document advocating “full spectrum dominance” to mold the international environment and constrain potential rivals.[128] All of these concepts could have been ripped straight from the 1992 DPG. Indeed, the outcome of the Pentagon’s Bottom Up Review, undertaken in 1993, demonstrates the strength of the lineage between Bush-era planning efforts and those that followed. Clinton’s first secretary of defense, Les Aspin, had initiated a thoroughgoing review of U.S. military strategy as part of an effort to further reduce defense spending. But as his Pentagon considered the opportunities and imperatives of the post-Cold War world, it ended up embracing its predecessor’s strategy. The final report of the Bottom Up Review emphasized the importance of preventing aggressive authoritarians from dominating key regions. It concluded that America “must field forces capable, in concert with its allies, of fighting and winning two major regional conflicts that occur nearly simultaneously.” This “two MRC” construct was deemed crucial because, as Aspin wrote, “We do not want a potential aggressor in one region to be tempted to take advantage if we are already engaged in halting aggression in another.” Moreover, maintaining a two-MRC capability would serve as insurance against the prospect that any major power might seek to compete militarily with Washington. It would
provide a hedge against the possibility that a future adversary might one day confront us with a larger-than-expected threat, and then turn out, through doctrinal or technological innovation, to be more capable than we expect, or enlist the assistance of other nations to form a coalition against our interests.
Maintaining this dominant force, in turn, was necessary so that
we can replace the East-West confrontation of the Cold War with an era in which the community of nations, guided by a common commitment to democratic principles, free-market economics, and the rule of law, can be significantly enlarged.[129]
The continuity of basic strategy, moreover, was more than rhetorical. U.S. military spending would decline somewhat under Clinton, to around 3 percent of gross domestic product by the late 1990s (although this decline was partially due to the robust economic growth of that decade). But because most other countries reduced their defense spending faster than Washington did, the United States still accounted for roughly 35 to 40 percent of global defense spending, and it preserved military capabilities far in excess of those of all U.S. rivals combined.[130] Like the Bush administration, the Clinton administration also repeatedly proved willing to use those capabilities to face down threats to stability in critical regions, such as when it dispatched additional troops to the Persian Gulf in 1994 after Saddam Hussein once again threatened Kuwait, or when it dispatched two carrier strike groups to the Western Pacific after China sought to use military exercises and missile tests to intimidate Taiwan in 1995 and 1996. That latter episode represented a deliberate display of American primacy. As Secretary of Defense William Perry announced, “Beijing should know, and this [U.S. fleet] will remind them, that while they are a great military power, the premier military power in the Western Pacific is the United States.”[131] More broadly, the Clinton administration would undertake a range of policies that fit squarely within the framework laid down by the Bush administration: retention and updating of U.S. alliances in the Asia-Pacific, expansion of NATO in Europe, promotion of democratic concepts and market reforms in countries from Haiti to Russia, active containment of Saddam’s Iraq and other aggressive authoritarian regimes, and efforts to stymie nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere. And rhetorically, the Clinton administration embraced the idea of America as the “indispensable nation,” the country with a unique responsibility for upholding global peace and security — and the unique privileges that came with that role.[132] Administrations changed, but the basic logic of post-Cold War strategy endured. In fact, as scholars have now extensively documented, a commitment to maintaining American primacy, and to using that primacy to shape an eminently favorable global environment, became a theme of fundamental, bipartisan continuity throughout the post-Cold War era. This is not to say that there was no change in U.S. strategy from the early 1990s onward, for particular policies and rhetorical and diplomatic styles did shift considerably over time — witness the approaches of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama to Iraq, for instance. Similarly, which of the three key regions of Eurasia would receive the greatest attention from U.S. policymakers also shifted during this period. But the first-order judgments about American strategy remained remarkably consistent, and many core objectives and initiatives persisted as well.[133] Long after the initial firestorm touched off by the leak of the DPG had been mostly forgotten, the basic ideas and policies the document propounded remained quite relevant.

Conclusion

Twenty-five years after it was drafted, the DPG remains a source of controversy in some circles. While some historians and other analysts have begun to better understand the content and nature of that document, critics have continued to see it as “unsettling” and even “Strangelovian.” Likewise, some scholars persist in deeming the DPG an unprecedented assertion of American hegemony.[134] As a review of the declassified record demonstrates, however, the reality was more prosaic — but also, perhaps, more interesting. The DPG offered a program for the retention and improvement of America’s post-bipolar primacy, but it was hardly unique in its arguments. Rather, the DPG fit comfortably within the dominant strategic paradigm of the Bush administration, even if the rhetoric was sharper than many officials would have liked. Even before the superpower conflict ended, Bush and his advisers had argued that the United States must lean forward in shaping a promising but potentially perilous post-Cold War world. The logic of American primacy was then reinforced by crises in Europe and the Persian Gulf. After the Soviet collapse, the DPG drew together the key elements of a coalescing strategic mind-set and made the case for American primacy in its starkest and most explicit terms. The DPG thus encapsulated the Bush administration’s choice of an ambitious post-Cold War strategy, one that was reaffirmed by subsequent administrations. Interestingly, then, a review of Bush administration strategic planning makes the DPG appear both more and less important than it was often seen to be at the time. The document was arguably more important in the sense that it represented the earliest, most comprehensive, and most candid statement of American strategy after the Soviet collapse, and in the sense that its core concepts would endure. Yet it was arguably less important than sometimes thought in the sense that its basic content was not particularly controversial within the administration and that it was only one element of a much larger process by which Bush and his advisers came to identify and articulate a post-bipolar approach to global statecraft. The Bush administration’s choice of that strategy, in turn, drew on a mix of important factors. There were, certainly, the long-standing beliefs — both ideological and geopolitical — about America’s role in the world, which influenced the administration’s outlook from the outset. More immediately, there was the potent cocktail of optimism and wariness that shaped U.S. strategic thinking at the dawn of a new era. Bush and his aides clearly perceived that Washington had a historic opportunity to solidify a post-bipolar order in which U.S. interests and values would be far more privileged than before; they also worried that any lack of assertive American leadership would open the door to multipolar instability and tumult. The result was to push the United States toward an expansive approach meant to reap the benefits while avoiding the dangers of the post-Cold War world. If nothing else, the emerging record of the Bush administration’s approach to global strategy indicates that some interpretations of the forty-first president’s statecraft need to be revised. For years, the standard depiction of Bush’s foreign policy, offered by eminent scholars such as Jeremi Suri as well as former policymakers such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, was that Bush was an adept crisis manager but lacked the vision to identify a new global role for America. Yet in light of the evidence presented here — as well as recent assessments by scholars such as Jeffrey Engel — this interpretation is no longer persuasive.[135] Over the course of his presidency, Bush and his advisers did establish a clear and relatively coherent vision for post-Cold War strategy. That vision was quite ambitious; it was readily apparent in administration strategy documents and key policies. And it would persist, in its broad outlines, long after Bush left office. [quote id="7"] But was this a wise strategy? Since the early 1990s, there has developed a substantial literature critiquing the U.S. decision to pursue a primacist strategy, and thus critiquing — implicitly or explicitly — the Bush administration’s role in making that choice.[136] A full assessment of post-Cold War strategy would require more extensive analysis than is possible here.[137] With the perspective of a quarter-century, however, a more positive view of the Bush administration’s strategic decision-making seems warranted. For one thing, that decision-making was rooted in a generally reasonable assessment of the international environment and America’s role therein as the Cold War ended. As Bush-era officials were acutely aware, this was indeed a moment when the geopolitical tectonic plates were shifting more rapidly and disruptively than at any time since World War II. Many leading international relations scholars were predicting that the post-Cold War world would be a nasty place characterized by multipolar instability, rampant nuclear proliferation, and great-power revisionism by Germany and Japan.[138] Moreover, the major international crises of this period demonstrated that the United States did have a unique capacity to provide stability and leadership amid profound uncertainty and that there was fairly widespread international support for Washington to play this role. In these circumstances, it was hardly surprising or unreasonable that the Bush administration chose a form of consensual but assertive American primacy as the best approach to protecting international security and U.S. interests. Nor was it surprising that subsequent presidents affirmed this basic concept. And in retrospect, many key judgments and premises of that approach have fared passably well with time. Bush administration decision-making was, for instance, based on a fairly accurate assessment of the durability of American primacy. At the dawn of the post-Cold War era, leading academic observers often predicted that unipolarity would rapidly give way to a multipolar system in which Japan, Germany, or a united Europe balanced against the United States.[139] Yet for more than a quarter-century after the Cold War, the United States remained by far the most powerful and capable actor in international affairs. Today, the ongoing rise of China has narrowed America’s lead but not nearly erased it. As the most systematic assessment of global power dynamics today concludes, “Everyone should start getting used to a world in which the United States remains the sole superpower for decades to come.”[140] The Bush administration believed that American preeminence could last for some time; the trajectory of international politics over the course of a generation affirms that judgment more than it undercuts it. The trajectory of international politics also affirmed a second belief, which was that assertive American leadership would attract more countries than it repelled. Today, of course, rivals such as Russia and China are contesting American primacy, as part of an effort to assert their own prerogatives. Yet what is remarkable is that the post-Cold War era has not, at least so far, produced a concerted, multilateral counter-balancing campaign against the dominant country in the international system, and that many key second- and third-tier states have continued to align with Washington. Japan, Germany, and other major industrial countries have remained largely content to be part of the strategic and economic community led by the United States. Front-line states in Eastern Europe and other regions have often seemed to fear American abandonment more than American domination. As Zachary Selden has argued, the dominant tendency has been to balance with the United States against threats to the international system — like those now posed by Russia and China — rather than to balance against the preeminent power that America has wielded.[141] Finally, there is now significant scholarship to support the idea that a primacist strategy indeed accomplished some of the most important goals the Bush administration initially set out. In a recent book, Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth provide a robust body of evidence and analysis demonstrating that the persistence of assertive American engagement did have the effect of suppressing security competitions and instability in key strategic theaters while also providing the overall climate of reassurance in which the international economy could continue to thrive.[142] Other scholars have noted the role of America’s post-Cold War policies in assisting the continued spread of democracy and market institutions, and in limiting nuclear proliferation in East Asia and Eastern Europe.[143] Not least, even consistent critics of America’s post-Cold War strategy, such as John Mearsheimer, have acknowledged that a persistent U.S. presence in key regions such as Europe and East Asia helped to avoid the major interstate wars that characterized many earlier historical eras, and to avert a rapid return to the more unstable and violent climate that many observers feared when the Cold War ended.[144] All of these points could, surely, be debated at length. Yet if a key premise of a primacist strategy was that assertive American engagement would help produce a more stable and liberal international order than one might otherwise have expected, then there is a defensible argument to be made that this premise, too, looks fairly good twenty-five years later. A primacist strategy has never been without its problems, from the economic costs associated with a global military presence to the fact that the United States has periodically succumbed to the temptation to overuse its tremendous power. Today, moreover, the United States faces more serious challenges to its primacy and global interests than at any other time in the post-Cold War era, from a rising China, a resurgent Russia, and an international rogues’ gallery that is more empowered and better armed than at any moment since Saddam Hussein’s defeat in 1991. Not least, there is some uncertainty as to whether American leaders and the body politic still support such an engaged and assertive strategy, and the policies and mannerisms of the Trump administration may well pose their own challenge to U.S. effectiveness and leadership on the global stage.[145] Yet when one considers the more constructive effects that a primacist strategy has arguably had, and the fact that some of its foundational premises have proven fairly solid over time, one does, perhaps, gain a greater degree of appreciation for the logic of America’s post-Cold War strategy, and for the Bush administration’s role in shaping that strategy at a moment of great promise and uncertainty in international affairs. Hal Brands is a Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is the author or editor of several books, including Making the Unipolar Moment: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Rise of the Post-Cold War Order (2016), What Good is Grand Strategy? Power and Purpose in American Statecraft from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush (2014), Latin America’s Cold War (2010), From Berlin to Baghdad: America’s Search for Purpose in the Post-Cold War World (2008), and The Power of the Past: History and Statecraft (co-edited with Jeremi Suri, 2015). He was a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow from 2015 to 2016. He has also consulted with a range of government offices and agencies in the intelligence and national security communities. ISSN (Print): 2576-1021 ISSN(Online): 2576-1153 Image: Wikimedia Commons [post_title] => Choosing Primacy: U.S. Strategy and Global Order at the Dawn of the Post-Cold War Era [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => choosing-primacy-u-s-strategy-global-order-dawn-post-cold-war-era-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-26 05:48:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-26 09:48:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=436 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => Newly declassified U.S. government records shed some light onto U.S. strategic thinking about the post-Cold War era and the infamous Defense Planning Guidance. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 1, Issue 2 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The DPG was not, as is commonly believed, a radical document or an outlier from Bush administration strategic thinking. ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => From the earliest months of the Bush administration, there was thus a consensus that reduced Cold War tensions did not imply a dramatic U.S. retrenchment. ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => There were widespread fears that the collapse of Soviet authority in Eastern Europe could unleash ethnic violence or resurgent nationalist rivalries within that region. ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The Gulf crisis demonstrated robust global demand for U.S. leadership. ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The DPG was nonetheless basically aligned with the Bush administration’s broader perspective as expressed to date. ) [5] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The DPG was quietly affirmed by the Bush administration in its final months in office. ) [6] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The DPG encapsulated the Bush administration’s choice of an ambitious post-Cold War strategy, one that was reaffirmed by subsequent administrations. ) ) [style] => scholarly [type] => Scholarly [style_label] => The Scholar [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => 554 ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 9 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] This article significantly expands on arguments first made in the author’s recent book. See Hal Brands, Making the Unipolar Moment: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Rise of the Post-Cold War Order (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2016). [2] See Draft of FY 94-99 Defense Planning Guidance (DPG), in Vesser to Secretaries of Military Departments, CJCS, et al., Feb. 18, 1992, Electronic Briefing Book (EBB) 245, National Security Archive (NSA). [3] Barton Gellman, “Keeping the U.S. First,” Washington Post, March 11, 1992. [4] Quoted in Joshua Muravchik, The Imperative of American Leadership: A Challenge to Neo-Isolationism (Washington: American Enterprise Institute Press, 1996), 136. [5] Craig Unger, The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America’s Future (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 148; David Armstrong, “Dick Cheney’s Song of America: Drafting a Plan for Global Dominance,” Harper’s, October 2002, 76, https://harpers.org/archive/2002/10/dick-cheneys-song-of-america/ [6] See Melvyn P. Leffler, “Dreams of Freedom, Temptations of Power,” in The Fall of the Berlin Wall: The Revolutionary Legacy of 1989, ed. Jeffrey A. Engel (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 132-69; Eric S. Edelman, “The Strange Career of the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance,” in In Uncertain Times: American Policy After the Berlin Wall and 9/11, edited by Melvyn P. Leffler and Jeffrey W. Legro (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011); Paul Wolfowitz, “Shaping the Future: Planning at the Pentagon, 1989-1993,” in In Uncertain Times, edited by Leffler and Legro, 44-62; Zalmay Khalilzad, The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House, My Journey Through a Turbulent World (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2016), Chapter 7; James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet (New York: Penguin, 2004), 198-215. [7] Lloyd Gardner, The Long Road to Baghdad: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy From the 1970s to the Present (New York: The New Press, 2008), 98-100. [8] Richard Immerman, Empire for Liberty: A History of American Imperialism From Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), 218-20. [9] Edelman, “Strange Career,” 63. There is also a smaller body of literature arguing that the DPG was not as important as all this attention might make it seem. See, for instance, Ionut Popescu, Emergent Strategy and Grand Strategy: How American Presidents Succeed in Foreign Policy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017), 123-25. [10] Political scientists differ considerably on whether that strategy has been wise. See, variously, Barry Posen, Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014); John Mearsheimer, “Imperial by Design,” National Interest 111 (January/February 2011): 16-34; Peter Feaver, “American Grand Strategy at the Crossroads: Leading From the Front, Leading From Behind, or Not Leading at All,” in America’s Path: Grand Strategy for the Next Administration, eds. Richard Fontaine and Kristin Lord (Washington: Center for a New American Security, 2012), 59-70. On German reunification and NATO expansion, see Mary Elise Sarotte, “Perpetuating U.S. Preeminence: The 1990 Deals to ‘Bribe the Soviets Out’ and Move NATO In,” International Security 35, no. 1 (2010): 110-37; Joshua Shifrinson, “Deal or No Deal? The End of the Cold War and the U.S. Offer to Limit NATO Expansion,” International Security 40, no. 4 (Spring 2016): 7-44. [11] Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (New York: Vintage, 1987); Peter Schmeisser, “Taking Stock: Is America in Decline?” New York Times, April 17, 1988, http://www.nytimes.com/1988/04/17/magazine/taking-stock-is-america-in-decline.html?pagewanted=all. [12] Quoted in Homer A. Neal, Tobin Smith, and Jennifer McCormick, Beyond Sputnik: U.S. Science Policy in the Twenty-First Century (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008), 81. [13] Schmeisser, “Taking Stock: Is America in Decline?”; Patrick Buchanan, “America First — and Second, and Third,” National Interest 19 (Spring 1990): 77-82. [14] Jeane Kirkpatrick, “A Normal Country in a Normal Time,” National Interest 21 (Fall 1990): 40-44. [15] See Patrick Tyler, “Halving Defense Budget in Decade Suggested,” Washington Post, Nov. 21, 1989. [16] Alan Murray and Jeffrey Birnbaum, “Post-Cold War Budget Is Here, So Where Is the Peace Dividend?” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 29, 1990. [17] Patrick Tyler and Molly Moore, “Soviet Defense Spending Cut As Promised, CIA Reports,” Washington Post, Nov. 15, 1989; Helen Dewar, “Nunn Warns Pentagon to Fill Blanks in Budget,” Washington Post, March 23, 1990. [18] Charles Krauthammer, “Universal Dominion: Toward a Unipolar World,” National Interest 18 (Winter 1989-1990): 46-49. [19] Michael R. Beschloss and Strobe Talbott, At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1993). [20] Bush Diary, Feb. 15, 1975, in George H.W. Bush, All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings (New York, 1999), 215. [21] “Bush: ‘Our Work Is Not Done; Our Force Is Not Spent,’” Washington Post, Aug. 19, 1988. [22] Jeffrey A. Engel, “A Better World…but Don’t Get Carried Away: The Foreign Policy of George H.W. Bush Twenty Years On,” Diplomatic History 34, no. 1 (2010): 25-46. [23] Andrew Rosenthal, “Differing Views of America’s Global Role,” New York Times, Nov. 2, 1988; “A Report to the National Security Council by the Executive Secretariat on United States Objectives and Programs for National Security,” April 14, 1950, https://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/coldwar/documents/pdf/10-1.pdf. [24] “Foreign Press Center Background Briefing,” March 20, 1990, CF00209, Peter Rodman Files, George H.W. Bush Library (GHWBL). [25] National Security Review-3, “Comprehensive Review of U.S.-Soviet Relations,” Feb. 15, 1989, NSR File, GHWBL. [26] RBZ (Robert B. Zoellick) Draft, “Points for Consultations with European Leaders,” Nov. 27, 1989, Box 108, James A. Baker III Papers, Mudd Library, Princeton University. [27] Remarks at U.S. Coast Guard Academy, May 24, 1989. [28] NSR-12, “Review of National Defense Strategy,” March 3, 1989, NSR File, GHWBL. [29] Cheney Remarks to American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 4, 1990, Federal News Service transcript. [30] See The Future Security Environment: Report of the Future Security Environment Working Group, submitted to the Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy (Washington: Government Printing Office, October 1988). [31] “Background Briefing by Senior Administration Official,” March 20, 1990, CF00209, Peter Rodman Files, GHWBL; also Michael Hayden to Scowcroft, March 15, 1990, CF00209, Peter Rodman Files, GHWBL. [32] “Talking Points: Cabinet Meeting — January 23, 1989,” Box 108, Baker Papers, Princeton. [33] Memorandum of Conversation (MemCon) between Bush and Lee Sang Hoon, July 20, 1989, OA/AD 91107, Presidential MemCon Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHBWL. [34] MemCon between Bush and Vaclav Havel, Feb. 20, 1990, OA/AD 91107, Presidential MemCon Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHBWL. [35] National Security Strategy of the United States (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1990), 1-2; also Hayden to Scowcroft, March 15, 1990, CF00209, Peter Rodman Files, GHWBL. [36] Powell Remarks to National Press Club, June 22, 1990, Federal News Service transcript. [37] Alan Murray and David Wessel, “Bush Is Likely to Seek Defense Increase For ’91, Despite Reduction in Tensions,” Wall Street Journal, Nov. 28, 1989; David Hoffman, “Bush Cautions Against Big Defense Cuts,” Washington Post, Jan. 13, 1990. [38] National Security Strategy (1990), 23. [39] Lorna S. Jaffe, The Development of the Base Force, 1989-1992 (Washington: Joint History Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1993); Wolfowitz, “Shaping the Future,” 48-54; Michael Gordon, “Pentagon Drafts Strategy for Post-Cold War World,” New York Times, Aug. 2, 1990. [40] Remarks in Aspen, Colorado, Aug. 2, 1990. Coincidentally, this speech was delivered less than 24 hours after Saddam Hussein’s forces had invaded Kuwait. [41] Don Oberdorfer, “Strategy for Solo Superpower: Pentagon Looks to ‘Regional Contingencies,’” Washington Post, May 19, 1991; Jaffe, Development of the Base Force, 7-8, 29. For a similar assessment, see Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Military Strategy of the United States (January 1992), http://history.defense.gov/Portals/70/Documents/nms/nms1992.pdf?ver=2014-06-25-123420-723. [42] See State Department Bureau of Public Affairs, “Movement Toward German Unification, March 1989-July 1990,” Box 2, Zelikow-Rice Files, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. [43] Excerpts from Soviet Transcript of Malta Summit, Dec. 2-3, 1989, EBB 296, NSA. [44] Scowcroft to Bush, undated, CF00182, Robert Blackwill Files, GHWBL. [45] The debate over what, precisely, the Bush administration promised Moscow regarding future NATO enlargement during 1989 to 1990 has generated a substantial literature of its own. What can briefly be said here is that Washington never provided the Soviets with a formal pledge that NATO would not expand further into Eastern Europe, and U.S. policymakers certainly did not believe that they were constrained from doing so. During negotiations with Gorbachev in February 1990, Baker did float — as a trial balloon — the idea that Moscow might accept reunification of Germany within NATO in exchange for NATO not expanding its military structures into the former East Germany. But even that more limited assurance was overtaken within days as it quickly became clear that a reunified Germany could not sit half inside and half outside of NATO. The argument that the United States subsequently violated an agreement not to expand NATO is, therefore, inaccurate. Some Russian observers, however, may have believed that there was some type of informal understanding on NATO expansion (in part because, in early 1990, West German officials sometimes floated this idea publicly), and the perception that such an assurance had existed played some role in the subsequent souring of U.S.-Russian relations. Moreover, in the early 1990s, the Clinton administration appears to have told Russian officials that expansion was not being contemplated, which led to increased Russian annoyance once expansion unfolded. See Mark Kramer, “The Myth of a No-NATO-Enlargement Pledge to Russia,” Washington Quarterly 32, no. 2 (2009): 39-61; Mary Elise Sarotte, “Not One Inch Eastward? Bush, Baker, Kohl, Genscher, Gorbachev, and the Origin of Russian Resentment Toward NATO Enlargement in February 1990,” Diplomatic History 34, no. 1 (2010): 119-40; James Goldgeier, “Promises Made, Promises Broken? What Yeltsin Was Told About NATO in 1993 and Why It Matters,” War on the Rocks, July 12, 2016, https://warontherocks.com/2016/07/promises-made-promises-broken-what-yeltsin-was-told-about-nato-in-1993-and-why-it-matters/. [46] See Mary Elise Sarotte, 1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009); Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice, Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995). [47] Scowcroft to Bush, Nov. 29, 1989, OA/ID 91116, Chron Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHWBL; George Bush and Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed (New York: Vintage, 1999), 230. [48] Scowcroft to Bush, undated (late 1989), OA/ID 91116, Chron Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHWBL; also Bush to Kohl, undated, CF00717, Condoleezza Rice Files, GHWBL. [49] Bush and Scowcroft, World Transformed, 253. [50] MemCon between Bush and Douglas Hurd, Jan. 29, 1990, OA/ID 91107, Presidential MemCon Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHWBL. See also Sarotte, “Perpetuating U.S. Preeminence”; Joshua Shifrinson, “Deal or No Deal?” [51] MemCon between Bush and Wörner, Feb. 24, 1990, OA/ID 91107, Presidential MemCon Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHWBL; also Gorbachev-Mitterrand TelCon, Nov. 14, 1989, EBB 293, NSA; Thatcher-Gorbachev Conversation, Sept. 23, 1989, EBB 293, NSA; Meeting between Kohl and Walesa, Nov. 10, 1989, Cold War International History Project. [52] Scowcroft to Bush, Dec. 22, 1989, OA/ID 91116, Chron Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHWBL. [53] Bush and Scowcroft, World Transformed, 273. [54] Scowcroft to Bush, Dec. 22, 1989, OA/ID 91116, Chron Files, Brent Scowcroft Collection, GHWBL. [55] Zelikow to Gates, Nov. 28, 1990, OA/ID CF00293, Heather Wilson Files, GHWBL; also “President’s Intervention on the Transformation of the North Atlantic Alliance,” July 1990, CF00290, Heather Wilson Files, GHWBL. [56] London to State, Dec. 11, 1990, CF01468, Philip Zelikow Files, GHWBL. [57] Gorbachev-Baker Meeting, Feb. 9. 1990, in Masterpieces of History: The Peaceful End of the Cold War in Europe, 1989, eds. Svetlana Savranskaya, Thomas Blanton, and Vladislav Zubok (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2010), 683; also USDEL Secretary Namibia to State, March 20, 1990, Department of State FOIA Electronic Reading Room. [58] “Summit Intervention Statement,” undated (1991), CF01693, Summit Briefing Books, NSC Files, GHWBL; also Sicherman to Ross and Zoellick, March 12, 1990, Box 176, Baker Papers, Princeton; MemCon between Baker and Mr. Balladur, June 3, 1991, Box 110, Baker Papers, Princeton. [59] “Points to Be Made for Working Dinner With Prime Minister Mulroney in Canada,” undated, CF01010-CF01010-009, Briefing Books/Briefing Materials, European and Soviet Directorate Files, GHWBL. [60] Zelikow to Gates, Oct. 26, 1990, OA/ID CF00293, Heather Wilson Files, NSC Files, GHWBL. [61] Stephen Flanagan to Ross and Zoellick, May 1, 1992, OA/ID CF01526, Barry Lowenkron Files, GHWBL; also “Rome Declaration on Peace and Cooperation,” Nov. 8, 1991, CF01526, Barry Lowenkron Files, GHWBL. [62] Max Boot, War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today (New York: Penguin, 2006), 337-38; “Sharing of Responsibility for the Coalition Effort in the Persian Gulf (Feb 8 Update),” OA/ID CF01110 to CF01362, Virginia Lampley Files, Box 53, FOIA 1998-0099-F, GHWBL. Other helpful sources include Lawrence Freedman and Efraim Karsh, The Gulf Conflict, 1990-1991: Diplomacy and War in the New World Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993); Kevin Woods, The Mother of All Battles: Saddam Hussein’s Strategic Plan for the Persian Gulf War (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2008); Christian Alfonsi, Circle in the Sand: Why We Went Back to Iraq (New York: Doubleday, 2006); Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor, The Generals’ War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1995); and many others. [63] Remarks in Aspen, Colorado, Aug. 2, 1990, APP. [64] NSC Meeting, Aug. 3, 1990, Richard Haass Files, Box 42, FOIA 1998-0099-F, GHWBL. [65] NSC Meeting, Aug. 3, 1990, Richard Haass Files, Box 42, FOIA 1998-0099-F, GHWBL. [66] Remarks in Aspen, Colorado. As noted previously, this was the same speech in which Bush publicly introduced the Base Force. [67] James Baker, “America’s Strategy in the Persian Gulf Crisis,” Department of State Dispatch, Dec. 10, 1990, http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/briefing/dispatch/1990/html/Dispatchv1no15.html. [68] James A. Baker III, The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War, and Peace, 1989-1992 (New York: Putnam, 1995), 1-16, 275-99. [69] Bush Diary, Sept. 7, 1990, in Bush, All the Best, 479. [70] Office of Management and Budget, “United States Costs in the Persian Gulf Conflict and Foreign Contributions to Offset Such Costs,” Report No. 20, October 1992, in Darman to Bush, Oct. 15, 1992, Department of Defense FOIA Electronic Reading Room. [71] “Talking Points” for Bush’s meeting, undated, Box 1, CF00946, Robert Gates Files, GHWBL; also “Executive Summary,” Aug. 27, 1990, Box 1, CF00946, Robert Gates Files, GHWBL. [72] Bush-Kaifu MemCon, Sept. 29, 1990, Digital National Security Archive (DNSA). [73] Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the Persian Gulf Crisis and the Federal Budget Deficit, Sept. 11, 1990. [74] Bush and Scowcroft, World Transformed, 491, 400. [75] William J. Perry, “Desert Storm and Deterrence,” Foreign Affairs 70, no. 4 (1991): 66-67, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/iraq/1991-09-01/desert-storm-and-deterrence; also Department of Defense, Conduct of the Persian Gulf War: Final Report to Congress, April 1992, Department of Defense FOIA Electronic Reading Room. [76] Cheney Remarks to American Business Council Conference, April 9, 1991, Federal News Service; also “America’s Postwar Agenda in Europe,” March 1991, CF01468, Zelikow Files, GHWBL. [77] Robert Gates Oral History, 59, Presidential Oral History Program, Miller Center, University of Virginia. [78] Bush-Dumas MemCon, Feb. 28, 1991, GHWBL. [79] Herbert S. Parmet, George Bush: The Life of a Lone Star Yankee (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2001), 483. See also Gates Oral History, 59; Richard Cheney Oral History, June 21, 2006, 27, Box 7, Baker Oral History Collection, Mudd Library, Princeton; Alfonsi, Circle in the Sand, 172-76. [80] See Gordon and Trainor, Generals’ War, 416-29, 444-46. These issues were compounded by the decision of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf — who handled the cease-fire negotiations in the absence of detailed instructions — to permit Iraqi forces to fly helicopters in the struggle against rebellious forces. [81] Dennis Ross Oral History, Aug. 2, 2001, 42-43, Presidential Oral History Program, Miller Center, University of Virginia. [82] Rowen Statement to Senate Foreign Relations Committee, June 6, 1991, CF01391, Virginia Lampley Files, GHWBL. [83] Bush-Santer-Delors MemCon, April 11, 1991, GHWBL. [84] James M. Goldgeier and Michael McFaul, Power and Purpose: U.S. Policy Toward Russia After the Cold War (Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2003), 18-40. [85] Bush and Scowcroft, World Transformed, 564. [86] Alan Murray, “Growth Formulas: Democratic Candidates Offer Host of Proposals to Spark the Economy,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 6, 1992; “Differences Among the Democratic Candidates,” New York Times, Feb. 16, 1992; Norman Kempster, “U.S. Candidates’ Stand on Foreign Issues,” Los Angeles Times, March 17, 1992. [87] Draft of FY 94-99 DPG; Barton Gellman, “Keeping the U.S. First; Pentagon Would Preclude a Rival Superpower,” Washington Post, March 11, 1992. The version of the DPG quoted here consists of the text that was released to the National Security Archive through the FOIA process as well as the text that earlier became available through media leaks. [88] On the process and context, see Wolfowitz, “Shaping the Future”; Edelman, “Strange Career”; see also Popescu, Emergent Strategy and Grand Strategy, 123-25. [89] Draft of FY 94-99 DPG; Cheney Remarks to Senate Budget Committee, Feb. 3, 1992, Federal News Service. [90] Draft of FY 94-99 DPG. [91] Draft of FY 94-99 DPG. [92] Ibid.; also William Wohlforth, “The Stability of a Unipolar World,” International Security 24, no. 1 (Summer 1999): 5-41; G. John Ikenberry, Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011). [93] Draft of FY 94-99 DPG; Patrick Tyler, “U.S. Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No Rivals Develop,” New York Times, March 8, 1992. [94] Diary entry, July 2, 1991, in Bush, All the Best, George Bush, 527; Bush-Wörner MemCon, June 25, 1991, GHWBL. [95] Quotes from Don Oberdorfer, “Strategy for Solo Superpower: Pentagon Looks to ‘Regional Contingencies,’” Washington Post, May 19, 1991. [96] Draft of FY 1994-1999 DPG; Patrick Tyler, “U.S. Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No Rivals Develop,” New York Times, March 8, 1992. [97] Dale Vesser to Libby, Sept. 3, 1991, EBB 245, NSA. [98] Draft of FY 94-99 DPG. [99] See Melvyn P. Leffler, A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992). [100] Melissa Healy, “Pentagon Cool to U.S. Sharing Its Power,” Los Angeles Times, March 9, 1992. [101] Barton Gellman, “Aim of Defense Plan Supported by Bush: But President Says He Has Not Read Memo,” Washington Post, March 12, 1992. [102] “The New Pentagon Paper,” Washington Post, May 27, 1992. [103] Barton Gellman, “Pentagon War Scenario Spotlights Russia,” Washington Post, Feb. 20, 1992. [104] Gellman, “Aim of Defense Plan Supported by Bush”; also Tyler, “U.S. Strategy Plan.” [105] See Scowcroft, “Meeting with Chancellor Kohl of Germany,” March 19, 1992, OA/ID CF01414, Hutchings Country Files, GHWBL. [106] Patrick Tyler, “Pentagon Drops Goal of Blocking New Superpowers,” New York Times, May 24, 1992; “Pentagon Abandons Goal of Thwarting U.S. Rivals,” Washington Post, May 24, 1992; Memo to Cheney, March 26, 1992, EBB 245, NSA; “Issues in the Policy and Strategy Section,” April 14, 1992, EBB 245, NSA. [107] Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Military Strategy of the United States, January 1992, http://history.defense.gov/Portals/70/Documents/nms/nms1992.pdf?ver=2014-06-25-123420-723. [108] “The Future of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era: Hearings Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives(Washington: Government Printing Office, 1992), 367; also Cheney and Powell Remarks to Senate Budget Committee, Feb. 3, 1992, Federal News Service. [109] Bush note to speechwriters, March 14, 1992, in Bush, All the Best, George Bush, 551; Gellman, “Aim of Defense Plan.” [110] Baker Remarks to Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, April 2, 1992, Box 169, Baker Papers. [111] Patrick Tyler, “Senior U.S. Officials Assail Lone-Superpower Policy,” New York Times, March 11, 1992; also Edelman, “Strange Career.” [112] “Chancellor Kohl of Germany,” undated (March 1992), OA/ID CF01414, Country Files, Hutchings Files, GHWBL. [113] On Scowcroft’s views, see Bartholomew Sparrow, The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security (New York: Hachette, 2015), 485-86. [114] See Memo from Don Pulling, April 23, 1992, in EBB 245, NSA; also Wolfowitz to Cheney, May 5, 1992; Wolfowitz to Cheney, May 13, 1992, EBB 245, NSA. [115] See Lawrence Eagleburger to Warren Christopher, Jan. 5, 1993, Freedom of Information Act, in author’s possession. I thank Jim Goldgeier for sharing this document with me. [116] Partially in response to the DPG saga, there was a wider-ranging academic debate over the value of U.S. primacy.  Robert Jervis, “International Primacy: Is the Game Worth the Candle?” International Security 17, no. 4 (Spring 1993): 52-67; Samuel P. Huntington, “Why International Primacy Matters,” International Security 17, no. 4 (Spring 1993): 68-83. [117] On this debate, see G. John Ikenberry, “The Future of the Liberal World Order: Internationalism After America,” Foreign Affairs 90, no. 3 (May/June 2011): 56-68; vs. Robert Kagan, The World America Made (New York: Vintage, 2012). [118] Peter Grieg, “Hot Debate Over U.S. Strategic Role: Draft Pentagon Paper Stirs Up Controversy on How, and Why, Military Funds Are Spent,” Christian Science Monitor, March 16, 1992. [119] On Buchanan’s views, see, for instance, Robin Toner, “Buchanan, Urging New Nationalism, Joins ’92 Race,” New York Times, Dec. 11, 1991. [120] Patrick Tyler, “Lone Superpower Plan: Ammunition for Critics,” New York Times, March 10, 1992. [121] Dick Cheney, Defense Strategy for the 1990s: The Regional Defense Strategy, January 1993, EBB 245, NSA. [122] Wolfowitz to Cheney, May 5, 1992; also, Wolfowitz to Cheney, May 13, 1992; Memo from Don Pulling, April 23, 1992, all in EBB 245, NSA. In his own account, Wolfowitz recalls that the Department of Defense could not get the revised version approved by the White House or other interagency actors. In fact, the revised DPG (which was subsequently published as the Regional Defense Strategy) was approved by the White House in the spring of 1992. And as Wolfowitz himself notes, “Far from being an extreme strategy developed by a small group of Defense Department officials, the DPG not only reflected the consensus thinking of the first Bush administration but became generally accepted defense policy under President Clinton.” See Wolfowitz, “Shaping the Future,” 59, 206. [123] Dick Cheney, Defense Strategy for the 1990s: The Regional Defense Strategy, January 1993, EBB 245, NSA. [124] On this point, see Popescu, Emergent Strategy and Grand Strategy, 123-24. [125] Remarks at Texas A&M University, Dec. 15, 1992; remarks at West Point, Jan. 5, 1993. [126] National Security Strategy of the United States (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1993), ii, 1, 6, 13. [127] Anthony Lake, “From Containment to Enlargement,” Sept. 21, 1993, https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/lakedoc.html. [128] Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review, May 1997, Section 3, “Defense Strategy”; Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Vision 2010, 2; also Alexandra Homolar, “How to Last Alone at the Top: U.S. Strategic Planning for the Unipolar Era,” Journal of Strategic Studies 34, no. 2 (2011): 202-12. [129] Les Aspin, Report on the Bottom Up Review, issued by Defense Department, October 1993, iii-iv, 7-8. [130] For military spending figures, consult the data available through the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s annual reports and military spending database, available at https://www.sipri.org/databases/milex; also Homolar, “How to Last Alone at the Top.” [131] Art Pine, “U.S. Faces Choices on Sending Ships to Taiwan,” Los Angeles Times, March 20, 1996. [132] On Clinton-era statecraft, see Andrew J. Bacevich, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of American Diplomacy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002); Patrick Porter, “The American Way: Power, Habit, and Grand Strategy,” International Security, forthcoming. [133] See, on this continuity, Leffler, “Dreams of Freedom, Temptations of Power”; Brands, Making the Unipolar Moment; P. Edward Haley, Strategies of Dominance: The Misdirection of U.S. Foreign Policy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006); Posen, Restraint. [134] Eugene Jarecki, The American War of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril (New York: Free Press, 2008), 12; also Joan Hoff, A Faustian Foreign Policy From Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush: Dreams of Perfectibility (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 138. [135] Jeremi Suri, “American Grand Strategy From the Cold War’s End to 9/11,” Orbis (Fall 2009): 611-27; Zbigniew Brzezinski, Second Chance: The Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower (New York: Basic Books, 2007). For another early interpretation that has been overtaken, see Hal Brands, From Berlin to Baghdad: America’s Search for Purpose in the Post-Cold War World (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008). For a more positive recent take, see Jeffrey Engel, When the World Seemed New: George H.W. Bush and the End of the Cold War (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2017). [136] For instance, Posen, Restraint; Mearsheimer, “Imperial by Design”; Stephen Walt, “The End of the American Era,” National Interest 116 (2011): 6-16. [137] But see Hal Brands, American Grand Strategy in the Age of Trump (Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2018), Chapter 1. [138] John Mearsheimer, “Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War,” Atlantic Monthly, August 1990, 35-50. [139] Kenneth Waltz, “The Emerging Structure of International Politics,” International Security 18, no. 2 (1993): 44-79; Christopher Layne, “The Unipolar Illusion: Why New Great Powers Will Rise,” International Security 17, no. 4 (1993): 5-51. [140]  Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, “The Once and Future Superpower: Why China Won’t Overtake the United States,” Foreign Affairs 95, no. 3 (2016): 91-104. [141] Zachary Selden, “Balancing Against or Balancing With? The Spectrum of Alignment and the Endurance of American Hegemony,” Security Studies 22, no. 2 (2013): 330-64. [142] Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, America Abroad: The United States’ Global Role in the 21st Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). [143] See Paul Miller, “American Grand Strategy and the Democratic Peace,” Survival 52, no. 2 (2012): 49-76; John Dumbrell, Clinton’s Foreign Policy: Between the Bushes, 1992-2000 (New York: Routledge, 2009), 41-61; Mark Kramer, “Neorealism, Nuclear Proliferation, and East-Central European Strategies,” in Unipolar Politics: Realism and State Strategies After the Cold War, edited by Ethan Kapstein and Michael Mastanduno (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 385-463. [144] John Mearsheimer, “Why Is Europe Peaceful Today?” European Political Science 9, no. 2 (2010): 387-97. [145] See Hal Brands, “Is American Internationalism Dead? Reading the National Mood in the Age of Trump,” War on the Rocks, May 16, 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/05/is-american-internationalism-dead-reading-the-national-mood-in-the-age-of-trump/. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 413 [post_author] => 59 [post_date] => 2018-01-31 04:00:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-31 09:00:52 [post_content] => In discussing the subject of “the objective” in war it is essential to be clear about, and to keep clear in our minds, the distinction be­tween the political and military objective. The two are different but not separate. Nations do not wage war for war’s sake, but in pursuance of policy. The military objective is only the means to a political end. — Basil Liddell Hart, Strategy: The Indirect Approach (1967)   Liddell Hart’s famous book, which includes this observation, was first published as The Decisive Wars of History in 1929.[1] Here was found the early version of his much-quoted definition of strategy as the “art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill the ends of policy.”[2] André Beaufre later recalled the impact the book made on him as a young French officer after World War I, disillusioned with the state of French strategic thinking.[3] Before the war, Ferdinand Foch, who became commander in chief of Allied forces, had made his name directing the École de Guerre, formulating what Beaufre described as a “Prussian school.” Foch insisted upon the necessity of a “decisive battle” achieved through “bloody sacrifice” and this had resulted in a “systematically extreme strategy.” After the war, a new school, led by Marshal Philippe Pétain, dismissed strategy as irrelevant to modern warfare and concentrated instead on assessing “tactics and matériel.” This was the context in which Beaufre picked up his French translation of Liddell Hart’s book. He found it a “breath of fresh air” and vital to the “rediscovery of strategy.” Later in his career Beaufre became an acclaimed strategic thinker, with his own definition that followed Liddell Hart in accepting the centrality of politics. For Beaufre, strategy was the “the art of the dialectic of two opposing wills using force to resolve their dispute.”[4] Liddell Hart continues to be cited whenever strategy is being defined. Arthur Lykke is responsible for a definition popular in military circles: “Strategy equals ends (objectives toward which one strives) plus ways (courses of action) plus means (instruments by which some end can be achieved).” In making the case for this definition, Lykke argued that:
Military strategy must support national strategy and comply with national policy, which is defined as “a broad course of action or statements of guidance adopted by the government at the national level in pursuit of national objectives.” In turn, national policy is influenced by the capabilities-and limitations of military strategy.[5]
Here he used the Liddell Hart quote with which this article opens as his authority for his contention that military means must serve political ends. That strategy has something to do with translating political requirements into military plans now appears to be self-evident, yet for the period from the Napoleonic Wars up to the aftermath of World War I, it played no part in discussions of the meaning of strategy. Instead prevailing definitions concentrated on how best to prepare forces for battle, with tactics coming into play once battle was joined. In a previous article, I considered the origins of this earlier approach, demonstrating that while strategy first entered the modern European lexicon in 1771, the word itself would not have posed any difficulty to an audience schooled in the classics of Greek and Roman military literature and already familiar with cognate terms such as stratagem.[6] The early use of the term reflected the stratagem tradition, referring to ruses and other indirect means of avoiding pitched battles. The term also helped to fill a gap in the lexicon, distinguishing the higher military art from the more mechanical requirements of tactics. The meaning shifted during the first decades of the 19th century under the influence of the Napoleonic wars and the theories of Baron Antoine-Henri de Jomini as well as Carl von Clausewitz. This is how strategy became linked with battle, stressing the importance of defeating the enemy forces in order to achieve a decisive result. In this article, I show how little the general meaning of the term changed during the 19th century. Throughout Europe, discussion about strategy and tactics continued to be shaped by the sharp focus on battle and what this required of commanders. Whereas the early discussions concerning strategy in the late 18th century opened up new possibilities for thinking about the changing art of war, later discussion shut it down and thus constrained thinking. Despite the strong nationalist sentiments that shaped thinking about war, the participants in this debate were normally senior military figures who were still serving or were recently retired and were primarily concerned with officer education. They read each other’s books, if necessary in translation, and studied the same great battles of history from which they drew similar lessons.[7] The stress on the importance of military history, which meant careful study of the great battles of the past, taken out of their wider context, encouraged a profoundly conservative approach to strategy. The accepted Jominian view was expressed in the mid-19th century in a moderately influential book by a Swiss general with French training. Gen. Guillame-Henri Dufour explained how strategy looked back while tactics must look forward. Strategy, he suggested, was subject to timeless principles, while tactics was changing all the time and so varied with the “arms in use at different periods.” This meant that:
Much valuable instruction in strategy may therefore be derived from the study of history: but very grave errors would result if we attempt to apply to the present days the tactics of the ancients. [8]
Leaving aside the question of whether the principles of strategy were really timeless when new technologies were transforming the practice of war, this view helps explain why there was far more focus on tactics than strategy. It reflects the practical nature of the literature, which was full of detailed advice, illustrated with diagrams, on how to cope with all battlefield contingencies. Accepting the limitations of Google N-gram,[9] the graph below is illustrative in terms of the relative importance attached to military tactics and military strategy over the past couple of centuries in the English language (a French version produces a similar result). It demonstrates that, until World War II, tactics appeared far more often than strategy in books on military matters. Regular discussion of strategy only really began in the run up to World War I. This is not surprising, as the basic focus was on the need to prepare officers to lead troops into battle. The starting point for the debate on strategy (or grand tactics) was how to raise the sights of those who were normally preoccupied with the drills and maneuvers necessary for battle, but also needed to understand the challenges involved in getting forces in the optimum position when the moment for battle came. At a time when symmetry in the composition and capabilities of armies was assumed, as was the convention that the decision of battle would be accepted, tactical competence could make all the difference. This practical focus came at the expense of the theoretical. With such a sharp focus there was little interest in exploring alternatives ways of resolving differences by force. In order to demonstrate the stagnant nature of 19th century writing on military strategy, I first turn to the British discourse of the period. At this time, the British were largely consumers of foreign concepts. The definition of strategy that initially had the most influence, and that lingered for the rest of the century, was that developed by the Prussian Dietrich von Bülow. He distinguished between strategy and tactics largely in terms of whether the operations in question were undertaken within sight of the enemy.[10] Conceptually, Jomini was the larger influence. His works were required reading for the officer class of Europe and the United States. Bülow’s contribution was not acknowledged because his core theories were so dated. Although Clausewitz’s work was known, it took until late in the century before his ideas began to have a strong and palpable influence. I then examine the challenge that came from two major conflicts — the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War — noting how the largely apolitical view of strategy was not dislodged by reflections on these experiences. By the start of the 20th century, the idea that strategy and policy represented two distinct competencies was being challenged, in part as a delayed reaction to these wars, but also because of the looming prospect of another great European war. Up to this point, the occasional references to grand strategy in the literature were no more than etymological false positives. In other words, these usages meant something different from our current understanding of the term.[11] Only the British maritime strategist Julian Corbett saw the possibilities in the run-up to World War I. After the war, the combined efforts of John Fuller and Liddell Hart not only established grand strategy as essential to thinking about war, but also redefined strategy so that it was no longer linked directly to battle. Strategy could now address many contingencies and so became an arena for intense theorizing.

The British Consume Strategy

In Part I of this article, I drew attention to the 18th century belief that classical authors provided vital keys to military wisdom.[12] This was reflected in the reading habits of British officers. During the course of that century, there was a growing interest in foreign — in particular French — authors. This included the Chevalier de Folard, Marshal de Saxe, Frederick the Great, and Comte de Guibert.[13] The sensitivity to foreign publications meant that the arrival of the concept of strategy in France and Prussia was also noted in Britain. A 1779 article in the Critical Review, for example, discussed the introduction to the German edition of Leo’s Taktiká by Johann von Bourscheid.[14] This is where the French distinction (from Guibert) between greater and lesser tactics was reported along with a complaint that the “ancients” were better at finding great commanders. Was this, the anonymous author asked, because there was once a “comprehensive and systematical theory of instruction while our modern generals merely confine themselves to mechanical exercises?” The answer from Bourscheid was that this “defect” could only be addressed by a “systematical instruction in strategy.” This is why he had translated a “didactic work on that subject.”[15] A couple of years later, however, when the same journal reviewed translations of Guibert and Joly de Maizeroy,[16] there was no reference to strategy. The review of Guibert opened with a complaint that would appear regularly over the next century: The principles of tactics, “or the art of war in general,” had “hitherto hardly been established with any tolerable degree of certainty or precision.”[17] It is also important to keep in mind when evaluating the British debate that during the Napoleonic years, while the French were demonstrating the possibilities of new forms of warfare, this was not matched by any advances in the concept of “strategy.” One of the most important French texts during this period was Gay de Vernon’s Traité élémentaire d’art militaire et de fortification, which gained its authority from being approved by the emperor himself. Vernon did not write of strategy or even of grand tactics but of “la tactique générale.”[18] In the translation available from 1817, this appeared as “grand tactics” and related to the rules of “attack and defence of two hostile corps d’armée acting on uniform ground.”[19] Over the first years of the 19th century, there was little discussion of the concept in Britain, and even then it appeared as part of an effort to introduce an apparently parochial English military audience to current debates in countries where the discussion of these matters was more advanced. Thus, the British Military Library described itself as “comprehending a complete body of military knowledge,” including selections “from the most approved and respectable foreign military publications.” The editors had “spared no expense to procure the most respectable Military Journals and other works published upon the Continent.” In 1804, it included extensive excerpts from Bülow, without attribution and excluding his discussion of how best to define strategy, but with lots of diagrams and formulae. Strategy was described as commencing with establishing a base, and tactics as commencing with the unfolding of the line of order of battle.[20] Another publication, The New Military Dictionary, also advertised its adoption of French terminology. In the first edition, in 1802, there was no mention of strategy, but it did define tactics as the “knowledge of order, disposition, and formation, according to the exigency of circumstances in warlike operations.” The item on tactics referred to a higher branch — la grande tactique — that should be thoroughly understood by all general officers, although it was sufficient for more junior officers to look at the less demanding minor tactics. There was also, following the practice of other dictionaries, a lengthy discussion of stratagems, described as one of the “principal branches of the art of war,” related to surprise and deception, plus the obligatory minor reference to stratarithmometry.[21] In 1805, strategy made an appearance as “the art or science of military command.” The editor observed that the term did “not exist in any of our English lexicographers,” and there was no agreed view. “Neither the dogmatic authors nor the military [agree] unanimously of its nature and definition; Some give too much, and the others too little extended and the whole consonant with the strategy.” Strategy was the “art of knowing how to command, and how to conduct the different operations of war.” The readers were introduced to Nockhern de Schorn’s distinction between grande and petite strategie, the higher and the lower, the one for the “officer of superior rank, whose mind is well stored with military theory,” and the second that “appertains to the staff and to a certain proportion of the subaltern officers.”[22] In 1810, however, preceding the entry for strategy in the New Military Dictionary was strategics, using Malorti de Martemont’s translation of Bülow, distinguishing between what was in and out of the visual circle. Tactics was now defined as “the distribution of things by mechanical arrangement to make then subservient to the higher principles of military science, i.e., of strategy.”[23] [quote id="1"] Bülow was the first in the field largely by virtue of this relatively early translation. Clausewitz’s On War was not translated until 1873, although a review did appear in the Metropolitan Magazine in 1835.[24] Jomini’s Precis was published in English translation in 1862 (in a U.S. edition), before his Treatise in 1865, although sections of the Treatise had become available in an English translation as early as 1823.[25] This did not mean that their work was ignored in the English debate. Officers were often fluent in French and occasionally in German. Moreover, two of the most influential commentators, both former major-generals, William Napier and John Mitchell, were au fait with the continental literature. Napier, an accomplished military historian, was one of the few in Britain at the time who could have written an original book on strategy; but, though he was asked to do so, he declined.[26] He introduced Jomini to a British audience in a lengthy, anonymous article about The Treatise in 1821, focusing on Jomini’s consideration of the vital importance of directing the mass of the army against a decisive point. Napier also reaffirmed the importance of military genius. “It is in strategy,” he wrote, “that the great qualities with which a general may be endowed will have ample room to display themselves: fine perception, unerring judgement, rapid decision, and unwearied activity both of mind and body, are here all requisite.”[27] Thereafter, his own approach to strategy was largely based on the maxims of Napoleon as interpreted by Jomini. He endorsed a book by a civilian, Edward Yates, who sought to produce a treatise on the military sciences “on the model of the best treatises on the Mathematical sciences.”[28] Mitchell[29] was an avowed follower of Georg Heinrich von Berenhorst and familiar with the work of Clausewitz. He wrote that Clausewitz contributed “a very able, though lengthy, and often obscure book on War.” Clausewitz was destined to be represented as something of an intellectual challenge. For the rest of the century, whenever he was mentioned, it came with a warning that he was difficult to follow.  Mitchell deplored the lack of a British contribution to the “science of arms” despite the country’s accomplishments in other fields. The idea that “generals, like poets, must be born such; and that learning and knowledge are but secondary objects to a military man” he dismissed as “excuses for ignorance.” When it came to strategy and tactics, he added what had also become a standard comment, that
no two writers have in our time, agreed about the exact meaning of either; a fact which already tells against modern pretension, for no science ever made any great progress so long as its most important technical terms remained vague and undefined.[30]
He then went on to offer his contribution, essentially by delineating the tasks that went under each heading. Tactics was the “science that instructs us in the choice, power, effect, and combination of arms.” It was about “how the individual soldier is to be trained” so that the “thousands” could be instructed “to execute the commands of the one with exact and simultaneous uniformity.” It therefore included “everything that is, or should be, taught on the drill-ground, in order to render the soldier, whether acting individually or in mass, as formidable a combatant as may be consistent with his moral and physical powers.” Strategy, by contrast, was the “art [not a science] of marching with divisions, or with entire armies.” It was about
employing the tactical soldier to the best advantage against the enemy; and, therefore, presupposes in the strategist a perfect knowledge of tactics; it is generalship, in fact, and includes of course what has lately been termed the science of battles.[31]
This did not catch on. From 1846 to 1851, a committee of officers from the Royal Engineers produced three volumes for an Aide-mémoire to the Military Sciences in order “to supply, as far as practicable, the many and common wants of Officers in the Field, in the Colonies, and remote Stations, where books of reference are seldom to be found.” In the first volume, Lt. Col. C. Hamilton Smith provided a “Sketch of the Art and Science of War.” This contained an early reference to “great operations” (the French concept of grande tactique) and then a reference to strategics, “a term to which it has been vainly endeavored to affix a strict definition” from Folard to Klausewitz [sic], Dufour, and Jomini. A “dialectician,” noted Smith, “might hint that a distinction might be pointed out between Strategics and Strategy, or Strategique and Strategie; but no inconvenience seems to have arisen from the promiscuous use of both.” He attempted to distinguish between Jomini making war upon a map as strategics, while activities that are then
strategical in their direction, and tactical in the execution, such as landings, march manoeuvres, passage of rivers, retreats, winter-quarters, ambuscades, and convoys, might take the denomination of Strategy, so long as they are executed without the presence of an enemy prepared for resistance; for then they become Tactics.
Here strategy would be comparable to grand tactics. He set out essentially Jominian principles, adding that:
The study of all past wars, ancient and modern, the systems of war of Frederick the Great, of the French Revolution, of Napoleon, and, finally, of the Duke of Wellington, will all be found to have derived their success and glory by conducting the armies in harmony with these principles ; and the loss of battles, failures in campaigns and entire wars, will be seen to originate in the non-observance of them, either through the prejudices raised by ignorance or routine, political interference, or unavoidable geographical causes.[32]
This was the “clearest general strategic statement likely to be known to British officers” in the early 1850s.[33] The Crimean War (1853-56), conducted incompetently by the British army, still “failed to initiate much serious thought … about its strategic role or tactical doctrine.”[34] Military history was viewed as “a great quarry of principles and examples to be judiciously selected to bolster pre-conceived idea or traditional doctrines.”[35]

The Unchanging Meaning of Strategy

The debate, such as it was, often concerned the boundary line between strategy and tactics. In 1856, Lt. Col. Patrick McDougall, superintendent of studies at the Royal Military College and Napier’s son-in-law, noted wearily that although the “science of war” had been divided into these two branches, “no very cogent reason exists for such separation, the objects as well as the principles of both being identical.” The distinction between strategy and tactics was “arbitrary,” because in both cases “the aim was to place a body of troops in the right position at the right time in fighting order superior to that body which your enemy can there oppose you.” Nonetheless, “such distinction having been made, it is better to preserve it.” Here he displayed the (unacknowledged) influence of Bülow, distinguishing between strategy and tactics according to whether one was in the “actual presence or eyesight of an enemy, however great or small the distances which separate them.” McDougall approached the issue largely in terms of demands on a commander’s time. Tactical activity was quite rare, despite handling troops in the presence of the enemy being the most “prominent and showy quality in a commander.” By contrast, the preparation of troops for battle, as opposed to directing them in battle, was “called forth and exercised in the ratio of twenty to one.” That was why he was so preoccupied with looking after the army, marching, bivouacking, provisions, and movement.[36] Col. Edward Hamley’s The Operations of War became the core British Army text for much of the rest of the century. It was much more substantial than McDougall’s book and earned an international reputation.[37] Until 1894, his was the sole text used in the entrance examination for the Camberley Staff College. In 1907, it was revived as an essential primer on strategy for the army, though not readopted at the Staff College.[38] Hamley — a professor of military history, strategy, and tactics at the Staff College, and its commandant from 1870-1878 — was a clever and versatile writer, yet still looked back to the practice of the Napoleonic Wars. Unlike McDougall, he stressed the importance of actual fighting. There was no point in getting an army into “situations which it cannot maintain in battle.” His view of strategy was that it did its job by reducing the need for actual fighting. The aim, which was pure Jomini (whose influence pervades the book), was to “effect superior concentrations on particular points,” getting the army into such a position that it enjoyed critical advantages. Otherwise, too much would be left to tactics. Yet, like McDougall, he was not convinced of the need for a sharp separation of tactics and strategy. His concern was that an officer untrained in strategy would rely simply on the routines of military affairs. Strategy meant moving beyond precedent, that is, beyond existing scripts, to be able to “meet new circumstances with new combinations.” This was why it deserved careful study.[39] Gen. Francis Clery’s book, Minor Tactics, first published in 1875, went through many editions (the 13th in 1896) and was based on a “course of lectures delivered to sub-Lieutenants studying at Sandhurst.” In this work, Clery distinguished strategy and tactics largely on the basis of size, though as always, “The issue, to which all military operations tend, is a battle.”[40] The lack of a fixed view about the terminology, though not the underlying issue, can be illustrated by Col. G. F. R. Henderson, considered one of the ablest military historians of his time and a charismatic teacher at the Staff College, Camberley. His concern was that officer education was failing to develop the skills necessary for great generalship. While this was a consistent theme, Henderson’s approach to terminology evolved rapidly. In a lecture to the United Services Institute in 1894, he noted that officers learned about minor tactics to pass examinations for promotion.[41] He complained that “the higher art of generalship, that section on military science to which formations, fire, and fortifications are subordinate, and which is called grand tactics, has neither manual nor text-book.” Henderson regretted that he could not find an exact definition of the difference between minor and grand tactics. He offered his own:
Minor Tactics includes the formation and disposition of the three arms for attack and defence, and concern officers of every rank; whilst Grand Tactics, the art of generalship, includes those stratagems, manoeuvres, and devices by which victories are won, and concern only those officers who may find themselves in independent command. [42]
Minor tactics were more or less mechanical, while grand tactics were less predetermined, that is they could not be identified by following the standard scripts.
They are to Minor Tactics what Minor Tactics are to drill, i.e. the method of adapting the power of combination to the requirements of battle; they deal principally with moral forces; and their chief end is the concentration of superior force, moral and physical, at the decisive point.
Henderson’s thinking was influenced by his studies of the Civil War. As a company officer, he wrote The Campaign of Fredericksburg: A Tactical Study for Officers, the focus of which was indicated by the subtitle. In 1898, now at the Staff College, he wrote an admired biography of Stonewall Jackson.[43] Grand tactics was forgotten, and strategy came to the forefront. His descriptions still combined elements of Bülow (what was and was not in the enemy’s sight) with Jomini (with references to strategy being worked out on the map).[44] In 1898, Henderson lectured on how strategy should be taught. As I note below, this lecture was interesting for its observations on the interaction of strategy and policy, but it also reflected Henderson’s conviction that the status of strategy needed to be elevated. The tactician, he noted, was the “more popular personage than the strategist, poring over his map, and leaving to others the perils and the glories of the fight.” The strategist only really came into his own when looking beyond the principles of warfare — “which to a certain extent are mechanical, dealing with the manipulation of armed bodies” — to what he called the “spirit of warfare.” This involved the moral element that could inspire troops, the elements of “surprise, mystery, strategem.” Henderson criticized Hamley for his neglect of these elements, for they were not “mere manoeuvres,” but in practice were “the best weapons of the strategist.” The published version of his lecture included an appendix on “strategical procedure,” which began: “The object of the strategist is to concentrate superior force on the field of battle.” [45] In 1902, Henderson wrote the entry on strategy for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Here he observed that civilians continually confounded strategy with tactics.[46] Despite his earlier complaint that grand tactics lacked definition, when it came to strategy, the problem was the opposite: “Almost every military writer of repute has tried his hand at it, and the only embarrassment is to choose the best.” As such, he adopted the definition employed by the official text-book of the British infantry. Strategy was “the art of bringing the enemy to battle, while tactics are the methods by which a commander seeks to overwhelm him when battle is joined.” This meant that “while the two armies are seeking to destroy each other it remains in abeyance, to spring once more into operations as soon as the issue is decided.” Thus, the end of strategy was “the pitched battle,” and the aim was to gain every “possible advantage of numbers, ground, supplies, and moral” to ensure the “enemy’s annihilation.” Thus, throughout the 19th century, British definitions encouraged the view that there was no sharp distinction between strategy and tactics, for the same unit would be involved in one and then the other. At issue were the requirements of officer education, and in particular the balance between mechanical drills, with their fixed scripts, and the need to move beyond those scripts. This required a flexibility of mind and imagination to be able to handle the larger challenges that would be faced in a campaign. This occurred at the strategic level, but the demands of strategy also involved paying attention to very practical matters for which the texts offered clear guidance: how to move forces over long distances, paying attention to medical needs, as well as food and accommodation. When it came to the very highest levels of command, knowledge of military history — looking back rather than forward — was seen as the best form of instruction. The effect was to reinforce the fixation with battle in military discourse, which continued throughout the 19th century. The fact that Henderson could make exactly the same points talking about grand tactics in 1894 and then strategy in 1902 (using the same reference to Napoleon’s observation in his published maxims that this level required the study of military history) was telling.

The Impact of the Civil War

The most likely challenge to the established frames of reference for thinking about war and strategy was a major conflict. The Napoleonic Wars had set the frames for the century. The wars that followed this set of great and iconic battles lacked the unexpected and distinctive features sufficient to challenge these frames. The Civil War, by virtue of its length and ferocity, posed more of a challenge, yet its impact on how strategy was conceptualized was also limited, even in the United States. Russell Weigley notes that “the experience of the Civil War failed to inspire any impressive flowering of American strategic thought.” The output from West Point reflected stagnation. American writers stuck to unimaginative concepts of European-style war, not even exploring whether the Indian wars had much to say about strategy.[47] American strategic thought had a strong French influence from the start. The first textbook at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was a translation of Gay de Vernon’s Traité élémentaire d’art militaire et de fortification, which included a separate section on grand tactics written by the translator.[48] A key position at West Point was the chair of civil and military engineering (a focus which itself says something about the practical nature of officer training). Dennis Mahan occupied it from 1832-1871. One of Mahan’s protégés was Henry Halleck, who became known as a cautious Union general during the Civil War. In 1846, he published a series of lectures, entitled the Elements of Military Art and Science. In this work, he observed that strategy could be “regarded as the most important, though least understood, of all the branches of the military art.”[49] Mahan’s writings adopted a similar Jominian framework.[50] Yet little time was spent by West Point cadets actually studying strategy, and there was a general distrust of the learned professional soldier as opposed to the inspired military genius. Col. Henry L. Scott’s Military Dictionary simply expanded the standard definitions to provide a reminder of the topics that might come under the headings:
The art of concerting a plan of campaign, combining a system of military operations determined by the end to be attained, the character of the enemy, the nature and resources of the country, and the means of attack and defense.
Having quickly disposed of strategy, Scott’s next entry on “street-fighting” was far longer as this was clearly a more enthralling topic. An earlier entry on battle discussed at greater length the views of “Professors of Strategy” on how battle was best approached.[51] Whether Jomini’s ideas as interpreted by his American followers influenced the conduct of the Civil War has been questioned, not least by Carol Reardon.[52] Carl von Decker’s Tactics of the Three Arms[53] was considered better for instruction, while another writer who had fought with Napoleon, Marshal Marmont, had not only reached a far higher rank but also had a more dynamic style.[54] Nor did Jomini play much of a role in the lively debate that lasted the course of the Civil War in the North on how that war should be best conducted. My concern, however, is with definitions of strategy. As with most definitions (including that of Clausewitz), Jomini’s definition alluded to a wider theory, but was not dependent upon it. Despite the experience of the war, in its aftermath no other work commanded the same authority. The war highlighted the importance of political context and showed how it affected strategy, but not to the extent of forcing a reappraisal of strategy’s essentially military character. Cornelius J. Wheeler, who took over at West Point from Mahan in 1865 and held the position until 1884, showed more interest in war as a political phenomenon, but the stress was still on following Jomini.[55] Only with his successor, James Mercur, do we start to see new possibilities. The first object of the “art of war,” he explained was “to determine the time, place and character of battles and conflicts so that the greatest benefit may result from victory and the least injury from defeat.” This was to be accomplished by strategy, including logistics. The second objective was “[t]o make one’s self stronger than the enemy at the time and place of actual combat.” This required “Logistics, Discipline, Grand and Minor Tactics, and Military Engineering.”[56] Strategy took priority, but without knowledge of the other branches its limitations could not be understood. Mercur opened his discussion of strategy by setting as its first goal taking “advantage of all means for securing success.” The second aim was to “cause the greatest benefits to result from victory and the least injury from defeat.” The first involved “questions of statesmanship and diplomacy.” Mercur’s list of what this entailed would feature in later considerations of grand strategy, such as “managing the military resources of a nation”; and “conducting international intercourse that when war becomes necessary or desirable, favorable alliances may be made with strong power, and hostile combinations of nations may be avoided.” He urged that due weight be given to “financial and commercial considerations” including when choosing campaign objectives, and when deciding on how to organize and train military forces.[57]  He even discussed what would now be called the “security dilemma.”[58] The organization of armies may “constantly suggest an early conflict, and thus produce an irritation which may soon lead to open hostility.” He observed that when it came to choosing when to accept or avoid conflict “statesmanship becomes strictly strategical.” Yet after that promising opening, the analysis became entirely orthodox, with the “hostile army” selected as the strategic objective.[59] Mercur’s book was only used as a text for a short period and is now largely forgotten. [quote id="2"] The only book-length study of any note, according to Weigley, was Capt. Bigelow’s Principles of Strategy: Illustrated Mainly from American Campaigns.[60] Bigelow was amongst those who took the view that a grasp of strategy was essential for officers of all grades, writing that, “A lieutenant in charge of a scouting party may be confronted with problems which nothing but generalship will enable him to solve.” Although his basic definition of strategy — the art of conducting war beyond the presence of the enemy — was entirely conventional, he sought to redress the balance between tactics and strategy, complaining that too many writers favored tactical skill at the expense of strategic skill. Most importantly, he divided strategy into three kinds: “regular, political, and tactical.” Tactical strategy was about getting “better men than the enemy’s upon the field of battle,” while political strategy focused on “undermining the political support of the opposing army, or at effecting recall from the war.” These forms of strategy were normally practiced in combination. He was not proposing a new hierarchy, and his discussions suggested that the tactical and political forms of strategy were all, in the end, geared toward the purpose of regular strategy, which was to destroy the hostile army. Yet in his discussion of Gen. William T. Sherman’s campaign, Bigelow was at least starting to assess variations on the standard scripts.[61] Sherman wrote a war memoir published as a magazine article with the intriguing but, to modern eyes, misleading title of “The Grand Strategy of the Wars of the Rebellion.” Despite the fact that his Georgia campaign challenged assumptions about how wars should be fought — with the morale of the adversary’s population the target as much as the adversary army — he stressed that the principles of war were fixed and unchanging. They were “as true as the multiplication table, the law of gravitation, or of virtual velocities, or any other invariable rule of natural philosophy.” He found that his best guide was a treatise by France J. Soady, which was actually a compilation of thoughts extracted from major texts, although it did refer to Sherman as a “man of genius” and gave a favorable account of his Georgia campaign.[62] The lack of progress in the American debate is illustrated by an article published in 1908 titled, “The Conduct of War.” In it, the author, Capt. Matthew Steele, argued that it was better to read military history than military textbooks. Military writers undertook to define strategy, yet it resulted in “definitions as various as the writers were numerous.” With each, the term meant what most suited the author’s treatise. Steele adduced that the term could not be defined. Instead, “its meaning must be arrived at by [a] sort of process of absorption.” According to him, there was only one principle of strategy that has “undergone no alteration either real or apparent.” In the end, it all came down to being “strongest at the decisive point.”[63]

The Impact of the Franco-Prussian War

The other great conflict that might have been expected to have a major influence on thinking about warfare was the Franco-Prussian War. The shock to the French led to urgent efforts to reform the army and restore an interest in strategy. To the fore was Gen. Jules Louis Lewal, who became director of the revived École de Guerre and at one point became minister of war.[64] His project included developing a professional general staff and encouraging a hitherto dormant interest in Clausewitz. A new translation of Clausewitz’s work was published in French in 1886.[65] Lewal, according to Luvaas, “was reluctant to admit the existence of strategy as such,” and eventually came to see it as little more than mobilization, doubting that there would be much choice as to where a battle would actually be fought.[66] The debate was substantial, but the inclination was still to look backward rather than forward, returning to the Napoleonic era and the spirit of that time. Victor Derrécagaix summarized the debate on strategy in the late 1880s by observing that some who were “desirous of finding in new arguments a remedy for past mistakes” had sought new theories. He continued:
Others have denied that there is such a thing as strategy, and attributed all the results of war to tactics. For a small number strategy is the conception, and tactics is the execution. According to some writers strategy is the science of operations; tactics, that of battles.
Derrécagaix concluded that it was best to stick with Jomini. Strategy was about maneuvering armies in the theater of operations, while tactics was about disposing them upon the battlefield. His contribution was to identify the principles of Napoleon’s system and note that Field Marshal Helmuth Graf von Moltke had achieved victory through their sound application.[67] This debate, therefore, reaffirmed the importance of eliminating the enemy army as a fighting force. The intellectual and emotional effort went into demonstrating how offensive élan could contribute to a weaker force overcoming a stronger. While still instructing young officers at the start of the 20th century, Ferdinand Foch stressed the importance of tactics over strategy. “Following a study which has led to so many learned theories," he asserted that “fighting is the only means of reaching the end.” Strategy was “not worth anything without tactical efficiency.”[68] The stress elsewhere in the military literature was also on battle: According to Gen. Jules Lewal, the objective in warfare “was to win, overwhelm the adversary materially and morally, to oblige him to ask for mercy,” while for Gen. Adolphe Messimy, “Victory is not achieved through the possession of a town or territory, but through the destruction of the adversarial forces.” For Lt. Col. Léonce Rousset, “One has to think exclusively of battle. All efforts, all thoughts, all preparations have to pertain to its success.” Lt. Col. Hippolyte Langlois added that the main aim was “to ensure that one wins the battle.”[69] The German debate was more substantial, although established definitions of strategy remained intact. The architect of the Prussian victory in the wars of German unification, Field Marshal Moltke, was more cautious in drawing lessons from his successful campaign, and had a subtle understanding of strategic practice. As a follower of Clausewitz, he shared the view that tactical successes drove strategic outcomes. That is why, to him, strategy was a “system of expedients.” Preparations for battle must be meticulous. But whereas Clausewitz saw the completion of battle as a task for strategy, it was Moltke’s view that once battle began strategy became “silent” as tactics took over. Only once battle was over could strategy come back into play.[70] A number of those who worked closely with Moltke wrote their own books on strategy, including Wilhelm von Blume and Gen. Bronsart von Schellendorf.[71] They followed established definitions of the term. Blume warned against disregarding “the nature of strategy to seek to transform it into a learned system exactly determined,” and stressed the importance of tactics as dealing with the “proper ordering” of the action of troops “towards the object of fighting.” He asserted that all that was “not embraced under the head of tactics is strategy.” This included the “decision as to when and for what object battle shall be joined, the assembly of the necessary forces, and the reaping of the proper result.” One of the more thoughtful contributions was Prince Kraft’s Letters on Strategy. Kraft, who had held more junior roles during the wars of 1866 and 1870 but now had access to Moltke’s papers, observed how the strategist, while not at personal risk, must decide “whether a battle is to be fought or not; on his fiat depends the lives of thousands.” Although he took the accepted line that “it must always be the aim of strategy to unite the greatest possible strength for the tactical blow,” and that it was impossible to be too strong for a decisive battle, he also allowed that there were occasions when actions might have to be taken for purely political reasons, such as storming a particular fortress. He was also aware of campaigns that lacked declarations of war or a concluding peace treaty, or when fighting occurred when there was no actual war. This raised in his mind whether other ideas might one day be held “upon what we now describe as Peace and War, Policy and Strategy.”[72] [quote id="5"] One vital question addressed in the German debate was whether the second phase of the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War represented the future more than the first. After the French army had been comprehensively defeated in a conventional battle at Sedan, there followed a period of irregular French resistance. Moltke remained troubled for the rest of his life by the thought that the 1866 war against Austria marked the end of Kabinetskrieg, a Cabinet War — one decided upon and settled by governments and fought by professional armies. Instead, future war would take the form of a Volkskrieg, with the whole nation engaged in the military effort, rendering it bloodier and harder to conclude. Any peace negotiations would be less straightforward than those following the complete elimination of the enemy army. Yet he did not see any alternative strategic objective. This theme was picked up in one of the most influential books of the period. Colmar von der Goltz, a rising star in the German army, explored the implications in Das Volk in Waffen.[73] The logic pointed to the exhaustion of the belligerent nations rather than victory through a few great decisive battles, until the exhaustion itself created the conditions for one side to make a breakthrough. The entire resources of the nation would be engaged, and conscript armies would be formed. Battle would still be necessary, however, and that remained the business of strategy. The counter to Goltz’s pessimism was to put the effort into developing an even bolder plan for the opening stage of a war so that it could be won on conventional lines before it was allowed to turn into such a titanic struggle. This was the approach taken by Moltke’s successor, Count Alfred von Schlieffen, who worked on a plan to ensure the “annihilation” of the French Army in the event of a war, warning that failure to do so would mean an “endless war.”[74] In 1879, a young historian, Hans Delbrück, reviewed Frederick the Great’s Military Testament and concluded that Frederick had been no fan of battle. For him, it had been at most an occasional and necessary evil. This was a provocative claim, for Frederick had been portrayed as setting the path that Napoleon followed, thus pointing to the modern way of warfare. Goltz was one of the first to respond. The debate over Frederick’s philosophy of war and its implications for strategy continued for the next three decades. As Foley notes, Delbrück succeeded in uniting an otherwise fragmented officer corps against him.[75] He also came up with another heresy: He suggested that Clausewitz himself had seen the possibility of an alternative to winning through decisive battle (based on his reading of Clausewitz’s notes about revising On War). Delbrück set out his challenge to established German views in an 1889 article arguing that it was possible to win wars by maneuver as well as great battles.[76] Here came the distinction between Niederwerfungsstrategie, a strategy of annihilation that would eliminate the enemy’s army as a fighting force through battle, and Ermattungsstrategie, a strategy of exhaustion (or attrition) in which battles would not be decisive, but there would instead be an accumulation of pressure that would wear the enemy down. The implication of Delbrück’s argument was that, whatever the general staff’s preferences, the conditions might not fit the plans and war might take a quite different form to the one intended. At issue was also a definition of strategy. The military’s view was that there was a “single, correct and legitimate form of strategy,” geared toward battle, such that Delbrück’s exploration of how, employing Clausewitz’s schema, a different policy might lead to a different strategy missed the point. [77] Looking back over the strategic thinkers of the 19th century, Lt. Gen. Rudolf von Caemmerer of the German Army mocked Bülow for having claimed at its start to be writing in the spirit of the age. In practice, argued Caemmerer, Bülow completely failed to understand the century’s new spirit, as exemplified by Napoleon. Instead of looking forward to an age of decisive battles, he was looking back to a war of positions.[78] Caemmerer did not entertain the thought that the same mistake was being repeated, by assuming that the great encounters of the previous century were setting the terms for 20th century wars. He failed to consider the possibility that some equally transformational changes were underway.

Strategy and Policy

The argument between Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and Moltke about the best approach to take toward French resistance after September 1870 raised the issue of the extent to which military operations should be shaped by political considerations. Moltke insisted that while policy must set the goals “in its action, strategy is independent of policy as much as possible. Policy must not be allowed to interfere in operations.”[79] The evident flaw in Moltke’s argument, which Bismarck pointed out, was that the political considerations then in play, including the possibility of other states coming to the aid of France as irregular French resistance continued, had little to do with preparing to fight a pitched battle. Bismarck confessed that he had not read Clausewitz, but he saw clearly the continuing role of politics once war had begun. He wrote:
To fix and limit the objects to be attained by the war, and to advise the monarch in respect of them, is and remains during the war just as before it a political function, and the manner in which these questions are solved cannot be without influence on the conduct of the war.[80]
This remained the view of the German army. While the militarist Gen. Friedrich von Bernhardi accepted that war was a means to an end that existed “entirely outside its domain” and so could “never itself lay down the purpose by fixing at will the military object,” he was clear that politicians should not “interfere in the conduct of war itself and attempt to order to take a particular course to actually reach the military targets. Attempts to do so put at risk military success.”[81] The sentiment of political non-interference was universal across European armies. The regularity and insistence with which it was expressed betrayed an underlying anxiety that it was not the easiest position to defend. In addition, the more Clausewitz was read, the more the relationship between strategy and policy came to the fore. However, this was a slow process, and did not get beyond the formula that, though the statesman set the objectives, the general must have independence when deciding on action.[82] This was also the position reached in the British debate, although influenced more by the Civil War than the Franco-Prussian War.[83] President Abraham Lincoln, after all, had not only hired and fired generals according to their strategic competence, but also had engaged directly on what needed to be done to win the war. In a classic example of the inseparability of strategy and policy, when Gen. George Meade, the victor of Gettysburg, spoke triumphantly of driving “the invaders from our soil,” Lincoln was distressed that the Confederate States Army had been able to retreat. The generals needed to get that idea out of “their heads,” he complained, for the “whole country is our soil.” The enemy was “within your easy grasp,” he wrote to Meade, “and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely.”[84] A biography of Lincoln by his two secretaries published in 1890 observed that “talk of military operations without the direction and interference of an Administration is as absurd as to plan a campaign without recruits, pay, or rations.”[85] Yet in his review of the evident tensions between the generals and the political leadership on both sides during this war, British commentator G. F. R. Henderson reasserted the importance of preventing politicians from interfering in military decision-making:
That the soldier is but the servant of the statesman, as war is but an instrument of diplomacy, no educated soldier will deny. Politics must always exercise a supreme influence on strategy; yet it cannot be gainsaid that interference with the commander in the field is fraught with the gravest danger.[86]
At the same time, Henderson was acutely aware of the growing importance of the contextual factors that would determine whether it would be possible to get into an optimal position for battle. In his lecture “Strategy and its Teaching,” for all its concluding conformity, Henderson underlined how much good strategy depended on good statesmanship. “It is difficult, if not impossible, to divorce soldiering and statesmanship. The soldier must often be the adviser of the statesman.” Strategy should be “concerned as much with preparation for war as with war itself.” He spoke of these preparations as the “Peace Strategy” (that is, strategy pursued at a time of peace as opposed to one geared toward achieving peace). [87] This aspect of strategy was given more attention, as the state of alliances became more salient in assessing the likely character of a future war. Thus T. Miller Maguire, a barrister, who was a regular commentator on international affairs, referred to “international strategy” in a lecture he gave at the Royal United Services Institution in 1906.[88] The poor performance of the British army in the Boer War led to introspection as well as respect for Germany’s growing strength and the leading role of its general staff, and interest in German military thinking. This interest resulted in the translation of key German texts into English. Maguire, quoted above, even complained about the unwarranted influence of German ideas in British military doctrine:
We are overwhelmed with translations of the literary labours of German generals; our tables groan beneath the ponderous and dreadfully dull tomes of a generation of writers who seem to thrive on knowledge of the minutest details of two campaigns — 1866 and 1870 — and of these only. [89]
The greater awareness of Clausewitz brought with it his insistence on war as a continuation of politics, although as much, if not more, interest was shown in his discussions of friction and the interaction of the offense and the defense.[90] Stewart Murray, who provided a short guide to Clausewitz, insisted that during actual operations the statesman should exercise the greatest possible restraint, and avoid all interference, except when demanded by overwhelming political necessity.” If pre-war preparations were inadequate, that would clearly be a political failure more so than a military one. Politicians were responsible for the war as much as the peace policy, for “preparing, ordering, guiding, and controlling of war.” [91] Moreover, as Lt. Col. Walter James observed, it was, at times, advantageous to follow a more political than purely military strategy to bring home to an enemy the futility of resistance.[92] The established view depended on a clear division of labor between the statesman and the commander. This would only work if they understood one another. A debate at the Staff College among senior officers in 1911 indicated the extent to which questions of politics kept on intruding into strategic matters. The received view was that the education of officers required that they write “strategical papers, referring to military operations in which they might one day be engaged,” but as they did so they should keep clear of political matters. Yet one officer, Col. Launcelot E. Kiggell, observed that when studying and teaching war “politics were at the back of all strategical problems.”[93]

The Naval Contribution

The period beginning in the late 1880s also saw a growing influence of naval thinking on wider strategy. It was surprising that it took so long, given the well-established importance of the Royal Navy to Britain’s international standing. Introducing a book published in 1891, Rear Adm. Philip Columb observed that there had been an abundance of literature describing war on land — here he mentioned Hamley — but little attention had been given to naval war: “Of writers of naval strategy there were absolutely none; writers on naval tactics were few and far between.”[94] He did not offer his own definition of strategy, other than to refer in passing to the standard distinction between strategy “determining the locality of battle,” and tactics its “conduct.”[95] In his introduction, Colomb expressed his pleasure at the recent publication of what he described as a work complementary to his own, written by an American, Alfred Thayer Mahan, the son of Dennis Mahan. The younger Mahan developed his theories at a relatively late age after being put in charge of the new U.S. Naval War College in 1886.[96] He focused on the importance of control of the sea to Britain’s rise as a great power, thus providing a broad and historical context to naval operations. By advocating that America follow the British example, he can be seen as a pioneer of grand strategy, although this was only by implication. It was not a term he used.[97] In 1911, Mahan published his original lectures in a revised and expanded form under the title Naval Strategy, but the revisions did not extend to his definition of strategy, which he had developed in his first book. When he began, Stephen Luce, the first president of the Naval War College, urged him to follow Jomini, although he appears to have required little persuading to do so. In his introduction to The Influence of Sea Power, Mahan identified the point of contact between armies or fleets as “the dividing line between tactics and strategy.” He shared Jomini’s belief in the permanence of the general principles that came under the heading of strategy. This is why they could be deduced from history. Tactics, by contrast, were more subject to the “unresting progress of mankind.”[98] When it came to battle, the organized forces of the enemy provided the strategic objective, just as they would do on land. His definition of grand tactics was taken directly from Jomini: “the art of making combinations preliminary to battle as well as during their progress.” [quote id="3"] Yet there was one sense in which Mahan did accept a difference between naval and military strategy. Military strategy tended to be confined to a “combination, either or wholly distinct or mutually dependent, but always regarded as actual or immediate scenes of war.” This could be considered too narrow for the naval sphere. Here there were positions that could be occupied at times of peace that would be of value at times of war. From this came his definition of the goals of naval strategy: “to found, support, and increase, as well in peace as in war, the sea power of a country.”[99] This was somewhat circular, as the purpose of strategy was to increase the power that made the strategy possible. Nevertheless, the stress on peacetime was significant. If the opportunity could be taken to establish naval bases at critical points across the globe, for example, then wartime operations should be much easier. In fact, as with Henderson, the importance of peacetime preparedness as an aspect of strategy was already being picked up by army theorists. As Mahan noted, the importance of certain geographical points as “strategic” in their importance went back to early 19th century strategists such as the Archduke Charles. In Colomb’s work, great stress also was placed on the importance of advantageous strategic positions. Mahan worked with a narrow definition of strategy while emphasizing the potential political and economic consequences of naval operations. This stress on the wider context and the importance of peacetime dispositions pushed naval thought to a more expansive definition of strategy. This was an opportunity to build upon Clausewitz’s view of politics and war, which his disciples in the German general staff had found awkward, but Mahan came to Clausewitz late, and his works had little evident influence on Mahan’s thinking. This was not the case with the British maritime theorist Sir Julian Corbett, an influential civilian who studied Clausewitz.[100] Corbett believed that naval and military strategy should be considered in relation to each other, and that both needed to be released from the fallacy “that war consists entirely of battles between armies and fleets.” He went back to the assumption of the pre-Napoleonic period that the main objective was territory and not the enemy armed forces, whose destruction was at most a means to an end. Thus, he defined strategy as “the art of directing forces to the ends in view.” In 1906, in his “Strategical Terms and Definitions Used in Lectures on Naval History” pamphlet, Corbett divided strategy into “major” (or “grand”) dealing with ulterior objects and “minor” dealing with “primary objects,” which were essentially concerned with war plans and operational plans respectively. The vital feature of major/grand strategy was that it involved the “whole resources of the nation for war” and not just armed force. In 1911, when he revised these notes, he left it as a distinction between major and minor.[101] The distinction, however, represented a breakthrough in thinking about strategy. The ends of major or grand strategy were a matter for the statesman while the army or navy was responsible for the minor strategy, whose purpose was how to achieve those ends. The ulterior and primary objects had to be kept in mind when planning operations. With major strategy, there was a tension between the use of the army and navy as instruments in war while keeping in view the politico-diplomatic position of the country, along with the commercial and financial. This led to the “deflection of strategy by politics” and was “usually regarded as a disease.” This was, however, “inherent in war:” Neither strategy nor diplomacy ever had a clean slate. This interaction had to be accepted by commanding officers as part of the inevitable “friction of war.”[102]

After the Great War

There was no evident need to reappraise the concept of strategy after the end of World War I.[103] Despite the fact that at the war’s start the “narrow political vision” of the soldiers was “matched by the remarkable military ignorance of the political leaders,”[104] the interaction of strategy and policy was still being viewed as it had been prior to the war. One widely read book by Maj. Gen. Wilkinson Bird still kept the political and military aspects of war-making separate. He defined strategy “as the direction or management of war” and divided his definition into a peace strategy so “that should war take place it may be waged with every prospect of success.” This would involve questions of funding and alliances, as well as describing the interests to be protected and the “localities where the enemy may be struck.” In the event of war, “the primary purposes of military strategy are to allot and dispose the forces so that the victory in battle will be probable, and if gained will be decisive.” He expressed concern with the fact that “non-military considerations” formed “a large item in the broader aspects of policy” and would encourage “the tendency to meddle with the conduct of operations which some statesman appear to have found difficulty in resisting.”[105] Even by 1927, the diplomat, politician, and military historian, Sir William Oman, recognized he was being controversial when he urged the need for “the directing classes in any nation” to “have a certain general knowledge of the history of the Art of War” and not feel “bound to accept blindfold the orders of their military mentors.” He was aware that he was ignoring warnings of “amateur strategy.” Still, he could not accept the view that once a political leader set down the political ends of war, it could “wash his hands of the whole matter, and make no comment, criticism, or interference on what the military authority may do.” It was not good enough to see the political role as simply making sure that the military had “whatever men, money and munitions as required.” The military were as fallible as anybody else. However sparingly used, the civilian leadership “must retain some power to comment, to criticize, even to quash.” It was dangerous to lay down a strict and rigid rule of non-interference by the civil power.[106] The views of Col. John “Boney” Fuller and Capt. Basil Liddell Hart had both been shaped by the fighting on the Western Front and they originally made their names by developing ideas for the mechanization for the Army. In 1923, Fuller, the senior and more original of the two, picked up on Corbett’s reference to grand strategy.[107] Once it was accepted that the effectiveness of the military instrument had to be discussed in the context of the other instruments of state policy, then it was clear that a military victory was no longer adequate. The focus of war, insisted Fuller, should be “to enforce the policy of the nation at the least cost to itself and to the enemy and, consequently, to the world.” The grand strategist had to understand commerce and finance, as well as politics, culture, and history, in order to “form the pillars of the military arch which it is his duty to construct.” Fuller offered a completely new approach to warfare in his 1926 book, The Foundations of the Science of War.[108] The ambition and complexity of the book’s arguments limited its appeal. In the book, Fuller argued that the aim of military operations was to encourage a form of nervous breakdown on the enemy side rather than to emerge victorious from battle. With grand strategy, “the political object” was to win the war, while with grand tactics the object was the “destruction of the enemy’s plan.” The object of strategy was “to disintegrate the enemy’s power of cooperation” and of tactics “to destroy his activity.” Yet while this was a bolder conceptual framework, Fuller’s actual understanding of strategy remained orthodox. In lectures given in the early 1930s, he was still describing strategy in terms of battle: “the advance to the battlefield is a strategical act.” As soon as there was contact, tactics would “begin to shape themselves.”[109] It is important to note that, although grand tactics has been compared to contemporary descriptions of the “operational level,” for Fuller it does not appear simply as an intermediate stage between strategy and minor tactics. Minor tactics, he explained, reflected a “different expression of force.” Whereas grand tactics were concerned with the “mental destruction” of the enemy, minor tactics came into play when it was necessary to move into physical destruction (“when the mind of the enemy’s commander can only be attacked through the bodies of his men”).[110] As Milevski notes, Fuller’s use of the term strategy is often “odd.” Fuller admitted to Liddell Hart that "'I find it most difficult to suggest a suitable definition of strategy.’”[111] On strategy, Liddell Hart, though more derivative in his ideas, produced sharper and, in the end, more lasting language.[112] The key conceptual breakthrough came in a short piece written in June 1924 titled “The Napoleonic Fallacy,” which was published in a relatively obscure journal, although it was eventually reworked (as was Liddell Hart’s habit) in his first theoretical book, Paris; Or the Future of War[113] and in subsequent books. There was no new definition of strategy, but, following Fuller, he established that the objective of war was a good peace — an “honourable, prosperous, and secure existence.” This set as the military’s aim to subdue the enemy’s “will to resist, with the least possible human and economic loss.” On this basis, and in contrast to “The Napoleonic Fallacy,” the “destruction of the enemy’s armed forces is but a means and not necessarily an inevitable or infallible one to the attainment of the real objective.” It was “the function of grand strategy to discover and exploit the Achilles’ heel of the enemy nation; to strike not against its strongest bulwark but against its most vulnerable spot.”[114] [quote id="4"] In a letter in late November 1927, Liddell Hart denied that he was offering a “one-sided refutation of battle as a means of victory,” but more an argument “to remedy the lopsidedness which has arisen through over-emphasis on battle as the all-important means to victory.” Here he identified for the first time his theory of “The Strategy of the Indirect Approach,” according to which “the dislocation of the enemy’s moral, mental or material balance is the vital prelude to an attempt at his overthrow.”[115] This was the theme of his most lasting book, The Decisive Wars of History,[116] in which he rejected Clausewitz’s definition — “the employment of battle as a means to gain the object of war” because this took for granted the necessity of battle. He preferred a definition he attributed to Moltke: “the practical adaptation of the means placed at a general’s disposal to the attainment of the object.”[117] From this definition, he formulated his own: “the distribution and transmission of military means to fulfill the ends of policy.” Much later, “transmission” was replaced by “employment.”[118] He limited tactics to matters concerned with “the fighting.” Grand strategy was about the coordination and direction of all the resources of the nation to the attainment of the political object of the war. Unlike Fuller, Liddell Hart saw no need for a separate concept of grand tactics. His definitions were part of a package of propositions geared to the promotion of his indirect approach so as to avoid desperate frontal assaults. In his wariness of battle, he was looking back to the 18th century and some of the ideas that animated the earliest discussions of strategy. But the advantage of his definitions was that they did not require accepting the whole package. The key shift was to accept that there were a number of ways to use armed force, and that the most advantageous way in a given scenario depended on a keen understanding of the political context. During the interwar years, references to grand strategy became increasingly frequent. This was the combined result of more thought being given to World War I and the rise of aggressive militarism in the 1930s. In a book published during World War II, the historian Cyril Falls did not seem to understand that the term grand strategy was of comparatively recent origin. He considered strategy to be a matter for the “commander-in-chief, and described tactics as the “art of fighting,” beginning where strategy ended. This left the demarcation point between the two hard to identify. This was an observation that could have been made a century earlier. Or else, Falls suggested, perhaps strategy referred to what was done on a great scale and tactics on a minor scale, or else strategy was “the province of the virtuoso, tactics that of the artisan.” In practice, the strategic choices were usually limited, and so it was the slog of tactics that got results.[119] Also during the war, Field Marshall Lord Wavell, who had begun his military career in the Boer War and ended it as commander-in-chief for India, challenged Liddell Hart’s view that strategy was gaining in importance: “I hold that tactics, the art of handling troops on the battlefield, is and always will be a more difficult and more important part of the general’s task than strategy, the art of bringing forces to the battlefield in a favorable position.”[120] It was after World War II that Liddell Hart’s definition began to stick, helped by his growing reputation as a prophet of limited war and the publication of his classic book on strategy in 1967. In a volume published in 1970 titled Problems of Modern Strategy, Michael Howard opened his essay observing that Liddell Hart’s definition was “as good as any, and better than most.”[121]

Conclusion

In the same volume as Howard’s essay, the French political theorist Raymond Aron noted that the appropriate contrast for strategy was tactics, but that “modern authors” tended to contrast it instead with “policy.” The result was that there was “now no difference between what was once called a policy and what one now calls strategy.”[122] In 2005, Hew Strachan made a similar point. The view of strategy developed by the early 20th century was “based on universal principles, institutionalized, disseminated, and at ease with itself.” Strategy was only one of the components of war, but it was “the central element sandwiched between national policy on the one hand and tactics on the other.” If there was a problem it “lay not in its definition but in its boundaries with policy.”[123] This was a natural consequence of the decline of the soldier-sovereigns and the need to manage relations between the civil and military spheres, each with its distinct role and responsibilities. As this article has shown, there was a boundary problem on the other side as well. Numerous writers observed that the distinction between strategy and tactics was hardly clear-cut. It was difficult to separate out the preparations for fighting and actual fighting, or to distinguish activities according to the responsible level of command. This was why ideas of grand tactics kept on intruding. It was also the area in which writers on colonial wars saw the most significant difference with regular warfare. The impact of colonial wars, which was the main preoccupation of the army, was more ambiguous because these wars tended to be seen as special cases.[124] This particular boundary problem, unlike that with policy, was manageable because all the activities were military responsibilities. The boundary problem between strategy and policy went to the heart of civil-military relations and by the start of the 20th century was increasingly hard to play down. The proper relationship was supposed to involve the government setting policy which would be handed down as the objectives of the war to the military commanders responsible for strategy. They would then turn them into war plans. The basic problem, perhaps more in theory than in practice, was that war plans were always expected to come down to the elimination of the enemy army as a fighting force. That is how strategy was presented for purposes of officer education. Without such a sharp focus on defeating the enemy army, discussions of strategy would have opened up earlier. In that case, however, the need to cover a great variety of types of engagement would have undermined all efforts to provide detailed advice on standardized operations. The narrow approach therefore facilitated the military curriculum but at the expense of failing to prepare officers for contingencies other than those of a pitched battle. After World War I, a narrow approach to strategy appeared inadequate. Historian Edward Mead Earle brought scholars interested in the increasingly pressing questions of national security to a seminar in Princeton, where a broader view of the subject emerged. In his introduction to his landmark collection of essays, Makers of Modern Strategy, published in 1943, Earle explained that, narrowly defined, strategy was “the art of military command, of projecting and directing a campaign,” where tactics was “the art of handling forces in battle.” But war and society had “become more complicated,” and so “strategy has of necessity required increasing consideration of nonmilitary factors, economic, psychological, moral, political, and technological.” Strategy, therefore, was not “an inherent element of statecraft at all times.” His definition tended toward grand strategy:
In the present-day world, then, strategy is the art of controlling and utilizing the resources of a nation — or a coalition of nations — including its armed forces, to the end that its vital interests shall be effectively promoted and secured against enemies, actual, potential, or merely presumed.[125]
As Strachan pointed out in another article, the category of grand strategy was not always helpful because it suggested that it was in some way comparable to military strategy.[126] The original concept was closely connected to war and could be taken to refer to all of those things, including military preparations and action, required to prosecute war effectively. This included peacetime preparations for conflict, such as allocating military budgets and forming alliances. But these preparations might be undertaken in such a way that they made war unlikely (deterrence) and so, over time, could be hard to distinguish from a more general foreign and defense policy. Thus, just as strategy lost its specificity when it became unhinged from battle, so too did grand strategy lose its specificity as it became detached from war. Instead of discussions on strategy staying close to those on tactics they moved to a much higher plane. In the period under discussion, an “operational level” was not identified.[127] A number of theorists did write about grand tactics, largely referring to the more demanding actions needed prior to actual battle, at which point ordinary tactics would come into play. Strategy itself best covered what is now considered the operational level, and the introduction of the latter can be seen as a response to the loss of a purely military definition of strategy.[128] These different categories — grand strategy/policy, strategy, grand tactics/operations, tactics — could be seen as representing different levels of command, and so serve as a way of delineating the responsibilities of each. But the issue was always the dynamic interaction between these distinct concepts, and the more categories, the more complicated that interaction became. When strategy only entailed preparing for battle, it was a chapter heading, a set of practical issues that any commander would need to address when moving large bodies of men, properly equipped and provisioned, into position for the coming encounter. Once battle was no longer the certain objective and the relationship between military means and political ends was opening up a range of operational possibilities, the topic of strategy became more challenging for purposes of officer education. But for the same reasons it also became much more interesting for theorists. Instead of looking to the past to help deduce the unchanging principles of war, strategy came to mean looking to the future to explore new ways in which changing political circumstances might interact with new forms of armed force. There is an unavoidable tension between strategy as theory, a way of thinking about the interplay of political and military affairs, and strategy as guidance, a way of preparing for likely contingencies. The first breaks down boundaries. The second requires boundaries to keep the task manageable. By the end of the 19th century, the study of strategy had become routine for practitioners, but of little interest for theorists. By the end of the 20th century, it had become a matter of endless fascination for theorists, but a puzzle for practitioners.   Sir Lawrence Freedman is professor emeritus of war studies at King’s College London. Freedman became professor of war studies at King’s College in 1982. In 2002, he became head of the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at King’s College. In June 2009, he was appointed to serve as a member of the official inquiry into Britain and the 2003 Iraq War. Before joining King’s College, Freedman held research appointments at Nuffield College Oxford, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London, and the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London. Elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1995, he was appointed official historian of the Falklands Campaign in 1997. His most recent books are Strategy: A History (2013) and The Future of War: A History (2017). ISSN (Print): 2576-1021 ISSN(Online): 2576-1153 Image: The British Library [post_title] => The Meaning of Strategy, Part II: The Objectives [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => meaning-strategy-part-ii-objectives [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-26 05:49:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-26 09:49:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=413 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta] => [lead] => By the end of the 19th century, the study of strategy had become routine for practitioners, but of little interest for theorists. By the end of the 20th century, it had become a matter of endless fascination for theorists, but a puzzle for practitioners. [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 1, Issue 2 [quotes] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The item on tactics referred to a higher branch — la grande tactique — that should be thoroughly understood by all general officers ) [1] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => Military writers undertook to define strategy, yet it resulted in “definitions as various as the writers were numerous.” ) [2] => Array ( [author] => [style] => right [text] => The period beginning in the late 1880s saw a growing influence of naval thinking on wider strategy. ) [3] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => During the interwar years, references to grand strategy became increasingly frequent. ) [4] => Array ( [author] => [style] => left [text] => The German debate was more substantial, although established definitions of strategy remained intact. ) ) [style] => scholarly [type] => Scholarly [style_label] => The Scholar [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => 561 ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 59 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] I am grateful to Beatrice Heuser and Hew Strachan for their comments on an earlier draft of this article. [2] Basil Liddell Hart, Strategy: The Indirect Approach (London: Faber, 1967), 351. In the original version published in The Decisive Wars of History (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1929), strategy was defined as the art of “the distribution and transmission of military means.” [3] Général d’Armée André Beaufre, “Liddell Hart and the French Army, 1919-1939,” The Theory and Practice of War: Essays Presented to Captain B. H. Liddell Hart on his 70th Birthday, ed. Michael Howard (London: Cassell, 1965). [4] André Beaufre, Introduction à la stratégie (Paris: Libraire Armand Colin, 1963). Published in English as Introduction to Strategy (New York: Praeger, 1965) [Introduction à la stratégie, Paris, 1963)]. [5] Col. Arthur Lykke Jr., “Strategy = E + W + M,” Military Review LXIX, no. 5 (May 1989): 2-8. [6] Lawrence Freedman, “The Meaning of Strategy, Part I: The Origins,” Texas National Security Review 1, no. 1 (October 2017), https://tnsr.org/2017/10/meaning-strategy-part-origin-story. [7] Beatrice Heuser, The Evolution of Strategy: Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 120-121. [8] Guillame-Henri Dufour, Strategy and Tactics, trans. William Craighill (New York: Van Nostrand, 1864), 8. [9] The Google Books N-gram Viewer displays a graph showing how those phrases have occurred in a corpus of books over the selected years. [10] Dietrich Heinrich von Bülow, The Spirit of the Modern System of War, trans. Malorti de Martemont (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013). [11] Lukas Milevski, The Evolution of Modern Grand Strategic Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). [12] Freedman, “The Meaning of Strategy, Part I." [13] Ira Gruber, Books and the British Army in the Age of the American Revolution (University of North Carolina Press, 2010), Part I. [14] Johann W. von Bourscheid, trans. Kasier Leo des Philosophen Strategie und Taktik in 5 Bänden (Vienna: Jospeh Edler von Kurzboeck, 1777-1781). [15] “Foreign Articles,” The Critical Review, or, Annals of Literature 48 (October 1779): 310, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015071095007;view=1up;seq=23. [16] Joly de Maizeroy, A System of Tactics, Practical, Theoretical and Historical, trans. Thomas Mante (London: Cadell, 1781); Comte de Guibert, A General Essay on Tactics, trans. Lt. Douglas (London: J. Millar, 1781). [17] It is notable that the reviewer clearly found the section of Guibert dealing with politics more interesting than that on the purely military issues. It did refer to elementary and “great,” rather than “grand” tactics. The Critical Review: Or, Annals of Literature 52 (December 1781). Another review of Maizeroy [The Monthly Review, Or, Literary Journal: Vol. 71: From July to December, Inclusive, 1784 (London: R. Griffiths, 1785)] noted his enthusiasm for classical texts and wondered whether these could provide guidance of tactics under modern conditions, and regretted the concentration on the higher tactics while taking the knowledge of the elementary for granted. [18] Simon-François Gay de Vernon, Traité élémentaire d’art militaire et de fortification: à l'usage des élèves de l’École polytechnique, et des élèves des écoles militaries, 2 vols. (Paris: Libr. Allais, 1805), 79. [19] John Michael O’Connor, A Treatise on the Science of War and Fortification (New York: J. Seymour, New York, 1817), 104. [20] British Military Library, 2 vols. (London: Richard Phillips, 1804). [21] Charles James, New and Enlarged Military Dictionary, Part I (London: T Egerton, 1802), https://books.google.com/books?id=pixOAAAAYAAJ&q=stratarithmetry#v=onepage&q=stratarithmetry&f=false. The now lost word “stratarithmometry,” which was spelled in a number of different ways, was concerned with drawing up an army or any part of it in a geometric figure. [22] Charles James, New and Enlarged Military Dictionary, 2nd ed. (London: T Egerton, 1805), 915-916. Milevski notes its appearance, but not the fact that this was borrowed directly from Nockhern de Schorn. Milevski, Evolution, 15. [23] Charles James, New and Enlarged Military Dictionary, 3rd. ed. (London: T Egerton, 1810), https://books.google.com/books?id=-l0UAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false. [24] Unsigned review of Carl von Clausewitz, "On War," Metropolitan Magazine (May and June, 1835): 64-71, 166-176; this was also published in the Military and Naval Magazine of the United States V and VI (August and September issues, 1835): 426-436, 50-63. Clausewitz’s The Campaign Of 1812 In Russia, trans. Francis Egerton (London: John Murray, 1843) was translated into English in 1843, so he was appreciated at first largely as a military historian more than theorist; Christopher Bassford, The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America, 1815-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994). [25] J. A. Gilbert, An Exposition of the First Principles of Grand Military Combinations and Movements, Compiled from the Treatise upon Great Military Operations by the Baron de Jomini (London: T. Egerton, 1825). [26] Jay Luvaas, The Education of an Army: British Military Thought, 1815-1940 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1964), 18. The proposed title was “The Philosophy of War.” [27] William Napier, “Review of Traité des grandes opérations militaires,” Edinburgh Review XXXV (1821): 377-409. [28] Edward Yates, Elementary Treatise on Tactics and on Certain Parts of Strategy (London: Boone, 1855), 1. His distinction between strategy and tactics owes much to Bülow: “Strategy is that division of the science of war, which superintends the direction of all operations and the construction of all combinations, except during the intervals of action; the instant at which the opposing forces, of whatever magnitude, come into sight of one another.” At this point, strategy left “its presidency,” until the two armies lost sight of one another, and then it would return. Tactics was what was left over; it was “that division of the science of war which presides over all operations over whatever strategy does not preside.” [29] Luvaas, Education, Chapter 2. [30] John Mitchell, Thoughts on Tactics (London: Longman et al., 1838), https://archive.org/details/thoughtsontacti00mitcgoog. [31] Mitchell, Thoughts. Brian Holden Reid has emphasized the anti-intellectual culture of the army over the 19th century in Brian Holden Reid, Studies in British Military Thought: Debates with Fuller and Liddell Hart (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996), 67, 70. [32] Committee of the Corps of Royal Engineers, eds., Aide-memoire to the military sciences, 3 vols. (London: John Weale, High Holbern, 1846-52), 5-7. For another example of guidance on strategy involving repetition of Jomini, see Hon. F A Thesiger, Strategy, A lecture delivered at the United Services Institute of West India, Poona, 1862 (Bombay, Alliance Press, 1863). [33] Hew Strachan, “Soldiers, Strategy and Sebastopol,” The Historical Journal 21, no. 2 (1978): 307. [34] Brian Bond, The Victorian Army and the Staff College, 1854–1914 (London: Eyre Methuen, 1972). For a less damning verdict see Hew Strachan, From Waterloo to Balaclava: Tactics, Technology, and the British Army 1815-1854 (Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985). [35] A. W. Preston, “British Military Thought 1856–1890,” The Army Quarterly 89, no. 1 (October 1964), 60. [36] Lt. Col. P. L. McDougall, The Theory of War: Illustrated by Numerous Examples from Military History (London: Longmans, 1856), 2-3. [37] Edward Bruce Hamley, The Operations of War: Explained and Illustrated (London: William Blackwood, 1866). It was read by Moltke. [38] Luvaas, Education, 151. It stayed in print until 1923. [39] Hamley, The Operations of War, 55-7. Hamley struck a modern note with his stress on the need to “read the theatre of war” and references to the “narrative of campaigns” — essentially a way of thinking through the demands of strategy. [40] Maj. Gen. C. Francis Clery, Minor Tactics, 13th ed. (London: Kegan Paul, 1896), 1. [41] Here Henderson had Clery in mind. [42] Col. G. F. R. Henderson, “Lessons from the Past for the Present,” Lecture at the United Services Institution, May 25, 1894, published in a collection of his essays: Col. G. F. R. Henderson, Science of War: A Collection of Essays and Lectures 1891-1903, ed. Neill Malcom (London: Longmans, Green & Co.: 1906), 168. [43] Lt. Col. G. F. R. Henderson, Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War, 2 vols. (London: Longman Green, 1898). For an appreciation of Henderson, see Jay Luvaas, “G. F. R. Henderson and the American Civil War,” Military Affairs 20, no. 3 (Autumn 1956): 139-15. Also, see Luvaas, Education, Chapter 7. [44] He noted that “strategy, unfortunately, is an unpopular science, even among soldiers, requiring both in practice and in demonstration constant and careful study of the map, the closest computation of time and space, a grasp of many factors, and the strictest attention to the various steps in the problems it presents … the determining factor in civilised warfare …trained common sense.” [45] Lt. Col G. F. R. Henderson, “Strategy and its Teaching,” Journal of the Royal United Services Institution XLII (July 1898), 761. [46] Strategy, from the Encyclopedia Britannica supplement 1902. Reprinted in Henderson, Science of War. While strategy was clearly the higher art Henderson was strongly of the view that this did not mean that strategy was “the province of the few” while “tactics of the many,” so that only those expecting high command “need trouble about what is perhaps the most important branch of the art of war.” Yet soldiers could not know if circumstances would push them into command at a critical moment. Those without this knowledge would be “terribly one-sided creatures.” [47] Russell F. Weigley, “American Strategy from Its Beginnings through the First World War,” Makers of Modern Strategy, ed. Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 438-9. See also Brian McAllister Linn, The Echo of Battle (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009). [48] This was unusual as a key text first translated into English by an American (see footnotes 18 and 19). Michael Bonura, Under the Shadow of Napoleon: French Influence on the American Way of Warfare from Independence to the Eve of World War II (New York: NYU Press, 2012), 76. [49] Henry Hallek, Elements of the Military Art and Science (New York: 1846). See Azar Gat, The Development of Military Thought: The Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 16-22. Halleck did note the importance of the “Policy of War,” or “the relations of war with the affairs of state.” [50] Dennis Mahan, Elementary Treatise on Advanced Guard, Outposts, and Detachment Service of Troops (New York: Wiley, 1847; revised, 1862). [51] Col. H. L. Scott, Military Dictionary (New York: Van Nostrand, 1861), 574. This had not been prepared “in view of the existing disturbances.” [52] Carol Reardon, With a Sword in One Hand and Jomini in the Other: The Problem of Military Thought in the Civil War North (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012). [53] Carl von Decker, The Three Arms or Divisional Tactics, Maj. Inigo Jones, trans. (London: Parker, Furnivall, and Parker, 1848). The translator, Maj. Inigo Jones, had improved the text, however, by interspersing Decker’s thoughts with some from Jomini. [54] Interestingly there was both a Union translation and edition: Marshal Marmont, The Spirit of Military Institutions, trans. Henry Coppee (Philadelphia: J P. Lippincott, 1862); and one from the Confederacy: Marshal Marmont, The Spirit of Military Institutions, trans. Col. Frank Schaller (Columbia, S.C.: Rvans and Cogswell, 1864). Marmont worked with established definitions of strategy. [55] Junius Wheeler, A course of instruction in the elements of the art and science of war. For the use of cadets of the United States military academy (New York: Van Nostrand, 1878), 11. He defined strategy as “the science of directing, with promptitude, precision and clearness, masses of troops to gain possession of points of importance in military operations.” [56] James Mercur, The Art of War: Prepared for the Cadets of the United States Military Academy (New York: John Wiley, 1898), 16, 140. Grand tactics referred to “planning battles, perfecting the preliminary arrangements, conducting them during their process and securing the results of victory, or avoiding the consequences of defeat.” [57] Mercur, The Art of War, 272. [58] Ken Booth and Nicholas Wheeler, The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics (London: Palgrave, 2007). [59] Mercur, The Art of War, 272. [60] Russell F. Weigley, “American Strategy from Its Beginnings through the First World War,” in Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy, 438-9. Linn also accepts that Bigelow was “insightful and original.” [61] John Bigelow Jr., Principles of Strategy: Illustrated Mainly from American Campaigns (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1894). [62] Gen. W. T. Sherman, “The Grand Strategy of the Wars of the Rebellion,” The Century Magazine (February 1888): 582-597. Lt. Col. Frances Soady, Lessons of war as taught by the great masters and others; selected and arranged from the various operations of war (London: W. H. Allen, 1870). [63] Capt. Matthew Steele, “The Conduct of War,” Journal of the Military Service Institution of the United States XVII (1908): 22-31. Here he was quoting from Colmar Freiherr Von der Goltz, The Conduct of War, trans. Maj. G. F. Lereson (London: Kegan Paul et al, 1899), whose work is discussed below. Steele noted that strategy could “not even be held to a military sense; there is a political as well as a military strategy, and they both fall within the scope of the conduct of war.” [64] J. L. Lewal, Introduction à la partie positive de la stratégie (Paris: Librarie Militaire Baudoin, 1892). See Gat, The Development of Military Thought, 123. [65] Published as Théorie de la Grande Guerre, trans. Lt. Col. De Vatry. See Beatrice Heuser, Reading Clausewitz (London: Pimlico, 2002), 15. A much earlier edition was out of print. [66] Jay Luvaas, “European Military Thought and Doctrine,” in Howard, ed., The Theory and Practice of War, 78. [67] Victor Bernard Derrécagaix, Modern War, Vol. 1 Strategy, trans. C. W. Foster (Washington: James Chapman, 1888), 3-4. [68] Marshal Foch, The Principles of War, trans. Hilaire Belloc (New York: Henry Holt, 1920). This was first published in French in 1903. [69] Cited in Heuser, Evolution, 144-5. [70] Antonio Echevarria II, After Clausewitz: German Military Thinkers Before the Great War (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 2000), 142. [71] Wilhelm von Blume, Strategie (Berlin: E.S. Mittler und Sohn, 1882); Gen. Bronsart von Schellendorff, The Duties of the General Staff, 4th ed. (London: H.M.S.O., 1905), 2 vols. (London: Kegan Paul, 1877-1880). [72] Kraft fought in the wars of German unification, but did not exercise senior command. Gen. Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen, Letters on Strategy, 2 vols. (London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner &​ Co., Ltd., 1898), 1-2, 11. [73] Colmar von der Goltz, Das Volk in Waffen (Berlin: R. von Decker, 1883). Published in Britain in 1905 (based on 5th edition in 1898), trans. Philip Ashworth (London: Hugh Rees, 1906). [74] Robert T. Foley. ed., Alfred von Schlieffen’s Military Writings (London: Frank Cass, 2003), 172 [75] Robert J. Foley, German Strategy and the Path to Verdun: Erich von Falkenhayn and the Development of Attrition, 1870–1916 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 39-40; Gat, The Development of Military Thought; Echevarria II, After Clausewitz. [76] Hans Delbrück, “Die Strategie des Perikles erläutert durch die Strategie Friedrichs des grossen,” Preußische Jahrbücher 64 (1889). [77] Arden Bucholz, Hans Delbrück & the German Military Establishment (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1985), 35. Delbrück’s magnum opus, Geschichte der Kriegskunst im Rahmen der politischen Geschichte, was published in 4 vols. from 1900 to 1920. A further 3 vols. in the series were completed by other writers by 1936. Delbrück had a limited influence on British and American debates. His significance was first identified in Gordon A. Craig, "Delbrück: The Military Historian," Edward Mead Earle, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy; Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy. His work did not begin to appear in English until 1975: Hans Delbrück, trans. Walter J. Renfroe, Jr., History of the Art of War within the Framework of Political History, 4 vols. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1975-1985). [78] Lt. Gen. Rudolf von Caemmerer, The Development of Strategical Science During the 19th century (Berlin: Baensch, 1904), trans. Lt. Gen. Karl von Donat (London: Hugh Rees, 1905). [79] Daniel Hughes, Moltke on the Art of War: Selected Writings (Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1995), 35. See also Barry Quintin, Moltke and his Generals: A Study in Leadership (Solihull, Helion & Co., 2015). [80] Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 105-7. [81] Friedrich von Bernhardi, Vom heutingen Kriege (Berlin: Mittler, 1912); Friedrich von Bernhardi, On War of To-day, trans. Karl von Donat, 2 vols. (London: Hugh Rees, 1912-13), vol. 2. [82] See, for example, Commandant Mordacq, Politique et stratégie dans une démocratie (Paris: Plon-Nourrit, 1912); Benoît Durieux, Clausewitz en France: Deux siècles de réflexion sur la guerre (1807-2007) (Paris: Bibliothèque Stratégique, 2008). [83] In Luvaas, Education, 109, he notes that MacDougall was the first European to include lessons from the Civil War into a military text. Hamley was criticized in a Spectator article for his inaccuracies on the American war: “Hamley’s Operations of War,” The Spectator 39 (June 23, 1866), 695-696. [84] Eliot Cohen, Supreme CommandSoldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), 40-41. [85] John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham Lincoln: A History IV (New York: The Century Co., 1890), 359-360. [86] Henderson, Stonewall Jackson, Vol. 1, Chapter 7. [87] Lt. Col. G. F. R. Henderson, “Strategy and its Teaching,” Journal of the Royal United Services Institution XLII (July 1898): 761. [88] T. Miller Maguire, “International Strategy Since 1891 and its Present Condition,” Journal of the Royal United Services Institution 50, no. 1 (1906): 637-655. [89] T. Miller Maguire, Our Art of War as Made in Germany (London: Simpkin, Marshall, 1900), 2. The timing suggests he had Goltz particularly in mind. Maguire was unusual in seeing strategy as a way for the weaker power to avoid battle on unfavorable terms. Geoffrey Demarest, T. Miller Maguire and the Lost Essence of Strategy (U.S. Army War College, Strategy Research Paper, 2008). [90] See Bassford, The Reception of Clausewitz. For example, Henderson described Clausewitz as “the most profound of all writers on war,” but “geniuses and clever men have a distressing habit of assuming that everyone understands what is perfectly clear to themselves.” As Henderson was thinking of instructing officers, he observed the Prussian’s uselessness for men of “average intelligence.” [91] Stewart Murray, The Reality of War: A Companion to Clausewitz (London: Hugh Rees, 1914), 128-133, https://archive.org/details/realityofwarcomp00murruoft. [92] Lt. Col. Walter James, Modern Strategy: An Outline of the Principles Which Guide the Conduct of Campaigns (London: Blackwood, 1903), 17, 18. Though James had a conventional view of strategy as being “concerned with the movement of troops before they come into actual collision,” his description of what this involved indicated just how broad the discussion was becoming. It included “the selection of the country in which to fight” and “the objects against which the armies should be directed.” [93] Bond, Victorian Army, 266. [94] Rear-Adm. P. H. Colomb, Naval Warfare: Its Ruling Principles and Practice Historically Treated (London: W. H. All, 1891), v-viii. [95] Rear-Adm. P. H. Colomb, Naval Warfare, 76. [96] Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783 (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1890) and The Influence of Sea Power Upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793–1812 (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1892). Robert Seager, Alfred Thayer Mahan: The Man and His Letters (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1977). For a collection of his writings, see Alfred Thayer Mahan, Mahan on Naval Strategy: Selections from the Writings of Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, with an introduction by John Hattendorf (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1991). [97] Jon Tetsuro Sumida, Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1999). Milevski, Evolution, 29, describes Mahan as implying grand strategy. [98] Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power, 8. [99] Alfred Thayer Mahan, Mahan on Naval Strategy, 22. [100] J. J. Widen, Theorist of Maritime Strategy: Sir Julian Corbett and His Contribution to Military and Naval Thought (Abingdon; Routledge, 2016); Donald M. Schurman, Julian S. Corbett, 1854–1922 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1981). See also Azar Gat, Development of Military Thought. [101] In an earlier work, he had referred to “higher” strategy. Milevski, Evolution, 37. [102] Julian Corbett, Some Principles of Maritime Strategy (Longmans, Green & Co., 191), 308. The “The Green Pamphlet” of 1909 appears as an appendix. [103] See for example William Keith Naylor, Principles of Strategy with Historical Illustrations (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: General Services School Press, 1921): ‘‘The division between strategy and tactics is generally known and everyone fairly knows under which head to place any single act, without knowing distinctly the grounds on which the classification is founded.” Naylor stuck with Jomini. German military writing kept the old definitions. [104] Hew Strachan, The First World War, Vol. I: To Arms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 99. [105] Gen. W. Bird, The Direction of War: A Study of Strategy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1920), 14, 27, 43. The list of authorities he provides are largely those mentioned in this study based on the Napoleonic wars. He does not include Corbett. This was, however, part of a series of which Corbett was the general editor. [106] Sir Charles Oman, “A Defence of Military History,” The Study of War for Statesmen and Citizens, ed. Sir George Aston (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1927), v-vi, 40-1. The former Foreign Secretary, Viscount Grey of Fallodon, introduced the volume observing that civilians who may play a part in government in time of war should study the principles of war, and particularly the great mistakes that civilian governments have made in military and naval strategy (adding he must share responsibility for some of those in the recent war). [107] J. F. C. Fuller, The Reformation of War (London: Hutchinson and Co, 1923), 214. On Fuller, see Gat, Fascists and Liberal Visions of War (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998) and Brian Holden Reid, Studies in British Military Thought. [108] J. F. C. Fuller, The Foundations of the Science of War (London: Hutchinson, 1926). [109] Reid, Studies in British Military Thought, 107-8, 154-5. [110] J. F. C. Fuller, Foundations, 110. [111] Milevski, Evolution, 51. [112] His first effort at definitions was unsuccessful. In 1923, he distinguished between tactics as the “domain of weapons” and concerned with destruction, while strategy was the “the science of communications,” largely concerned with movement. B. H. Liddell Hart, “The Next Great War,” Royal Engineers Journal XXXVIII (March 1924). An excellent source on the development of Liddell Hart’s concepts is Lt. Col. Richard M. Swain, B. H. Liddell Hart; Theorist for the 21st Century (Fort Leavenworth, KA: Advanced Operational Studies School for Advanced Military Studies, U. S. Command and General Staff College, 1986). See also Swain’s “B. H. Liddell Hart and the Creation of a Theory of War, 1919-1933,” Armed Forces & Society 17, no. 1 (1990): 35-51 and Brian Bond, Liddell Hart: A Study of his Military Thought (London: Cassell,1977). [113] B.H. Liddell Hart, Paris: Or, The Future of War (London: Dutton, 1925). [114] B. H. Liddell Hart, “The Napoleonic Fallacy; The Moral Objective in War,” Empire Review 1 (May 1925), 510-520. For the date of composition, see B. H. Liddell Hart, Memoirs, 2 vols. (London: Cassell, 1965), I, 75. [115] Swain, “B. H. Liddell Hart,”42. The extent to which Liddell Hart’s ideas derived from Corbett and Fuller is well-known. Less appreciated, perhaps, is his debt to Sun Tzu, which he read for the first time in 1927. He later attested to Sun Tzu’s impact upon him and quoted him liberally. “In one short book,” he observed, “was embodied almost as much about the fundamentals of strategy and tactics as I had covered in more than twenty books.” B. H. Liddell Hart, “Foreword” in Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Samuel B. Griffith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963), vii. See also Derek M. C. Yuen, Deciphering Sun Tzu: How to Read the Art of War (London: Hurst & Co, 2014). The links between Sun Tzu’s formulations and his own are pronounced. [116] B. H. Liddell Hart, The Decisive Wars of History (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1929). [117] Robert Foley has been unable to trace this quote and notes that Liddell Hart’s source is unclear, and is possibly a poor translation. “Can Strategy be Reduced to a Formula of S=E+W+M?” Defence in Depth (November 2014), https://defenceindepth.co/2014/11/03/can-strategy-be-reduced-to-a-formula-of-s-e-w-m. [118] “Transmission” was removed in the 1954 version, published as “Strategy: The Indirect Approach” (always his preferred title). The 1967 edition has the definition now generally used. [119] Cyril Falls, Ordeal by Battle (London: Methuen, 1943), vol. 5, 74. He mentions Fuller in passing but not Liddell Hart, although there is a slighting reference to the indirect approach: “the neophyte may imagine that the ideal procedure would be to march straight round the enemy’s flank and get astride his communications. … But it would only serve against an army which could be relied upon to submit tamely to the process.” [120] Lord Wavell, Soldiers and Soldiering (London: Jonathan Cape, 1953), 47. Cited in Bernard Brodie, Strategy in the Missile Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959), 12-14. [121] Michael Howard, “The Classic Strategists,” Problems of Modern Strategy, ed. Alastair Buchan (London: Chatto & Windus for the Institute for Strategic Studies, 1970), 47. He also opened with Liddell Hart in Michael Howard, “The Forgotten Dimensions of Strategy,” Foreign Affairs (Summer 1979), 975-986. A reader for the National Defense University published in 1980, while including a rather long-winded definition of strategy from the Joint Chiefs, opened with Howard’s essay and a number of extracts from Liddell Hart’s book. Col. George Holt Jr. and Col. Walter Milliken, Strategy: A Reader (Washington, DC: National Defense University, 1980), iii. The Joint Chiefs’ definition was: “the art and science of developing and using political, economic, psychological, and military forces as necessary during peace and war, to afford maximum support to policies, in order to increase the probabilities and favorable consequences of victory and to lessen the chances of defeat.” [122] Raymond Aron, “The Evolution of Modern Strategic Thought,” in Buchan, Problems of Modern Strategy, 14-15. [123] Hew Strachan, “The lost meaning of strategy,” Survival 47, no. 3 (2005), 36. [124] “It is a singular feature of small wars that from the point of view of strategy the regular forces are upon the whole at a distinct disadvantage as compared to their antagonists.” Col. C. E. Callwell, Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice (London: HMSO, 1896). [125] Edward Meade Earle, “Introduction,” Makers of Modern Strategy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1943), viii. On Earle see Michael Finch, ‘'Edward Mead Earle and the Unfinished Makers of Modern Strategy,” Journal of Military History 80, no. 3 (2016): 781-814; David Ekbladh, “Present at the Creation: Edward Mead Earle and the Depression Era Origins of Security Studies,” International Security 36, no. 3 (Winter 2011/12): 107–141. [126] Hew Strachan, “Strategy and Contingency,” International Affairs 87, no. 6 (2011): 1281-1296. Strachan’s writing on these issues were collected together in The Direction of War: Contemporary Strategy in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013). [127] Justin Kelly and Mike Brennan identify a reference in the 1982 Field Manual 100-5 to an “operational level of war,” which involved “planning and conducting campaigns” as the source of what they consider to be a major confusion. Alien: How Operational Art Devoured Strategy (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 2009). The idea, however, had already been introduced by Edward N. Luttwak, “The Operational Level of War,” International Security 5, no. 3 (Winter 1980-1981): 61-79. [128] Jean Colin saw grand tactics as having a place between strategy and tactics. Strategy was about the general control of operations. It “concerns itself with the combining of movements regulated so as to obtain a predetermined result.” Grand tactics concerns itself with the combined movements which prepare battle, and also organizes the march of divisions up to the point where they become engaged. Jean Colin, The Transformations of War, trans. Bvt. Maj. L.H.R. Pope-Hennessy (London: High Rees, 1912). ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 414 [post_author] => 100 [post_date] => 2018-01-31 04:00:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-31 09:00:19 [post_content] => When scholars discuss the contemporary international order, they tend to do so in abstract terms. Older forms of international order — the balance of power between great states and shifts in that balance — could be measured in concrete terms by counting men under arms, factories, artillery pieces, and so on. Today, however, the composition of the U.S.-led liberal international order is more difficult to articulate. Richard Fontaine has characterized today’s world order as a “web of norms, institutions, rules, and relationships”[1] that “range from maritime rules and trade regimes to norms against forcible conquest and in support of state sovereignty” and “institutions like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, as well as a variety of key alliances and arrangements.”[2] In a similar vein, Robin Niblett has defined the liberal international order in terms of principles — “open markets, democracy, and individual human rights” — undergirded by institutions such as those forged at Bretton Woods in 1944.[3] Such descriptions make the liberal international order sound profoundly important, which is not surprising since they are generally provided as predicates for arguments that this order is fraying and in need of reinvigoration or repair.[4] Yet the descriptions of what, precisely, the international order is — and, for that matter, the laments over its uncertain state — are also undeniably amorphous. That vagueness has fueled accusations by newly resurgent nationalists that the liberal international order is at best a fanciful notion or, more sinister, a scheme perpetrated by a “globalist” elite to advance parochial interests at the expense of the national interest.[5] This charge has in turn been rebutted by scholars such as John Bew, who observes that notions of world order, far from a latter-day globalist innovation, have preoccupied policymakers from across the ideological spectrum for more than a century.[6] Yet another objection to notions of international order could be posed: that however noble such ideas may be, they are of little practical use to the policymaker engaged in the daily business of international relations. Indeed, even some defenders of the international order characterize it as “a work of abstract art”[7] and note that “the link between the pursuit of world order and American security and prosperity has always been “hard to sustain when subjected to s[k]eptical questioning.”[8] A complete argument in defense of the liberal international order requires demonstrating that this order is not merely abstract or vaguely laudable but of concrete value to the national security of the United States and its allies. This essay seeks to make that case by examining American policy toward Iran as an example of the international order in action. The essay draws upon my experience as director for Iran at the National Security Council from 2006 to 2007 and as the council’s senior director for the Middle East from 2007 to 2008. At its best, U.S. policy toward Iran melded the unilateral exercise of American power with utilization of the norms, institutions, and relationships that make up the international order to advance a vital national security interest — namely, preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Yet an examination of American policy toward Iran also sheds light on practical problems the international order faces and how those problems might be addressed. That Iran should provide a case study in how the international order works to advance American security is no doubt ironic given that it is a classic revisionist state, railing against and seeking to undermine that very order, skillfully and not without some success.

Iran Policy Under George W. Bush

Iran’s nuclear activities were a preoccupation of the George W. Bush administration nearly from its outset. This was most memorably illustrated by the 2002 State of the Union address, in which the president decried Iran’s support for terrorism, its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and its domestic repression. He famously described Iran as part of an “axis of evil.”[9] Within the Bush administration, however, Iran’s nuclear program came to be seen as a subset of the broader array of threats posed by Tehran, which included terrorism and attempts to stymie American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush administration internally debated different approaches for dealing with these various dangers, from regime change to sanctions to diplomacy.[10] What ultimately became U.S. policy for addressing Iran’s nuclear program — leading directly, if distantly, to the conclusion of a nuclear agreement in 2015 — was less the product of U.S. initiative than a reaction to external developments. Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities were publicly exposed in 2002 by the National Council of Resistance of Iran and shortly thereafter acknowledged by Iran.[11] Threatened with referral to the U.N. Security Council over having violated its 1974 nuclear safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran had entered into negotiations with the “EU-3” — the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Those talks, likely reinforced by Iranian worries of U.S. military action in the wake of Washington’s interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, produced two successive agreements: the Tehran Statement in 2003 and the Paris Agreement of 2004. Neither deal stuck, however. The EU-3’s efforts to negotiate a long-term replacement foundered in August 2005 when, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president, Tehran rejected the EU-3’s latest proposal and removed U.N. seals from its uranium conversion equipment. The IAEA Board of Governors, in turn, condemned Iran’s violations of its safeguards agreement and referred it to the U.N. Security Council in February 2006. While by no means the starting point for the Bush administration’s Iran policy, this was a meaningful turning point. Events of 2005 and 2006 inaugurated a prolonged, steady escalation in Iran’s nuclear activities, and they marked the beginning of an American strategy of looking to the international order to address the threat posed by those activities. Institutions both formal and informal, political and economic, were at the heart of this effort. The first component of the new strategy consisted of an attempt to secure U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Iran and imposing international sanctions. From 2006 to 2008, five were adopted: Resolutions 1696, 1737, 1747, 1803, and 1835. All but two of these resolutions passed unanimously; Qatar cast the sole vote against Resolution 1696, and Indonesia abstained from voting on Resolution 1803.[12] [quote id="1"] The strategy’s second component consisted of a U.S.-led effort to isolate Iran’s financial system; this was later expanded to target other sectors of the Iranian economy. Unlike the first leg of the strategy, this one relied on international arrangements that had a lower profile than the U.N. Security Council and, in some cases, were outright ad hoc. Utilizing extraterritorial sanctions adopted by Congress and executive orders promulgated by President Bush, American officials were able to threaten overseas banks with exclusion from the U.S. financial system — and, later, the ability even to utilize U.S. dollars — should they continue their relationships with Iranian banks designated under American or U.N. sanctions. The resulting economic pressure on Iran was possible only because of American dominance of the international financial system — and the related preeminence of the U.S. dollar — and the degree to which that system had, over the course of decades, become integrated across national boundaries.[13] It would be tempting to see the latter effort’s success as evidence of the efficacy of the unilateral exercise of American power.[14] In reality, however, the two policy initiatives depended on each other for success. The U.N. sanctions, while impressive on paper, were unlikely on their own to have made a significant impact on Iran’s economy or that government’s decision-making. The ad hoc financial sanctions, in turn, would not have succeeded without the U.N. resolutions to undergird them. Those resolutions provided international legitimacy to what was otherwise the naked exercise of unilateral power by Washington, an important consideration in the wake of the ongoing war in Iraq. U.S. allies in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere could argue with American tactics (and did so vociferously) but not with the objective or even the broader strategy, both of which were tacitly endorsed by the Security Council. The resolutions also laid a foundation for likeminded states to impose their own sanctions on Iran, by providing both political cover and a legal basis for doing so — which was a necessity for some states. This strategy was not without costs and compromise. The decision to work around allied governments and directly warn their financial and commercial communities caused frictions that Iran sought to exploit. The need to secure Russian and Chinese agreement, along with that of various other reluctant states in the European Union and elsewhere, meant that U.N. resolutions were frequently delayed and diluted. It also required the United States to participate in the sort of nuclear diplomacy with Iran that Washington had previously resisted. The first U.N. resolution on Iran, Resolution 1696, was preceded by the first offer to Tehran by the “P5+1” (the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members, plus Germany), in the form of an “incentives package” delivered on the group’s behalf by the EU’s foreign policy chief — then Javier Solana — in June 2006. (This was subsequently revised and presented again in mid-2008.) Furthermore, what was primarily a multilateral strategy nevertheless depended on the threat or actual use of unilateral American power to succeed. For Iran, refusal to comply with the U.N. resolutions carried the risk of further sanctions or even a U.S.-led military attack, of which the Bush administration explicitly and repeatedly warned. This threat likely also explained, in part, Moscow and Beijing’s willingness to endorse U.N. sanctions, though both pointedly refused to accept American secondary sanctions, even as they quietly took steps to comply with them. While this sort of unilateral warning enjoyed no international endorsement, it was nevertheless employed in support of what was essentially a multilateral effort. That also probably dampened other states’ anger at the U.S. use of extraterritorial sanctions, which are often seen as violating state sovereignty, a key international norm.[15] The Bush administration’s success in bringing international pressure to bear against Iran’s nuclear program was largely the product of two major factors. The first was a perceived threat — shared by the United States and allies in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere — stemming from Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities. This view was sharpened by Iran’s behavior on the nuclear front — keeping its facilities secret and reportedly engaging in research related to nuclear weapons[16] — and beyond, such as its threats toward Israel.[17] The second factor was Washington’s ability to leverage the web of norms, institutions, and relationships that make up the international order. This also helps to explain why the United States has been far less successful in rallying international support to confront other issues emanating from Iran. U.S. allies in Europe and Asia simply do not share the American assessment of the gravity of the risks posed by Iran’s non-nuclear activities, and the international norms and institutions that deal with those matters are far less developed than those that exist to address proliferation. In the Middle East, where U.S. allies tend to strongly share Washington’s estimation of Iran, there was little in the way of a “regional order” — even an informal one — upon which to fall back in the absence of international action. By the time of the 2008 presidential election, U.S. strategy toward Iran had lost its momentum. Security Council Resolution 1835, adopted in September 2008 in response to IAEA reports of continued Iranian obstructionism, was the weakest of the U.N. resolutions regarding Iran adopted to that point; it imposed no new sanctions. This faltering in the pressure campaign is often attributed to the publication of a National Intelligence Estimate[18] in 2007 that asserted Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons programs in 2003 and had not restarted them as of 2007.[19] The document was widely interpreted as contradicting Bush administration assertions that Iran harbored ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons, even though the suspension it referred to related only to “weaponization” work, not to Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, which were ongoing. As Bush administration National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley later noted, the National Intelligence Estimate “was misinterpreted as an all-clear when it wasn’t that at all.”[20] [quote id="2"] While the estimate was undoubtedly a hindrance to U.S. diplomacy — and a political millstone around the necks of European leaders facing constituencies skeptical of sanctions against Iran — the document’s role has been exaggerated. Even if Iran had suspended its weaponization efforts, as the document asserted, that did not make the expansion of its nuclear infrastructure, nor its record of proliferation and of threatening neighbors, less concerning to the U.S. and allied governments, whatever the consequences for public messaging. What’s more, U.S. allies largely did not accept the NIE’s conclusions.[21] Instead, the loss of diplomatic momentum has two other roots. The first was that the strategy had simply failed to achieve its intended result. Iran continued to expand its nuclear activities despite the mounting sanctions. Second, and perhaps more important, the international context was especially inauspicious. The United States and Russia were in a tense standoff over Moscow’s military campaign in Georgia. Opposition to the Iraq War, then in its sixth year, was pronounced abroad and increasingly bitter in the United States itself amid the presidential campaign. The global financial crisis, meanwhile, dampened enthusiasm for further use of economic weapons against Iran, which was in turn buoyed by sky-high oil prices.

Iran Policy Under the Obama Administration

This was the context in which Barack Obama inherited the unresolved Iran nuclear file. Yet for all of the divisiveness of the 2008 presidential campaign on matters of foreign policy, the Obama administration largely kept in place the strategy pursued by the Bush administration. Engagement with Iran was a centerpiece of Obama’s campaign, but some of Obama’s efforts continued initiatives begun during the Bush administration. For example, the Bush administration dispatched Undersecretary of State Bill Burns to participate in a P5+1 meeting with Iran for the first time in August 2008.[22] There were also discontinuities: Obama and other U.S. officials engaged in repeated, direct outreach to Iranian officials.[23] Indeed, European officials worried in the summer of 2008 that Obama’s seeming readiness to engage directly with Iran without preconditions would undermine the P5+1’s approach on the nuclear issue.[24] In addition, the Obama administration is widely perceived to have deemphasized efforts to counter Iran’s non-nuclear activities in the Middle East. Obama was skeptical of U.S. military commitments in the region, emphasizing, for example, the need to withdraw combat forces from Iraq and shift resources to Afghanistan.[25] The precise impact of all of these changes is unclear. Obama and his aides often argued that American outreach to Iran was vital to securing support for subsequent sanctions.[26] Others have observed that these sanctions built incrementally on those adopted during the Bush presidency.[27] Likewise, Obama viewed his restraint in the Middle East as serving U.S. interests,[28] whereas critics saw his focus on the nuclear issue to the exclusion of Iran’s regional behavior as undermining American leverage.[29] Whatever one’s view of events, some external developments were consequential. One such development was the discovery in September 2009 that Iran was building yet another clandestine uranium enrichment facility, at Fordow. This news undermined the narrative that Iran had abandoned its nuclear ambitions and showed that it was not acting in good faith on its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as Tehran had consistently claimed. Another external development that proved critical came in February 2010, when Iran commenced production of more highly enriched uranium.[30] This followed the failure in October 2009 of the “fuel swap” proposal, under which Iran would have exported its low-enriched uranium to a third country to be further enriched and fabricated into fuel rods for its Tehran Research Reactor.[31] The unsuccessful fuel-swap proposal had not sought to enforce existing U.N. resolutions, as it did not require Iran to halt the enrichment of uranium, but neither did it contradict them, as it offered no sanctions relief. More nettlesome to international diplomacy was the Obama administration’s apparent encouragement of a last-ditch effort by Turkey and Brazil to revive the proposal, an ad hoc initiative that ran contrary to Washington’s parallel pursuit, via the P5+1, of a new U.N. sanctions resolution against Iran.[32] These events were the basis for passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, the last of the six resolutions the council adopted regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, the Obama administration, with increasingly vigorous prodding from Congress, continued to expand the campaign of ad hoc financial sanctions against Iran.[33] Once again, these sanctions leaned heavily on institutions of the international order, such as the U.S. dollar’s role in oil transactions, the relative concentration of the international shipping insurance industry, and the tight integration of global financial transaction networks, the latter of which were instrumental to the “SWIFT” sanctions.[34] The United States was joined in these efforts by the European Union, which in July 2010 adopted a wide-ranging package of sanctions against Iran.[35] In January 2012 an oil embargo followed.[36] Like the U.S. sanctions, these powerful EU measures capitalized on the integrated nature of the global economy. In 2012, however, the United States abruptly shifted its diplomatic strategy, pivoting from the multilateral process that had dominated from 2006 to 2011 to one that was, in essence, unilateral. The Obama administration had developed a channel to Iran via Oman that it used to secure the release of three American hikers detained by Iranian authorities.[37] It then utilized that channel to begin a bilateral nuclear negotiating track with Tehran without informing other members of the P5+1.[38] It was these negotiations, rather than the P5+1 talks that continued in parallel, that ultimately produced, in November 2013, what became known as the “Joint Plan of Action.” (JPOA)[39] This interim accord was the blueprint for the document — formally the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) — endorsed by the U.N. Security Council in Resolution 2231 in July 2015.[40] Negotiating an accord bilaterally with Iran in this manner was expedient. Whether it was effective is debatable. The United States made major concessions in the bilateral talks, foremost among them dropping any insistence that Iran permanently suspend its enrichment and reprocessing-related activities. Had these concessions been offered in the P5+1 talks, it is not clear that the channel would have made a difference to Iran’s willingness to reach a deal. To the extent that the more restricted channel did have an effect on the talks, it was most likely in providing a level of secrecy that made the parties more comfortable discussing their negotiating positions without fear that they would be publicly exposed. Even this is debatable, however, as the talks that led from the JPOA to the JCPOA were conducted in the P5+1 format without significant leaks. What’s more, the shift in U.S. strategy carried costs. The revelation of the secret bilateral channel roiled the P5+1, creating friction between the United States and France and pushing Britain and Germany to “the sidelines,” according to then-French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.[41] The agreement reached between the United States and Iran did not comply with the six earlier U.N. resolutions, for which Washington had previously invested significant time and effort to secure Russian and Chinese backing. Instead, Washington unilaterally changed the terms offered to Iran by the international community. The shift in negotiating format, together with skillful Iranian diplomacy, affected the discussion itself; instead of grappling over what Iran had to do to meet its international obligations and be re-integrated into the global order, the talks became about what infringement of purported Iranian “rights” could be imposed by the United States and, in turn, what level of nuclear activity the United States could tolerate in Iran. [quote id="4"] Security Council Resolution 2231 not only departed significantly from the terms of previous U.N. resolutions on Iran but also represented a fait accompli in Washington. Congress was generally wary of Iran and had played a key role in pushing some of the most powerful sanctions against that country. It had adopted legislation requiring the Obama administration to submit any nuclear agreement for congressional review. By first securing Security Council endorsement of the JCPOA, however, the administration effectively rendered congressional review moot. The Obama administration’s argument — that because the agreement had already been codified by the Security Council, it could not be unilaterally changed by the United States — presented the broader U.S. government with a binary option to accept the deal as it was or reject altogether a diplomatic resolution to the crisis and consider other options, such as a military operation. The irony was that the agreement had, in broad strokes, not been the product of an international negotiation but of bilateral discussions between the United States and Iran, regarding which Congress had been kept in the dark. Ultimately, congressional opponents were unable to muster the votes needed to overturn the agreement, and it moved ahead.[42] At first blush, the JCPOA is a victory for multilateralism. Indeed, even Fabius praised the agreement as a “historic success” for all parties involved and said it demonstrated that “diplomatic action can yield spectacular results.”[43] But that perception of success obscures how the international order was damaged by the methods used to reach the agreement. First, the United States unilaterally put aside six U.N. resolutions on Iran, all measures it had negotiated, without first coordinating with its allies — just as those allies had worried Washington might do in 2008.[44] This arguably weakened the authority of the U.N. Security Council and risked lending credence to arguments that the Security Council is merely an instrument of American power. That no doubt pleased the Iranian government, which had long decried the resolutions as “illegal.”[45] Second, by using Security Council endorsement against domestic opponents, the Obama administration risked further delegitimizing the United Nations specifically and internationalism in general among already-skeptical American conservatives. Pew Research Center has found a growing partisan gap in U.S. perceptions of the United Nations in recent decades. In 1990, Pew polling found, 68 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of Democrats viewed the United Nations favorably. By 2016, Democratic support for the United Nations had climbed to 80 percent while Republican support had dropped to 43 percent.[46] The perception that the United Nations can be used to circumvent conservative political views at home further erodes internationalist sentiments among Republicans. And neglecting to build a domestic consensus, however expedient it may have been to reach agreement, meant that the nuclear deal was not placed on a footing that would weather political changes in the United States.

Iran Policy Under the Trump Administration

Few Republicans criticized the Iran deal — or internationalism, for that matter — as harshly as Donald Trump. As a candidate and in the early days of his presidency, Trump swore at times that he would “dismantle” the agreement.[47] At other times he adopted a milder line, arguing that it should be rigorously enforced despite its flaws.[48] Ultimately, the Iran policy that his administration announced after several months of review reflected a compromise between these positions. He asserted in October 2017 that he sought to nest the JCPOA in a strengthened, comprehensive Iran strategy. But he also said that he would walk away from the agreement if an understanding could not be reached with allies on addressing what he perceived as its shortcomings and if Congress did not adopt new legislation overseeing implementation.