Thoughts on Thucydides – Book I, Part III
Nearly a century before the onset of the Peloponnesian War, on the other side of the planet, Sun Tzu wrote the scripts for The Art of War, including the famous admonishment to “know thy enemy, know thyself.” Unfortunately for the Athenians, the lesson had not yet transmitted very far from ancient China. At the very outset of the war, Athens committed three critical strategic miscalculations that would cripple the effective prosecution of the war.
Strategy is not a traditional field of study, and as such, there are very few actual textbooks covering the topic, so I am particularly interested when one occasionally does appear. A recent offering is Modern Military Strategy: An Introduction by Elinor C. Sloan, Associate Professor of International Relations at Carleton University. The title of the work is an accurate representation of content in that Sloan confines herself strictly to the military aspect of strategy (defining it as “the use of armed force to achieve the military objectives and, by extension, the political purpose of the war,” a definition found originally in the 1986 anthology Makers of Modern Strategy) and with a few exceptions, limits the discussion to strategic thought from the post-Cold War era: the early 1990’s onward. It is not a comprehensive study but rather a true Introduction; a primer that briefly surveys the work of modern strategists and focuses on their central arguments and criticisms directed against them.
To this end, this book centers on strategic thought in the Post-Cold War and post-9/11 eras. In our search for modern strategic thinkers we are looking for military strategists and practitioners, civilian strategists and scholars, and military and civilian historians who have written in the decades since the end of the Cold War about the conduct of war in the contemporary period, and who have put forth statements or principles that are at a sufficient level of generality, so as to present, at minimum, a partial theory of war. (p. 3)
Despite the introductory nature of the book this is still a very ambitious task because Sloan covers numerous functional elements of military power, organized by chapter: seapower, landpower, airpower, cyberwar, nuclear power and deterrence, and spacepower. Joint theory and military transformation and irregular warfare also receive their own chapters. Sloan covers a lot of ground in only 135 pages.
A couple of items:
Lynn Rees over at Zenpundit has posted an impressive compendium of all material concerning RADM J.C. Wylie that is available online, including blog posts by myself, Mr. Rees, and Seydlitz89. Who is J.C. Wylie? Mr. Rees’ post answers that question.
The 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division is a blooded combat unit that has seen multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and traces a lineage back to the First World War. Recently, however, soldiers in the barracks were made aware of a new enemy on the horizon:
I took this photograph myself and I investigated the authenticity of the poster; it was a genuine project conducted my military and wildlife personnel. They have since been removed, and for good reason. Soldiers I spoke with were justifiably insulted and felt infantilized by such a bizarre and pathetic “warning.”
Despite my best efforts, however, I never spotted the hyper-aggressive, man-eating variant of the Eastern Grey Squirrel.