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Old 02 Jul 14, 23:48
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Grand Strategy ~ Definitions and Applications

So here's a thread in what seems the most likely of places, for approaching what should be the 'sum of all lessons' on military history - application of Grand Strategy to National Interests.

Open to examples and discussion of any and all situations which best exhibit case for effectively applied National Strategy to achieve National Goals.

(Yeah, I may present an example or two for discussion in 'near future', but doesn't preclude others from contributing)
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Old 03 Jul 14, 09:17
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Grand strategy is an interesting one because the concept of strategy itself is so up in the air and frequently misunderstood and applied to just about everything you can think of. It’s a nice buzz word that businessmen, middle-managers, politicians, all kinds of people, like to use with little thought to what it actually means. Glue ‘strategy’ or ‘strategic’ onto something and it sounds a lot more impressive. In the realm of strategic theory though we try and nail that down a little more precisely. This is C.S. Gray’s discussion of Strategy in ‘Fighting Talk’, based on his work in ‘Strategy Bridge’:
‘The core problem with strategy is that it is a virtual behaviour; it has no material existence. It is an abstraction, though it is vastly more difficult to illustrate visually than are such other vital abstraction as, say, love and fear. What is strategy? Regarded narrowly in its military dimension, it is the bridge that connects the worlds of policu and military power. It is strategy that interprets the meaning of policy for military power, and which must devise schemes for the threat or use of that power to serve the purposes of policy. IUn practice the strategic functions needs to be active constantly in time of war, or near-war, because policy should not ask of its military instrument acomplishments that are beyond its means. Similarly, military plans must be developed and executed only if they advance the goals of policy. In the process of dialogue that should occur on the strategy bridge, both the soldier and the civilian politician need to adjust their preferences so as to meet the demands of the other. But, a key function of the dialogue is to ensure that the spokespeoeple fro policy and military power each respect the core integrity of the logic, or grammar, of the other.
For the sake of this discussion, it suffices to treat strategy strictly in its military guise. Maxim 20 deals explicitly with the much broader function of grand strategy.’

This yields definitions of strategy like:
The art of using military force against an intelligent foe(s) towards the attainment of policy objectives.’– Lonsdale
Gray’s ‘bridge’ between policy and the military instrument.

Grand strategy, in Gray’s discourse in Fighting Talk, as mentioned above:
‘While the core concern and expertise of the strategist lies with the purposeful threat, or actual use, of force, there is much more to strategy than the direction of violence. Between the realms of policy and military strategy resides what in Britain has long been known as grand strategy and in the United States as national security strategy. Definitions are essential in this instance because an indeterminacy of categories is both commonplace and capable of leading to serious errors in practice. The problem is twofold: Policy is confused with grand strategy, and grand strategy is confused with military strategy. It is because of this confusion that [this chapter] is so important. The problem is partly linguistic. Scholars, commentators, and policymakers do not refer to grand strategy. Instead they speak of only strategy, a concept which, unmodified, carries a heavily military meaning. Sometimes, strategic discussion plainly encompasses topics more extensive than the threat or use of force, but people have difficulty navigating in the no-man’s land that should be organized by grand strategy.
….. The political-diplomatic, economic commercial, social-cultural, intelligence and subversive, and propaganda assets of a polity can all be essential players in the conduct of peace and war. All that the strategist insists is that the military dimension must not be neglected……
[J]ust as it is inherently difficult to translate military power and behaviour into political gain, so it is even more challenging to manipulate all of the assets of the security community for political advantage. The task is highly complex even when there is good will among the human agents for each of the assets in question. ….
[B]y definition, grand strategy requires a holistic approach by sp,ebody, or more likely, some committee and its staff, and it needs constant coordination. It can be difficult enough making a reality of combined-arms and joint warfare. With that fact in mind, consider the problems that must obtain when aq polity’s diplomacy, exconomy, intelligence services, cultural institutions, and mass media, for leading examples, have to be married to a military effort for synergistic benefit. ….
…Grand strategy undoubtedly is so close to policy that the two can seem indistinguishable. There is merit in Clausewitz’s rather more limited, highly apposite claim that ‘at the highest level the art of war turns into policy’ Nonetheless, it is essential that strategy of any kind, including the grandest, should not be confused with policy….. Only if a conscious effort is made to approach the challenge of the day holistically, with a truly grand strategy, will a state be able to leverage its strengths and compensate for its weaknesses. Every war should be studied, or conducted grand strategically. If [this] were not true, belligerents would be able to conduct wars strictly as warfare. The history of conflict would be synonymous with its military course and outcome. Such an absurd notion would detach military strategy, operations and tactics from their dynamic domestic political, diplomatic and economic, social-cultural contexts.’
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Old 28 Aug 14, 17:35
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The following article is an example of the value of Grand Strategy, or more likely how to screw up on grand strategy. I think it illustrates an example where too many in Leadership/Decision Making Positions failed to grasp the full scope and gauge of Islam to make wise and informed Decisions regarding Western Grand Strategy in response to resurgent Islamic Fundamentalism as displayed on the Global Arena.

How Dissimulation about Islam is Fuelling Genocide in the Middle East

http://www.meforum.org/4774/islam-genocide-middle-east
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Old 23 Oct 14, 21:18
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As the World Turns: Will the West Prevail?

by Michel Gurfinkiel
World Affairs
September/October 2014


It has been assumed, since the end of the Cold War, that globalization is irreversible and that technologies, cultures, and markets are spreading, merging, and interacting at an ever quicker pace. This is certainly true. But what if, in addition to globalizing, the world is also splitting into separate and antagonistic sub-worlds? Two of them in particular, which ironically came into existence and have been growing as free riders in the Western-shaped universe, now pose a threat to the West

The Wastelands

First, there is what we might call the Wastelands. These are the many countries that have descended into chaos in the last quarter-century, and those that may follow them at any moment. As early as the 1990s, Samuel P. Huntington pointed out that disorder was sprawling in the border zones between civilizations. In the ensuing years, Robert D. Kaplan wrote even more specifically about what he termed the "coming anarchy." The 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, which originated at least in part from chaos zones, drew the attention of global decisionmakers to the strategic threats implied by these areas. The "Arab Spring" revolutions of 2011 and events such as the terrorist attack in Benghazi were reminders that chaos is spreading rather than receding, and that, in the space of some twenty years, it has become a permanent fixture of the world.

Foreign Policy
has been running for several years a "Failed States Index" (FSI)—renamed the "Fragile States Index" this year—that lists those countries where government and society do not work, or work very badly. According to the 2013 index, at least sixty out of one hundred and seventy-eight countries fit into that category. In other words, one out of three.
...

...
The New Emerging Powers

The second rising sub-world that challenges the West is usually referred to as the New Emerging Powers (NEPs). Indeed, both its core—the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa)—and its more tenuous members (Turkey, Iran) have, or seem to have, undergone stunning economic growth. According to the IMF, China achieved three hundred and thirty percent GDP growth from 1990 to 2006. India's GDP growth was one hundred and fifty percent, while Brazil's and South Africa's were each fifty percent. Russia actually experienced a negative growth throughout the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet regime, but then engaged in a solid four to eight percent yearly growth rate from 2000 to 2013, except for 2008–09, when it was badly hurt by the American and European recession. Turkey's GDP underwent a fourfold increase, from $200 billion to $800 billion at official exchange rates; Iran's was threefold, from $150 billion to $580 billion.

Such growth took place against a background of decline by former growth leaders like Japan (barely twenty percent) or most European Union nations (an average thirty percent). Moreover, it meant for every country in that sub-world—with a combined population of about three billion, or forty percent of the world population—a definite transition from endemic poverty and backwardness to at least the prospect of affluence and economic maturity.

However, the New Emerging Powers are very different from the older emerging countries such as Asia's "Little Dragons" (Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong) in the 1970s in that their main challenge is not economic but political and geopolitical.
...
http://www.meforum.org/4869/as-the-w...e-west-prevail


Material for consideration regarding application of Grand Strategy ...
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Old 24 Oct 14, 04:15
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In Grand Strategy the first definition is what sort of state(s) are involved in the conflict. There are two types militarily:

Land Powers and Sea Powers.

With very few exceptions in history, states are one or the other. The United States is the one exception in the world today.

There are land powers and sea powers that have tried with varied success to acquire the other.
For example, Rome acquired sea power temporarily to defeat Carthage.
More recently Britain became a land power for the two World Wars and in doing so crippled their economy and empire.
China is trying to become a regional sea power in Asia today but faces Japan a Sea Power, S. Korea a sea power, and Taiwan a sea power.

So, in grand strategy typically the two types of power adopt different means.

Land powers tend towards dictatorships and use of force for political goals.
Sea powers tend to be more democratic and use economic power and coalitions to fight wars.

Land powers have generally been at a disadvantage in warfare throughout history. They typically have less access to trade and are forced into building expensive large land armies to fight wars and maintain power.
Sea powers have the luxury of being relatively immune to attack by land powers. Of course, with ICBM's and other modern technology that is becoming less so today.

But, it still holds that a more open society that is democratic and a sea power will have the economic advantage over a land power.
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Old 24 Oct 14, 08:48
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Al Qaeda attacks on Sept 11, 2001 illustrate that in the post-Cold War global order has to deal with non-state entities with unconstrained use of violence and international network of organizations.

In addition to land and sea powers, there should be consideration for air power and nuclear power. For example, Iran is neither a land or sea power, but if they become a nuclear power it will shape strategy.

Grand strategy in International Relations studies is a contested concept and can have a variety of different meanings. In conventional 19th century sense it linked the state's ability to project power and force in international relations and is the overall strategy that supports it.

Edward Luttwak in his "Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace"(1987) defined grand strategy in terms of "the highest level of interaction between any parties capable of using unregulated force against another."

In a Grand Strategy Project at Yale University in the late 1990s, noted that the US since 1940s has had in effect two grand strategies: one organized around deterrence, containment and the maintenance of a global balance of power and second reconstruction of the world economy.

Any grand strategy against international terrorism will be global and not necessarily against any dominant state patronage as previously viewed.

Just a few quick thoughts on the necessity of shaping the definition for grand strategy in this discussion.
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Old 24 Oct 14, 12:33
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My take is this ...

Grand Strategy is the goals and methods of achieving such as viewed on the very long term, say more than a decade from now. More like a genration or more from now.

Strategy is concerned with more immediate and short terms issues or agendas, say within a decade or a few years from now. This could be current dealings with other powers/nations, or a specific situation, such as a war or military expedition.

For example, the recent Operation Iraqi Freedom, OIF.
Strategy would entail
1) How to initiate the incursion and defeat the Iraqi military and collapse the current regime,
2) How to conduct the expected occupation while producing the transitional State structure,
3) The nature and structure of the "changed regime" state the USA desires that would provide conditions allowing us to withdraw and grant it full sovereignty and independence to "New" Iraq.

Grand Strategy would be the Goals and Agendas the USA has in it's dealings and relations with assorted "states" and "powers" in the Middle East over the next 25+ years as well as our vision of what the political and economic shape of the ME should look like 25+ years from now that would be in the best interests of the USA. A "strategic" action like OIF should be designed and implemented to best fit the Grand Strategy for the ME.

Obviously, speaking of and from the USA perspective, since this is "our" plans, treasure, investment, engagement, etc.

Just, for example, generally speaking ...
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Old 24 Oct 14, 13:18
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In Military Strategy: Principles, Practices, and Historical Perspectives John Collins offers a "strategic and tactical hierarchy":

Quote:
1. National Strategies
primary focus: national objectives
primary policies: national policies
primary input: national power
primary output: national plans

2. National Security Strategies
primary focus: national security objectives
primary policies: national security policies
primary input: suitable national power
primary output: national security plans

3. National Military Strategies
primary focus: national military objectives
primary policies: national military policies
primary input: military power
primary output: national military plans

4. Regional Strategies
primary focus: regional objectives
primary policies: foreign policies
primary input: diplomacy, economic levers
primary output: international accords

5. Theater Military Strategies
primary focus: regional military missions
primary policies: unilateral or coalition policies
primary input: unilateral or coalition forces
primary output: unilateral or coalition plans and ops

6. Operational Art and Tactics
primary focus: subordinate military missions
primary policies: joint or uniservice policies
primary input: joint or uniservice forces
primary output: joint or uniservice plans and ops
So Grand Strategy would correspond to Collin's National Strategy. Its purpose is to define the national goals, assess national power and come up with appropriate national plans. And it is then the job of the other strategies to develop and handle them in detail.
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Old 03 Nov 14, 08:12
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Hi

Hope you find this interesting in relation to the current thread:-

Quote:
CAN STRATEGY BE REDUCED TO A FORMULA OF S = E + W + M?
Having returned to the Joint Services Command and Staff College in 2012 after a seven-year absence, changes to the teaching of strategy struck me strongly. While I was happy to see a renewed enthusiasm for the study of this important subject, I have been somewhat worried by a tendency to simplify what is a complicated process. All too often, it seems that in many Western professional military education institutions ‘strategy’ and ‘strategy formation’ have been largely reduced to a simple formula of ‘ends, ways, and means.’ In other words, strategy is about ensuring that the appropriate means were available to achieve the ends (or goals) with the ‘ways’ being the path connecting them.
http://defenceindepth.co/2014/11/03/...la-of-s-e-w-m/

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Old 03 Nov 14, 13:11
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It seems to me the West has a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to Grand Strategy in that our leaders and their core advisers must fight an election every 4 or 5 years, which they sometimes lose. This results, every now and then, in different mind sets and priorities at the top, with goals and strategy adjusted accordingly.

The Chinese and Iranians on the otherhand appear to be better placed to execute Grand Strategy because there is a broadly conservative ethos at the top with teams that stay together for longer and promote more or less in their image. Perhaps even Putin's Russia is better placed in this respect.
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Old 03 Nov 14, 14:46
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Sharp observation. The US strategy to deal with a Soviet Russia through containment and economic pressure was a miracle given the number of Presidents from Truman through Reagan who applied various aspect to varying degrees.

And now we see a resurgent Russia under a Putin who has managed to stay in charge for how many years?
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Old 03 Nov 14, 21:04
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Escape2Victory View Post
It seems to me the West has a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to Grand Strategy in that our leaders and their core advisers must fight an election every 4 or 5 years, which they sometimes lose. This results, every now and then, in different mind sets and priorities at the top, with goals and strategy adjusted accordingly.

The Chinese and Iranians on the otherhand appear to be better placed to execute Grand Strategy because there is a broadly conservative ethos at the top with teams that stay together for longer and promote more or less in their image. Perhaps even Putin's Russia is better placed in this respect.
This is where, in the case of Western style republics(democracies) Grand Strategy would be more the province of a political party agenda or some PAC or think tank. Ideally with some input from the foreign/diplomatic agencies and higher military command.

The much maligned "Project for a New American Century" could be one example;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project...erican_Century
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Old 04 Nov 14, 20:16
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The problem with the concept of Grand Strategy lies in the length of time it takes to accomplish. It is usually accomplished long after the originators of grand strategy are gone or have gone through numerous modifications to fit the ever changing geopolitical landscape. Even then, it is reasonable to conclude there is no such thing as a grand strategy in terms of forming a perpetual national strategy designed to ensue national supremacy.

We're not playing Sid Meir's Civilization here.

Look at us, we've been dealing with Middle East for 50 years, and in all that time, we've never had a coherent Middle East strategy. Why? Because over that time period, Presidents and Congresses have been replaced with different personalities with different ideas of how to deal with countries in Middle East. Even with various institutions which are responsible for different aspects of national strategy in place still face a constant turnover rate and institutional memories don't last forever.
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Old 04 Nov 14, 22:03
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Originally Posted by Cheetah772 View Post
The problem with the concept of Grand Strategy lies in the length of time it takes to accomplish. It is usually accomplished long after the originators of grand strategy are gone or have gone through numerous modifications to fit the ever changing geopolitical landscape. Even then, it is reasonable to conclude there is no such thing as a grand strategy in terms of forming a perpetual national strategy designed to ensue national supremacy.

We're not playing Sid Meir's Civilization here.

Look at us, we've been dealing with Middle East for 50 years, and in all that time, we've never had a coherent Middle East strategy. Why? Because over that time period, Presidents and Congresses have been replaced with different personalities with different ideas of how to deal with countries in Middle East. Even with various institutions which are responsible for different aspects of national strategy in place still face a constant turnover rate and institutional memories don't last forever.
True, not doing Sid's Civ with it's thousands of years span, but as I suggested above, looking 25-50 years down the road should be do-able. On a smaller scale, case could be made that the DNP has applied "Saul Alinsky" over the last few decades and while things may be slipping out of their hands after today, they have effected some profound changes that will have long term consequences, and take concerted effort to undo~counter.

The article used in the OP of this thread over in PC would be an example of a general approach to Grand Strategy for the USA;
http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...d.php?t=153096

In your example of USA dealings with the ME in the Post-WWII era, lack of a consistent Vision/Grand Strategy in 5-60 years of application would seem more an argument to have such, rather than it isn't or shouldn't apply. I'll agree the record suggests we've played a shifting strategic approach, and the nature of our political structure and process tends to encourage such, but I see that as all the more reason for better effort to try and develop something less partisan and more long term to avoid the zigs and zags that have occurred.

At the end of WWII our focus in the ME was mostly "patch-up" declining Euro(colonial) administration along with optimal petroleum exploitations(deals). Emerging state of Israel was a fly in the ointment for USA Foreign Policy, hence our basically "Neutral" position until after the '56 Suez conflict had the losing Arab nations leaning to the Soviets for cheap re-armament - hence Cold War expediency found USA opening up to Israel and any others (Saudis, Iran, etc.) whom weren't so friendly to the Russkies. Events of '79-'80 made it look even more like Cold War heating up but the huge "miss" was the reviving current of Islamic Jihad, which had been somewhat dormant for several decades due to European colonial suppressions.

Lack of a fuller understanding of Islam, especially it's dogma and history, continues to hamper our approach and dealings with the ME. Or perhaps an unwillingness to accept that reality is more correct, hence a main reason I started this thread a few years back;
http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...ad.php?t=55135

The article I linked to above in post #4 provides insight (I believe) on what and how the USA and/or West should start now to reframe a Grand Strategy to get us thru to the mid point of this century, at least. There is a volatile and increasingly unstable and dangerous world developing and short-term expedient strategies are more likely to back-fire if not part of a larger plan.
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Old 05 Nov 14, 03:00
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Originally Posted by Cheetah772 View Post

Look at us, we've been dealing with Middle East for 50 years, and in all that time, we've never had a coherent Middle East strategy. Why? Because over that time period, Presidents and Congresses have been replaced with different personalities with different ideas of how to deal with countries in Middle East. Even with various institutions which are responsible for different aspects of national strategy in place still face a constant turnover rate and institutional memories don't last forever.
Yes, this is a good example. The Bush republicans favoured a direct intervention in Middle East affairs. This can be done but requires lots of troops stationed there and a willingness to fight many battles for decades. Obama calls for an end to dumb wars and prefers to pull troops out. Leaving the Middle East to fight things out themselves is a viable strategy too but it needs its own planning and for the next president or three to stick with it.
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