Grand strategy is the relationship between ends, ways, and means. While different theorists define grand strategy and its contributing concepts with some variance, nation states have methods which they utilize to achieve objectives. For non-traditional actors strategy still occurs in pursuit of objectives but not necessarily to the same level as the nation-state.
For the nation-state, its instruments of powerdiplomatic, informational, military and economicserve as the four interconnected components to achieve the desired objectives of a state. This is by no means a simple task since nation-states struggle to define a comprehensive, encompassing grand strategy that meets all the desired objectives for the state.
Often, grand strategy is defined as a result of the context within which the nation-state finds itself and as in the case of the United States is often segmented by geography, competitor and interest. While strategy lacks a standardized definition and is often germane to segmented circumstances, strategy and the accompanying actions carried out in pursuit of strategy have to be connected to a policy in the case of the nation state and a purpose in the case of non-traditional actors.
All actions have a reason. Clausewitz’s dictum that war is an extension of policy by other means makes this point rather sharply. Economic, political, and military actions are conducted to serve the greater notion of grand strategy. Moreover, these actions are often interrelated and interdependent upon one another. Clausewitz’s Trinitarian metaphor of the people, the government and the military serves as a useful metaphor to explain the interrelatedness of strategic behavior. Grand strategy and its development is not an easy pursuit as this course will further explore in the following lessons. This lessons provides some of the fundamental building blocks, theories and theorists for the student to refer to as the course progresses
Definitions of “Grand Strategy”
A “grand strategy” is a comprehensive plan of action, based on calculated relations of means to large ends. Never an exact science, grand strategy requires constant reassessment and adjustment. Flexibility is the key. (“Studies in Grand Strategy,” International Security Studies, Syllabus, Yale University, Spring/Fall 2000)
The art and science of coordinating the development and use of the instruments of power to achieve national security objectives. (Colonel Dennis M. Drew and Dr. Donald M. Snow, cited in AFM 1-1, Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United States Air Force, Vol. II, March 1992, p. 287)
“The art of employing all the resources of a nation or coalition of nations to achieve the objects of war (and peace). Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edition, 1988
“The role of Grand Strategyhigher strategyis to coordinate and direct all the responses of a nation, or band of nations, towards the attainment of the political object of warthe goal defined by fundamental policy. Captain B. H. Liddell Hart
“A concept covering the industrial, financial, demographic and societal aspects of war.” Michael Howard
The US Army College Guide to National Security Issues Volume 1: Theory of War and Strategy, 5th Edition, ed. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., US Army War College, Carlisle, PA. June, 2012. “A Survey of the Theory of Strategy,” Ch. 2, pp. 13-43 http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=1109
Dennis M. Drew and Donald M. Snow, Making Twenty-First-Century Strategy: An Introduction to Modern National Security Processes and Problems. Air University Press (Online at http://aupress.au.af.mil or type in Dennis Drew and Donald Snow into Google Search and the PDF is downloadable on the internet.), Chapter 3, pp. 31-51.
U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues, Vol. I: Theory of War and Strategy, 5th Edition, ed. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr, US Army War College, Carlisle, PA, June 2012. Section II, “Elements of Power,” (Chapters 11-13 and 15-17), pp. 147-178, 193-270. http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=1109
Carl von Clausewitz, On War, (Chapter 1), ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), pp. 75-89 [pp. 13-31 in Carl von Clausewitz, On War , abridged and ed. Beatrice Heuser, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).] See http://www.clausewitz.com/readings/OnWar1873/BK1ch01.html
B. H. Liddell Hart, Strategy of the Indirect Approach, Chapter XI “Construction” pp. 184-211. http://archive.org/details/strategyofindire035126mbp (Download the PDF from this site or Kindle in the View the Book section on the right of the site. In the Chapter Notes you will find a copy of the reading as well.)
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