The Relation of Diplomacy to War – Antoine-Henri Jomini

Synopsis:

The American military has long been bewitched operationally and strategically by Antoine-Henri Jomini’s formulaic approach to warfare. The universality of the Jominian consciousness is so well established other strategic schools usually operate beside it – or as a passing veneer above its perpetual architecture. Likewise, Jomini’s geopolitical and diplomatic wisdom is usually less pronounced – but does offer some strategic bull’s-eyes.

Excerpts:

“War is always to be conducted according to the great principles of the art; but great discretion must be exercised in the nature of the operations to be undertaken, which should depend upon the circumstances of the case.

“In an offensive movement, scrupulous care must be exercised not to arouse the jealousy of any other state which might come to the aid of the enemy. It is a part of the duty of a statesman to foresee this chance, and to obviate it by making proper explanations and giving proper guarantees to other states.

“…if the principles of strategy are always the same, it is different with the political part of war, which is modified by the tone of communities, by localities, and by the characters of men at the head of states and armies.

“All history teaches that no enemy is so insignificant as to be despised and neglected by any power, however formidable.

“The love of conquest, however, was not the only motive with Napoleon: his personal position, and his context with England, urged him to enterprises the aim of which was to make him supreme.

*All excerpts have been taken from The Art of War, BiblioBazaar.

The Case for General Theory – Colin S. Gray

Synopsis:

Published near the end of his life Theory of Strategy presents Colin Gray’s general theory of strategy. The theory is split into four components involving ideas relevant to politics, order, complexity, and cohesion, as well as two sub-categories which survey the significance of history and what may be described as strategic intuition.

Excerpts:

“As a general rule, the armed forces need to be able and willing to do it – whatever ‘it’ is – tactically, if operational art, strategy, and high policy are to be feasible.

“Unfortunately, there has been only one long-term pattern in human affairs, and that is a perpetual readiness to resort to conflict. Regardless of the character of the political, religious, and pseudo-religious ideas that have inspired the human historical narrative, this has been its single, and therefore master, theme….A theory of strategy claiming to be general, as here, needs to be housed firmly and plausibly in a resilient basis of causal explanation.

“The search for security must lead inexorably to a quest for strategy. It is solely through strategy that military power can be translated into political influence. This influence is the currency in which security is valued.

“Strategy is in the currency-conversion business, turning military power into political influence. The general theory of strategy is entirely indifferent as to the means employed to achieve this conversion. In practice, of course, the ways in which chosen means are used are often critical to the success or otherwise of the whole conversion enterprise. It can be important to emphasize to an army that, although vitally necessary, it is only a means to an end that is political by definition.

“The theory of war needs to be nested richly within a context of broad understanding of the likely consequences of conflict.

*All excerpts have been taken from Theory of Strategy, Colin S. Gray, Oxford University Press.