In the afterword of his authoritative book on successful military strategies throughout history, Richard Hart Sinnreich synthesizes the most enduring lessons learned. He concludes the successful application of strategy to be most dependent on the identification of individual strategic genius, as well as what may be described as learning institutions – which are adaptive, and anticipatory of novel strategic thinking.
“Not all strategic failures reflect overextension. They are equally likely – perhaps more likely – to reflect mistaken theories of success.
“Above all, strategic success is hostage to the willingness of political and military leaders to read and heed the evidence of the battlefield even at the price of jettisoning cherished assumptions.
“To be successful, long-term strategy requires both an accurate prompting diagnosis and the discipline to conform action to intention over time. Its greatest risk is target fixation – the failure to honor the evidence of the evolving environment when it begins to refute assumptions on which the strategy rested.
“Weak states, like weak armies, may prevail for a time over stronger but less clever adversaries. But unless cleverness can be translated into effective military power, a stronger contestant sooner or later will prevail absent a failure of political will.
“In the end, sustaining the nation’s determination to prevail is the crucial hallmark of any successful military strategy.
*All excerpts have been taken from Successful Strategies: Triumphing in War and Peace from Antiquity to the Present, Cambridge University Press.
Afterword on Strategy – Richard Hart Sinnreich