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STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
Issues in Defence Policy
Amos Perlmutter and John Gooch
1. “To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www. 3. Military policy I. without the prior permission of Frank Cass and Company Limited. 2005. Amos II. 3.First published 1981 in Great Britain by FRANK CASS AND COMPANY LIMITED Gainsborough House.tandf. or otherwise.eBookstore. Gooch. N. Box 327. Totowa. John 355′ .O. . 11 Gainsborough Road.0335 UA 11 ISBN 0-203-98809-4 Master e-book ISBN IS ISBN 0-7146 3157-4 (Print Edition) is group of studies first appeared in a Special Issue on ‘Strategy and the Social Sciences’ of The Journal of Strategic Studies. photocopying. 07511 Copyright © 1981 Frank Cass & Co. England This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library. recording. London E11 IRS. stored in a retrieval system. All rights reserved. P. or by any means.co.uk. No part of this publication may be reproduced. No. Perlmutter. or transmitted in any form.” and in the United States of America by FRANK CASS AND COMPANY LIMITED c/o Biblio Distribution Centre 8 1 Adams Drive. mechanical. published by Frank Cass & Co. Ltd British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Strategy and the social sciences.J. Vol. Ltd. electronic.
Contents Introduction On the Peaceful Disposition of Military Dictatorships Stanislav Andreski From Clausewitz to Delbrück and Hintze: Achievements and Failures of Military History Felix Gilbert Clio and Mars: The Use and Abuse of History John Gooch A History of the U.Friedberg Games and Simulation Michael Nicholson The Future of Strategic Studies Laurie Martin Notes on Contributors 1 3 11 21 37 73 91 101 . Strategic ‘Doctrine’ —1945 to 1980 Aaron L.S.
With limited means at the generals’ disposal. strategy became focused on the discovery of the means of effective application of force in a situation of balance. Clausewitz’s denial that war could be a single.Introduction Strategy. The Second World War became a gigantic contest of resources rather than a duel of rapier-like thrusts. The ‘second industrial revolution’—the advent of the aeroplane and the armoured vehicle—seemed for a while to offer the strategist a scalpel rather than a bludgeon. The availability of nuclear weapons to both the United States and the USSR rendered full-fledged war a less useful instrument of policy. on the other. and for the strategist the chief lesson was perhaps that. After the industrial revolution of the early nineteenth century. Two rival intellectual approaches had by then opened up to attract the theorist. enable the practitioner to grasp a certain number of fundamental truths. the study of the past might reveal the existence of ‘rules’ or guidelines.’ The First World War demonstrated to strategic theorists the great destructive energies of the modern state. and the difficulty of focussing them on specific and decisive military objectives. and of strategic thought. The advent of nuclear fission altered the nature of strategy. strategy consisted in little more than the art of manoeuvring for an advantage on the field of battle. Strategy abandoned its historical roots. the application of pure reason might. the vital sectors of enemy resistance were extraordinarily difficult to paralyse —not least because they were diffuse and difficult to determine. but appearances were delusory. the time it took to mobilize those energies. instantaneous act had lost its validity. but the threat of war a central one. has passed through a number of phases of development which have related most closely to the degree to which force can be mobilized. with the means in his hands. and turned to the behavioural sciences in order to perform what now became its . On the one hand. it was claimed. which is the conscious exploitation of military force to promote the aims of policy. and to its destructive capacity. and when the nature of those means conferred no advantage to either combatant unless one side possessed superior weapons. This latter was the position adopted by Foch. which could then be applied to particular cases. immediately—force of hitherto unimagined magnitude. who informed the readers of The Principles of War that ‘Strategy is but a question of will and common sense. which had as a consequence produced a situation in which no major power could hope to gain a qualitative advantage over a like rival. in a critical respect: it offered the possibility of mobilizing—to all intents and purposes.
The impact of history upon strategy gives it a strong claim to consideration. So.2 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES central function: estimating the wide range of moves and reactions which occupied the area between peace and war. present and future truly meet. widened in a second sense. however. could as often be mis-used. no less important. object is to encourage in its practitioners a measure of introspection. though it now seems to some the least relevant of the social sciences. and that it must be understood if contemporary nostrums are not to pass unquestioned into the canons of orthodoxy. are equally forceful examples of the way in which societal parameters can shape strategic policies.’ Likewise sociology and game theory contribute to the study of strategy (the latter perhaps not quite the novelty it might seem: du Picq remarked a century or so ago that ‘Mathematics is the dominant science in war’). so. political scientists and the like to pause from their labours in order to consider the process rather than the product. strategy has become a social science. The first three studies in this volume contribute to a recognition that it could be used most effectively. and one less intimately connected with the nature of the means to hand. Greater understanding of the complex processes which go into the creation of strategic thought can only be of value. Britain’s attachment to blockade. in a second sense also. it would seem to judge by the difficulty of persuading economists. One of the objects of this volume is to throw a little light on to some of the corners of the composite activity which we label ‘strategy’. rather than to analysing its products. As Aaron Friedberg points out: ‘If an attempt to evaluate past strategies for nuclear war makes us more humble about our ability to eliminate uncertainty in present planning it will have served its purpose. It would now recognise that ideology determines the parameters within which central strategic calculations about the relationship between national goals and the types of force used to attain them are made. at any rate. Perhaps this is where past. Strategy has. A second. and Germany’s to Blitzkrieg. . Little enough attention has been paid to thinking about the processes which go into strategic thought. They also help to point the direction which future studies may take. and where the contributions of all the disciplines which were and are contributors to strategic thought can most profitably be made.
This fact is connected with the incompatibility between the internal and external uses of the armed forces. or preparation. weapons and the economic potential—but also more intangible factors stemming from the internal dynamics of political systems. . In contrast to what is suggested by the confused use of the term ‘militarism’. As a rule they emerge in countries at peace. and secondly (when the military participation ratio is high) the more intensively they are—or have recently been—involved in a war. The thesis presented here is that there exists an intrinsic incompatibility between the internal and the external uses of the armed forces. It is also a historical fact that the military dictators (at least in modern times) have been notably pacific in external relations. which (according to him) contrasts with the cowardice and factiousness of the soldiers who live luxuriously in the cities. Kemal’s dictatorship in Turkey being the only exception. Herodotus attributes the Greek military superiority over the Persians to the patriotism and solidarity bred by the intense civic life of the Greek city states. In the ancient Chinese political thinkers we repeatedly find the idea that great inequalities of wealth adversely affect the military strength. the less capable they become of waging a war. perhaps the most striking peculiarity of the military dictatorships is that their emergence and existence have little connection with the exercise of the specifically military function: the waging. unless we also classify Napoleon’s rule as a military dictatorship. while all the most aggressive and successfully imperialist polities were ruled by civilians.On the Peaceful Disposition of Military Dictatorships Stanislav Andreski* The contribution which sociology can make to strategic studies consists mainly of efforts to relate the military or strategic situation to other aspects of society. Polybius explains the victories of the Romans by the advantages of their mixed constitution. for war. The idea that strategic intentions as well as military performance depend on the factors subsumed under the headings of culture and society is not new. Here I shall attempt to show a special relationship between the internal dynamics of a particular type of political system and its inclinations and capacity in external conflicts. It is therefore. which makes them less apt for one if they are being employed for the other. Ibn Haldun attributes the nomads’ ability to defeat larger city-based armies to the civic and martial virtues bred by the austere way of life in the desert. the less amenable and dependable they become as tools of internal repression. On this point Mao was a true heir of Lord Shang. In other words: the more often the armed forces are used internally. no discovery to say that to assess a strategic situation we must take into account not only the easily quantifiable factors—the number of soldiers.
cannot flourish in a body riven by factiousness and intrigue. impede selection for posts on the basis of fitness and generally undermine the morale and the esprit de corps. The desire to use the army against the civilian population may impede a full utilisation of the available manpower. In conjunction with the impact of the defeat. they are unlikely to do so as well as when the discipline is backed by conviction. solidarity. The importance of this factor co-varies with the military participation ratio because. The corrosive effects of the aforementioned factors upon the battleworthiness of an army are relatively mild in comparison with the impact of struggles for power in its midst. the more support an army enjoys from the mass of the citizens. the greater is the likelihood that it will fight well and be helped by them. may enhance the army’s performance in a war but it tends to lessen its willingness and dependability as an instrument against fellow citizens. stressing the brotherhood within the nation. nepotism and avoidance of harsher duties—destroy the respect of the soldiers for their commanders. The second aspect of the incompatibility in question is connected with the feelings of national solidarity: clearly. England. even when this would maximise the forces’ power. and that the equipment and the organisation adapted to one use will seldom be the best for another. than when it is despised and hated by them. in which case they become politicised and the arena for the struggles for power will be situated within them. dedication and the sense of honour. Internal politicking—usually accompanied by peculation. these two factors seem to have played an important role in the disintegration of the German and Russian states at the end of the First World War. Such a situation may give rise to a stable dictatorship or remain in the inconclusive state of praetorianism. Even a professional army is likely to fight better when it is imbued with patriotic feelings and admired by the majority of the citizens as their saviour.4 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES By an external use I mean war. the less remains for other activities. Israel is a *The University of Reading. Patriotic propaganda. in the sense in which this term is employed in my Military Organization and Society. although even hostile conscripts can be made to fight. threatening or coercing of fellow citizens and training for this activity. The latter can occur in two ways. so indispensable on a battlefield. Trust. The armed forces’ role as an engine of coercion has the opposite effect and tends to weaken their strength for war. The factors indicated above account to a large extent for the victories of the Israelis over the Arabs. because short-term conscripts are less dependable as agents of internal coercion than long-term professionals. the preparations for it and the activities involved in maintaining a state of readiness. The foregoing semi-deductive arguments are supported by comparative evidence such as the usually poor military performance of military dictatorships.1 The least interesting aspect of the said incompatibility resides in the obvious fact that the more time and energy is devoted to one pursuit. by an internal use I mean the fighting. the armed forces may be employed internally to enforce the will of the legitimate rulers— in which case they act on orders from outside and remain in a sense apolitical—or they may seize or exercise power independently. .
In both cases. the incompatibility between the internal and the external uses of the armed forces has been intuitively recognised by a number of statesmen. The factors in question do not operate to the same extent when a military dictator has ruled without opposition for so long that he comes to be regarded almost as a legitimate monarch. of course. The Somali war against Ethiopia launched by a military dictator ended in a failure. or when he took power mainly to defend the country as a whole rather than to coerce one part of the nation for the benefit of another. The long history of militocracy in Latin America. and (symptomatically. which was not the case in Indonesia. The poor showing of the military dictators against the communists in South East Asia wherever the latter could put an army into the field. The ease with which the Chinese warlords (in contrast to the communists) were subjugated by the Japanese. and secondly. The latter instances bring us to an important distinction. unlegitimated rule. It seems that despite very different circumstances. Mustafa Kemal illustrates this point. do not prove) my contention. not to give the generals an opportunity to acquire a taste for ‘pushing around’ civilians. I suspect. A number of other examples support (though. Another pertinent example is the war between India (like Israel. but not militocratic: it has a citizen army which strictly obeys the constitutional authorities. . Nyere. however. The fascist states might. similar motives partly account for the prominent role of the SS in Nazi Germany and of the NKVD troops (now KGB) in the USSR. the Iberian peninsula and Greece (where we have recently seen once more a sudden collapse of a seemingly wellentrenched regime) suggest that military dictatorship is a type of government which enjoys less stability than the traditional monarchy or the communist state. have proved as equally stable as the latter. had they not been smashed from outside. It is also significant that among the armies which took part in the wars against Israel by far the best was the Jordanian which remained strictly subordinated to the king. It appears. The War of the Pacific between Chile and Peru. The ignominious collapse of the armies of Chiang-Kai-Tchek before the Maoist onslaught. When soldiers obey an absolute king or a totalitarian party they can fight very well…sometimes better than when they are under a democratic government. while the only successful invasion of one state by another in post-colonial Africa was led by a civilian dictator of Tanzania. that undermines the armed forces’ battleworthiness. perhaps) it overthrew a military dictator of Uganda. however.ON THE PEACEFUL DISPOSITION OF MILITARY DICTATORSHIPS 5 highly militarised (and even militaristic) country. that the French statesmen had also two subsidiary aims in view: firstly. they remain outside the main political arena. Though not explicitly analysed. it is not the authoritarian character of the political system but the factionalism and corruption which seem to inhere in a purely military. Amin. of having at their disposal an independent force which would make a military coup more difficult and risky to effect. ruled by a woman prime minister) and Pakistan governed by a general. La Garde Mobile (the ancestor of the CRS) seems to have been created by the leaders of the Third Republic to help the army to win the favour of the lower classes by enabling it to avoid the odium inevitably incurred through participating in internal coercion.
Franco’s regime collapsed with the death of the caudillo and its relative durability was due to its mixed character. The most persistently expanding empire in modern history—Muscovy. and took up arms against Russia only on the latter’s orders. especially of the communist kind. the army is seldom a good tool for ruling it. the military dictator of Spain employed all his guile to keep out of it. whereas no such tendencies appear to be strong in one-party states. then Russia. with Catholicism constituting its basic ideology. and its army has a long tradition of obedience to the constituted authority. he did little to bolster up either. the military government of Portugal ended the war (February 1976) and dismantled the empire. not a general. then the USSR—has never been ruled by a military usurper. Although Pilsudski justified his seizure of power in Poland in 1926 by the need for strength through unity. while the absence of a recognised rule which would govern succession to supreme authority usually leads to strife. It was the latter which seized half the territory of its southern neighbour. With the progress of secularisation. the system’s ideological foundations have been eroded and its powers of resistance correspondingly diminished. where only one serious war between nations had occurred. Being primarily organised for defending the country. Paraguay had a dictator but he was a doctor. into which the democratic United States went with great energy. Lacking a doctrine which would legitimate and guide their actions. The military and the bureaucratic oligarchy justified their domination by the need to defend the Church and leave it in control of men’s souls. The Iberic military dictators. kept well out of the wars (except on a purely formal level in some instances) fought by parliamentary and dynastic states. let alone reforming it. prone to military rule lost its last few colonies to the democratic United States. This war occasioned the only impressive war effort by a nation of this cultural area since the wars of independence in Spanish America and the Peninsula war in Spain at the time of Napoleon. The British and the French colonial empires were built under parliamentary governments (and the same can be said of Belgium and Holland) while Spain. ruled by military dictators…not the other way round. While the fascist dictator of Italy eagerly entered the war started by his erstwhile disciple. Indeed. officers seldom know what to do.6 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES The vulnerability of the militocracies stems from the fundamental incompatibility we have discussed. The African . Rather than purely militocratic. On the other hand. The military dictators in Eastern Europe during the inter-war period waged no wars on one another. Argentina and Uruguay. dangers and frustration of the unending war. Significantly perhaps. it was at first clericalist and semi-fascist. the Paraguayan resistance to the joint attack by Brazil. Even in the most institutionalised of the purely military contemporary dictatorships —the Brazilian—many of the officers seem to have a sentiment of wrong-doing and would like to liquidate (or at least modify) the system. and later predominantly a clericalist and bureaucratic regime. The only part of the world where military dictatorships were already common in the nineteenth century was the area of Iberian civilisation. which was also the area of the least disturbed international peace. the chief motivation of the Portuguese military rebels seems to have been the desire to avoid the privations. The Romanian Antonescu acquiesced to one third of his country being given to Hungary by Hitler. moreover.
One of the essential aspects of the Meiji reforms was the inculcation into the entire population of the values which thitherto were confined to the military nobility. employed against recalcitrants) the devout obedience of the populace stemmed from the fanatical nationalism. but they simply continued the struggle which began before they came to power. Nevertheless. It does not seem that Nasser or Kassim were any keener on fighting the Israelis than were King Faruk or Feisal or Nuri Pasha. Nevertheless. that is. Among possible counter examples. Together with Germany (whether Hohenzollern or nazi) Japan provided the purest modern example of militarism in the correct sense of this term. had not lost his large residual powers: he agreed to appoint Tojo as prime minister but he could have refused if he were determined enough. despite the recently unearthed evidence that Roosevelt did everything he could to provoke Japan into attacking the United States. regardless of whether they are hereditary emirs. However. though not actually governing. admiration for military prowess and reverence for the military rank. It is germane to the present thesis that. The unmilitaristic leaders of Japan are so jealous of national sovereignty that they do not allow —or at least severely restrict—foreign investment in their country. the Latin American military dictators offer help to each other in dealing with the opposition. warlike sentiments. Far from resulting from sheer coercion (which was. it would be more exact to speak of assassination as the means of . and the latter have not shown themselves to be clearly more adamant. of course. as there can be no doubt about Japan’s militarism and imperialism. and he was able to dismiss him after Hiroshima. This may be the case where the military rulers accept bribes from foreign companies. Japan’s regime was not a clear case of military dictatorship: it did not witness a military seizure of power and much power was retained by the court politicians and civilian officials. True. though undoubtedly authoritarian and militaristic. Above all the emperor. the worship of the emperor and the cult of military virtues. the Arab military dictators took part in the wars against Israel. the policy of harnessing the energies of the entire nation for the purpose of waging war. electioneering politicians or military dictators. but there is also another explanation of their eagerness to welcome foreign business: in view of the disorder and corruption in public administration and state enterprises. although the officers were far from being the obedient executors of the civilian rulers’ will. inviting foreign business may be regarded as the best method of furthering national prosperity. in the way their counterparts were in Britain. instead of sabre-rattling.ON THE PEACEFUL DISPOSITION OF MILITARY DICTATORSHIPS 7 military dictators also remain at peace with their neighbours. Japan was only partly an instance of militocracy in the sense of the possession of all political authority by military officers. The opposition to zionism is a point of agreement among the Arabs. Tojo’s rule in Japan calls for an examination. the willingness to give so much scope to foreign business is incompatible with aggressive nationalism. even if justified on such grounds. Though to a much greater extent than Germany. the United States or the USSR. which entailed the inculcation of the martial virtues. The political set up in Japan at that time has been described as ‘government by assassination’. One of the most common accusations levelled against the Latin American military dictators is that they are unpatriotic: that they aid the exploitation of their countrymen by foreign capitalists.
In the first place fascism and militarism are not co- . He used his despotic powers not for preparing for aggrandisement but to compel the Turks to reconcile themselves to the loss of their imperial domains and to concentrate on converting themselves into a modern nation within the confines of their ethnic settlement. Kemal.8 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES pressure rather than governing. often surrendering voluntarily and submitting to punishment. and feeling constantly threatened by bigger neighbours. in contrast to what usually happens. the monarchy having been abolished. because. who made no attempt to take over the top positions but were content to remain in their posts. To conclude: Japan’s political set up was rather far from pure military dictatorship—in the sense of supremacy of military usurpers—and cannot therefore be regarded as a clear counter example to the thesis that military dictators tend to be peaceful on the international scene. as Antonescu and Horthy did later— were they not afraid of an outburst of wrath among the junior officers and the civilians intoxicated with the ultra-patriotic official propaganda. as the wars he waged were defensive. It was the case. but his coup and the subsequent rule detracted rather than added to their strength. known as ‘the colonels’. combined with the fear of their relentless wrath. the Poles naturally tended to be superpatriotic and revered the martial virtues and their military leaders. Despite ultra-patriotic oratory. Unlike most Latin American and African dictators. Perhaps a stronger counter example is Kemal’s regime in Turkey because it was clearly a military dictatorship: Kemal was both the head of state and the chief of the army. of confluence rather than interdependence between the two phenomena: having just miraculously won their independence. and he remained genuinely preoccupied with the problems of defence. Nonetheless. The colonels’ only imperialist action was the ghoulish snatching at the time of Munich of a tiny bit of Czechoslovakia which the Czechs had seized from the Poles eighteen years earlier in an equally cowardly manner. neither the conspirators nor the imperialist leaders whom they had lifted to power could be accused of venality. it was neither the rulers nor the aspirants to power who organised and carried out the assassinations but the officers of the middle and junior ranks. followed by a brief and limited civil war of the kind familiar in the countries of Iberic civilisation. The moral pressure of their selfsacrifice. To call the present non-communist dictatorships in Latin America ‘fascist’ or ‘militarist’ is to sow confusion. it exemplified militarism (in the sense defined above) as well as militocracy. however. can hardly be regarded as internationally aggressive. Accusing their victims of treason. his heirs. Pilsudski’s standing was in the first place due to his role as the leader in the wars of independence. On a number of occasions the ultra-nationalist military conspirators killed senior politicians and generals whom they regarded as lacking in determination or daring in promoting the expansion of the empire in China or the growth of Japan’s military strength. the conspirators on all occasions made appeals to the Emperor. Pilsudski profited from these attitudes. did little to prepare the country for war and it is arguable that they would have submitted to Hitler’s demands—bowing unwillingly to the superior force. however. Pilsudski’s dictatorship in Poland came into existence through a classic military uprising. silenced the more liberal and pacific politicians and hoisted into leadership the unwavering protagonists of militarism and imperialism.
But Lenin. The most plausible explanation of the emergence of these dictatorships is that the generals felt that they had to choose between taking over the reins of power or allowing the communists to take over. Although he had no ideology of his own creation. or of the native capitalists or the landed aristocracy. For the purpose of the present argument it is unnecessary to pass a firm judgment upon this issue. incidentally. The present regimes in the Argentine. in the USSR in the days of Stalin or Lenin. notwithstanding the important differences in ideology and practice between Castro and Mussolini. and the institutionalisation of the undisputed supremacy of the party and its leader. Uruguay and Brazil are almost perfect examples of the pure police state: that is. and that they fit the thesis that militocracies are seldom externally militant. fighting other armies—while by ‘police’ we ought to mean organised bodies of armed men adapted to coercing civilian populations. and Castro and Hua have. Chile. Hitler and Mussolini had. militarism was an essential part of fascism. does not mean that they are more cruel than the systems which approximate less closely to the pure or ideal type of a police state. aggressive nationalism and militarism. it is enough to observe that these regimes are neither nationalist nor militarist. whereas close parallels can be observed in Cuba. as in fact their repressive activities do not attain either the magnitude or the intensity of the repression under the Nazis. however. This feature was accompanied by the essentially novel cluster of intensive indoctrination and mobilisation of the masses. This. Geisel. or in Cuba or Czechoslovakia today.ON THE PEACEFUL DISPOSITION OF MILITARY DICTATORSHIPS 9 extensive: true. None of these features can be found in the Latin American dictatorships commonly labelled as fascist. whereas among Allende’s ministers there were many patricians like himself. There seems to be little substance in the common accusation that the present noncommunist dictators in Latin America are stooges of Washington or Wall Street. Systematic repression and the omnipotence of the police are immensely older phenomena than fascism. which must be defined in terms of what was specific and new in Mussolini’s regime. a political system which rests almost entirely on coercion by the police. the junta constitute the first government in that country’s history consisting mainly of people of lower middleclass origin. by ‘army’ or ‘military force’ we ought to mean an organised body of armed men adapted to waging war—that is. moreover. the ultra-montane clericalism provided the ideological cement in Franco’s regime. Strictly speaking. militarism had deeper roots in republican France and the German constitutional monarchy before 1914 than in Mussolini’s Italy. Its most original feature was the organisation of a political party on para-military lines but in total independence of the existing army. In Chile. an ideology and ideologically-committed followers. but it did not depend on or require it. It follows then that the armed forces of the Latin American republics (with the exception of Cuba) are in reality misnamed police forces. as the constitutional government was sliding into complete disorder. Pinochet and Videla operate without any ideological propulsion except the purely negative: the opposition to communism. In contrast. and that the expression ‘military dictatorship’ hardly fits these cases. .
. London: Routledge and Kegan. 1968. Paul and California: California University Press.10 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES NOTES 1.
he regards it as the culmination of war: the highest triumph a man can obtain is victory in battle. The carefully reasoning scholarly author turns into an excited observer: ‘Do you not hear the artillery?… You see the general who encourages his troops… Do you not see.From Clausewitz to Delbrück and Hintze: Achievements and Failures of Military History Felix Gilbert* Whether Machiavelli’s Art of War is the first modern book on military theory might be an open question. A narration. This is good classical tradition. Military writers and political historians existed side by side without taking much notice of each . it was a famous and influential work. his thesis that the Romans were superior to the moderns in organizing their armed forces. Its centerpiece is the account of a battle. Machiavelli wrote most of his book on the Art of War as military theoretician. and this description stands out from the rest of the book by the different method of presentation. What kind of qualities are required. But when the clash of armies has begun. Machiavelli’s Art of War shows the beginning of a division which continued throughout the following centuries. other qualities— qualities of a moral nature—are needed. their manner of conducting war ought to be imitated by modern commanders in all its details. by intelligence. cannot be demonstrated by reasoning. but the works of military writers left few traces in them. but he wrote the account of the battle as a historian. behold. serves best to show what is demanded from commander and troops in a battle. the change in tone suggests still another motif. Histories were full of descriptions of battles. preferably an artistically impressive narration. it can best be demonstrated by example. almost detached way. In the other parts of the book. Problems concerning arrangements to be made before a battle can be solved by prudence—we would say. the tone of the book suddenly changes. that for centuries. they flee also on the left. Machiavelli explains in lengthy detail how the Roman commanders drew up their troops for battle. Machiavelli presents in a cool. battles had this role in the writings of ancient historians. however. what they achieve. and that wars are decided in battles. it is certain. as they fight. They took it for granted that the foreign policy of a citystate aims at expansion and that this goal can be reached only by war. however. Although these classical views might have influenced Machiavelli in giving the battle the central place in his book. the victory is ours…’1 What are the reasons for this change of style? Clearly Machiavelli wants to stress that a battle is crucially important. when the preparations have ended and the fighting ought to begin. Such qualities show themselves in the effects which they have on others. their array so crowded that they scarcely can use their swords? … See them flee on the right flank.
They had perhaps even more appeal to professional writers than to professional historians.5 Clausewitz certainly had feeling for the dramatic elements. . while giving little attention to the details of military operations. his description of the battle of Waterloo3 is a great work of literary art. composition of a battle scene remained a test of their literary talent. were usually *Institute for Advanced Study. The most unforgettable battle scenes were composed by two of the greatest nineteenth-century novelists. whether the war was intended to end a particular dispute or to eliminate the enemy as a power factor. the campaign which resulted in the battle must be judged in relation to the entire war. But for historians too. stressed the importance of the battle as ‘the centre of gravity’ of an entire campaign. Battle and campaign are subordinated to the purposes of war. even descriptions of campaigns. Whatever you think about Treitschke’s political philosophy. The battle is only part of a larger context. and Zola in DéZbacle. Princeton. the literary quality of a battle. and no reader will forget Churchill’s report about the battle of Omdurman with the ‘swarms of men in ordered ranks bright with glittering weapons and about them dance a multitude of gorgeous flags. Nevertheless he placed the outcome of the battle in relation to the war as a whole.’4 It is interesting that the great novelists see the battles from the point of view of those who fought and suffered —one might say ‘from below’—whereas historical writers want to view the whole and that means from distance. historians ought no longer to have treated battles as a special event which could be isolated from its context. An account of what happened in a war. as ‘concentrated war’. Guicciardini’s account of the battle of Fornovo.12 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES other. epitomize extended parts of their stories.2 Because battles were subjects which invited the exercise of literary art. What a battle really meant and implied. by then Clausewitz had developed his military theories and given a new evaluation of the role of the battle in military operations. present very full descriptions of battles because battles give an opportunity for demonstrating literary gifts. one is tempted to say ‘from above’. by Tolstoy in War and Peace. It may seem astounding to ascribe to Clausewitz a part in reducing the role of the battle in war because Clausewitz. in his view. Actually from the nineteenth century onwards. sometimes accounts of battles are small literary masterpieces which can be detached from their context and read independently. and war is only continuation of policy by other means. descriptions of battles continued to be popular in the nineteenth century. A consequence of Clausewitz’s theories was to raise the importance of military history. as no other military writer. showing the lack of energy on the royal side. stressing the difficulties in bringing the Italian forces to a combined action and Clarendon’s account of the second battle of Newbury. Historical writers. and the war must be considered as an instrument that serves the general policy of a state. depended on whether the war was a war of defense or had the aim of territorial expansion. as such they separate one phase of the historical development from the next and serve to structure the historical work. ‘only a great battle can produce a major decision’. They also invite general reflections on the strengths and weaknesses of the contestants and represent turning points in the course of events.
For instance. At first glance. lies in what it reveals about the intentions behind Delbrück’s life work: the four volumes of ‘The History of the Art of War in the Framework of Political History. He must be content to explain what has happened. Delbrück also quoted several times the story that when someone said that the battle of Königgraetz was won by the Prussian schoolmaster an officer intervened and said: ‘The name of this schoolmaster was Clausewitz. which was shaped both by its political purposes and by the particular means available to achieve them. Clausewitz’s influence on German historical thinking becomes noticeable only at the end of the nineteenth century and even then remained limited. A look at the table of contents gives the impression that the work is . at the same time this would do justice to what had been achieved. Military history is an integral element of political history.’ Delbrück’s views on Clausewitz are somewhat startling. Clausewitz’s writings were published only after his death. to be a critic. that these theories did not immediately penetrate into the writing of history. Military events reflect the outlook of a historical period quite as much as the character of a period or a nation give their distinctive mark to a war. must consider the limitations which are imposed by external circumstances of a technical or geographic nature.6 The process of their absorption was slow. but only the Prussian military triumphs directed greater attention to a writer who was regarded to have been the teacher of the Prussian generals who had directed these victorious campaigns. however.9 Delbrück found a fundamental difference between the work of the military writer and the work of the historian. Delbrück’s work seems to indicate little of these intentions. throughout the 1830s. some discussion of his views began in the middle of the nineteenth century. the military writer might discuss that the Prussians. The military writer has the right. But in the work of a historian such statements would be inappropriate. There were only two important historians— both somewhat academic outsiders—who realized that in consequence of Clausewitz’s thought.8 Delbrück reports that when he was a young man the works of Clausewitz were given to him by the Prussian Crown Prince. Description of the efforts which had been made would show why further efforts had been impossible. or of history in general. but Clausewitz demonstrated that each war had its own character.’10 Delbrück shows himself as a disciple of Clausewitz by assuming that in order to explain the events of a war the historian must go beyond the description of military operations. It seems almost old-fashioned. the later Emperor Frederick. gradual and partial. ought to have pursued the defeated French with greater energy and for a longer stretch of time because the result would have been complete annihilation of the French forces. The main significance of Delbrück’s somewhat arbitrary distinction between the military theoretician who is a critic and the historian who elucidates what has happened. even the obligation. the place of military affairs in political history must be reconsidered and military history must be recognized as an essential element in the study of general history: Hans Delbrück7 and Otto Hintze. after the battle of Waterloo. It is understandable.ACHIEVEMENTS AND FAILURES OF MILITARY HISTORY 13 included in historical narrations. and must analyze the political intentions behind the enterprise of war. and that the study of Clausewitz made him decide to concentrate on military history in his historical studies. He is able to say and ought to say what actions of the commander were faulty and what he ought to have done.
Clausewitz’s statement also formed a starting point for Otto Hintze’s thought. after internal reforms. had been the decisive force behind the Prussian reforms. Changes in the conduct of war can be seen as reflections of the differences between the periods in which the war took place. whose Geschichte der Infanterie (history of infantry) Delbrück undoubtedly knew. The work is divided into various sections. by a discussion of the new features which in this period changed the character of the armed forces and the conduct of military operations: social composition of the army. The final chapter of these sections usually analyzes the significant battles of the period.11 The fault of the Prussian king and government was not a lack of insight into the necessity of . equipment and weapons. military organization and political structure had to correspond to each other and to be closely integrated. Hintze began his career as a student of Prussian history and Prussian history had a direct bearing on this problem. For Prussians this period of Prussian reforms was the most splendid but also the most discussed event of recent history. joined with the political and social changes in France during the revolutionary period. one of the most admired military leaders of the period of the war of liberation. however. In his view.14 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES primarily an account of a large number of individual battles. But Hintze goes beyond Delbrück with the conclusion which he draws from this thesis. It was the starting point for Clausewitz’s thinking about the problems of war. It is preceded. For most historians the ideas which had been developed in German philosophy and German classical literature. Hintze had some doubts about this relationship and he expressed his views in one of his earliest articles devoted to Prussian reform efforts before the defeat of 1806. Delbrück explains. He had a precursor in Wilhelm Rüstow. means for supply and provisioning. Delbrück’s investigation of the concrete circumstances under which military operations were conducted represents a significant step forward in the understanding of the art of war. etc. that in selecting the battles which he analyzes he was not determined by the fame of a battle or by its dramatic character. one of Hintze’s chief concerns was establishment of the relationship which existed in history between military organization and political structure. The Prussian army of the eighteenth century. which was pursued by Frederick the Great. it triumphed in the wars of liberation. Clausewitz’s famous dictum about war as a continuation of policy had been a spur to Delbrück in placing military history in a broader context. suffered a humiliating defeat by Napoleon and then. His criterion was the significance of a battle for the development of the art of war—whether it presented novel features in tactics or strategy. organization and size of units. For many years. in order to achieve coordination of politics and war. each of them treating a particular period of European history from the ancient world on to the modern age. and Hintze began with research in Prussian eighteenth-century history and was soon recognized as an outstanding expert in this field. and Napoleon’s strategy of annihilation. combat order. which had been considered as invincible. this view determined Delbrück’s famous but also much-debated and contested distinction between a strategy of attrition. however. Delbrück’s history differs from previous works of the same genre by two outstanding features: he presents the history of war as an interconnected development and he demonstrates that the various stages in this evolution are closely connected with developments in other fields during the same period. Delbrück’s first important publication was a biography of Gneisenau.
an empire or a territorial state. They knew about the weaknesses and deficiencies of the Prussian administration. although he did not believe in the existence of strict historical laws. Hintze would not have denied the influence of the ‘new ideas’ of the time. from his early years on. was inclined to think that behind the variety of developments in European history there was a general pattern and that its discovery was a legitimate function of the historian. but they needed a basis or a support in the institutional sphere to become effective. The funds necessary to make army service attractive could be easily provided by abolishing the privilege of the nobility of exemption from the estate tax.’ In the years before the First World War Hintze published a number of essays which all revolved around the relationship of military organization and political structure. In contrast to the overwhelming majority of his historical colleagues who were bitterly opposed to the notions proposed chiefly in other countries— by Comte or Marx. whether it was a town. Spencer or Buckle—that history developed according to laws. and most institutions were established in order to serve and promote this basic need. Although Hintze’s main thesis—the dependence of the political structure on military needs—is clearly presented. Hintze made a sharp distinction between early periods in which .ACHIEVEMENTS AND FAILURES OF MILITARY HISTORY 15 reform. Hintze had reservations about the tendency to see in history chiefly the working of individualities and individual factors. But the dominating role of this class in Frederican Prussia made it impossible to overcome their resistance to a measure of this kind. By means of these investigations he explored the question of whether there was a general pattern in the European development which was varied through adjustment to particular individually distinctive needs and situations. he had a pronounced interest in questions of historical method. the nobility. Hintze. he had been a student of eighteenth-century Prussia and because the rise of Prussia to political power had been the work of its army. But every change interfered with the privileges of the ruling class. The first of his studies12 devoted to this subject said that every society was foremost a community formed for the purpose of war and defense. One country triumphed over others and expanded and this led to new military and political institutions. They differed because the most appropriate form of defense and war depended on the nature of the country which it was to protect. for many years. refined and also modified his thesis. Hintze’s most telling example comes from the military sphere: the payment of soldiers had not kept up with the rising standard of living and consequently qualified men shied away from entering the army. The issue was for him important also because. Hintze was concerned with the relationship between military organization and political structure not only because. ‘It is an all-too-easy and superficial explanatory method to account for the diversity in the political and social life of various peoples by referring to differences of their national character. The struggles which unavoidably took place among these communities were the chief cause for the developments in military organizations and political institutions. his first attempt to demonstrate the importance of this relationship was somewhat simple and bare. the king would not dare—or was not able—to overcome their obstinate resistance. and although he remained convinced of the correctness and fruitfulness of this approach. In following essays13 he substantiated. This argument implies that defeat had made the need for a complete reorganization of the army evident and a paramount necessity and that only now the resistance of the nobility could be overcome.
They were citizen armies inspired by patriotism. the political institutions were decisively patterned by military institutions and their needs—the age of feudalism and the modern age. The political complement to this development in the military sphere was the rise of absolutism: the rulers alone possessed the financial resources needed to maintain standing armies and their control over these armies made them a strongly disciplined. This was the crucial step towards the emergence of standing armies. The people had to have a voice in the formation of their government. she had not been completely defeated by French military power as had the armies of the continental states. and in consequence all over Europe military organizations and political institutions were changed. the age of nationalism and liberalism. this reasoning served to justify the maintenance of a monarchical . that means of horsemen. The victorious French armies had been assembled on the basis of conscription. chiefly composed of mercenaries. According to Hintze the transition from the ancien regime to the nineteenth century. Thus. but Britain’s wars against Napoleon were fought on the ‘fringes’ of Europe.16 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES people lived in clan and tribal communities and two later periods of European history during which. impelled by social rather than political factors. Hintze was a Prussian and the Prussian tradition in which he had grown up and which had been centre of his historical studies was for him a value of supreme importance. was rather analogous to what had happened in the period of the decline of feudalism: an army organized on an entirely different basis defeated the standing armies of the ancien regime. It must continue to contain an authoritarian element. was slower and more gradual than on the Continent. Of course. In Great Britain the development. In a country whose existence was threatened by other states. their superiority ended when foot soldiers had learned to fight as tactical units—that was the secret of the success. Although the organization of national armies since the French Revolution made the introduction of a representative element in the political constitution unavoidable. and its constitution could not hand over complete control to the people. citizens needed a guarantee that the sacrifices which they were asked to undertake were made in their own interests and in their own cause. With general conscription becoming the basis for the formation of armed forces. military needs must precede all others. He was unable to admit that his thesis about the relationship between military order and political structure implied a gradual disappearance of the monarchical. although frequently intermixed with conscripts. But what was the extent of the influence which the people ought to have over their government? Was the necessary consequence of general conscription full democratization of political life? Despite great openness of mind. feeling that the cause for which they fought was their own cause. in Hintze’s view. Feudal armies were armies of knights. Hintze had an explanation why various European countries must differ in the particularities of their political structure. the necessary complement of a military organization based on general conscription was a representative government. first of the Swiss and then of the German Landsknechte. Within this framework two subjects stood out as deserving particular attention: the change from the feudal age to the modern age and the relationship between the system of popular representation (the rise of democracy) and the institution of general conscription. authoritarian system in the Prussian-German Reich. hierarchically structured body. the degree of democratization depended on the outside pressure to which a nation was exposed.
half-authoritarian system in a world moving steadily towards greater democratization. Certainly.ACHIEVEMENTS AND FAILURES OF MILITARY HISTORY 17 authoritarian regime in Prussia-Germany. Hintze became much more pluralistic. equal citizen rights and the existence of elected representative bodies fulfilled these needs. But. Insofar as general conscription demanded a closer connection between individual and state. His aim remained to reveal and to define a general pattern in the development of European history since the end of the Roman Empire and to explain the reasons for the variations which this pattern took in the various European states. The end of the Prussian monarchy was to him a personal loss. however. and as such he disdained the idea of teaching generals how to conduct military operations. He suggested that this system kept liberal and authoritarian features in an ideal balance and that it guaranteed that the German military organization was superior to those of all other countries. it penetrated to the core of their historical notions. must have an independent authority. The impact of the outcome of the First World War on Delbrück and Hintze would be of limited concern to us if it had remained in the personal sphere— disappointment and regrets about the failure of cherished values and traditions. Like Hintze. it changed their attitude. well-equipped and well-trained armed forces a necessity. . The preservation of an authoritarian and monarchical element in constitutional life had not resulted in providing superior military leadership and fighting capacity. Actually in the last twenty years of his life he made some of his most important contributions to the study of history. He was a historian. he also recognized. the commander-in-chief. He had started out on his work in military history by drawing a line between the military historian who described what had happened and the military writer who was a critic. Delbrück’s confidence in the excellence of Prussian military thinking had been undermined. as we have shown. Those who participated in the discussion about the distinction between a strategy of attrition and a strategy of annihilation—and among them were members of the General staff—were aware that this dispute had practical implications and in this debate Delbrück frequently seems to be a military critic rather than a military historian. Germany’s situation in the centre of Europe exposed her to pressure from all sides and made the maintenance of large. Interference of an all-powerful Parliament which might give preference to non-military interests would be dangerous. It has to be admitted that Delbrück’s distinction was rather artificial and he did not remain within the limits which he had set. A change also took place in Delbrück’s outlook. Hintze was aware of that. that this event necessitated a revision of his historical theories. he became one of the most bitter and most vocal critics of the German High Command and its subordination of political to military considerations. He continued to place emphasis on the interaction of the military and political order but the military factor is now regarded only as one of the factors which shaped the political order: socio-economic and ideological forces also have a decisive role. and the monarch. after the War. The outcome of the First World War represented a refutation of Hintze’s views. Actually Hintze went beyond justifying the maintenance of the German halfconstitutional. raised questions about their validity and made a rethinking of the problems of politics and war necessary.
but policy could not be made without it. the First World War demonstrated that. This distinction. every war among great powers becomes an extreme war. make it impossible to end a war before the enemy is completely helpless. The Second World War reinforced and accentuated the novel nature of twentiethcentury war. This was no longer a European war. ‘Unconditional surrender’ is the necessary conclusion of a war among great modern nations. The tendency to carry through the war till the enemy is completely defeated and surrenders has been immeasurably strengthened by the outlawry of war. closely related to Clausewitz’s ideas. dominating the globe. With the First World War it became evident that the wars of the twentieth century would be fundamentally different from those of preceding times. One novel feature of the First World War was immediately regarded as most consequential: the participation of the United States and Japan. bound together in a common history which. with military establishments that had their traditions. partly still unexplored consequences for the future organization of national armies. suggests that. despite significant differences. it is mere illusion to believe that at certain moments wars like the First or Second World War could have ended by a peace of compromise. the possibility of a ‘pure’ theory of war remains alive. however. it did not make policy. crucial factor which the Second World War brought into the discussion of military affairs. Before entering upon a war or continuing it. in consequence every war becomes a fight of good against evil. The masses do not permit their governments open discussions about peace with the government of the enemy on the basis of reciprocal concessions. was the invention and employment of new weapons: it brought us the notion of nuclear war. seapower was revealed as a determining factor whereas its role in previous wars had been contributory to the outcome rather than decisive. it provoked thinking about the possibility of the appearance of different kinds of war: limited political wars and world wars. in a democratic age. but they unavoidably touched upon all aspects of political and social life. discipline and hierarchy so that they tended to form a state within the state. The most important. had led to common institutional features and some commonly held beliefs.18 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES The First World War placed political and military reasoning into new relationships. It was this situation which Delbrück’s and Hintze’s writings had explored. however. The sufferings. whatever the differences of military conduct in history. It ended with a polarization of power which had far-reaching. to which the entire population is subjected. Military affairs had a certain amount of autonomy. The military factor did no longer dominate. also limits the freedom of action of a government. but also could not be disregarded.14 First of all. The conception of military history which underlay the writings of Delbrück and Hintze was derived from the European situation of the nineteenth century: a limited number of great European powers of relatively equal strength. Consequently. competing against each other but also conscious of a common interest in maintaining the status quo. Moreover. The result has been a strange change in . it must carefully consider whether its people regard the war as morally justified or justifiable. in wars of this kind military considerations and calculations prevail over political considerations—the military become the decision-makers. and one cannot compromise with evil. The presence of moral considerations.
5. 3. chapter 15. but are more intensely connected with particular groups and the interests of certain classes. have moved much closer to the military establishment. Now easily available in Winston S. Machiavelli’s description of an ‘ideal battle’ will be found in the third book of his Art of War. their evaluation of possibilities and of timetables enter the making of decisions on all stages.15 Clarification of the decision-making process has become one of the most urgent and most difficult tasks in military and political studies. but having become more distant from the military establishment. ed. In the second book of his Deutsche Geschichte im neunzehnten Jahrhundert. The armed forces have become more isolated from the bulk of the population.Churchill. book II. their choice is limited by previously made decisions and arrangements in the construction of the implements of war. Their views and judgements. History of the Rebellion. only go forward on it. 4. In Francesco Guicciardini. The revolutionary changes in military affairs have given rise to a great number of valuable technical investigations about new weapons. On Clausewitz’s influence. its connection with industrial life and with sections of the academic community has become very close. However.ACHIEVEMENTS AND FAILURES OF MILITARY HISTORY 19 the relationship between military and civilian life. Durham. military affairs have become very remote to the great mass of the people. chapters 154–160. the decision-making process is no longer centred exclusively at the top—the head of the government or the military commander. 1976. My Early Life. The Chief Works. book VIII. but that military problems are now of urgent importance to certain groups of society. On Clausewitz as historian. 2. The problems of war and military organization have been so fundamentally changed in the twentieth century that we have not yet reached the stage where we can write the military history of our century. on one hand. about the possibilities of limited war. it seems unlikely that we shall any longer be able to differentiate military history—if it wants to be more than an account of what had happened after a war had broken out—from the history of political. 6. see Michael Howard’s introductory essay to the translation mentioned in the previous note. One might say that. 1965. These quotations are from book IV. If we ever gain such insight. chapters 8 and 9. by Peter Paret and Michael Howard. about changes in tactics and strategy. NOTES 1. which is published in the second volume of Machiavelli. and Clarendon. I have used the translation by Allan Gilbert. Storia d’Italia. but some of the most interesting and important ones are studies concerned with the decision-making process. chapter 11 of Clausewitz. people are no longer able to comprehend what the new weapons can do and what a future war will be. intellectual and social developments. we certainly cannot do it without greater insight into the decision-making process. Manpower has become less important. and transl. and his attempt to ‘treat . We cannot leave the route which Delbrück and Hintze have charted. Princeton. On War. there are certain groups which. involved in the problems of the construction of the new weapons.
For Delbrück’s view of Clausewitz as ‘military critic’. A World Destroyed (New York. and also my introduction to The Historical Essays of Otto Hintze (New York. pp. For Hans Delbrück. For Hintze.Sherwin. both with bibliographies. Penser La Guerre. 1976) pp. Hans Delbrück als Kritiker der Wilhelminischen Epoche (Düsseldorf. 352–4. is printed in English translation in The Historical Essays of Otto Hintze. 1972). This article. What I have in mind. see Peter Paret. political. III. 10. Shattered Peace (Boston. Wehler. 1955). vol. II: L’âge planétaire. (New York. not always acceptable.20 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 7. 8. 1975). vol. 1975) and Daniel Yergin. Although. brought about by the two World Wars. ed. The work was reedited in 1962 by Otto Haintz. 1962) pp. under the title ‘Military Organization and the Organization of the State’ in English in The Historical Essays of Otto Hintze. 11. ed. 331–355. Clausewitz (Paris. see the article ‘Hans Delbrück’ by Andreas Hillgruber in Deutsche Historiker. first published in 1896. 1976) pp. see Juergen Kocka. published 1902. 13. diplomatic and military events in analytic narratives’. 64–87. can be seen from the books by Martin J. Clausewitz and the State (New York. 34–51. Published. both authors try to explain how the decision to use the atomic bomb was taken. Gesammelte Abhandlungen: Staat und Verfassung. Clausewitz and the State. . 14. pp. 9. Hintze’s essay ‘Staatenbildung und Verfassungsentwicklung’. 1977). 15. Oestreich (Goettingen. which contains a bibliographical essay. ‘Otto Hintze’ in Deutsche Historiker. 180–215. will be found in Otto Hintze. 1976) are stimulating for considerations about changes in military thinking. the reflections in Raymond Aron. 12. Hans-Ulrich Wehler. in my opinion. see particularly vol. IV (Göttingen. see Peter Paret. also Annelise Thimme. ed.
until not long since. Prior to that war.2 It also demonstrates that history may still have its uses. ‘we have steadily lost confidence in the continuing relevance of the recent past’. or. History has. and used theoretically in developing the ‘principles of war’ and in devising tactical doctrine and strategic hypotheses with which to engage the next enemy. when mathematicians and social scientists shouldered aside historians as the most valued consorts of the military. past experience—that is to say. more accurately. This was certainly the case until after the Second World War. riding a wave of reform which put much greater emphasis on intellectual capacity than had previously been the case. been much used in developing war theory in its most general sense.Clio and Mars: The Use and Abuse of History John Gooch* ‘It is an axiom among historians that a knowledge of history can serve as a guide to the present… Armed forces have a particularly bad reputation for not taking this axiom seriously. The officer now had to be given a specialist education. in the words of one historian. Analysis of how this has occurred helps explain why it is that. The demand for norms and precepts which could serve to guide both the training of soldiers and the fighting of wars came as a consequence of two developments which reached their climax in the latter part of the eighteenth century. It seems possible to argue that it has been much mis-used. The first was the growth of the idea that war was a profession whose practitioners were marked off from civil society by the need for specialised knowledge—a consequence of the fact that war was making increased technical demands upon those who fought it. and that an awareness of its past mis-use may in fact make it a better help-meet to the war theorist than ever it was. nowhere more so than in Great Britain. Concurrently with this development there occurred a resurgence of the military aristocracy. Hard evidence of this change in attitude could be found in the new military academies which sprang into existence across Europe in order to educate the aspiring officer in the basics of his profession: twelve new schools were .’1 The strongest grounds for accepting Arthur Marder’s judgement on how effectively the Services have utilised the past in developing war theory must be that they were too busy assiduously applying the past as a key to unlock the future to bother too much about the present. rather than merely an apprenticeship in the craft of war. history—had been used extensively: both practically applied in the training of officers. its use has been misunderstood and its findings misapplied.
St. for it too. Munich. University of Lancaster. Here the Enlightenment came to the assistance of the educators and the educated. However. as well as large practical experience. Petersburg. The past is. by contributing the notion that patterns existed not simply in relation to scientific phenomena. *Department of History. the ore extracted from the past would be smelted not by historical analysis as it later came to be understood.4 Lloyd’s A History of the Late War in Germany (1766) was his best known foray into the military field. . or what we might call contemporary history.3 The most obvious material to utilise in the new processes of education lay readily to hand in the form of immediate past experience. and that from those patterns valid generalisations could be made about human behaviour. Here he was much influenced by his patron. the theory of knowledge generally embodied in the ideas of the Enlightenment determined that history would be used as a quarry. but by the addition of what were not far removed from theories of behaviour. if only you could find out what they were. rather than Rousseau. one of a small but significant group of French thinkers who were currently examining war in an historical context. and practical experience of military engineering in Spain. Lloyd dealt with the same great themes as his master: what was man’s will? how did it operate. of itself. the maréchal de Saxe had been prepared to admit that war was a science— thereby tacitly acknowledging that. and others followed at Wiener Neustadt. No doubt as a consequence of his travels. which acted as the catalyst to produce pure metal. However. the intellectuals of the Enlightenment set to work to prove the truth of the proposition that laws existed in all fields of human endeavour. Lloyd spoke and wrote fluent French. and who knew and admired Chevalier Folard. in his Essais philosophiques sur les gouvernements. where he had trained for the priesthood. and had enough German to make himself understood. it was covered with shadows. who had fought in Italy in 1742–3 and again in 1746. such laws existed—though he hastily added that. their general approach to the problem of knowledge was of no small use to a profession which required some acknowledged body of knowledge if it was to provide generally accepted precepts on which to base future behaviour. the marquis of Las Minas. It was Montesquieu. for many of them regarded it as wasteful and not a few as conjectural. Guided by Montesquieu. a somewhat formless substance to which some sort of ordering process must be applied if it is to yield much. who influenced Lloyd’s intellect. Naples and Sandhurst. and remains so. as yet. but also in all human activity. Lloyd brought formidable intellectual gifts. Italian and Spanish. but his later work on other subjects shows how far his approach to each topic which he undertook to analyse was grounded less in the historical chain of cause and effect than in the kind of approach which labelled Montesquieu the father of the social sciences. War they tended to exempt from their enquiries.22 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES created in France in 1776. This mode of attacking the past was first established in Britain by Edward Lloyd in what was nominally a work of history. to the study of war. His education had included a spell at the Jesuit college in Rome. The professionalization of war thus led to the search for truths from immediate past experience. written about 1766. As early as 1732. and what determined his relations with the physical world? In the course of his enquiries.
Observation of the past had undoubtedly helped Lloyd to conclude that wars were never terminated by complete victories. and subsequently committed his views to print in what was history only in a special sense. Lloyd was crossing the boundaries between history and the social sciences. disguised from many of his subsequent readers the true nature of his fundamental thought processes.7 Lloyd was at once led off down a by-way far from an established path of history. music and other phenomena which together governed men’s behaviour. which he saw as being the art of persuasion by means of which a general mastered the inclinations of his troops. both sensual and social—especially fear. liberty. War was not to be explained by a narrative of discrete historical events—the gradual unfolding of a battle. as well as history. knowing his background and his interests.6 The basis of Lloyd’s analysis was his definition of the ‘philosophy of war’. a general must draw his arguments to persuade or dissuade. he categorised and generalised with the aid of observations made during the war itself. In . This he believed to be the most difficult branch of the profession: ‘It supposes a perfect knowledge of the passions. religion. The sheer range of Lloyd’s interests. as he examined in their turn the passions. for example. opinion.CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 23 Lloyd developed a proto-sociological analysis of the different kinds of human societies— developing from the hunting. and discipline long before the war was over and the book begun. geography. which strikes the modern reader as remarkable not least for its width. he drew even farther away from mere analysis of the technical factors which operated on the battlefield. or else disregarded as the product of a despised eighteenth century intuition and rationalism. nor. Rather. and adopting a pluralist model to explain human behaviour much along the lines of his mentor.5 In other writings. Lloyd did not approach the task of analysing the war of 1756–63 by way of straightforward historical method. as in his other analytical works. and suggesting that it was only by using the viewpoints of ‘philosophy’ and ‘policy’ that one could understand how the passions developed which brought men to war. and nations not enslaved. The subtleties of his analysis. It is clear. were obscured by his more striking use of the past. anthropology. Pietro Verri. would we expect him to have done so. arguing that these did not explain how and why armies were put in motion. extending from obsessive criticisms about the imperfections of military dress to detailed appreciation of military geography. Here. Montesquieu. fear. his eighteenth century formalism betrayed himself in a fondness for reducing problems to equations or figures. religion and economics. physiology. kingdoms were not overturned. by way of the pastoral to the commercial—to explain the relationship between social grouping and the extent of individual liberty. honour and shame—as well as riches. the development of a campaign—but in its essence required consideration of psychology.8 From this conclusion. in April 1760 that Lloyd had already formed his beliefs about the character and qualities of physical force. from a letter written by an Italian friend of Lloyd’s. the role of courage. He was certainly not regaling his readers with ‘lessons’ from history. because it is from that source. Lloyd was merely using the past to provide material with which to support generalizations derived as much from pure thought as from reflective historical analysis. That the vehicle for this analysis was ostensibly a history was essentially coincidental and not purposive. as circumstances may require’.
including presumably. the strength of the Enlightenment— individualism. but the simplest thing is difficult’. the prescriptions of analysis. However. Clausewitz started from a concept of nature which allowed him to theorise on the intrinsic essence of things. is confirmed by the fact that the starting point of On War as it was printed is a series of abstract definitions. rather than causing him to arrive at them. In the development of his theory. and not the most important one. Reality obtruded in two guises.14 Certainly. The past was only a tributary to his channel of thought. and perhaps modify. historical works. history existed to test. A critical use of history was only one facet of his approach to his task.10 It was this which led him to attempt to equip war with a framework of theory which would serve others as a guide.9 Stealing grave-goods from Clio’s tomb with which to embellish theories of war achieved much greater respectability—and acceptability—in the following century. he himself gave the impression that more was to be gained in knowledge about war from impression and intuition than from critical studies and learned monographs. Clausewitz was led to begin his search for a body of theory by the need to make practical sense of the growing flood of literature on war. Theory itself existed to serve as a guide for anyone wishing to learn about war from books. Paret has recently suggested that Clausewitz’s approach to knowledge was akin to that of Husserlian phenomenology. risk and discovery—supposedly went down before the rational and impersonal force of the Hegelian dialectic. and more obviously inspired by Kant’s ‘Table of Categories’ than by Hegel.24 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES the confrontation between Lloyd and Clausewitz. it will have been correlated with history. In a note dated 10 July 1827. limited in reality—it has been claimed that it was his reflection on historical evidence which prompted him to arrive at it in 1827. and the two most influential theorists of the age were to play their part in the process.12 and the proposition that history served chiefly to confirm Clausewitz’s conclusions. adventure. Clausewitz and Jomini were to continue. Clausewitz continued the manipulation of the past. Nor is there anything in the first chapter of Book One (the only segment of the work which represents anything like a finalized version of Clausewitz’s ideas) to suggest that historical experience could substantially limit the validity of theory. it served as proof of theory: ‘Historical examples .13 Aron has claimed that his method was closer to the eighteenth century than to the nineteenth. As reflections on the nature of war in memoirs grew more numerous and history more sophisticated ‘an urgent need arose for principles and rules whereby the controversies that are so normal in military history—the debate between conflicting opinions—could be brought to some sort of resolution’. First.15 Certainly it can only have been a consciousness of the gulf between theory and practice which allowed him to arrive at his well-known aphorism ‘Everything in war is very simple. in that he believed it possible to make definitions about the essence of war which derived from pure analytical thought rather than from inductive generalisation. which was of uneven value and often confusing in detail. indeed. in the case of his theory of the dual nature of war—absolute in the abstract. What Lloyd had begun.11 Unwittingly. Clausewitz stated that he had tested each of his conclusions against the actual history of war. Clausewitz was too much a man of experience to allow his theoretical definitions to stand untested by reality.
16 As historian. History emphasises that human behaviour never follows defined rules. as Clausewitz reminds his reader.’19 Perhaps the most striking example of Clausewitz’s use of history comes in Book VII of On War. preferring to use it sparingly rather than pepper his audience with numerous cases in point. history was the . à chaque instant. but rather a number of different theories.17 Clausewitz’s use of history was further obscured because he concerned himself before all else with the relationship between theory and practice.’ Secondly. ‘for in the art of war experience counts more than any amount of abstract truths’. the practitioner must have recourse to the reality of the past. can guarantee success. both as a whole and in regard to their details. as opposed to the process by which he generated them. or of its application. for he used history in two distinct but inter-related ways. This is particularly true of the art of war.’20 In laying out his ideas.’21 Friction negates the idea of a given body of rules which. Clausewitz used history to emphasize that only abstractions of the broadest generalization could remain immutable. He was also careful to limit his use of history. concluded Clausewitz the historian. As an illustrative or heuristic device. When he came to deploy historical examples in his work. who may lay out the stages of a battle and the movement of troops. on the conceptual level. il observe l’histoire a travers ses concepts’. but who cannot by that process explain why a particular movement was not carried out more effectively. had ‘its own kind of war. Raymond Aron has succinctly summed up the problem: ‘Clausewitz ne precise pas. Clausewitz bequeathed to all his readers a confusing legacy. s’il raisonne ou s’il observe. The question of precisely what sort of role it played was the more difficult to determine because history was always present in his work: ‘des textes de jeunesse jusqu’au testament intellectuel.18 Clausewitz defined historical research as the discovery and interpretation of equivocal facts. where a brief analysis of the ways in which different European societies have waged war from ancient times leads to the conclusion that there is no single theory of war. le rapport entre theorie et histoire demeure au centre de la réflexion’. he made little use of classical times (unlike his eighteenth-century predecessors). For him. illustrate his argument or demonstrate a point. or a decisive turn in the battle not perceived sooner. its own limiting conditions. it could be deployed in order to provide an explanation of an idea. and never always made it clear which side of the balance he was working on. between ideal and actuality. ‘The same political object can elicit differing reactions from different peoples. it played a role of some sort in the devising of his ideas and theories. Clausewitz used history as an adjunct to theory—a means by which to test propositions. being convinced that the farther one was removed from events in time the less one could know about them. ‘Where a new or debatable point of view is concerned’ he wrote. Every age. The concept of ‘friction’ rescues the historian. when applied to a defined situation. and remarked—confusingly—that critical narrative must go hand in hand with this process. and even from the same people at different times. and that those abstractions were essentially about the nature of human behaviour. ‘a single thoroughly detailed event is more instructive than ten that are only touched on. applicable to any epoque.CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 25 clarify everything and also provide the best kind of proof in the empirical sciences. and its own peculiar preconceptions.
as elsewhere. Jomini also warned that genius could be stifled by false ideas that war was a positive science where all operations could be reduced to infallible calculations. But because his methodology was so far from clear—or perhaps because the shape in which his work was published over-emphasised his use of history—he left a legacy of the prescriptive.26 Although he was prepared to allow that a few fundamental principles of war did exist. although it must be admitted that Jomini did not push this aspect of his thought nearly as far as either of his predecessors. while history might offer the most secure path towards valid generalizations about war. Although he did cull from the past four immutable precepts of strategy.26 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES laboratory of theory. or even the chief. the moral qualities of the general—though he arrived at them from . and on the basis of a great deal of personal experience of Napoleonic warfare. source from which to derive knowledge of war. they were only generalizations and no more. To read his work—and it was much read and much followed in Britain. It is therefore important to emphasize what contemporaries overlooked. normative use of history which was to prove unfortunate in the hands of his successors.25 He offered numerous qualifications designed to demonstrate to his readers that. he informed his readers in his Précis de l’Art de Guerre. who possessed minds infinitely less subtle and less capacious. in the latter part of the nineteenth century—was to allow oneself to fall victim to the delusion that Clausewitz had ‘discovered the truth’ by bringing to bear on the past the attributes of a powerful analytical mind—a claim he himself would probably never have made. and represented Jomini’s last word on the great combinations of war. wars differed in their characteristics according to the differences in their political dimension. To this he coupled an eighteenth century conviction that. played his part in fixing in men’s minds the idea that the past. He never claimed for it the status of the sole. when viewed as the consequence of policy. but on military history. immutable principles existed which the study of history could reveal: ‘la stratégie surtout’. he also pointed out that.27 Jomini wrote qualifications into the substance of his work which further emphasised the limited reliance to be placed upon history as a prescriptive discipline in the study of war. could yield up secrets which could help master the future.28 This represents a widening of the frame of reference which begins to approach some of the ideas of both Lloyd and Clausewitz.24 The Précis was written only after a lengthy study of the history of the Revolutionary wars. in war. that Jomini did not intend his work to be regarded in a normative light. ‘Ici les préceptes…ne servent que de jalons approximatifs’. Clausewitz’s great rival and an equally profound influence on British strategic thought in the nineteenth century.23 Unwittingly. and with the aid of which he explained the differences between abstraction and reality. ‘fut la même sous César comme sous Napoleon’. if attacked with determination.22 a chamber within which he tested the properties of concepts. he pointed out early on. then. He believed that the only reasonable theory of war was one based not merely on history. Clausewitz played a part in the perversion of historical method which dominated much British theorizing about war before 1914—and indeed afterwards. Historical analysis also allowed Jomini to recognise and acknowledge the importance of the human element in warfare—the morale of the soldier. Antoine Jomini.
Napier or Archduke Charles. he reported. directly or indirectly. As the idea of war as a science gained ground during the nineteenth century.29 and the model was established with the publication in 1866 of Hamley’s The Operations of War Explained and Illustrated. Yet Hamley was fully alive to the difficulties inherent in using the past to instruct about the future and admitted that problems faced the student of war when confronted with the complexities of Jomini. looked like propositions of Euclid. The Crimean war. For one thing. Jomini was drawing lessons from history to guide future generations. It was commonplace. This was a process fraught with pit-falls (and one which to the present-day historian looks not unlike plundering) and was to have two important consequences. helped give the necessary stimulus to more ‘scientific’ thinking about war. there was no profound marrying of the two until after the Crimean war in England. each of whom assumed considerable prior knowledge in their reader. and become obscure in attempting to be scientific’. or with elementary geometrical works which tended ‘to treat their subject in too abstract a form. and the purely historical basis for his thought in this respect did not permit him to push his ideas very far forward. it was both unnecessary and unwise to drag the reader back to an age when armies were differently organized and equipped and methods much more primitive. in the face of copious modern records. to be plundered in search of illustrative effect rather than being examined and analysed for its . demonstrates that he saw the past essentially as a treasure house. Although Britain had both distinguished historians who narrated her past exploits— none more so than Sir William Napier—and thinkers who were prepared to exercise a limited talent for speculation about the essence of war. each of which illustrated a strategic principle. Jomini helped set the mould into which history was to be forced by the many writers and theorists he—and Clausewitz —influenced. by their precision and heavy illustration with diagrams. The question of whereabouts in history the best— that is. there was no pressing need for an intellectual superstructure of any great complexity in an army whose main task was self-evident: the suppression of the minor disturbances which broke out with such frequency across the Empire during the first half of the century. Essentially. ‘No kind of history’ he informed his readers. one for the theory of war and the other for history. Of the nineteen campaigns he selected to use as illustrations of the principles of war. Jomini was learnable) and became the staple fare of many military men during the century. the most reliable—material could be found was one which was to provoke profound disagreement later in the century. First.30 Hamley chose to teach with the aid of example.CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 27 a different direction. ‘so fascinates mankind as the history of wars’. history was pressed into service as the milch-cow from which to wring the secrets of military success. to find military treatises which. eleven were from the Napoleonic period. Hamley’s method of selecting representative operations. He sided with Clausewitz in believing that. Secondly. and the concurrent pressure for improvement in military education which produced the founding of the Staff College in 1858. and the remainder were of more recent provenance. Hamley’s opening sentence made it quite plain that history was at once to be pressed into service. Jomini’s work was adopted by the burgeoning machinery of military education (not least because it was distinguished by its clarity— unlike Clausewitz.
paragraph by paragraph.35 The issue of whether recent American history was of as much use as recent European history in studying the essence of war was another variant of the argument about what kind of history was best. though for different reasons. ‘Hamleyism’— the serving up of undiluted Hamley—was what got the best marks in the service academies. chiefly because the authorities controlling the Staff College entrance examination made such a fetish of it as to kill independent thought and judgement. Some attention was given to this at the time. These were first ordered by Cardwell in 1871. ‘should be studied page by page. ‘namely to ensure superiority. in the shape of annual full-scale manoeuvres. who argued that the campaigns of any age could illustrate the unchanging principle of war. chief amongst them Lonsdale Hale and F. line by line’. The German Official History of the war.R. French officers soon plunged into the study of their immediate past as the mea culpa of the old Imperial Army. most notably Jomini himself. however unreal. he urged. but also an attitude towards the use of history. In this. at the decisive point. His work was especially important because of the sway it exerted over orthodox military thought for many years after its publication. he was at one with Jomini. of course. and believed that the student should concentrate on studying the Great Captains of the past.W. and its influence reigned until the very final years of the nineteenth century. Those tempted to believe that any form of practice.33 There was. notably by Sir George Chesney.Donaldson. physical and numerical. in Theory and Practice of Peace Manouvres (1873) of the unreality of such diversions and of the role of history as a corrective— particularly since manoeuvres did not reveal the human element. who felt sheer temporal proximity to be of little importance.32 A number of British theorists. Scarcely had Hamley’s work been published than the brilliance of the Prussian campaigns of 1866 and 1870 focused attention on current events as offering the best guide to the secrets of waging successful war. This debate was never resolved. the annual Manoeuvre Acts were passed until 1875.F. Hale put forward what was in part a thesis about the role of history in strategic thought in arguing that only minute dissection of the battles of the Franco-Prussian war was worthwhile in the search for the secrets of military success.N.28 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES own sake. and largely irrelevant to the old continent. and indeed The Operations of War was expressly designed not so much to present Hamley’s own theories as those of others. though it was not until 1896 and the purchase by the War Office of part of Salisbury Plain that a permanent site existed and annual manoeuvres could become the norm. the more relevant it was.Henderson. argued forcefully that the more recent a war was. representing the ‘modernist school’ which looked for the surest means of distinguishing right from wrong. its adherents falling into one of two camps. sentence by sentence.’37 Alongside him stood G.31 It enshrined not only a concept of the principles of war. Chesney drew attention to the Prussian manoeuvres in .36 On the opposite side stood Captain J. moral. There also emerged a brand new alternative to history in any form.E. another example in the recent past which might have provided historical fodder—the American Civil War. Lonsdale Hale. was better than going back to the past were soon cautioned by Sir George Chesney. and again in 1882.Maude. felt the same overwhelming attraction for contemporary history. Led by Lewal.34 though all too often it was seen as reflecting an experience foreign to European social and political make-up.
‘there are only wars.R. but as accumulated military experience.’38 His successors. and no two of them are alike.42 The basis of his thought.41 In reaching for illustrations to help the modern soldier become more efficient. For Henderson. ascertaining the relative importance of the moral and the physical and deducing for himself the principles on which the generals acted. producing not only a number of studies of the American Civil War but even one of much more unorthodox hue—Red Indian Warfare (1891). contrasted strongly with early ideas of noting the chronological occurrence of events. that of today [Clausewitzian] with the relation of forces. ‘a theory shall be formed on facts and experience which the student may confidently use for general application. Hamley lay squarely in the tradition that immutable principles of war existed. not content with merely reading a lively narrative. The rules of strategy are few and simple’. led by G. that campaigns should be presented in terms of the underlying motive and by way of study of the commander’s reactions to events. Henderson cast his net wide. declaimed Spenser Wilkinson. and partly because his work suffered from the absence of a true consideration of the human element on warfare. But such knowledge will no more teach a man to lead an army like Napoleon than a knowledge of grammar will teach him to write like Gibbon. were either sceptical of the existence of such principles or doubtful of their value. from which a certain amount could be learned—though less than Hamely and his ilk had claimed for it. ‘They may be learned in a week. and give him a better opportunity to master his profession. had in their turn studied their distinguished predecessors. but working out every step of the operation with map and compass. Henderson considered the question of whether recent history yielded more fruitful results than the distant past less important than the study of the campaigns of the Great Captains—who. he must put himself in their place. tracing cause and effect.CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 29 1869 when.’39 The reaction against Hamleyism came partly because of its founder’s careless study of the sources available to him. Henderson.’40 History however still had its place. through inability to recognise the interaction of moral elements in real war. remarked Henderson. He was confident that. the ‘Great Captains’ were great because they understood the potency of moral force and took it into account in their planning. not as the repository of the ‘rules of the game’. He wished the student to test himself against the past: His study of the campaigns of his famous predecessors must be active not passive. They may be taught by familiar illustrations or by a dozen diagrams. investigating the reasons of each movement. he frequently reminded his readers. The strategy of this school [Jominian] deals with the relation of lines. because of the way he approached the question of whether or not there existed ‘principles of war’. the whole affair degenerated into ‘tactical nonsense’.F. However Henderson’s use of history was more flexible and less prescriptive. War was not so much a question . and that history could be used to demonstrate both their existence and their validity. There is no such thing as war in the abstract’. This was further reinforcement for the idea of the value of history. As a later writer put it. through a study of the past under his methods.
the present. to concentrate the superior force. Always mystify. Henderson’s approach to the use of history. it was because they had a full knowledge of the enemy’s character. Wilkinson.e. he believed in only two great principles. ‘From this starting point. that Napoleon advocated the study of the campaigns of the great commanders. Henderson was an adherent to the ‘Indirect Approach’: ‘Surprise’. and surprise the enemy. weaponry and manoeuvres. saw that war would be better understood if it was related to political and social movements as a whole.’ said Wilkinson. Henderson’s adherence to the idea of ‘rules of strategy’ thus extended only to the belief that the aim of strategy must always be the same. the historian would have the surest foundation on which to build his study of the past.’43 This was the value of the past. encouraging the reader to use inductive logic rather than forcing ‘lessons’ out of the past. if they ran risks. Never give up the pursuit so long as your men have the strength to follow… To move swiftly. It was for this reason. and so see that war in every age is the reflection of the general state of society and civilisation of the time in which it is carried on. on the battlefield. and secure all the fruits of victory is the secret of successful war. which went some way towards the ideal of letting it speak for itself. finding out the respective governments’ objectives and the ways in which the commanders in the field attempted to fulfil policy aims.’45 His findings were fewer in number and more widely applicable. as of understanding human nature. The Great Captains themselves aimed in every move they made to destroy the confidence of the enemy. by the weight of responsibility. we shall see something of the development and the nature of war. much as Clausewitz had approached it in the spirit of philosophical enquiry. The misuse made of history in attempting to show how to ‘win wars’ had been countered. he wrote. was carried to its furthest extreme by Spenser Wilkinson. he explained. bound and gagged by its master. by over-confidence. Unfortunately it was to be resuscitated by the two most eminent military theorists in Britain. might be gained a clue to what happened in a good many campaigns. To achieve this. by distrust and many other things. 2. rather than rendering it a mute captive.46 He approached war in a genuine spirit of historical enquiry.44 In many ways. By starting from the political situation. by patriotism. which struck heavily and directly at enemy morale: 1. .30 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES of numerical size. with the vantage point of wide intellectual horizons. by political interests. mislead. physical and moral. for ‘he found in these campaigns a complete study of human nature affected by discipline. i. ‘is the greatest of all foes. because his use of history had been more flexible and less deterministic than his predecessors. and by a comparision in that way of a sufficient number of campaigns. strike vigorously. who between them dominated the inter-war period. by stratagems surprise is made possible.
totally . To be right in the particulars demands detailed research into the primary materials —too tedious.CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 31 Both J. perhaps. because of his views on science. In their approach to the past. It has been claimed for him that he could achieve a ‘total insight’ into history without delving much into dusty files. had with the addition of powerful critical thought. and justifiably influential. waiting only like fossils to be uncovered. Fuller was fully capable of blithely ignoring the evidence of contemporary history if he felt like doing so. in small wars in primitive countries. But they were not the products of historical scholarship. Already at Staff College. And surely no historian worthy of the name would ever claim ‘total insight’ into any historical phenomenon. there was little to add. Believing in a law which governed past and future.49 As an historian. and because Field Service Regulations told him the principles of war were ‘neither numerous nor in themselves very abstruse’.Fuller and Basil Liddell Hart liked to present themselves as thinkers who. His belief that it was a science was based on the somewhat feeble grounds that it was built on facts. each was a ‘visionary of the future’. if wrong in certain particulars.47 Fuller’s approach to the past was defined by the belief that there was a science of war. they posed arm in arm with Clio. Practical as well as practising historians.48 From this came his ‘law of military development’. soldiers were more use than aeroplanes. Neither was an historian. it had been well said. too. looking forward to a better future in which wars could be won with less cost. which stated that armies must adapt to changes in their environment in order to remain fit for war. used history to do little more than authenticate strategic propositions.51 Both halves of this judgement justify the charge that Fuller debased history. albeit such a narrow one. they swung the pendulum back from Wilkinson to Hamley and Jomini.F. Fuller turned to history to find what he was looking for. and believing also that strategy was a pragmatic science based on a number of immutable principles to which. through their study of the past. with their feet upon the Muse’s prostrate body. As theories they were undeniably brilliant. In 1927 he wrote an article on ‘The Problems of Air Warfare’ in which he argued that. that it was governed by principles and laws. though it did not say what they were. Fuller was essentially a ‘plunderer’. Fortified by a pseudo-scientific determinism. rather. he wrote. He knew principles lay in the past. for they. and that they could be ascertained and studied. His view of history was ruthlessly utilitarian: ‘unless history can teach us how to look at the future’. for a man of Fuller’s impatient intellect? To be wrong in those particulars vitiates judgements about the general. once they had been defined.’50 Given that the past had a value. extrapolated the past into the future.C. formulated in Dragon’s Teeth (1932). and sure in the conviction that the one true value of history was its usefulness for the future. Fuller proceeded to put forward his theories of mechanised warfare. he believed it possible to predict events in war as surely as Darwin could when he grasped ‘the fundamental principles of life’. pen in hand. ‘the history of war is but a bloody romance. Indeed. his tendency to frame a priori hypotheses and then test them by applying them to the history of warfare had been remarked. an ability which made him generally illuminating. Darwinianism formed the basis for his ‘military science’. in the sense that Wilkinson was. Fuller’s historical method eschewed much in the way of primary research. They would be better depicted.
for the most part and by different means. Liddell Hart.53 In essence. It is difficult to determine whether. it did so in the last war and will do so in the next. They represent the last of a line of theorists on war who.’54 As a result. looked to the past to help him resolve the problems of the future. Yet in placing such a heavy weight on historical evidence to support their conclusions. He. in Lectures on F. or else did not give the muse much chance to speak for herself. be under-rated. Fuller used history as the vehicle by which to propagate ideas which were the product of observation of the present. though impelled to do so not by a scientific determinism so much as by an underlying humanitarian idealism which revolted at the slaughter of the First World War. Those ideas were of great value. like Fuller. it should be emphasised. Paradoxically. ‘is often more likely to arrive at historical truths than the pedantic burrower in documents. and much more obvious in his political life. The latest. or built upon the work of his predecessors by further example and extrapolation (his apparent debt to Henderson remains to be fully explored). in his study of history.32 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES ignoring the role played by airpower in the pursuit and final capture in February 1921 of the celebrated ‘Mad Mullah of Somaliland’. and made extensive use of private sources—a fact which reflected his journalistic interests.’52 In fact. Both Fuller and Liddell Hart contributed original ideas about tactics and strategy which were the product of fertile and able minds. Basil Liddell Hart. Liddell Hart tested a priori propositions. somewhat idiosyncratic. the undertone of contempt for democracy which is present in Fuller’s historical work. study of his thought. It was Fuller’s unshakeable certainty about the past which enabled him to make dogmatic assertions about the future. turned to history for a message. used history for preconceived ends. Certainly his approach to the raw material of the past shared many of the deficiencies of Fuller’s work. for themselves. In large part this is due to the changes that have happened to the discipline . too.S. and an often cursory acquaintance with the past. Polish survivors of the campaign of September 1939 would have found much to quarrel with in the proposition. to say the least. they did both themselves and history something of a disservice. Fuller’s noted contemporary and sparring-partner. admits that Liddell Hart had a cavalier way with evidence. ‘the creative imagination’ he informed Fuller.) He. (There is not. and should not. too. in Liddell Hart’s work. seeing the American Civil War as a confrontation of rival generals. whilst recognising that force would still be used in the future to resolve international disagreements. that ‘field warfare always begets siege warfare. he relied upon selective reading of secondary works. Others were considerably wide of the mark. shrewd guesses about the future. shared many of his antagonist’s assumptions. believed at bottom that history was made by great men. though it would be unwise to claim that it could ever negate the value of the other disciplines which have contributed so much to strategic studies in the past decades. He. Some of these. and using historical methods which were. put a higher premium on the somewhat nebulous quality of ‘vision’ than on the raw material on which it came to rest. too. the value of history in theorising about the nature of war may now be greater than ever it was. Quite how deeply acquainted he was with original sources remains unclear. III. were remarkably prescient. and that his approach to history was ‘intuitive and eclectic’. scrupulous.R.
differently. practitioners of the craft have been aware of the need to examine. when James Joll published his seminal study of ‘1914: The Unspoken Assumptions’. as Hugh Trevor Roper has recently reminded us. At any moment in time. Nor is this an isolated example. predecessor. For example. but did not happen. Secondly. The short-war illusion of 1914 and the long-war ‘illusion’ of the late 1930s are both examples of the ways in which the historian can demonstrate that linear development from the past into the future is often unreal. and given their due weight in explaining historical events. their influence unrecognised. historical phenomena which were previously taken for granted or else left unexamined. a given event could only be explained by explaining how people thought within a fixed frame of reference. and not why they did not think. cause and effect. ennabling him to ask —and to answer—different questions from his linear. brought out into the open. carry the cumbersome intellectual baggage of believing that the past can . to take only one other area of importance.CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 33 itself. can thus come to the aid of the contemporary strategic analyst. many historians saw their task as explaining what had happened. the historical framework in which history operated was thus limited. The adoption and adaption of social science methodology has produced new insights. and explain. A further development in history. First. The new explorers do not. In two ways.55 there is no iron law binding historians to the belief that what did happen had to happen. with impressive results. Since 1968. that what ‘ought’ to happen may not in fact occur. Another example of the potential use of history lies in the historian’s recent exploration of delusion: what was expected to happen. they reasoned out why it happened through cause and effect. is the widening of the historian’s frame of reference which has taken place. for the historian to deal with. the possibilities more varied. alliance politics and alliance strategy is now being given scholarly attention. and one of particular value in the study of war. so I’ll explain how’ approach. the explanations more comprehensive as a result of the lines of enquiry now being pursued. Until not very long ago. say. Historical analysis of the development and characteristics of ideology. as if that happening had been inevitable. new ways of looking at problems. The shared cultural and social assumptions of a particular age or group are now more clearly recognised.and therefore act. and even new problems. The historian who nowadays takes as his rule of thumb the maxim ‘anything can happen’ is likely to produce a more comprehensive and satisfying explanation of the past than a determinist ‘I know this happened. a number of different futures are possible according to the decisions men take and to the role of chance or luck. Source materials of every kind are now being plumbed to depths hitherto unknown. for the most part. That such historical study has now gained the academic respectability it deserves can only add to the worth of history. Taking a given event. of event and consequence. and of its influence on the development of military doctrine. awareness of ideology as an historical force has facilitated the closer analysis of military doctrine: couple the notion of strategic objectives (doctrine) with knowledge of the way in which a society works and the scenarios it regards as unthinkable (ideology). The patterns of the past have become richer and more complex. and new areas of study open up every day. and it is possible to produce a much more satisfying historical explanation of. the success of the Blitzkrieg in Russia than by means of the simple narrative of cause and effect.
9. p. nor do they start their search with the intention of seeking to prove a priori assumptions of a narrow and descriptive kind. 372. 12. 373.. 390–4. 329. On War. Venturi. I p. 21. II p. On War. Edward M. pp. Précis de l’art de guerre (Paris: 1838). 317. Armées et sociétés en Europe de 1494 à 1789 (Paris: 1976). pp. André Corvisier. 5. Aron. 12. 3. pp. Penser la guerre. p. Its findings are likely to be made more. criticisms of Clausewitz’s historical legacy. Franco Venturi. Edinburgh and London. 3. 137 et seq. p. 339. Ibid.Marder. 18. 1909). 70.. On the reception of Jomini’s ideas. For some harsh. I pp. Ibid. Edinburgh. 134. From the Dardanelles to Oran (Oxford: 1974). 70– 1. 9. Raymond Aron. 17. 2.. and that it is better equipped now than it has ever been to do its job—of explaining the past. 15. but not unjustified. Ibid.. NOTES 1. Carl von Clausewitz. 20. Ibid. 76. Précis. 170. 45. 14. The Army in Victorian Society (London: 1977).34 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES explain the future.. 185. see Michael Howard. Ibid. 150–4. pp. 26–7. pp. 375.Spiers. 21–36. Clausewitz (Paris: 1976). 433. The History of the Late War in Germany (London: 1781). The Operations of War Explained and Illustrated. ‘Le avventure del Generale Henry Lloyd’. in Journal of the Royal United Services Institution. p. G. p.J. p. p. Ibid. Brian Bond. 11. 1854–1914 (London: 1972). Brian Bond. 8. Paret. 51–77. Harries Jenkins. p. 70. edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: 1976). 24.van Creveld. 357. Aron. Ibid. 173. 26. . Ibid. March 1979. 26. 6. p. 29. p. p. p. Ibid. 32. A. 1866 (7th edition. 164. Clausewitz and the State (Oxford: 1976). ‘Jomini and the Classical Tradition in Military Thought’ in Studies in War and Peace (London: 1970). 593. I p. 13. 122. 16. 25.. see M. Ibid. 383–9. p. On War. pp. 7. 28. 14. 27. p. valuable by being founded on a distinct unwillingness to prescribe for tomorrow on the basis of yesterday. 81. p. The Army and Society 1815–1914 (London: 1980). What this amounts to is that history has advanced as a discipline. p. 19. p. pp. pp. 10. p. and not less. The Victorian Army and the Staff College. Rivista storica italiana XCI. 371.. p. 23. 30. Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton (Cambridge: 1977). Peter Paret.. 317. 1979. 4.. p. 22...
R. in J.R. 1980. ‘Boney’ Fuller. p. Jay Luvaas.S. p.R. United Services Magazine XLI. 34. 51.R.M. Wilkinson. in J. 42. 296–7. 1910.S. p. 44. 33. 11.D..CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 35 31. 1979.S.Henderson. 1866. J.S. ‘Strategy in a New Light’. 38. gives a good example of this phenomenon. The Influence of Continental Examples and Colonial Warfare upon the reform of the Late Victorian Army.Trythall. 33. The Military Legacy of the Civil War (Chicago: 1959).S.I. 1897.S.Atkinson. Reid. 157. Quo.). VII. pp.Fuller’s Theory of Mechanized Warfare’. 274. F.U. Ibid. 39. 45. Raoul Girardet. p. p. 55.U. p. 11 March 1928. ‘The Study of Military History by the Regimental Officers of the Army’. A. 82. J. xviii. 36. Barnett. p. 270.. ‘Strategy in a New Light—A Reply’. Brian Bond. p. Brian Holden Reid.Bailes. 1979. 49.R. Journal of the Royal United Services Institution XX. London. pp. Ibid.R.R. My italics. 46. ‘Boney’ Fuller. 52. 47. p. 43. 40. The Science of War (London: 1905). The Operations of War. Military History applied to Modern Warfare. 522. p. p. H. Liddell Hart to Fuller. Liddell Hart: A Study of his Military Thought (London: 1977). ‘Sherman’s Campaigns in Georgia’. 41. also ‘Boney’ Fuller. p. p.I. The Professional Study of Military History’. p. 181–3. IX.U. The Education of an Army (London: 1965). 50. 54. 500.. 174. 1876. G. J.H. Journal of Strategic Studies I. 38. 690 et seq. cit. pp. U. Times Literary Supplement. Hale p. ‘J. 52. ‘Boney’ Fuller.N. XL. 49. 31.U. 1910.F. I p.I. 35. Jay Luvaas. La société militaire dans la France contemporaine (Paris: 1953). Quo. 833–5. 178. pp. 53. 294. 308. Ph.T. 32. p.C. 48. p. 42. 1978.I. 720.U. 25 July 1980. 6. p. 57. ‘Boney’ Fuller: The Intellectual General (London: 1977). 37.Maude. pp. p. Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War (London: 1898). 105.J. 30. London 1907 (revised ed.F. Ibid. p. 27. C. ‘The Recent Campaigns in Virginia and Maryland’.I XLI. 136. . 1864. Trythall.
between now and the end of this century. But what exactly has been our strategic nuclear doctrine over the last thirty-five years? What have been the character. And the decisions made during the present period of transition will go an equally long way towards shaping the strategic environment in which we will have to live over the next twenty years. There are those who believe that it would be a dramatic and dangerous innovation for the United States to aim its strategic nuclear weapons at the military forces (particularly the strategic nuclear forces) of the Soviet Union. debate and uncertainty. much of what today passes for informed discussion is really no more than noisy disagreement over opposing misconceptions. inevitably produces turmoil. We sense that the concepts which have shaped our thinking are inadequate but we have no ready substitutes with which to replace them. A handful of mistaken notions tend to divide participants in the debate over nuclear strategy. Over the next five years there will be changes in our force posture and employment policy as significant as those which occurred almost twenty years ago under John Kennedy and Robert McNamara. structure and purpose of U. the United States has always relied almost exclusively on the threat of urban industrial devastation to deter aggression. Indeed. A change in policy is clearly essential. A change in policy would pose tremendous risks. a growing number of analysts. Not surprisingly. forces would be prepared to do little except execute massive nuclear attacks on Soviet cities. We feel the need to do something. especially when it is accompanied by a sense of urgency. . Opposing camps warn against continuing to adhere to or daring to depart from the strictures of past policy. Change.Friedberg* Introduction The United States has come to a conspicuous turning point in the evolution of its nuclear strategy. what targets to aim at and what treaties to negotiate is cast largely in historical terms.S. Strategic ‘Doctrine’— 1945 to 1980 Aaron L.S. On the other hand.A History of the U. it is argued. critics and observers claim that the United States has long lacked a strategy for the conduct of nuclear war. it is argued. the current debate over what weapons to buy. In the event of a major conflict. In the past. but we are not at all sure what we should do. plans for nuclear war and how have those plans evolved? Because the answers to these questions are so hard to find the debate over future policy has become unnecessarily confused. U.S.
38 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
These two contentions really form the opposite sides of a single pervasive myth—that the United States has, does and should (or should not, depending on one’s view) adhere to the ‘doctrine of mutually assured destruction’.1 Over the years this myth has been perpetuated in a number of ways. In the writings of some highly regarded civilian analysts, descriptions of perceived reality have often been misinterpreted as prescriptions for planning and policy.2 The statements of senior government officials with budgets to balance and axes to grind have sometimes encouraged the belief that U.S. war plans called exclusively for attacks on Soviet cities.3 More recently, interested parties on both sides of an increasingly heated debate have often found it useful to defend or attack mythical past policies in order to resist certain military programs or to support calls for sweeping changes in strategy.4 At a somewhat deeper level, widespread belief in the myth of the doctrine of mutually assured destruction is symptomatic of several historical and conceptual confusions. For obvious reasons, detailed information about nuclear war plans is not readily available. Nevertheless, a good deal of authoritative commentary on the subject has appeared over the years. As declassification procedures go into effect it will become easier to review actual planning documents. Indeed, this process has already begun.5 Using a variety of sources it should be possible to piece together a reasonably accurate, coherent picture of the evolution of official U.S. nuclear war planning. In the process, it should not be difficult to dispense with the two subsidiary myths mentioned above—that the U.S. has always avoided targeting Soviet military forces and that we have lacked a strategy for the conduct of nuclear war. The construction of a brief historical overview is the principal purpose of this essay. Lack of information is a problem but it is not the only one. Even if it were possible to agree on facts, it might be extremely difficult to determine the level of analysis at which they should be interpreted. Thus, even if it can be proven that U.S. nuclear war plans and American strategic doctrine as a whole have not been governed by the dictates of an assured destruction philosophy, it could be argued that the world, in some larger sense, is still governed by those laws. In other words, even if U.S. war plans reveal a strong, traditional countermilitary tendency it may still be the case that the threat of urban industrial damage is the ultimate deterrent to war. I will have more to say about this question at the close of this chapter. Finally, it seems clear that in the strategic debate, as in so many other areas, confusion is encouraged (and deeper disagreements concealed) by imprecision in language. In particular, the word ‘doctrine’ is often used loosely and incorrectly. Fritz Ermarth has suggested that strategic doctrine be defined as ‘a set of operative beliefs, values, and assertions that in a significant way guide official behavior with respect to strategic research and development (R & D), weapons choice, forces, operational
*Aaron L.Friedberg is a doctoral candidate in government at Harvard University and a consultant to R & D Associates. Over the past year he has served as a consultant to the National Security Council and to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The views expressed here are his own. The author wishes to thank Mr. Kurt Guthe for his advice and assistance.
A HISTORY OF THE U.S. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 39
plans, arms control, etc.’6 If this is a good definition and if, over the last thirty-five years, the United States has truly adopted a ‘doctrine’ of mutually assured destruction an observer should expect to see evidence of adherence to an identifiable set of principles across a broad range of activities. Specifically, an astute analyst would expect to find a ‘strategy’ which called only for massive retaliatory nuclear strikes against enemy cities, a force posture capable of executing such attacks but suitable for little else, a selection of weapons and an R & D process which reflected a complete lack of interest in defensive systems or offensive forces intended for countermilitary missions, and arms control and declaratory policies which stressed stability, equality and the importance of mutual vulnerability. So much for theoretical prediction. Reality, of course, is rather different. Some of the things listed above are visible today, others are not. And some have been in evidence at various times but not at others.7 All this is an elaborate way of making a rather simple point. The United States has never adhered to a doctrine of mutually assured destruction. Indeed, by any reasonable definition of the word, the U.S. has never had a strategic nuclear doctrine. Or, perhaps more precisely, the United States has had a strategic doctrine in the same way that a schizophrenic has a personality. Instead of a single integrated and integrating set of ideas, values and beliefs we have had a complex and sometimes contradictory mélange of notions, principles and policies. At the risk of oversimplifying, it seems clear that U.S. strategic doctrine, such as it is, has always contained two different strands. One is ‘assured destructionist’ in coloration and emphasizes the importance of the countervalue deterrent, the dangers of regarding nuclear forces as ordinary weapons of war, the risks of threatening the enemy’s nuclear capabilities, the value of stability and the necessity for indices of ‘sufficiency’. The other strand is more traditional, arising as it does from some universal and time-honored principles of military action. It focuses on war outcomes, on the importance of preparing to achieve sensible objectives should deterrence fail and therefore on the necessity for defeating the enemy by denying him his objectives and destroying his willingness and ability to wage war.8 At times these two sets of ideas have come into open conflict. In certain areas one strain or the other has clearly been dominant. But often they have simply co-existed with one another. The purpose of this essay is threefold. First, to recount the history of U.S. planning for intercontinental nuclear war between 1945 and the present. Second, to disprove two popular misconceptions about American nuclear targeting and strategy. And finally, by demonstrating the strong and persistent presence of a traditional military element in official thinking and planning, to discount the myth that the United States has ever adhered to a ‘doctrine’ of mutually assured destruction. Current policy problems will not be extensively discussed. Nevertheless, it seems clear that a better understanding of the past can only improve our chances of acting wisely in the present. At the very least, exposing some old, widely accepted ideas to new scrutiny may help to improve the quality of debate on a number of very important issues.
40 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
Targeting 1. EARLY YEARS 1945–1950 The closest the United States has ever come to avoiding attacks on Soviet military installations was in the five years immediately following the close of the Second World War. During this period the American nuclear arsenal was extremely small—no more than a handful of atomic bombs were available, along with an equally small number of suitably equipped aircraft.9 Specially trained personnel were also scarce—in early 1947 the Strategic Air Command (SAC) had twenty trained air crews and only six weapons assembly specialists.10 Until 1949 the Soviets did not have nuclear weapons. Their military power was ‘conventional’—massive ground armies which remained largely intact after the United States had begun to disband its forces. The strategic bombing experience of the Second World War encouraged western experts to believe that air power could be used most effectively to attack a conventionally armed opponent’s war-supporting industrial base. The tremendous power of atomic weapons, demonstrated so effectively at the end of the war, reinforced this notion. In the words of a high-level Air Force report written in the fall of 1945 ‘[the atomic bomb] is primarily an offensive weapon for use against large urban and industrial targets.’11 Thus shortages and an absence of extremely ‘time-urgent’ targets (such as Soviet nuclear weapons storage sites and delivery vehicles) combined with prevailing ideas about the utility of air power to shape early war plans. Cities were targeted because it was believed they could be found and hit from the air, because their destruction was thought the best way to weaken Soviet military might and because no other logical target set existed. 2. EXPANDING TARGET LISTS 1950–1960 By the early fifties the situation had begun to change. The collapse of Nationalist China, the outbreak of war in Korea and the worsening of relations with the USSR seemed to increase the danger of a land war on the Eurasian periphery. Meanwhile, for the first time Soviet nuclear weapons tests raised the possibility of atomic attacks on the continental United States. American planners began to become more actively concerned with the problems of defending Western Europe from a Russian invasion and preparing to disable Soviet longrange nuclear air power. As a result, the existing target lists were expanded and subdivided. Three general categories of target were identified. According to Henry Rowen, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and one time President of the RAND Corporation The designated ground zeros were almost entirely (1) industrial facilities; (2) ‘retardation’ targets, e.g. transportation links whose destruction was intended to slow the westward movement of Soviet forces; and (3)
13 As the decade progressed both the U. while it now clearly existed. During this period a debate over targeting policy began within the Air Force.19 Despite its obvious attractions. as was widely assumed. Soviet military installations of all types were extensively targeted during these years. This would be particularly true if.’18 In theory. in the words of General Curtis LeMay. command control and communications systems and supply lines. Ex-Secretary of the Air Force Thomas K. nuclear and thus relatively brief. was still quite small. the idea of ‘pure counterforce’ or ‘counterforce/no cities’ targeting failed to catch on within the Air Force.Twining declared.17 In February of the same year General Nathan F. the bases of the small and concentrated Soviet long-range air force. that growing Soviet nuclear power required the United States to ‘…go back to the rulebook and the principles of war and fight the air battle first. Avoiding unnecessary civilian casualties had considerable moral appeal. Soviet nuclear installations undoubtedly began to make up a larger portion of the existing target lists. In the mid-fifties the initial flights of the U-2 produced an increase in the quantity and quality of the target intelligence available to American military planners.’16 In 1954 and 1955 a number of proposals for a shift to pure counterforce targeting began to appear. a declared U. intention to forego attacks on cities might encourage the Soviets to practice similar restraint. in the period 1954 to 1956 these were simply not available.20 . STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 41 counterforce targets. One group argued that. represented a lesser effort than the industrial/urban target system. The principal reasons for this lack of enthusiasm seem to have been the operational and technical problems which such a change in plans would have created. ‘We can now aim directly to disarm an enemy rather than to destroy him as was so often necessary in wars of the past.S. In the words of one expert: the counterforce target system.A HISTORY OF THE U. The lack of urgency about counterforce targets may possibly be inferred from the fact that the Joint Chiefs did not agree on an approved counterforce target list until 1953.S. And. and Soviet nuclear arsenals increased in size. Air Force certainly wanted more planes and better target information. while the U. accurate and virtually simultaneous raids on all elements of the budding Soviet nuclear forces would have been required to guarantee the success of a pure counterforce strategy. as General Hoyt S. In addition.S. Nevertheless. ‘the proper role of air forces is to destroy the enemy’s industrial potential. Massive. which means that we must as quickly as possible destroy their capability of doing damage to us.14 As a result.Vandenberg told a Senate sub-committee in June 1953. a future war turned out to be unrestrained.’15 The other maintained. concentrating on promptly destroying Soviet forces-in-being offered the best means of achieving victory.’12 The counterforce target set.S. Finletter wrote in 1954 that ‘the old counter-industry concept…should be given up’ in favor of plans emphasizing attacks on enemy nuclear and conventional forces. although a top priority.
not his civilian population. industrial and government control targets’ was designated for destruction in a single. massive attack. options were developed that differentiated more clearly between attacks against military targets and against cities. including the Navy’s new submarines. was a secure force capable of destroying a finite number of Soviet cities (perhaps as many as 200). THE FIRST SIOP. plans for all-out nuclear war. nuclear forces. additional forces directed at military installations represented wasteful ‘overkill’ and could be eliminated. the Air Force asserted that it should be given tighter operational control over all U. THE SIOP REVISED 1961–1974 In 1961 work on revising the first SIOP was begun. 1960–1961 By the end of the fifties another debate over targeting had broken out. calling the policy of ‘finite deterrence’ a ‘bluff strategy’ which did not ‘include the capability for military victory’.S. With its Polaris ballistic missile submarine about to be deployed.21 According to Navy spokesmen. this one between the Air Force and the other services.23 An ‘optimum mix’ of ‘high priority military.42 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 3. primarily the Navy.22 Moreover. The principal purpose of this effort was to introduce some measure of flexibility into U. in Henry Rowen’s words.28 .S. The Air Force counterattacked.25 To this end. In his often quoted Ann Arbor speech of June 1962 the Secretary of Defense said: principal military objectives. It also provided options for withholding attack by country and for withholding direct attack on cities.26 The new SIOP: distinguished more clearly among…three task…attack on (1) nuclear threat targets (2) other military forces and (3) urban-industrial targets. Basic U. should be the destruction of the enemy’s military forces. All that was required to deter the USSR from attacking the United States. it was claimed.S. some Navy officers began to argue that SAC had in effect outlived its usefulness.27 The targeting of military installations thus continued under McNamara. draw up a National Strategic Target List (NSTL) and prepare a Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) for the conduct of nuclear war. A Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff (JSTPS) was formed to facilitate inter-service cooperation. A study completed in late 1959 resolved these issues.24 4. in the event of a nuclear war stemming from a major attack on the Alliance.
detailed set . he confirms the hints about the relative composition of actual nuclear war plans contained in the statement about target priorities cited above. ‘A major mission of the strategic retaliatory forces is to deter war by their capability to destroy the enemy’s war-making capabilities.32 (emphasis in the original) It would appear then that McNamara’s early thoughts on the utility of targeting Soviet military forces continued to be reflected in actual war plans for some time after official talk of counterforce attacks had virtually ceased. Military installations were still targeted. however. Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger. TARGETING OPTIONS 1974 TO THE PRESENT The changes in planning introduced in 1974 do not seem to have significantly altered the proportional makeup of U. Now. and then to nuclear threat and other military forces. the war plans provide the National Command Authorities…with a well thought-out.S. our war plans have always included military targets…[I]f deterrence fails. Presumably the most time urgent targets would be military forces.35 5. to the urban-industrial targets. in fact the targeting of military facilities continued throughout the sixties and into the seventies.34 Moreover.’31 But he goes on to explain: A high ‘priority’ in this context means ‘most important’. It does not mean first in time. the priority in the assignment of weapons was first. ‘Most of our planned targets’ he says ‘were military forces’.A HISTORY OF THE U. Desmond Ball in his monograph Déja Vu: The Return to Counterforce in the Nixon Administration quotes an unnamed former Assistant Secretary of Defense writing in 1971 ‘The SIOP remains essentially unchanged since then [McNamara’s Ann Arbor speech of 16 June 1962]’. relatively small portions of the existing target lists —Zincluding military and non-military targets—could be attacked without unleashing a full-scale nuclear assault.30 Henry Rowen notes that. The assignment of weapons to a growing target list went on in accordance with the political direction established in the early 1960s.’29 Despite subsequent shifts in declaratory policy which encouraged the belief that only urban areas would be hit in an all-out war. in his annual report for FY 1975 explained the new policy: [I]n addition to retaliatory targeting against urban and industrial centers. ‘From 1960 to 1974. the nuclear planning process experienced no important change from the early 1960s until 1974. Highest priority also does not mean that the greatest weight of effort would have to be allocated against urban-industrial targets. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 43 McNamara reiterated this view in his FY 1963 budget statement in which he argued. war plans. especially nuclear threat ones.S. rather that the confidence of being able to destroy these targets should be high.33 Rowen confirms this view saying.
but on a second-strike could suppress his withheld missiles and recycling bombers. command bunkers and radar installations. We already have a long list of such possible targets. for example—could be used to reload and recycle offensive forces. Rumsfeld asserted. between the end of World War II and the first years of the fifties.44 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES of options. and nuclear weapons storage sites. we now want to provide the President with a wider set of much more selective targeting options. (Although the targeting of urban industrial areas during this period was intended to have an immediate effect on the war on the ground.’40 To summarize briefly. Rather than massive options. the United States did not explicitly target Soviet military installations with its nuclear forces.’39 Brown argues further that enemy general purpose forces ‘can and should be targeted’ along with ‘the command-control. ‘Contrary to popular view’.) From the early sixties to the present Soviet military forces. not only because some of the launch vehicles might have aborted or have been withheld. but also airfields. and a variety of other important assets not necessarily collocated with urban populations. and especially their ‘nuclear threat’ forces have apparently made up a majority of the designated targets against which American strategic nuclear weapons would be used in the event of war. command bunkers. many other types of military installations. war reserve stocks. There is no reason to believe that military targets of all sorts have declined in perceived significance over the last five years. including hardened Soviet ICBM silos.’38 More recently. He argued further that the United States should not ‘rule out coverage of some enemy silos. ‘Attacks on these targets’ Brown maintains ‘would not disarm an enemy in a first-strike (because of his survivable non-ICBM forces). most of those options—whether the principal targets were cities. In the past. they would seem to have increased in importance.36 Schlesinger went on to say [T]argets for nuclear weapons may include not only cities and silos. or submarine bases on a second strike’. . and lines of communication necessary to the conduct of theater campaigns. but also because some of the launch points—bomber bases and certain ICBM silos. industrial facilities. airfields. is reflected in the public statements of high Defense Department officials from 1974 to the present. Secretary of Defence Harold Brown has made similar arguments for retaining the capability to destroy at least some ‘hard targets’— missile silos. In January 1976 Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld stressed the value of targeting enemy submarine pens.37 A persistent interest in targeting military installations. If anything. now we are grouping them into operational plans which would be more responsive to the range of challenges that might face us. ‘many of these targets would remain of interest after an enemy had struck. or military installations—have involved relatively massive responses.
Over the past twenty years numerous civilian analysts. From 1974 to 1977 official U.S. it is important to remember that the question of what to do if deterrence fails has received a great deal of attention for a very long time. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 45 Strategy It has become popular for critics of present American strategic policy to claim that the United States is not ‘serious’ about the problem of nuclear war. has always had a nuclear strategy (a set of objectives. forces have long been prepared to do a good deal more than simply destroy large civilian targets. U. Between 1950 and 1960 American war plans called for simultaneous attacks on Soviet bloc economic and military targets. The statement that the United States has never had a strategy for nuclear war is demonstrably false. the effectiveness of atomic bombardment —all were topics of .A HISTORY OF THE U. Some signs of change are already becoming apparent. the history of the last thirty-five years can usefully be divided into five distinct periods. For purposes of discussion. ‘CITY BUSTING’ 1945–1950 Strategic planning in the immediate post-war period was marked by confusion and disagreement.41 In its cruder form this criticism is usually directed at the ‘assured destruction’ reasoning which is assumed to inform U. however. senseless and dangerous. and an accompanying plan containing detailed target and employment requirements). would leave the President no choice but to acquiesce to Soviet demands or unleash massive nuclear attacks on Soviet cities. 1.S. in the event of war. During the period 1962 to 1974 the United States adhered to a strategy of ‘second-strike counterforce’. politicians and military men (some of them in a position to know better) have bewailed the inadequacy of a policy which. while the U. crudely defined.S. The likely character of a future war.S. some strategies have probably been ‘better’ than others. Suggesting that a little concentrated thought will ‘solve’ the problem of nuclear war or produce a plausible ‘theory of victory’ is both arrogant and misleading. In other words. War plans must be directed at achieving some realistic political and military objectives or they will be empty. policy called for escalation control through limited strategic operations and attacks on enemy recovery resources if a war escalated out of control. Attacks on Soviet military installations were stressed with strikes against economic targets to be held in reserve. In fact. To say that target lists have sometimes received a great deal more attention than war aims or to point out that existing forces have at times been inadequate to the tasks set them is to come closer to the truth. target lists do not by themselves make a strategy. however. From 1945 to 1950 U. Over the past three years American nuclear strategy has been undergoing a re-examination. plans for the conduct of strategic nuclear war. as our brief discussion of targeting should suggest. As the more sophisticated critics point out.S. the importance of air power in prosecuting such a conflict. planning for the conduct of nuclear war emphasized the prompt destruction of enemy urban-industrial areas. Nevertheless.S.
In any case it reflects the central strategic idea of the period—that the Soviet Union could be defeated if its war-supporting industrial base could be shattered. As one observer notes— the nuclear planning task was seen as an extension of strategic bombing in World War II… It was principally the destruction of critical war supporting industries in order to affect Soviet battlefield operations.45 Although this particular document was not subsequently approved it appears to have been more or less typical of the increasingly realistic war plans which began to emerge at around this time. petroleum. The Air Force portion of this plan called for the delivery of fifty atomic bombs against twenty Soviet cities with the intention of causing the ‘immediate paralysis of at least 50 per cent of Soviet industry’.47 Others in the defense establishment were less sanguine. in the event of war. transportation and electric power targets in 70 cities) ‘could well lead to Soviet capitulation and in any event would destroy their overall capability for offensive operations’.46 At the end of the year Air Force Chief of Staff Hoyt S. the shortages of weapons and delivery vehicles already cited rendered the early musings of the various military planning groups completely unrealistic.42 Essentially. THE MULTI-LAYERED THREAT 1950–1960 The Air Force grew steadily more confident of its ability to knock Russia out in a future war with what General Curtis LeMay described in late 1948 as ‘a single massive attack’. American military planners were looking for ways to defeat superior Soviet ground forces as quickly as possible.44 Such operations might continue for some time. 2. government control. during the late forties ‘both the air staff and joint planners continued work on a whole series of so-called war plans whose only long-range significance would be to provide historians the problem of trying to sort them out…’ It was not until 1948–49 that plans would emerge which. As David MacIsaac has noted. In mid-1949. Vandenberg predicted that execution of the then-current war plan (which called for delivery of 133 bombs against urban industrial. but it was hoped that massed atomic air attacks would quickly destroy the Soviet Union’s willingness and ability to wage war. The best way to do this seemed to be to hit at those cities which contained the heart of the Russian war machine. in MacIsaac’s words.46 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES considerable and unresolvable debate. ‘would make any serious effort to make strategy conform to actual capabilities’. In May 1948 the Joint Chiefs of Staffs (JCS) ordered the Joint Emergency War Plan HALFMOON circulated for planning purposes. Meanwhile American and allied ground and naval forces would conduct ‘a main offensive effort in Western Eurasia and a strategic defensive in the Far East’. At the same time. the longer term ability of its economy to support combat and its will to continue the conflict. the largest atomic air offensive feasible was to be unleashed against the USSR in the shortest possible period of time. at the request of Secretary of Defense Forrestal the so-called ‘Harmon Committee’ evaluated the impact of .43 Thus.
the Navy’s carrier based fighter bombers and a growing number of nuclear-capable aircraft assigned to the European theater—were to carry out strikes against the full spectrum of targets within the Soviet bloc. It was assumed that a massive multi-layered atomic air attack would prevent the Soviets from using their own steadily growing nuclear capability. government control. While ground and naval forces would undoubtedly participate in combat. More importantly from an immediate military standpoint ‘the capability of Soviet armed forces to advance rapidly into selected areas of Western Europe.48 The committee. the Middle East and the Far East would not be seriously impaired’.51 . Nor is it apparent what connection was assumed to exist between nuclear air and subsequent ground and naval operations. with aerially delivered nuclear weapons. according to one observer. slow or stop the Red Army’s advance into Europe. By the early fifties the target lists had been expanded to include ‘retardation’ and counterforce (or ‘nuclear threat’) installations in addition to the urban industrial sites already targeted. From this point until the end of the decade.50 It subsequently found its way into the first SIOP which. the image of a ‘spasm war’ seems to have dominated the planning process. The dominant concept of these years was embodied in ‘the strategy of the optimum mix’ spelled out in planning papers prepared during 1959–60. If war came (probably as the result of Soviet aggression in Europe) U. In the words of the report however. Warsupporting industrial. By the end of the fifties. navy and air force officers. The committee concluded that planned air attacks alone would not ‘destroy the roots of Communism. however. nuclear equipped forces—the long-range bombers of SAC. industrial losses ‘would not be permanent and could either be alleviated by Soviet recuperative action or augmented depending on the weighted effectiveness of follow-up attacks’. nuclear threat and retardation targets were all to be hit simultaneously. an ad hoc group of army. or critically weaken the power of Soviet leadership to dominate the people’. The extent to which the nuclear air efforts of the various services would have been coordinated is unclear. These changes reflected the growing belief that nuclear forces would have to be used for immediate counter-military purposes if an attack on Europe were to be halted and a Soviet long-range atomic air offensive prevented. the basic American strategy for nuclear war remained unchanged. ‘contained only one plan under which the United States would launch all its strategic nuclear delivery vehicles immediately upon the initiation of nuclear war with the Soviet Union’. fears about Soviet intentions in Europe and the emergence of a Soviet nuclear threat combined to produce a shift in the U.S. Doubts over the prevailing Air Force strategic concept. and won quickly. as debates over targeting swirled in and around the military.49 In short. strategy for nuclear war. estimated that the projected attack on seventy Soviet cities would produce a 30 to 40 per cent reduction in Soviet industrial capacity and as many as 2. War would be fast-paced and it was assumed that the early stages of any all-out struggle would probably prove decisive.7 million fatalities and 4 million casualties.A HISTORY OF THE U. a strategic air offensive against urban industrial targets could not guarantee ‘victory’ no matter how that crucial word might be defined. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 47 an atomic air offensive against the Soviet Union. the war would be won.S. destroy the Russian economy and drain the Soviet state of its willingness to wage war.S.
our forces can be used in several different ways. They argued that in its preparations for nuclear war the United States was committing itself to unnecessarily large and destructive attacks. Worst of all. we may be able to use our retaliatory forces to limit damage done to ourselves and our allies. Or. our large .55 McNamara went on to assert that With this protected command and control system. initial work on revising existing plans was completed by late summer. In February McNamara stressed the importance of forces capable of surviving an enemy surprise attack. the revised SIOP grouped targets into three clusters—nuclear threat. was the maintenance of the ‘machinery for the command and control of our forces which is itself able to survive an attack and to apply the surviving forces in consonance with national security objectives’.53 Attacks which differentiated among the three target categories were now feasible and special preparations were made for withholding altogether strikes against cities.54 But what was the strategic purpose behind this change in war plans? What image of a nuclear war did the planners hold? And how did they believe it would be possible for the United States to achieve something resembling victory in such a war? The answers to these questions were provided most clearly by McNamara himself in a series of speeches delivered during the course of 1962. strategy for the next twelve years.52 These alterations in the war plans were to shape U. In early 1961 a review of the SIOP was begun. SECOND STRIKE COUNTERFORCE 1962–1974 1) Initial Changes The election of John Kennedy in the fall of 1960 brought to power a group of men who had little or no vested interest in the policies of the previous fifteen years. Many of Secretary of Defense McNamara’s aides and advisors came from RAND where they had been instrumental in developing (and urging the Air Force to adopt) counterforce ‘nocities’ targeting strategies. We may have to retaliate with a single massive attack. The execution of such attacks might not completely disable a growing Soviet nuclear force and a demonstrable lack of interest in anything short of all-out strikes would certainly do nothing to encourage Russian restraint in the event of war. These men believed that existing plans for the use of nuclear weapons were too massive and too inflexible. by knocking out the enemy’s bases before he has had time to launch his second salvos. the very size of the American nuclear threat might render it incredible thus encouraging certain forms of limited aggression. According to Desmond Ball. We may seek to terminate a war on favorable terms by using our forces as a bargaining weapon—by threatening further attack. As we have already seen. Equally important. other military and urban-industrial.S. In any case.48 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 3. said the Secretary. the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave their approval at the end of the year and the proposed changes were adopted in January 1962.
thereby codifying first-strike ideas that had inevitably been present in some form or other in the thinking of both military and civilian leaders. In the words of one author: The changes [in the SIOP] provided some pre-emptive counterforce options as part of graduated options.S.S. Congressional ‘hawks’ attacked the no-cities doctrine as weak and denounced its creators for lacking resolve. strategy drew a mixed reaction from the European members of NATO.S. ‘Doves’ worried that the new policy made it more likely that the United States would strike first with nuclear weapons. reaffirming their intention to strike simultaneously at all American civilian and military targets as soon as general hostilities began. Such an attack would most likely have been carried out in support of NATO forces in Europe. Some felt that McNamara’s statements were designed to dissuade them from acquiring their own nuclear capabilities.58 b) The Shift Towards ‘Assured Destruction’ Almost as soon as it was announced.S. Finally. not…his civilian population’. If the Soviets could not hope to destroy American forces in a surprise attack there seemed little likelihood that they would ever use nuclear weapons against the United States. The emphasis in the thinking of high civilian officials and certainly in their public statements was on survivable ‘second-strike’ forces. Soviet spokesmen denied the possibility that a nuclear conflict could be kept controlled.S. the strategy of second strike counterforce began to come under heavy criticism from a number of different directions. sufficient reserve striking power to destroy an enemy society if driven to it’. first strike against Soviet forces.56 These points were reiterated in the Ann Arbor speech. Strikes against cities would bring a devastating response. the U. war plans was thus clear and direct.S. Residual U. objective would have been to strip away Soviet strategic nuclear power while minimizing civilian casualties and holding Russian cities hostage.57 The reasoning behind U.S. forces and options would.S. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 49 reserve of protected firepower would give an enemy an incentive to avoid our cities and to stop a war. But. forces would have been used to extract a satisfactory political settlement from the Soviet leadership. In the event of war the primary U. even in the face of a massive surprise attack. give ‘a possible opponent the strongest imaginable incentive to refrain from striking our own cities’. would ‘retain. the announced changes in U. This structuring of U. Ineffective attacks on U. forces would diminish the size of the Soviet arsenal and invite a counterforce second strike without severely weakening American nuclear might.S. in McNamara’s words. If forced into a war the United States would seek to destroy ‘the enemy’s military forces. Others feared that anything less than the threat of . there appears to have been some thought given to the possibility of a pre-emptive U. Despite the clear emphasis on retaliation. if necessary.A HISTORY OF THE U.
61 In response to the perceived ‘missile gap’ of 1960–61 the new Administration had unleashed a surge of spending on strategic systems. policy however.S. Beginning in early 1963 the emphasis in McNamara’s public statements began to shift away from problems of strategy and towards issues of force sizing. strategic arsenal.50 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES an all-out response would encourage Soviet aggression.60 Ball writes that by late 1962. And they had to find a way of using those force measurements to restrain service demands for further increases in spending on strategic forces. were using his declared policy of no-cities counterforce as a basis for requesting virtually open-ended strategic weapon programs— both more Minuteman missiles and procurements of a force of supersonic reconnaissance-strike (RS-70) bombers. it was clear to McNamara that the Services. throughout the period under consideration. we have provided. were the increasingly apparent bureaucratic and budgetary consequences of a second strike counterforce strategy. Now the President and his Secretary of Defense wanted to control defense spending and channel a greater portion of the available dollars into conventional or non-nuclear forces. McNamara repeated his assertion that the United States should have a secure second strike force able to 1) Strike back decisively at the entire Soviet target system simultaneously or 2) Strike back first at the Soviet bomber bases. a capability to destroy virtually all of the ‘soft’ and ‘semihard’ military targets in the Soviet Union and a large number of their fully hardened missile sites.63 .59 All these criticisms undoubtedly had some impact on McNamara’s thinking.S. More important in changing the direction of U.62 The Secretary went on to point out that In planning our second strike force. missile sites and other military installations associated with their long-range nuclear forces to reduce the power of any follow-on attack—and then if necessary. In the Defense Program for fiscal years 1964 through 1968. SAC and the JSTPS had been skeptical of the move towards restrained attack planning but the Air Force quickly saw an opportunity to increase its portion of the overall defense budget. To do this they had to devise some means of measuring the adequacy of the U. and particularly the Air Force. with an additional capability in the form of a protected force to be employed or held in reserve for use against urban and industrial areas. strike back at the Soviet urban and industrial complex in a controlled and deliberate way. Still others were concerned that a limited ‘strategic’ war between Russia and the United States would leave the superpowers unscathed while ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons laid waste to Europe.
Thus the requirements of the assured destruction mission provided Defense Department planners with a useful force sizing index. one-quarter to one third of its population and about two thirds of its industrial capacity would mean the elimination of the aggressor as a major power for many years’. even after absorbing a surprise first strike.A HISTORY OF THE U. ‘assured destruction’ was the more important. say. Unlike ‘assured destruction’.S.66 This McNamara termed the ‘assured destruction’ mission. identifiable system of targets would have to be hit in order to do this level of damage. He noted the continuing (although at this point still quite slow) growth of Soviet strategic forces: A very large increase in the number of fully hardened Soviet ICBMs and nuclearpowered ballistic missile launching submarines would considerably detract from our ability to destroy completely the Soviet strategic nuclear forces. interlocking offensive and defensive measures.68 A finite. The first was To deter deliberate nuclear attack upon the United States and its allies by maintaining a highly reliable ability to inflict an unacceptable degree of damage upon any single aggressor. protective measures the incremental costs of maintaining a given level of damage limiting capacity would grow steadily.64 Even if the United States had the offensive capability necessary to bring the majority of an expanded Soviet arsenal under attack …such a [U.S.] force would also have to be accompanied by an extensive missile defense program and a much more elaborate civil defense program than has thus far been contemplated. or combination of aggressors. But.65 In 1964 McNamara differentiated between the two missions which he said the strategic forces program. however.S. the . as the Russians took steps to offset U. Once an adequate capability had been acquired for the assured destruction mission additional forces would have to be justified in terms of their contribution to damage limitation. ‘comprising the offensive and defensive forces and civil defense’ were designed to perform. as McNamara hastened to point out. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 51 For the first time. Moreover. damage to the United States could only be limited through the successful application of a series of costly. McNamara began to raise questions about the future utility of a strategy which relied on large-scale counterforce attacks.S. The effectiveness of these measures seemed likely to decline as Soviet forces became larger and more capable. forces ‘In the event…[of] war…to limit damage to our population and industrial capacity. The Secretary suggested that ‘the destruction of. The second aggregate capability or mission (dubbed ‘damage limitation’ by McNamara) called for U. Even then we could not preclude casualties counted in the tens of millions.’67 In early 1965 McNamara repeated this division and went on to stress that of the two missions.
McNamara reasoned ‘surely it makes sense for us both to try to halt the momentum of the arms race which is causing vast expenditures on both sides and promises no increase in security’.S. At the beginning of Kennedy’s term McNamara and his aides spoke of second strike counterforce and reserve retaliatory forces.76 It is clear that between 1963 and 1968 the public statements of high Defense Department officials underwent a significant change.75 Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union could hope to limit damage to itself whether through the use of offensive or defensive means. not our ability to partially limit damage to ourselves. By the end of Johnson’s term civilian officials concentrated almost exclusively on . i.52 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES concept of ‘damage limitation’ was open-ended. In a statement accompanying the Fiscal Year 1968–72 Defense Program and the 1968 Defense Budget the Secretary said: Damage limiting programs.71 Similarly. ‘Under these circumstances’. can never substitute for an Assured Destruction capability in the deterrent role. but possibly counterproductive as well. damage limiting efforts were not only potentially wasteful. capable of reducing damage to truly nominal levels…we now have no way to accomplish this..69 By 1967 McNamara had taken his arguments a step further.e.73 He asserted that ‘in all probability all we would accomplish by deploying ABM systems against one another would be to increase greatly our respective defense expenditures without any gain in real security for either side’. He pointed out that: For a ‘Damage Limiting’ posture to contribute significantly to the deterrent…it would have to be extremely effective. strategic forces. first strike (which I believe to be the case).S. It was therefore of little use to civilian officials searching for ways to control the growth of U. in 1968.72 Because of what he referred to as ‘this interaction between our strategic force programs and those of the Soviet Union’ McNamara proposed that there was ‘a mutuality of interests in limiting the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems’.74 Finally. It is our ability to destroy an attacker as a viable 20th Century nation that provides the deterrent.S. no matter how much we spend on them. then we must assume that any attempt on our part to reduce damage to ourselves (to what they would estimate we might consider an ‘acceptable level’) would put pressure on them to strive for an offsetting improvement in their deterrent forces. an increase in Soviet damage limiting capability would force the United States to ‘make greater investments in Assured Destruction’.70 McNamara went on to argue that U. McNamara proclaimed the inevitability of ‘mutual deterrence’. He pointed out that If the general nuclear war policy of the Soviet Union also has as its objective the deterrence of a U.
‘strategy’ for nuclear war was now to simply blast away at Soviet cities once hostilities began.S. over force size.S.S.69 Contrary to increasingly widespread popular belief. The Secretary of Defense also issued a series of public statements that were to cloud and confuse the debate over U. It seemed obvious that American planners regarded the ability to attack Soviet urban industrial areas as the sine qua non of deterrence. strategic offensive forces. McNamara and his aides were originally drawn to the strategy of second strike counterforce because it seemed a more rational approach to the problem of nuclear war than the policy of indiscriminate retaliation they had inherited.S. Victory had become impossible. the evidence suggests that U. that the strategy of second strike counterforce provided no useful indicators of sufficiency. that the United States enjoyed vast strategic superiority over the Russians. war plans had been altered. before long.S. The best explanation for the growing divergence between declaratory policy and actual employment plans during the 1960s is presented by Henry Rowen.A HISTORY OF THE U.S. second-strike. most importantly. Negotiated agreements could then bring the arms race to a halt and ensure a stable strategic balance. U. He and his advisors believed that the United States would maintain a margin of quantitative and qualitative superiority well into the future. In fact. But their investigations of ‘damage limitation’ quickly convinced them that. A form of ‘parity’ in which both sides maintained secure. strategic forces. The whole notion of assured destruction stemmed from McNamara’s desire to establish some reasonable limits on the growth of U. ‘assured destruction’ forces was thus inevitable.S.S forces would not be able to suppress a Soviet attack to minimal levels at a reasonable cost. In addition he discouraged the development of defensive systems and urged the initiation of arms control negotiations with the Soviets. First. And.78 The majority of designated targets were still military installations and options for city-avoiding attacks were kept in the SIOP. Finally. strategic forces in terms of their ability to carry out the ‘assured destruction’ mission. In the minds of many observers the U. mutual destruction was assured. Repeated discussions of the importance of maintaining assured destruction forces left the unmistakeable impression that U.77 The rhetorical shifts catalogued above were the outward manifestations of an internal debate over American strategic policy and. Once parity had been achieved neither side would have any incentive to further increase the size of its strategic forces. It seemed equally clear that U. McNamara and his aides became convinced that such a state of affairs was not only inevitable but desirable. operational plans continued to be guided by a strategy of second strike counterforce. strategic policy from the mid-sixties down to the present day.S. He writes that: The primary purpose of the Assured Destruction capabilities doctrine was to provide a metric for deciding how much force was enough: it provided a basis for .S. Acting on these apparently reasonable convictions McNamara moved to limit the size and capabilities of U. U. forces were now directed solely against those targets. Within the first year of McNamara’s term two things quickly became apparent. second. war plans changed little between 1962 and 1974. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 53 defining the adequacy of U.S.
Under these circumstances it would have made little sense not to prepare options for comparatively small attacks aimed exclusively at the counterforce target set.S. During this same period the Russian navy deployed 20 new ballistic missile submarines. in the event of a nuclear attack. ‘increases in the number. For the first time in several years the declaratory policy of the . ballistic missile launchers deployed had leveled off. counter-urban industrial option. in his Foreign Policy Message to the Congress.’84 By 1970 it would appear that the attack options available to a U. forces against Soviet nuclear threat targets began to decline.S. President had been significantly narrowed. THE SCHLESINGER STRATEGY 1974– 1977 a) Changes in the Balance By the early seventies and perhaps as early as the late sixties these circumstances had begun to change. At the same time. be left with the single option of ordering the mass destruction of enemy civilians.S. in the face of the certainty that it would be followed by the mass slaughter of Americans? Should the concept of assured destruction be narrowly defined and should it be the only measure of our ability to deter the variety of threats we may face?85 Although Nixon (or at least his advisors) certainly knew that existing plans did not contain only a single. large numbers of warheads specifically designed to destroy hardened Soviet military installations were not procured.82 Because of decisions made in the early sixties. U. hardness and mobility of Soviet long-range nuclear forces…resulted in a decline in damage expectancies for this class of targets. In 1966 the Soviets began to deploy large numbers of ICBMs in hardened underground silos. 4.S.81 The Soviet strategic offensive arsenal was becoming larger and less vulnerable.54 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES denying service and Congressional claims for more money for strategic forces… However. forces were capable of destroying the full range of both urban industrial and nuclear threat targets within the Soviet Union. from 292 to 1299 ICBMs launchers.80 For the time being at least there was no reason for any responsible officials to make such a proposal. Between 1966 and 1970 the size of their land-based missile force grew by 1007. the capabilities of U. the President’s statement served to highlight an important fact. To quote Henry Rowen. President Nixon asked: Should a President. In February. it was never proposed by McNamara or his staff that nuclear weapons actually be used in this way. increasing the number of SLBMs in its force from 107 to 304. the number of U.83 Inevitably.
according to one observer.87 The United States could neither disarm the Soviet Union nor. military requirements was undertaken by the Nixon Administration. The shifts in the balance noted above had decreased the offensive damage limiting capability of American strategic forces. Between 1972 and 1974. significantly limit damage to itself in an all-out nuclear war. war plans and the basic strategy they reflected were woefully inadequate.S.A HISTORY OF THE U. or do nothing. a fullscale inter-agency review was undertaken. Particular attention appears to have been paid to the strategic forces and to the problem of increasing the flexibility of existing nuclear war plans. there was fear that in the event of war a lack of flexibility would quickly lead to unnecessary and ultimately fruitless escalation. resulting finally in the changes announced by Secretary Schlesinger in January 1974. because of changes in the strategic nuclear balance. Both sides had sufficient secure forces to do tremendous urban industrial damage to the enemy. In 1972. if not with actual employment plans. At the very least there was growing concern that.S. U. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 55 mid-sixties had begun to converge with real capabilities. But. the Department of Defense began to study possible revisions of the SIOP. This fact caused concern on a number of accounts. offensive forces highly unlikely. as Secretary Schlesinger noted in 1974: …the ratification of the ABM treaty in 1972…effectively removed the concept of defensive damage limitation (at least as it was defined in the 1960s) from contention as a major strategic option. Yet existing war plans still consisted entirely of options for massive counterforce and combined counterforce-countervalue attacks. as Nixon’s statement indicates. Given changes in the balance. Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union could now hope to disarm the other in a pre-emptive first-strike. First. Massive counterforce attacks could no longer be effectively executed. the best hope of limiting damage in a nuclear war seemed to lie in finding a way to control the .S. even after absorbing a surprise attack. strategy. to unleash the massive ‘assured destruction’ strike on all targets—military and urban industrial.S. Budgetary constraints and the force limits negotiated in SALT made considerable increases in the size of U. In a sense the form of parity that McNamara had predicted in the early sixties had finally arrived. through a combination of offensive and defensive means. If he were to contemplate ordering a nuclear attack the President would now be faced with three basic choices—to authorize strikes (pre-emptive or retaliatory) against Soviet forces that would probably weaken the United States more than the USSR. b) The Search for a New Strategy During 1969 and 1970 a series of studies aimed at determining future U.86 Schlesinger’s public remarks during 1974 and 1975 and particularly in his annual reports to the Congress make clear the reasoning behind this fourth major change in U. Moreover. the national political leadership was no longer certain that such a form of parity was desirable.S.
strategic forces would be involved and that large counterforce strikes against Soviet intercontinental systems would be undertaken. counterforce threat had also been a central element in NATO strategy. Designing what Secretary Schlesinger called ‘selective response options— smaller and more precisely focused than in the past’ was seen as a way of ensuring that. The United States could no longer threaten an effective. to be certain that we have a comparable capability in our strategic systems and in our targeting doctrine. With the American margin in counterforce capability now significantly diminished. There was another. And.S. ‘Damage may thus be limited and further escalation avoided’. In theory an American nuclear response to Soviet aggression in Europe might be limited to the theater and might involve only those forces physically based there. Nevertheless. should deterrence fail. Thus American planners were concerned with two central problems: how. Some means of ‘extending deterrence’.S. the United States was committed to use nuclear weapons.’ The Secretary went on to assert: This poses for us an obligation. according to Schlesinger.89 In other words. Such an attack might come before the Soviets initiated a nuclear offensive or it could come in response to a Soviet theater nuclear strike. the situation had changed. cities or on a handful of military installations seemed quite small. and to be certain that the USSR has no misunderstanding on this point. in Schlesinger’s words ‘to shore up deterrence across the entire spectrum of risk’. Being forced to execute such attacks by the inflexibility of existing plans was an extremely worrisome prospect. strategic forces with the European theater continued to appear necessary. especially when the likely American response would have been to destroy all remaining Soviet strategic forces. the United States would be able to bring all but the largest nuclear conflicts to a rapid conclusion before cities are struck. The probability of a Russian leader ordering attacks on one or two U. NATO in the early seventies seemed if anything to have grown weaker in the face of an ongoing build-up in Soviet conventional and theater nuclear capabilities. of ‘coupling’ U.90 and. Since the early sixties the United States had relied on the threat of disarming counterforce attack to deter limited Soviet strikes against targets on the North American continent. full-scale counterforce strike. The U. In fact it seemed much more likely that U. threatening large attacks in response to theater aggression no longer seemed credible.88 The character of existing war plans also raised questions about the American ability to deter certain types of threats. if we are to ensure the credibility of our strategic deterrent.S.S. more immediate problem. Controlling escalation would in turn require that large scale attacks be avoided as long as possible. the Soviet Union had acquired ‘the capability in its missile forces to undertake selective attacks against targets other than cities. the United States needed options between inaction and very large attacks if it was to deter the threat of controlled strikes against its territory. how to control the process of escalation so as to limit damage to .56 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES escalation process. Now. however. if deterrence failed. In the event of a Soviet invasion of Europe which threatened to overwhelm conventional defenses.
S. ‘we shall rely in the wartime period upon reserving our ‘assured destruction’ force and persuading. as the Soviets build up their strategic forces. strategists needs to be discussed. said Schlesinger. One final element in the thinking of U.A HISTORY OF THE U. The solution to both problems seemed to lie in the creation of smaller attack options that would increase the flexibility of existing strategic nuclear war plans. That force. the existence of LNOs and the structuring of those options (relatively small attacks.91 The grouping of targets into relatively small operational packages has already been discussed. It has been this problem of not having sufficient options between massive response and doing nothing.94 LNOs would provide a President with alternatives to a big. In addition. points out in her monograph ‘Limited Nuclear Options’. mostly military targets. some limited nuclear options (LNOs) were specifically designed to support theater forces. To quote Secretary Schlesinger. resolve while at the same time indicating the American desire that an unfolding conflict be kept limited.S. In essence. any potential foe not to attack cities’. cheap victory. the current Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.93 Finally. an LNO could serve a prompt military purpose by: 1)…stop[ping] the immediate aggression and creat[ing] a pause or hiatus in the enemy’s military activities to allow time for diplomacy to work. might have to be withheld ‘for an extended period of time’. If deterrence failed in some less than all-out way the new options would give the President the opportunity to respond in kind rather than unleashing a larger attack. while executing one or a series of limited nuclear options the U. that has prompted the President’s concerns and those of our Allies. at each stage in an ongoing war. To ensure restraint the United States would always have to hold some of the enemy’s most valued assets as ‘hostages’. strategic forces. What we need is a series of measured responses to aggression which bear some relation to the provocation. signalling U. have prospects of terminating hostilities before general nuclear war breaks out. and 2)…chang[ing] an enemy leader’s perceptions about the prospects for a quick. the enemy have no reason to raise dramatically the level of conflict. And they would prevent the worsening of a military situation ‘on the ground’. In the first instance the existence of a wide range of options was assumed to increase the deterrent credibility of U. To quote Schlesinger again. through intrawar deterrence. would have to continue to hold at least a counter-urban industrial ‘assured destruction’ force in reserve.92 And the concerns that led to this restructuring of plans have been briefly reviewed. and leave some possibility for restoring deterrence. escalatory response to enemy aggression.S. minimized collateral damage) was intended to facilitate escalation control. The purposes which the creation of these packages were intended to serve should be readily apparent.S.95 Thus a central . If escalation was to be controlled through the use of limited strategic operations it was essential that. As Lynn Davis.S. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 57 the United States and its allies.
98 . as he termed it. the ‘assured retaliation’ mission. he said. If escalation control failed the United States would seek to destroy Soviet military.S. and economic recovery from a nuclear exchange… The effectiveness of the retaliation would be measured in two ways:– – by the size and composition of the enemy military capability surviving for postwar use. by 1977 the publicly declared U. and that an important objective of the assured retaliation mission should be to retard significantly the ability of the USSR to recover from a nuclear exchange and regain the status of a 20th century military and industrial power more rapidly than the United States.97 The other approach. it is clear that a major review has been taking place. forces being held in reserve. – by his ability to recover politically and economically from the exchange. Thus. and measure effectiveness as a function of the number of people killed and cities destroyed’. in Rumsfeld’s words: …views assured retaliation as the effort to prevent or retard an enemy’s military. political and economic assets so as to retard the USSR’s recovery in the post-war period.58 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES assumption behind the change in strategy announced in 1974 was that. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS 1977–1980 It is not yet possible to say a great deal about the most recent changes in U.S. The public statements of high government officials to date reveal no dramatic shifts in policy. strategy for nuclear war was as follows: In the event that deterrence failed the primary U. These options would serve both a military and a political purpose. nuclear strategy was announced in January 1977 by Schlesinger’s successor. objective was to control the process of escalation. We believe that a substantial number of military forces and critical industries in the Soviet Union should be directly targeted. Soviet forces would not be able to destroy U. nuclear strategy.S.96 In his statement to the Congress Rumsfeld compared two approaches to the ‘assured destruction’ or. Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld.S. escalation control and thus damage limitation were to be achieved through the use of limited nuclear options. assume that population and industry are strongly correlated with them. If necessary.S. for the foreseeable future. political. bringing hostilities to an acceptable close at the lowest level of conflict possible thereby limiting damage to the United States and its allies. A further change in U. recovery. Rumsfeld went on to advocate the second approach and to announce that: The present planning objective of the Defense Department is clear. Nonetheless. was simpy to ‘target major cities. One. Such attacks would also be designed to limit the Soviet Union’s ability to retard U. 5.S.
ability to deter Soviet aggression at various levels. the United States aims ‘…to make a Soviet victory as improbable (seen through Soviet eyes) as we can make it. would ‘be equally important in minimizing collateral damage and the escalation that could follow from it.S.101 In addition. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 59 Some Defense Department officials are apparently raising again the old question of what threats can best be expected to deter the Soviet Union. The effects of this emerging threat on the U. Published reports indicate an interest in shifting the weight of a major attack away from ‘recovery’ targets and towards targets which make a more immediate contribution to Russian military strength (and which. began the process of outlining the requirements for a ‘countervailing strategy’. Secretary of Defense Brown. How should we think about the problem of targeting Soviet military (and particularly long-range nuclear) installations? How should we evaluate past American strategies for nuclear conflict.S. The possibility that the Russians may soon be able to destroy a substantial fraction of the American strategic force and to disrupt the operations of those elements that remain intact is beginning to be widely discussed. in his annual report for fiscal year 1980. and what can we learn from such evaluation? What is it in our preparations.99 In general. posture and declaratory policy which has deterred Soviet aggression? And. over the broadest plausible range of scenarios’.102 Finally there appears to be continued interest in the problem of limiting escalation and in the question of what role the strategic nuclear forces might play in keeping a future U. a number of recently published newspaper articles have referred to the possibility of attacks designed to weaken the ability of the Soviet regime to control events within its ‘empire’ and even within its own borders.’103 These tentative discussions are taking place against a background of growing concern over the capabilities of Soviet offensive forces. strategy as well as more visible changes in force posture will be directed at offsetting any possible Soviet advantages resulting from recent shifts in the strategic balance. to control escalation if deterrence fails and to achieve reasonable objectives in an extremely intense conflict remain to be determined. the United States might seek to exploit specific weaknesses in the political and economic structure of the Soviet Union. —Soviet conflict under control.100 There are indications that in an all-out war. might be of greater value to the Soviet leadership). The Secretary of Defense has called for plans to ‘include options to attack the targets that comprise the Sovie…political power structure’. Conclusions The preceding discussion of the history of U.A HISTORY OF THE U. as Secretary Brown put it in his Report for Fiscal Year 1981. nuclear targeting and strategy raises several interrelated analytical questions. Also discussed were ‘high accuracy and reduced nuclear yields’ which. Among these the Secretary listed ‘survivable command-controlcommunications’ which would be ‘essential if we are to respond appropriately to an enemy attack and have some chance of limiting the exchange’. Certainly alterations in U.S. therefore.S.S. can and should we seek a more unified strategic doctrine? . in Brown’s words.
60 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES COUNTERFORCE TARGETING Much debate in the West presently centers on the presumed counterforce capability of proposed weapons systems. arsenal coupled with expanded target coverage and the increasing precision of target location techniques probably made the war plans of the period 1950–1960 more realistic than their predecessors. This last is a particularly important point. it seems unlikely that they would have achieved their intended objective—allowing the prompt defeat of Soviet ground forces by destroying Russian war-support and political will. Even if the rather small attacks planned in the late forties could have been carried out.S.S.S. There is considerable concern expressed over the possibility of a shift from a policy of ‘deterrence’ to preparations for ‘war-fighting’. war plans been built around the ‘right’ military and political objectives? What alternative objectives would have made more sense? What overall wartime objectives should we be preparing to pursue today? 1945–1950. Another more important set of questions will not be addressed here—Have U. However. why not? What might be the consequences of not having an effective countermilitary capability? (Including a substantial capability against Soviet strategic forces. any argument against improving the counter-military effectiveness of U. Whether planned strikes could actually have prevented Soviet nuclear attacks on the U.) And what should we target instead?’ EVALUATING PAST STRATEGIES The United States has always had a strategy for the use of its nuclear weapons. Between 1945 and 1950 the United States lacked the resources for a pure ‘city-busting’ strategy. and its allies would have depended a great deal on unpredictable .S. disrupt Red Army operations and disable the budding Soviet nuclear force. not on a harkening back to some mythical past state of affairs. existing war plans have made internal sense—if they have been supported adequately by existing capabilities. Even at the strategic nuclear level it should be obvious that the distinctions between these two presumably antithetical conceptual approaches has always been clearer in theory than in practice. By the late fifties it would appear that the United States was well situated to devastate the Russian economy. In any case it is apparent that U. The growing size and destructive power of the U. whether or not they could have been expected to achieve pre-defined objectives. if executed. including Soviet strategic forces.S. Worry over the possible destabilizing consequences of targeting strategic forces is legitimate even (or perhaps especially) in a world in which the Soviets will soon possess an extremely potent counterforce capability of their own. The question is not ‘Should we target Soviet conventional and nuclear military installations?’ but ‘Should we continue to do so? Why? Should we improve our capabilities for doing so? How? And if not. Through most of that period the U.S. forces must be based on a realistic consideration of present conditions. at various times between 1945 and the present. war plans have always called for the widespread use of strategic nuclear weapons against Soviet military targets. 1950–1960. did not even have the weapons necessary to destroy a large number of Soviet cities. and. Having said this it is important to ask if.
A HISTORY OF THE U. the creators of the strategy of escalation control through limited nuclear options would appear to have relied on the continued existence of what might be called functional parity—a situation in which neither side could drastically alter the military balance by escalating to a higher level of hostilities. by some identifiable standard. Escalation would have to be controlled and an intense war ended .S. Even more important. attacks without escalating an ongoing conflict. 1974–1980.S. It seems possible however that. The strategy of ‘second-strike counterforce’ (which. as we have seen.S. The ‘assured destruction’ attacks which received so much public attention could undoubtedly have been carried out. did not preclude the possibility of a counterforce first-strike) made the most sense between 1962 and 1969 or 1970.104 And the damage done to American urban industrial areas in such an attack would likely have been substantial. The declining margin of U. war plans did not reflect real changes in the strategic balance that had rendered old targeting and employment concepts obsolete. forces in the mid-sixties could have proved extremely disruptive. Similarly. perhaps more so than was generally recognized at the time. Finally. it was assumed that the Soviets would lack realistic options between controlled response and all-out retaliation. From the late sixties to the mid-seventies U. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 61 operational factors such as warning time. repeatedly if necessary.) But full-scale counterforce strikes. Still. U. advantage in counter-military capabilities gave rise to the strategy of escalation control through limited nuclear operations. could not have disabled Soviet offensive forces. it was assumed that LNOs would be accompanied by a range of other military and political measures. Whether (as was intended) such an attack could have been accomplished without causing numerous Russian civilian casualties is unclear. retaliation would have been equally devastating and probably a good deal more so. A Soviet pre-emptive attack on U. the United States could have ‘won’ a nuclear war during the 1950s. political and military destruction of the Soviet state is a matter for conjecture. as during the fifties. This shift in doctrine reflected the belief that the United States was no longer in a good position to impose unsatisfactory war outcomes on the Soviets. whether preemptive or retaliatory.S. (Whether their execution would in fact have assured the economic. In other words.S. alert rates. 1962–1974. preemptive attack could probably have disabled Soviet long-range nuclear forces while holding Russian cities hostage. However. During this period a U. political willingness to launch a preemptive strike and so on. it would appear that American forces could have retaliated effectively against their Soviet counterparts without necessarily beginning an uncontrolled ‘city-busting’ exchange. Throughout this period.S. the outcome of any ongoing ground war would have depended on the ability of NATO forces to follow nuclear strikes with a decisive conventional thrust.S. The new strategy rested on several sets of assumptions—that the United States would be willing to execute limited strategic strikes of various sorts and that it would be able to do so. the United States could have done very little to limit the damage done by an irrational surprise Soviet countervalue attack. That the Soviets would be willing to ‘play along’—to respond in a controlled way to limited U.
It is not clear how much detailed thought has ever been given to the problem. withheld threats and forceful diplomacy. It would not be surprising. conventional and diplomatic means in the event of war. The principal reason for this change is that the Soviets seem to be improving their chances of benefiting from certain forms of intra-war escalation. growing concern over the possibility of a large and devastating Soviet ‘LNO’ or ‘counter LNO’ directed at a wide range of allied military targets cannot help but feed doubts about the wisdom of relying on limited U. have given Soviet operational planners a broader array of employment options than they had in the 1960s and may have imparted some confidence in the Soviet ability to enforce conflict limitations.105 Since the mid-seventies.106 In any case. Although it is difficult to know with any certainty. there has never been much public evidence of elaborate preparations to coordinate limited strategic. strategic attacks to control escalation.S. Military objections—that all but the largest LNOs would have no prompt effect on events in the theater of battle. much of the hardware needed to make more controlled strikes feasible has been developed and deployed. improved retargeting computers and so on. in theater conflict displays some Soviet willingness to embrace conflict limitation notions previously rejected. or at least a non-nuclear phase. therefore to find some Soviet contingency planning for various kinds of limited nuclear options at the theater and. the willingness of an American President to order an LNO has probably declined over the past five or six years. theater nuclear. and that the execution of LNOs would expose remaining American strategic forces to disruption and destruction while drawing down the U. in addition. at the strategic level. In their pronouncements on the subject. But as Fritz Ermarth has pointed out: [Q]ualified acceptance in doctrine and posture of a non-nuclear scenario. from the very large (McNamara’s counterforce second-strike) to the quite small (Schlesinger’s proposed attack on Soviet petroleum refineries). Nevertheless. perhaps.107 . Growing counter-military capabilities have not been accompanied by any visible change in Soviet doctrine. (More accurate warheads.) It seems safe to assume that paper plans for limited attacks have also been prepared. nuclear arsenal —have undoubtedly become more intense. Soviet strategic nuclear force growth and modernization. Could LNOs of the type discussed in the mid-seventies have been used to control escalation in the period 1974–1977? Could they be used for that purpose today? The best answers to these questions would appear to be ‘maybe’ and ‘probably not’.S.62 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES on favorable terms through a combination of successful local defense. The political objections to such attacks—that they would encourage escalation rather than controlling it— remain the same. The United States has always had the theoretical capability to execute a range of ‘limited’ strategic attacks. Russian military writers continue to discount the possibility of a controlled nuclear conflict.
e. it is. Everything from weapons effects. that predicting outcomes and designing strategies to make those which appear desirable more likely is an extremely uncertain business. WHAT DETERS? To focus on the traditional element in U. In fact. in some substantial measure. on war plans and thus. it misses the point. could the United States have prevented the USSR from dominating the post-war period by destroying its recovery resources? Any large scale nuclear attack on the Soviet urban industrial base would obviously have enormous economic consequences. then the post-Rumsfeld war plans were probably better designed to retard Soviet reconstitution than their predecessors. military and political assets. This is a milder second cousin to the claim that thinking about war makes it more likely. to likely patterns of political decisionmaking in war time is shrouded in doubt. If an attempt to evaluate past strategies for nuclear war makes us more humble about our ability to eliminate uncertainty in present planning it will have served its purpose. Proceeding from this simple statement to a more elaborate prediction of ‘recovery rates’ (5 years? 10 years? 25 years? 1925 GNP? 1950 GNP? 1980 GNP? Actual GNP or GNP per capita?) is virtually impossible. military and political control. to operational military problems. The American ability to do both of these things (and especially the latter) was and is still quite limited. we and our opponents could have rather different images of how a conflict would turn out. on deterrence failures is to risk the accusation that one lacks interest in the problem of preventing war in the first place. implicitly. Preventing enemy domination would have also required the destruction of Soviet capabilities for projecting all forms of military power and the protection of U. more importantly. First. strategic doctrine. estimates of war outcomes and. Neither is very enlightening or particularly fair. Military planners always prepare for war. whatever its other faults.S. And second.S. If the shift towards counter-recovery targeting produced a greater emphasis on attacking economic choke points and centers of economic. . other than central system nuclear) non-nuclear and non-military factors will affect war outcomes. economic. in the preparations and perceptions of our likely enemy. In summary. industrial performance in peacetime to be convinced of that fact. under the right circumstances. this attempt to evaluate U. For this reason alone we ought to be interested in war plans. Nevertheless prediction is an essential and unavoidable part of the strategic planning process at any level.A HISTORY OF THE U. strategies for nuclear war should point up two important facts.S.S. One has only to look at the econometricians’ projections of U. deterrence may fail in a number of ways not the least likely of which is that one day.S. Another. more serious criticism of a history centered on war plans is that. In the late seventies the United States could probably have achieved its minimal war objective (preventing post-war Russian domination) only if massive nuclear attacks caused the permanent disintegration of the Soviet state. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 63 If a war fought in the mid to late seventies had escalated out of control. that many non-‘strategic’ (i.
S. But another mechanism is at work beneath the surface. This is a generalized sensation rather than an entirely rational conclusion based on any elaborate set of calculations. Apparently marginal advantages could also be significant—the ability to locate and destroy critical elements of the enemy’s command and control system. economic and social consequences of . their job to do so. horrible image of mass death and destruction. One plausible answer to the question ‘What deters?’ is thus ‘the threat of massive civilian casualties and enormous economic losses’. But. with important behavioral consequences. (although no such assertion about ‘negative causality’ can ever be proven) it seems likely that the threat of societal devastation is still the primary deterrent to nuclear war. In the case of the United States. plans for nuclear war have always had a heavy counter-military emphasis. This is not a false statement but it is not entirely true either. In the current cycle of nuclear revisionism some of our more enthusiastic armchair strategists have tended to lose sight of those facts.64 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES after all. Even in the nuclear age they continue to play a role in determining the likelihood and the likely outcome of any future war. For better or worse. like individual anxiety. Day to day political reality may be dominated by the simple. Moreover. U. in the nuclear age. As has been illustrated here. under some circumstances. even the appearance or the perception of military advantage could have important political consequences in peacetime and crisis. for example. military imperatives—the desire to destroy. and one can assume also the Soviet Union. has tended to emphasize the grim human. however. More traditional military considerations have always played a role in influencing the political and of course the military leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union. war plans and capabilities of the nuclear superpowers. It is worth remembering that a nuclear war of virtually any size or conceivable configuration would be destructive almost beyond belief. even when. On any given day the leaders of both superpowers are aware that war could destroy them and all that for which they have worked and which they are presumably entrusted to protect. Calculations of relative advantage (or the lack of it) have been made during crises. disrupt or disable the enemy’s forces as quickly and efficiently as possible—have been preeminent in the design of operational war plans. then. With a significant margin of military advantage (an effective offensive and defensive damage limiting capability for example) one side might be able to ‘win’ even an all-out nuclear war. Fears about vulnerability to effective countermilitary attack and the possibility of acquiring countermilitary advantages have seemed at various times to play a significant role in shaping the force acquisition policies of both sides. things do not stop there. the world has been and is likely to continue to be governed by the principles embodied in the notion of assured destruction. a nuclear war might not be an undifferentiated disaster. But it is a sensation. This is true regardless of the doctrines. Our declaratory policy. Finally. In large measure. It is possible that. what prevents war is not the threat of military defeat but the spectre of societal devastation. especially during the last twenty years. It certainly would stand a better chance of imposing an outcome on its weaker opponent short of total conflict. (as in 1945–50) those plans called simply for strikes against Soviet cities. Military considerations matter.
Throughout that decade (as in the years before and after) U. War has probably been prevented by a combination of counterforce and countervalue threats. achieved significant military advantage over their principal opponents and wish (or are forced) to turn their attention to other problems.S. by the seeming certainty of denial and punishment. at times. In the decade just past. Our ‘doctrine’ contained two strands—one ‘traditional’ and military. We are coming to the end of a ten-year interval during which neither superpower can reasonably claim to have possessed superior strategic nuclear capabilities. the other more ‘modern’ and ‘assured destructionist’ in tone. our efforts to modernize the strategic forces and improve planning for nuclear war were. more modern half of our ‘doctrine’— that . Saying that one or the other threat—defeat or devastation—was solely responsible for keeping the peace is clearly impossible.S. uncoordinated and. Perhaps we have been too intent in our thinking on finding the one ‘correct’ answer to the question ‘What deters?’ A better question might be ‘What kinds of threats deter what kinds of behavior and under what conditions?’ Moreover. we will have to pay a great deal of attention to the problems of preparing for war— persuading the Soviets that they cannot defeat us by using nuclear weapons and preparing to achieve rational military and political objectives if deterrence fails. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 65 nuclear conflict. The function of doctrine is to provide direction to planning and to guide the making of difficult allocational decisions. It seems clear that we are being forced to place greater emphasis on the traditional concerns which have always formed one portion of our ‘doctrine’.A HISTORY OF THE U. when belief in the wisdom of such a policy was most widespread. the United States did not adhere to a doctrine of mutually assured destruction. At worst these efforts were sporadic. only partly successful. With Soviet superiority looming on the horizon. What preparations should satisfy us in that event and what should we be ready to do if deterrence fails and we have no choice but to pursue our objectives by forceful means? A MORE UNIFIED DOCTRINE? We have seen that even during the sixties. we might be wise to acknowledge the strong possibility that we will never be able to answer these vital questions with any high degree of certainty.108 there must obviously be a premium on purposeful action and an efficient use of available resources. The effects of the conflict between a desire for stability and the need to compete with a dynamic opponent tend to become obvious only as the previous margin of advantage begins to erode. It is probably no accident that the period in which (as the Soviets might say) the ‘contradictions’ in U. In the years ahead. Progress in this direction will require that we first dispel some of the notions which have tended to underpin the other. policy was shaped by conflicting forces. Notions of stability are likely to be particularly appealing to states which have exerted great effort. at best. doctrine were greatest was the time when the United States reached and then passed its broadest margin of strategic superiority.S. Without a more unified and coherent doctrine it will be extremely difficult for us to make progress towards redressing an increasingly unfavorable strategic balance. misdirected.
former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger declared ‘…I believe it is necessary that we develop a military purpose for our strategic forces and move away from the senseless and demoralizing strategy of massive civilian extermination…’ Henry A. 1979). (Washington: GPO. let them consider the words of a Congressman. which has been our historical targeting approach…’ He went on to ask if a shift towards ‘a primary military target mode’ would not represent ‘a significant point of departure’ which might ‘put us into a potential hair trigger situation…’ Military Posture. Certain types of actions which a ‘traditional’ approach would demand are risky and must be approached with great caution in a nuclear world—attacking an enemy’s forces and his command network for example. If anyone doubts that belief in a U. But there is much which deserves to be retained. The assumptions which underly the ‘modern’ portion of our doctrine need to be reexamined. 381. 1979). No. ‘NATO: The Next Thirty Years’.S. We need a more unified strategic doctrine. Hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. a more unified strategic doctrine will have to be more openly ‘traditional’ in direction and tone.109 In a democracy obtaining absolute unity of views on almost any issue is virtually impossible. . Survival. During recent Congressional hearings Representative Ronald Dellums referred to ‘the principle of mutual assured destruction’ and to the targeting of ‘populations and industrial bases. Nuclear weapons are qualitatively different from any mankind has previously possessed. said ‘some years back. doctrine of mutually assured destruction is widespread. p. some such measures may seem necessary despite the dangers they pose. it was understood that the policy we had in the United States was a policy of mutually assured destruction (MAD). Senator Clayborne Pell. XXI. and over one thousand high-ranking military officers.66 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES counterforce targeting and defensive systems are inherently dangerous. Finally. On careful consideration. To shape it we will have first to engage in an open and intelligent debate. Kissinger. 267. part l. 96:1.’ The SALT II Treaty. 96:1. But they cannot be undertaken lightly. 6 (November/December 1979). that nuclear weapons cannot have military and political utility and that competition in the strategic nuclear arena is always undesirable. 1979. p. part 1 (Washington: GPO. Yet a defense establishment working at cross purposes is unlikely to give adequate response to a rapidly changing and increasingly dangerous situation. But informed discussion and sensible change will be impossible if we do not first make a serious effort to understand the history of the last thirty-five years. 547. while such policies may have received excessive attention under the ‘modern’ approach. NOTES 1. In general then. But it should be clear by now that the necessary changes really involve a shift in emphasis more than they do a dramatic intellectual counterrevolution in which all ‘modern’ concepts are banished to the garbage heap of history. efforts to steady the strategic competition through negotiated agreements are still worth pursuing. a former Cabinet official. a Senator. p. Hearings before the House Armed Services Committee. during hearings on the SALT II treaty. In his controversial Brussels speech in September.
’ If deterrence failed. economics or physics. 96:1.S. Brodie did not advocate the wholesale slaughter of enemy civilians. pp. ‘American Nuclear Strategy and the Hydrogen Bomb Decision’. 66. And. ‘Rethinking Our Nuclear Strategy’.’ And he asserted that. part 4 (Washington: GPC. retired Admiral Thomas Moorer and 1678 other retired general and flag officers from all the services decried the ‘concept of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) which has shaped U.Aldridge. 1978). STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 67 2. pages 167. 1979). To the list of noteables in footnote 1 we can add a former weapons engineer and a noted academic. on the other hand.S.Aldrige writes that ‘Deterrence is the strategic policy under which most of us believe the Pentagon is still operating.S. The strategy of deterrence ought always to envisage the possibility of deterrence failing. Nor did he favor leaving American civilians exposed to Soviet attack. 393. in a letter to senator Frank Church. 4. Writing in 1959 Brodie urged that ‘Provisions…be made for the saving of life on a vast scale. Harvard history professor Richard Pipes. plans and preparations in the immediate post-war period can be found in David Alan Rosenberg. These men believed that the use of nuclear weapons threatened all humanity. and 63. Robert C. America’s nuclear strategy (which ‘rests on the concept of deterrence’) is largely the product of the post-war musings of ‘American intellectuals’. 12 October. Secretary of Defense McNamara’s annual posture statements certainly contributed to this confusion. pp. pages 1. Brodie did argue that thermonuclear war would be ‘a catastrophe for which it is impossible to set upper limits very far short of the entire population of the nation. if we ever had to execute it. in the event of war. He argued that ‘we are as oblivious to these staggering innovations in the art of war as the French and the British in their time had been to the German strategy of the armored Blitzkrieg. One-time Lockheed employee Robert C. 64–5.’ For Brodie ‘assured destruction’ might have been an accurate description of the likely consequences of total nuclear war. having foresworn ‘preventive war’. The SALT II Treaty. 402 and 397. (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 5. might then look very foolish. Richard Pipes. ought to be designed by professional military men rather than professors of history.’ According to Pipes. Bernard Brodie is sometimes cited for his allegedly ‘assured destructionist’ views. Pipes closes with a call for ‘a military strategy to meet the Soviets’ which. An excellent discussion of U. cautions that it is the Soviets who have devised a ‘fresh strategy’ for nuclear war. 292. . It was certainly not an outcome he welcomed nor a ‘strategy’ he favored. 61–3. he says. ‘the opponent’s strategic bombardment power. the United States was ‘henceforward committed to the strategy of deterrence’. In fact he argued that. See pages 51–55 of this paper. 1965). There is in fact no other target system worth comparable consideration’. 3. During the mid-sixties. But he pointed out that ‘what looks like the most rational deterrence policy [threatening enemy cities] involves commitment to a strategy of response which. 1978. 1979). Hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.’ But he warns that in seeking to satisfy the requirements of its ‘clandestine military doctrine’ the Pentagon is acquiring weapons suitable for ‘a knockout first strike’. The Journal of American History. The Wall Street Journal. insofar as it can be reached and destroyed is certainly the first and most important target system. Strategy in the Missile Age. policy since the 1960s…’ The officers went on to warn against ‘adherence to the obviously bankrupt doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)’.A HISTORY OF THE U. 3. 1 (June. that no defense was possible against them and that they therefore had no political utility. No. government. Bernard Brodie. The Counterforce Syndrome (Washington: The Transnational Institute.
Déja Vu: The Return to Counterforce in the Nixon Administration (Santa Monica: The California Seminar on Arms Control and Foreign Policy. 28. Ibid. 24. 12. RM-5431PR.C. Concepts. 227. 1974). 222. in part because some high government officials believed that protecting population and threatening enemy nuclear forces would be ‘destabilizing’. Doctrine: A History of Basic Thinking in the United States Air Force 1907–1964. . p. In July of the same year there were apparently 50 bombs in the stockpile. Cited in Ball. p. David MacIsaac.82.S. See an article by Colonel Richard S. 26. 22. 9. 32.Rowen.. 28 January.. ‘Formulating Strategic Doctrine’. See pp. 225. 31. This half of U. Some far less potent restraints still exist today. 20. 1979).S.. Air Force Magazine. In early 1948 there were only 32 modified B-29s capable of carrying the atomic bomb. 14. 2 (Fall 1978). 21.. 27. Ibid. 391. p. Ibid. 390. ‘The Air Force and Strategic Thought 1945–1951’ paper presented at a colloquium of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Brigadier General John A.F. Ibid. See pp. p. For example. 17. p. 390. Henry S.. 27. 220. No. Alfred Goldberg. 13. 10. 64– 5. ‘No Need to Bomb Cities to Win War. Rowen. p. 230. pp. A New Counterforce Strategy for Air Warfare’. Washington.. ‘Counterforce Strategy. Robert Frank Futrell. p. p. June 1971). U. February 1955. June 1975). D. October 1967). Desmond Ball. 8. 566–7. 138. 6. p. 1955. 15. Appendix K: Adequacy of Current Organization: Defense and Arms Control (Washington: GPO. June 21. There were no such constraints in the fifties. 7. 16. 14. 51–2. Rowen. 3. ‘A Brief Survey of the Evolution of Ideas About Counterforce’. How We Can Exploit America’s Atomic Advantage’. II (Maxwell Air Force Base: Aerospace Studies Institute. Ibid. ‘Contrasts in American and Soviet Strategic Thought’. 30.S. 29 Ibid. p. p. p.. Volume 4. pp. p. 22.. p. p. 551. pp. p. 51–55 for an explanation of the divergence between targeting and declaratory policy. Ibid. 78–94. Rowen. 46. Ibid. 11. During the sixties procurement of ballistic missile defenses and hard target killing warheads was constrained. 19.Dunning quoted in Futrell. 18. p. Rosenberg. 49–51 for a more detailed discussion. since the early fifties U. p. News and World Report. ‘doctrine’ (the portion which has governed the formulation of operational war plans) bears a striking resemblance to the more unified Soviet doctrine about which so much has been written in the West. (Santa Monica: The RAND Corporation. Goldberg. International Security. Fritz Ermarth.68 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 6. Ideas. 11 Ibid. 25. 25–29. 391. 15. 10. Also T. 23. in Commission on the Organization of the Government for the Conduct of Foreign Policy. nuclear strategy has called for a good deal more than the pure ‘city-busting’ strikes which an assured destruction doctrine would require. pp.Walkowicz.Leghorn.
Secretary of Defense Robert S. MacIsaac. 25. Rowen. Air Force Magazine. 47. 12. 44.. Ibid. p. Ball. 58. p. p.McNamara. 42. Ibid. Ibid. 65. 43–44 for a brief explanation of the origins of the ‘optimum mix’. 230. 15. Ibid. or even severely embarrassing. 50. Ibid. p.S. p. for example. 56. 231. 41. . Ibid. 57. March 4.. Secretary of Defense Donald H. p. 36. p. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown. 45. 3 (March 1979). 4.. Rowen. p.. p. 8. Ibid. Fiscal Year 1975 (Washington: GPO. 43. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 69 33. 29.Gray. 1948) cited in Rosenberg. 16. 38. See pp. 48. Ibid.. 1974). 47. 12. p. p. 15. p. p. 35. 14. 54. Ibid. Ibid. Rowen.) One wonders who is being less ‘serious’ about the problems of nuclear war. 25 January. (See Colin S. 4. Ibid. p. 52. p.A HISTORY OF THE U. 59. 39. Ibid. 77.) He goes on to assert (without any visible evidence) that ‘[I]t is unlikely that a U.. Ball. 34. p. 62. 11. 51. 40.S.Rumsfeld. 7. 17 January. p. p. 6. 64. 1977). 16. 60. to a Soviet recovery effort’. Fiscal Years 1964 to 1968 Defense Program and Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 1964 (Washington: GPO. and even planning. 52. p. ‘Soviet Strategic Vulnerabilities’.’ While this damage would be ‘highly concentrated in time’ and accompanied by ‘residual radioactivity’ Gray maintains that ‘neither of these factors need prove fatal. 1963). 46. 222. 49. 1979). Secretary of Defense James R. Fiscal Year 1978 (Washington:GPO. 55. January 30. 63. 30. Annual Defense Department Report. p. Annual Defense Department Report. 232. retaliatory [second] strike in the mid-1980s with forces currently programmed would do as much damage as the Germans achieved in World War II. 37. Ball. p.Schlesinger.. 5. 61. 39. Ibid. 66. 61. From Joint Emergency War Plan HALFMOON (19 May.. 78. pages 227 and 230. p. betrays a basic lack of seriousness about the conduct of war’. Rowen. Ibid. p. Goldberg. Ibid. Ibid. Annual Defense Department Report. No. p. Fiscal Year 1980 (Washington: GPO. 62. Ball. p.. (Gray. Ball. p. claims in a recent article that ‘Most Western strategic thinking. 53. p.. Colin Gray.
p.. January 23. 1977). Rowen. The Military Balance 1977– 1978. 1965). 1976). 71. Throughout this period military officers still spoke openly. 227. p. 47.70 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 66. 88. 1967). Making the MIRV (Ballinger Publishing Company: Cambridge. p. Ibid. p. Secretary of Defense Robert S.. More concretely. Ibid. Secretary of Defense Robert S. of their continued interest in the ‘damage limiting’ mission. 70. 39. Secretary of Defense Robert S. 80. pages 80 and 90. FY 1975. Schlesinger. Ibid. General Earle G. 53. 4. 68. p. ICBMs and SLBMs. then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was asked if ‘our war plans do allocate weapons for damage limitation or counterforce. Edward Luttwak. p.Wheeler.’ His response — ‘They certainly do. FY 1975. Ted Greenwood has detailed the rise and fall of the Mark 17. But. 39.McNamara.. Appearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee in 1968. Edward Luttwak refers to the cancellation in the early sixties of ‘a research program for large ICBMs (WS. 38–40. 89. 76. 78. Adelphi Papers Number 121 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies. A New Strategy for Peace. p.’ As a result ‘neither Minuteman III nor Poseidon were optimised specifically for the counterforce mission. Annual Defense Department Report. The Military Balance 1977–1978 (International Institute for Strategic Studies: London. 22. Rowen. Strategic Power: Military Capabilities and Political Utility (Sage Publications: Beverley Hills. Limited Nuclear Options: Deterrence and the New American Doctrine. Schlesinger. 83. 1968). 1975). if cautiously. 74. 1967). 59.S.’ Greenwood. January 22. 16. By 1967 the number had risen 150 to 1.McNamara. 87. A Report to the Congress: U. 75. 122. p. 67. Fiscal Years 1968 to 1972 Defense Program and Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 1968 (Washington: GPO.McNamara. 120)’. pp. 1970. 70–1.Nixon. p. 80. 69. February 18.S. p. 232. Secretary of Defense Robert S. Lynn Davis. 18 February. 77. pp. Ibid. Foreign Policy for the 1970s. Richard M. Ibid. 3–4.. Massachusetts. p. Fiscal Years 1966 to 1970 Defense Program and Defense Budget for Fiscal Year l966 (Washington: GPO.McNamara. p. p. p. 73. 82. 38. Ibid. its strong identification in the services with the counterforce mission made its cancellation both a reflection and a symbol of the decreasing willingness of OSD to fund a program whose primary purpose was counterforce. 37. pp. 12. p. 86. a hard target killing warhead considered at one time as the primary MIRV payload for upgraded U. 38–9. 79. . Fiscal Years 1969 to 1973 Defense Program and Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 1969 (Washington: GPO. 84. Ball. 221. p. 85.054 where it remained from that point to the present. 40. p.’ Ted Greenwood.. In 1966 the United States had deployed 904 ICBM launchers. Greenwood writes that the Mark 17 (which was finally cancelled in 1968) was ‘a prime target for cost-conscious budgeteers and was ultimately cancelled largely to save money. 81. Ibid. California. Fiscal Year 1965 (Washington: GPO. Rowen. 72. Ibid. 1976). p.
92.Schlesinger. ‘Soviet Nuclear Edge in Mid-80s Is Envisioned by U. 14 January. p. 5. Hearings on U. Testimony of Secretary of Defense James R. p. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 71 90. p. Press reports appearing in January 1979 refer to a ‘ year Pentagon study’ of U. p. while holding U. 107. . Annual Defense Department Report. 66. Missiles’. Ibid. New York Times. 8. Ermarth. 29 January. cities as hostages with a large residual force to deter the United States from retaliating against the Soviet ZI. 91. 66. A14. FY 1975. Ibid. 108. 38. Ibid. Thus it would appear that a major review was begun in the summer of 1977. 104. 2nd Session (Washington: GPO. See pp. p. Benjamin Lambeth discusses the Soviet image of a ‘limited nuclear operation’ which ‘if it’ exists. p. Washington Post. 102. 99. p.”’ Walter Pincus. New York Times. Inc.S. Brown. in an article in the New York Times. Weinraub. 77. 13 May. 1979. Brown. Donald H. 1980. March 1974).’ New York Times. p. 100. Bernard Weinraub. Richard Burt. Davis.Rumsfeld. p. FY 1980. ‘Selective Nuclear Operations and Soviet Strategy’. Johan J.S. p. p. 5.. 93rd Congress. 1980). ‘Pentagon Seeking Shift in Nuclear Deterrent Policy’. Richard Burt. ‘Brown Would Widen Range of Russian Military Targets’. 103. perhaps at the same time as the LNO concept was being discussed.Holst and Uwe Nerlich (New York: Crane Russak and Company.. in Beyond Nuclear Deterrence eds. 45–46. Fiscal Year 1981 (Washington: GPO. 98.. 5. In January 1980 Secretary of Defense Brown announced ‘We have recently completed a basic re-examination of our strategic policy. 96. 5 January. 101.S. 31 May.’ Benjamin S. Washington Post. A 11 February. Schlesinger and then publicly outlined by his successor. 101.’ Secretary of Defense Harold Brown. Ibid. 106. Schlesinger. There are indications that the modifications announced in early 1977 had been under consideration for some time. Intelligence. and Soviet Strategic Doctrine and Military Policies Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Thinking the Unthinkable: Studying New Approaches to a Nuclear War’. 5. Washington Post article refers to an on-going study to ‘determine the nuclear weapons employment strategy that would eliminate the USSR as a functioning national entity’. 93. 4.S. The article reports that another ‘Pentagon-financed consulting firm is looking at “the viability of employing strategic nuclear weapons to achieve regionalization of the Soviet Union”…an attack that would destroy regional areas that support the present Soviet government and “unleash forces of separatism. 95. Lambeth. 7.S. 68. Rumsfeld. 97. may very well envisage a massive and rapidly executed preemptive theater nuclear blitz against NATO. pp. FY 1978. 94. p.S. 1979.’ Bernard Weinraub. p. 149. p. 1977). ‘Brown Says Soviets Long Sought Way to Knock out U. See Weinraub and Robert Kaylor. p. 11–12. 1979. 105. 1979.A HISTORY OF THE U. FY 1981. 1979. coupled with a simultaneous countermilitary attack against all interesting targets in CONUS. 11 February. has written that the policy of recovery retardation was ‘shaped under Secretary of Defense James R. policy.
For a defense of arms control in light of the revisionist critique the author modestly suggests his own ‘What SALT Can (And Cannot) Do’. No. Foreign Policy. 33 (Winter 1978–79). pp.72 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 109. 92–100. .
There are three different sorts of activity called games which are of use to the conflict researcher or strategist. if we are to think rationally and carefully about war and its prevention.Games and Simulation Michael Nicholson* Types of Games It is a macabre irony that war. in the ordinary sense of the word are things which are done for amusement—that of the spectators if not of the participants. Secondly. games. does not mean that the activity of play may not have some correspondence with that in more deadly situations. A lot of games involve strategic factors. The connections between them are loose and tenuous and it is unfortunate that the same word is used to describe these three rather disparate activities. and that the participants emerge from the game more or less intact even if they are the losers. then we must use whatever psychological devices are available to assist us in clarity of thought rather than wallowing in self-indulgent emotionalism. one of the more horrific forms of human activity. Calling desperately important activities ‘games’ might be just one of those devices. It may also have its point. the word is used. However. should be increasingly discussed and analysed in terms of ‘games’. It is important to recognise the psychological barriers for what they are and not mistake them for reality. It is deeply ingrained and at best we must live with it. whether the game is an active physical game like football or a sedentary game like chess. and fears are sometimes expressed that such a usage trivialises analysis and makes us forget that the realities the games purport to represent are very unpleasant for someone. Admittedly the use of the word ‘game’ has been extended a long way from its everyday usage. That society is relatively unaffected by who wins or loses these games. We should peep over them from time to time to orient ourselves however unpleasant this may be. Even in these days of highly professionalised sport. most importantly the removal of the possibility that there will be some overwhelming nuclear catastrophe which will return this planet to the control of beetles. possibly someday ourselves. the analysis of these similarities may prove fruitful. . Whether this is true or not—and there are nontrivial reasons for giving this point of view some serious thought —it is unlikely that we shall be able to abolish the word ‘game’ from the sort of analysis of strategic issues which will be described in this article. If so. a purpose of trivialising the language of war is to put barriers between ourselves and reality in order to protect ourselves from psychological disaster. Nevertheless.
(ii) Simulation Games and (iii) Experimental Games. Experimental games are games played in the psychological laboratory for ‘real’ stakes unlike the imaginary stakes of the simulation. this is not only an expository article: I want to be comprehensible to the novice while still being of some interest to those with more specialist knowledge of some or all the fields. Finally I shall attempt some evaluation of these techniques as *Director. However. for not unnaturally many who have not been involved in such work assume that if the word ‘game’ appears to describe some analysis then the relations must be close—closer in fact than they really are. Subsequent developments have gone in different directions though even the less formal of them use a certain amount of symbolism and diagramatic representation. the Theory of Games. these experimental games are fundamentally different from the simulation games. but the same technique is widely used in business games. normally money. The aim of this article is to demonstrate the relationship which exists between these different areas of study. when the connections are not always very close. show what links there are between them and. War games and diplomatic games are the ones most likely to be of interest to readers of this article. These are normally games with a very simple structure and frequently only two players. University of Lancaster.74 GAMES AND SIMULATION particularly when the word itself is in danger of misleading. and cousins of the simulation exercise are used in the study of almost any form of human interaction. from the treatment of alcoholics to negotiation with terrorists. There are variants and offshoots of each of course but these represent three broad categories of activity. or Game Theory. Simulation games are very different. In this paper I shall go into the first two of these three forms of activity in some detail. but no detailed knowledge of any of them. Very briefly. Richardson Institute for Conflict and Peace Research. While a simulation can also be referred to as an experiment without undue violation of language. Depending on the choices the two or more players make. equally importantly what links do not exist. . The three are (i) the Theory of Games. Even apart from their simplicity. though also to point out that there are greater differences than are sometimes casually thought. Whether people behave this way in practice or not is another matter. the fact that there is an act of pretence in the simulation game which is absent from the mini-experimental game is in my view a fundamental difference. They involve people playing roles in imaginary worlds created by some game designer. or ‘mini-games’. In its earlier appearances it was presented in mathematical form and indeed aspects of it were in effect a form of applied mathematics except that the applications were to an idealised social world instead of an idealised natural world as is the case with more conventional applied mathematics. is intended to be a theory of rational behaviour under conflict situations. It involves an act of collective ‘Let’s pretend’ amongst the participants and the usefulness of such activities depends both on the conviction with which people can and do pretend and the relationship of such behaviour in ‘simulated’ situations to that in ‘real’ situations. I assume consciousness that these fields exist. they receive pay-offs.
though written in popular style. J. On the grounds that the human mind has a limited capacity. and in particular dwelt on neurotic interactions. political science. in different disciplines and thus disciplines can learn from each other. the techniques which are found useful in one social discipline can often be adapted to analyse problems in another. Berne’s book. though interesting. it has become clear that too great a respect for these boundaries made the study of many phenomena unduly cramped and it became fashionable to take an ‘interdisciplinary approach’ to the study of social behaviour. All are used in the analysis of other forms of social behaviour. and if a greater convenience is to be gained by ignoring them. While in its worst forms. Therefore I shall not deal with it further. For example. this is of course perfectly legitimate. There is a final use of the word game which I shall not deal with. The weakening of the disciplinary boundaries has been due to a growth in three tendencies. this is taken as a license for the interdisciplinary scholar to pontificate on practically anything without actually having to go to the trouble of doing much work. economics and so on. industrial relations and practically everywhere else. Their applications are by no means restricted to the international system and indeed their significance in other areas is equally. It is within this last category that the various techniques of simulation and the theory of games lie. However. First.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 75 devices for learning more about conflict behaviour in particular in the international system. it has been noticed that various phenomena appear. in somewhat different manifestations. the divisions being rather roughly determined by the sorts of interactions under study. was a serious study of how people interact at the personal level. the problems of siting a new airport do not rest under one disciplinary head. as social scientists have become more ambitious in the last three decades or so and more involved in the analysis of real world problems. One comment which applies to all three usages of the word ‘game’ is that they are not by any means restricted to their applications to international relations or violent conflict alone. ‘Game’ in Berne’s analysis is different again from any of the categories discussed in this paper. perhaps more. This is most obviously true of statistical analysis but as the range of techniques used by social scientists in different areas has expanded so the interest in other problems initiated by this transference of techniques has increased. It was nothing to do with people playing games for fun but the word was used as a concept for the analysis of individual behaviour. either immediately or for developments they might plausibly lead to. Finally. either now or in prospect. Conventionally the analysis of human behaviour has been divided into a variety of subgroups such as psychology. Secondly. Bargaining. sociology. Spanier’s book. Hence it becomes sensible to look for a general theory of bargaining. and it does not represent a distinct conceptual category. the elements of which can be interpreted in its different manifestations. for example takes place in economics. .Spanier wrote a book called Games Nations Play. then there is every reason for doing so. it has become clear that few problems fall neatly into one discipline alone. will enable us to better understand the behaviour of the international system and hopefully improve its operation. presumably after the psychoanalyst Berne’s book called Games People Play. does not I think use an analogue of Berne’s ‘game’ in his analysis of the international system. They are techniques which. in its better forms it does make it clear that disciplinary boundaries are for convenience only.
For the moment we shall regard these as numerical benefits such as money. but pointing to a distinction which again we shall discuss later. creating a whole domain of complexities absent from the relative simplicity of the two-person game. If it does not we can modify the assumption. A second and slightly modified edition appeared in 1947. and secondly it is a theory of how people ought to behave if they seek to achieve certain ends and is not a theory of how people necessarily behave in practice. We proceed by building a bare frame and filling it in as we go along. it is one aspect of prescriptive decision theory. Aspects of the wider contexts also have interest for the international theories or conflict analysis and hence I shall try to put these theories in their own broader context inasmuch as it is likely to be of interest to the conflict analyst. There is a major distinction between games in which there are just two players and those in which there are more than two. for in the second case coalitions are possible. The Theory of Games first appeared outside the mathematical journals in 1944 when the Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour by the mathematician John Von Neumann and the economist Oscar Morgenstern was published. As far as the second issue is concerned. From grossly simplified pictures we can move to the less simplified. I shall begin with the more highly structured and unrealistic versions of the initial game theory and move on to the developments which have come from this. it is a useful beginning to any theory of behaviour to assume first that people are aiming to achieve some specified goals. while in the case of the experimental games it is one area of experimental psychology.76 GAMES AND SIMULATION important. but we have the framework and context in which we are able to do this. These points may make the theory appear insubstantial as a tool for understanding the behaviour of the international system but this supposition would be false. There are payoffs which are the gains or losses which each of the players receive at the end of play. it is a theory which can only be directly applied to a grossly simplified picture of the world. between the game in which the result of playing is a redistribution of the available assets so that one person’s gain is another’s loss (the zero sum game) and that in which the payment may involve either a net gain or a net . This is precisely what has happened in the development of the theory of games. and then see if the observation of what actually goes on bears this assumption out. and as at about that time people began to have the opportunity to read complex works on mathematical economics it is probably this second edition which was and is read. In the case of game theory. The unreality of the initial picture need only disturb us if it appears difficult to elaborate. they themselves are only part of broader areas of study. There are players who are the familiar unitary decision makers. particularly in the case of simulation and the theory of games. I shall talk of the first as ‘strict game theory’ and the second as ‘extended game theory’. Further. most of these developments resulting from the reasonable ambition to apply the theory. and then on further to something which more closely corresponds to reality. First. However. The Theory of Games Two things (amongst others) are worth bearing prominently in mind when initially approaching the theory of games. In this seminal work the authors define the game as involving the following entities. we must veer away from spending too long on the methodological presuppositions of the social sciences and move on to the substance.
whether it is anticipated that there will be only one play with the opponent or several. for anyone who was innocent of games theory. it would take more than a cursory examination to determine what is a ‘best’ strategy to play in this game. but it will be convenience to leave these arguments until later. I do claim that the analysis of conflict behaviour in these terms is considerably more than this. but thirdly. one for each player. Another pair of strategies. Some of this is merely to make it clear—the obvious is after all comprehensible. the reader should shelve until later one query. and a strategy is a set of particular alternatives chosen from the initial move to the termination of a play. when all that seems to be happening is that there is an elaborate statement of the obvious.) . and where it has to be relaxed in order to make it more applicable to the sort of problem which concerns those interested in international conflict. is say A’s RL against B’s LR and this will lead us along the dotted line to the pay-off 10 and −4. L or R). A makes the choice of whether to go left or right (i. (I am not for the moment concerned with whether these would be very sensible strategies to use. The game is between two players A and B and they make successive choices of direction along a set of paths represented by this tree-like structure. the alternatives being defined by the game. A will receive 9 and B will lose 3 units. secondly to make it clear that we are operating in a particular tradition of the social sciences involving very tightly defined terms. if both A and B choose left on each occasion. for a strict games theorist would speak of a ‘play’ of chess in circumstances where normal beings would speak of a ‘game’ of chess. Remembering that a strategy was defined as the set of alternatives chosen at each move by the two parties.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 77 loss to all the competitors added together (the non-zero sum game). each at an end point where the pay-offs are determined as given. then B makes a choice of L or R and they end up after two such moves. −3). This sort of representation of a game is known as the game in extensive form. to show what sort of situation game theory might be applicable to. A games theorist (at least in his professional capacity) would speak of the game of chess meaning the rule book. units which for convenience can most easily be thought of as money sums. It is undeniably an extremely simple game but I suggest that even at this level of simplicity it is not utterly trivial in that. However. Let us consider a very simple game which is represented by diagram I. Thus. and for our present purposes most importantly. I have introduced these terms partly because they may be helpful to those who want to go further in the study of the theory of games (as I hope this paper will induce some to do). A game itself is defined as the sets of rules and conventions which define what is permissible or obligatory in the game— roughly speaking the rule book—while a play of a game is an instance of the game. A play of a game consists of a sequence of moves. particularly in the discussion of the theory of games. Before embarking on the descriptions of the theory and its evaluation within its own terms of reference. This is another slight departure from conventional usage. There are times. with the almost inevitable consequence that words as explicated in this way alter their meanings from the looser everyday usage (‘game’ itself being the most conspicuous victim).e. this can be expressed as saying that the consequence of A playing strategy Left-Left (LL) against B’s strategy LL is a pay-off pair of (9.
2. . A Game in Normal Form Now we can compress this game into its constituent strategies and put it in the matrix form presented on page 79.78 GAMES AND SIMULATION Fig. −4). This representation is known as the game in normal form. Notice for example that the entry under A’s row RL and B’s column LR (10. All the sixteen possible end points are represented in this matrix in a way which it is perhaps easier to grasp at least at this level of complexity. 1 A in Extensive Form Fig.
or sometimes (less misleadingly) as a constant sum game. Thus the worst outcome for A if strategy LL is played is −1. The best of A’s worst outcomes is 6 and the best of B’s worst outcomes is 0. This pair of strategies is known as the solution of the game. Thus an advisor to A. However. A gets all six units plus another from B but the pay-off to the two combined is nevertheless the same. In non-zero sum . if he moves to RR he will only get a pay-off of 4 instead of the 6 which his equilibrium strategy will bring. to assert that one’s goal is to maximise one’s own pay-off is exactly the same as saying that one’s goal is to minimise one’s opponent’s payoff. The questions to be asked about this are first how plausible is it within its own framework. For instance. Considering it from the point of view of A’s interests then. if LR is played +6 and so on as indicated in the column on the right. we are asserting that they see a conflict situation in which the gains of one party are matched by the losses of another and hence that there is no possibility of mutually beneficial collaboration. In the case of RL against RL this can be interpreted as saying that A is given 1 unit and B 5 units by some third party. In saying that someone perceives a situation as zero sum. namely that providing A sticks to his strategy he can only lose by moving from his equilibrium strategy. chess and so on? The last of these will be deferred for a few paragraphs. If we add the pay-offs together in each pair they all come to the same number. First let us examine the matrix a little more carefully and assume that the two players are conducting a sequence of plays and that they have both chosen the equilibrium strategies. which proposes that each player should pick out the least desirable consequence of each strategy and then choose that strategy which has the best worst outcome. Thus. such that if the two players follow the rule the game will be ‘solved’? The answer is a qualified ‘yes’. and likewise for him. The row at the bottom equivalently gives B’s worst outcomes. on the assumption that B was being advised by a like-minded consultant could hardly do otherwise than recommend the maximin strategy. and finally what is its application to the relatively unstructured situations we find in social life. The essence of zero-sum game is that the loss to oneself is a gain to one’s opponent. as distinct from the complex but nevertheless structured situations we find in card games. but on reflection it appears appropriate in the zero-sum case. namely 6. Hence. The same will apply to B. The basic question posed by Von Neumann and Morgenstern was: Is there a decision rule concerning the strategies—which is in some sense ‘rational’. providing B continues with his RL strategy then there is nothing which A can do which will profit him by altering his strategy.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 79 Before going on with further analysis we should pause to consider one important point. A will play LR and B will play RL. first let us go back to the game in normal form as represented by the pay-off matrix (fig 2). This sort of game is known (misleadingly) as a zero-sum game. always fearing for the worst. The term ‘zero-sum game’ is now widely used—commonly as a term of abuse. The game therefore is one for the division of some given quantity of goods. the total of which remains constant independently of what strategies the players use. On the face of it. secondly how generally can it be applied to a broader class of situations which are nevertheless highly structured in the same way as this is. it would seem to be advice of pessimism and gloom. The rule proposed is the famous maximin principle (note the spelling). In the case of LL against LR.1 It is a game in which any gain which A makes is matched by exactly the same loss to B. if this rule is applied.
in a game with still only two players and two moves each but with ten alternatives at each move (still a fairly simple game). While the matrix was chosen to make a point.3) B2 (2. what Von Neumann and Morgenstern showed is that it is possible to build around any two-person zero-sum game a broader game which will always have a saddle point. First. or even a real game one is likely to play (in the ordinary usage sense of the word ‘game’). in practice it will be impossible to do. but it is clear that it would be very easy to devise pay-off matrices which did not have this characteristic.80 GAMES AND SIMULATION situations this would not normally be the case but in zero sum situations it is. However. such that even if it is in principle possible to solve it. it would be hard to maintain that it would be the appropriate strategy for either player. Now in the matrix illustrating the game. the solution has the characteristic that it is the minimum pay-off to A in its column and the minimum pay-off to B in its row. at least as yet. it demonstrates that the maximum strategy is not universally the appropriate one and it can be asserted (if not here demonstrated) that it would indeed be inappropriate for broad categories of non-zero sum games. However. is going very rapidly to run into enormous problems of complexity. it appears to be the only sensible type of strategy. the game described involved two players in two moves and at each move each player had two alternatives to choose from. This is through the device of ‘mixed’ strategies. the particular strategy is chosen in a random manner so that the opponent cannot predict it in advance. However.4) A1 A2 In this game the maximin strategy in for A is A2 and for B is B2.5) (3. the player plays two or more strategies in a given proportion to each other but where on any given play. This gave us sixteen possible ending points to the game which. any game which is remotely like a real situation.2 Now while the maximin strategy has a great deal to be said for it in the zero-sum game it is not so obvious in the non-zero sum game. while if there had been four moves each. at least by hand. is relatively easy to grasp. These matrices do not have this equilibrium ‘saddle point’ which gives this solution its appeal.2) (4. The theory has been explained in terms of highly structured and extremely simple games. there would have been one hundred million possible ending points. Admittedly. and hence far from being a recommendation for the gloomy. the computer can deal with very large numbers of figures. where instead of playing a single strategy on each play. cannot solve a game of any complexity in the full game theoretic sense (which is not the same as saying that it cannot . but even a computer. Hence. To what extent is this heuristic and to what extent is it integral to the theory of games? Now even restricting ourselves to the zero-sum game there are two issues which immediately come up. there are ten thousand possible ending points. as demonstrated. with ten alternatives at each move. We can illustrate this by a simple example: B1 (5. The really severe problem must now be faced. It is this which gives it its stability.
as they will receive the (2. if there is one. The game’s richness in its capacity to reflect the underlying logic of a large number of social conflict situations. but many are sceptical of his success even in that sphere. it can be complicated to incorporate more of the realities of social life. This of course raises the problem of whether or when the pursuit of individual rationality. In the matrix below each player has two choices in what for the moment we shall think of as a one play of the game. and even more sceptical if that game analogue of perfect competition banishes or even could banish the problems expressed by the prisoner’s dilemma from other aspects of social life. and B) can be regarded as cooperative choices. which in one form or another is widely used. many attempts to ‘solve’ the prisoner’s dilemma have been made in the sense of trying to formulate ‘rational’ decision rules which will induce cooperative play instead of the non-cooperative play which would appear to be the most appropriate mode. at least in its narrow sense. Thus. chess. The second point is that the games as explained involve clear-cut moves and clear-cut ending points. However. has lead to wide interest in the prisoner’s dilemma. while the second can be regarded as defect choices. a point which of course has exercised political philosophers almost since there was such an enquiry. I shall discuss just one approach. and has spawned a vast literature from discussion of deterrence to anarchism. Consequently. Even a cursory examination of this game suggests that unless the two parties can communicate and form some binding agreement then it is only prudent for both parties to play the defect strategy.. two-alternative model while still retaining its essential character. cannot be beaten). e. Almost any rule of individual rationality which one could devise would appear to indicate this. It is thus possible to describe card games in this way as the moves. Adam Smith appeared to dispose of the question at least as far as the economic world was concerned. 2) pay-off instead of the (3.3 A great deal of the discussion of conflict problems in the extended game theory sense is done in terms of the famous game known as the prisoner’s dilemma.2) A1 A2 The first choice (A. In this sense it is a very rich model. and permissible alternative at each move are usually fairly cleared laid down. . produces socially optimal solutions. and the sheer intellectual paradox which raises the whole issue of the meaning of rational choice. its robustness in that it can be extended from the two-person. both a strategy and a play could be expressed unambiguously. a game (in the everyday sense of the word as well as the broader one) such as football is hard to describe rigorously in game theory terms because of the difficulty of defining a strategy sufficiently clearly in the appropriate way.3) (4. such that the player in the most favoured position. but it cannot prescribe a full scheme of play. B1 (3.1) B2 (1. 3) pay-off. It highlights a number of problems in conflict situations and further. However by playing ‘rationally’ both players will be worse off.4) (2. A very brief reminder might be helpful.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 81 play such a game.g. while in its elementary form it is very simple.
but where either the outcome would be in doubt or the costs of achieving victory would be too high. and other aspects of the undeniably complex international scene. Failure to cooperate in one dimension can be ‘punished’ by the other party by an instransigent attitude on some other issue. then the one-shot game analysis might become appropriate. a war which will risk the elimination or total transformation of one party. even though a particular issue might involve a prisoner’s dilemma situation (or indeed any other form of zero sum game) the set of interactions cannot be regarded independently. which again raise plentiful complications however desirable and necessary they may be in ordering the disordered . This is strengthened when we add the further complication that a lot of international conflicts are not necessarily zero sum (fortunately from all points of view except that of finding out manageable theories of such behaviour) and that the two-person game is also a rarity. thus reducing the temptation for such courses of action. often in many different domains of conduct such as trade. However. issues more commonly have a continuing quality which makes the supergame analysis more appropriate. If one were to put it in supergame terms. both zerosum games. Take for example. though again it is by no means clear that it is completely eliminated. with ‘win’. a strategic relationship between two countries. ‘draw’ and ‘lose’ as the pay-offs. but a little nearer. certainly on the international field. It is admittedly difficult to design optimum strategies in this simulation which have the same formal appeal as the maximum strategy in the zero-sum game. If we assume that the game goes on indefinitely then the motives for cooperative play become stronger. of course. Despite the fact that it does not lend itself to elegant mathematical formulations of solutions it has one other attribute which can reasonably be regarded as more useful for the social scientist—it gets a little closer to the problems of real life: not too close perhaps. Defections from the cooperative alternative can be ‘punished’ by the victim. for instance. claims in international waters and so on. then one might get very despondent about it being of much use in describing wars. If one issue dominated all others and is of a once and for all nature. However. Hence. where it is possible physically for either party to attack. where they would if they could win without damage. the threats of war. However. The point about the supergame analysis is that it reflects the fact that in most social interactions. then the whole situation is regarded as a play. if we now think of another game in which a play consists of a sequence of prisoner’s dilemmas it is not so clear that the paradox is so acute. Nevertheless. the non-cooperative strategy). Such a relationship is a continuing one and can be thought of as a sequence of plays in which the cooperative strategy is normally played (starting a war is. there is a continuous interaction between the parties concerned. the language of the theory of games gets somewhat cumbersome at this point as the concept of a play cannot be given a clear cut interpretation as it can in chess. such as. security. Alliances are a widespread phenomenon of international as well as other social behaviour. with a move taking place daily or whatever the suitably short period is. If the theory of games runs into difficulties in describing chess and football.82 GAMES AND SIMULATION The prisoner’s dilemma as posed is expressed as a single interaction between the two parties and the stark nature of the paradox is revealed—it is a single play game. the structure is a fruitful one for analysis. This sequence of prisoner’s dilemma games we shall call the ‘prisoner’s dilemma super-game’.
often played over some physical representation on a . Different countries may be given different sets of information. All this is apart. though as mentioned earlier there is scarcely any human activity involving conflict.4 Simulation Games It would be natural but incorrect to think that the theory of games was closely related to simulation gaming. but I shall just briefly comment on the other two first. Clearly the scope of inventiveness on the part of the designer is enormous. from the problem of the gross simplifications involved in regarding governments as unitary decision makers. in my view. that real international conflicts will be interpreted as games and solved either by the protagonists or by some outside analyst. though this is one problem we shall not attempt to tackle in this essay. There are many different forms of game.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 83 world. a specially important class being crisis games. business gaming. By now gaming has become a widely known and widely practised activity and most people interested in international relations are at least passingly familiar with it. In gaming it is less precisely defined. A training game is one where people are put in a situation where they have to take decisions as close as possible to the decisions which they may in fact have to make in reality. for example. Games have even appeared on television. Despite the similarity of titles the two fields of study are not particularly closely related to each other. Even different individuals within the teams may receive private briefs. However. It is this last with which I am most concerned and which raises some of the most interesting problems. Games of various sorts are used in many different contexts and for a wide variety of different purposes. Tactical games. even if not ‘strict’ game theory in the sense discussed above. crisis gaming or anything else. I shall make such connections as there are at a later stage. They are also used for different purposes which can be conveniently divided into training. its resolution or exacerbation. without some enormous and at the moment unimaginable theoretical breakthrough. Business games are probably the most highly developed. There can be many variations in the amount of information which people are given. educational and research. and a game where the communication between teams is relatively impersonal is only one. The very briefest description of the activity is therefore all that is necessary. The despondency is. it has been very fertile and has led to the understanding of various situations which might otherwise have gone unnoticed and to the development of models of behaviour which are very promising. theory is of use in providing a heuristic base for the analysis of certain types of conflict situation. to the game in the more orthodox sense of the word. and further there is an uneasy band in the spectrum which leads from the psychological laboratory or its makeshift equivalent. in the way it is used in war gaming. which someone has not gamed somewhere. up to a point. There are other games where the central focus of the game may be negotiation in a conference. perfectly justified. and have probably participated in some game somewhere or other. However. There is no realistic possibility. War games and diplomatic games are the ones which are of main relevance here. In this. one proviso still holds. The word ‘game’ is once again used in a more extended manner than in normal speech. of course.
The same applies to research games. the parallels are sufficiently close for us to be able to make preliminary theories about the behaviour of the larger system. where there is no necessary supposition that the participants are aspirant prime ministers. are of this nature. safety. The normal meaning of experimentation is the setting up of some situation in order to see how it behaves. One involves taking the entities one wants to observe and looking at them under controlled and typically simplified conditions. whereas an experiment was deliberately set up in order to carry out the observation. for example. in tactical games again) where the issues of the legitimacy and usefulness of the activity are raised in their most severe form. Thus an experiment in. If the research games pass the conceptual test. and where research and training overlap (e. There are two forms of experiment. Essentially the supposition (often very justified) is that there are two systems whose behaviour is similar —in this case the model aircraft and its much larger real-life parallel. Further the number of crises which have occurred in the world is relatively limited.84 GAMES AND SIMULATION terrain. another procedure is used when this is a simulation experiment. In the mechanical sciences. the distinction can get very tenuous at the periphery even though in the mass of experiments there is really little doubt as to what it is. Educational games are played to improve the participants’ understanding of the system in question without there being any supposition that he or she will become a participant in such a system. so generating our simulated or artificial crises in circumstances where no-one is going to get hurt is invaluable if we are to learn much about the phenomena—or at least they are invaluable if the crisis games do have some sufficient correspondence with reality . and for ethical reasons in the case of medical experiments. It is distinguished from ‘pure’ observation by the characteristic that a pure observation involves observing something which would have happened anyway. The two forms of game are not necessarily very distinct and differences might lie as much in the motive of the participants as the actual game itself. However. This form of experiment is used in the social sciences and the research aspects of gaming are precisely this: if we are interested in crisis behaviour we cannot experiment on crises. mechanics is designed so that the number of variables which can be manipulated is restricted.g. where experimentation is often done on animals until the researcher has a reasonably high probability concerning the effect of some treatment on the human being. leaving only educational efficacy as the remaining issue. This sort of experiment on simulated systems is widespread for reasons of economy. The purpose is to give the players some insight into the particular political process which will supplement the ideas he or she receives from more traditional methods. Thus. simulated ones are. In non-gaming situations there is of course widespread use of such ‘simulators’ of real processes—flight simulators being an obvious example. This is the standard understanding of an experiment. say. The model can be studied much more easily and cheaply than the larger system and while the results are different. However. then the other games will also do so. Simulation games are a form of experiment. Real battles are not easy to arrange. wind tunnels are used to study the behaviour of model aircraft as a guide to formulating theories as to the behaviour of real aircraft. international crisis games are widely played in higher educational institutions and even schools. The obvious point is that they are relatively inexpensive and errors have no disastrous ‘real’ consequences.
or for some other reason want the game to fail and this obviously can be achieved. Let us examine the process of simulation more closely. In real life. The more complex the situation is then the more can the flow of information. participants become more and more seriously involved and the suspension of disbelief necessary for the operation of the game becomes more clear-cut. However. Thus we have a curious situation. A strong personality in one team acting in a disparaging manner can ruin that . Some degree of commitment to the concept that gaming might at least possibly be interesting is necessary. However. a mark on a piece of paper. albeit a highly disciplined and structured one. Clearly personality and the goals of the participants are factors in this. I think it is also fair to point out that there may well be some real decision-makers who have a lack of imaginative awareness of the people represented by the numbers. I shall suggest that the tool is somewhat more useful than initial intuition would lead us to believe. in other words simulated decisionmakers may act like some real decision-makers because some real decision-makers lack the imagination even to imagine reality. do people believe in these fantasies? The answer appears to be surprisingly well. They appear to be clearly aware that no battle-fleets are at their disposal. that participants in a game are more anxious to show that gaming simulation is nonsense. it would not seem very likely that a group of people pretending to be statesmen in fact behave like real statesmen. The crux comes in the degree to which the participant in the simulation can react to the pseudo-information as if it were real information or whether the background awareness that there is no reality beyond the simulation effects his response to them in significant ways. A common feature of simulations which last over a period of a number of hours is that in the first hour or two participants treat the simulation light-heartedly and regard it quite simply as a game. for convenience taking a crisis simulation where there is interaction between teams. whatever their brief may say. It sometimes happens. and he can issue orders say. However. real troops would correspond to the number on the piece of paper whereas in the simulation all that exists is the number. correspond to the flow of information which a real decision-maker would have to cope with. On the face of it. to call up some reserves which in due course will mean that he has another set of figures before him. The participant has in front of him various pieces of paper giving him for example the number of troops he is asked to imagine are at his disposal. How well then. However. The experimenter in effect asks the participants to engage in a collective fantasy the nature of which he or she has laid down in some detail—a sort of collective gedanken experiment. The types of behaviour which are exhibited under simulation conditions do correspond with what one might call historically plausible patterns of behaviour. as far as the immediate experience of the experimental decision-maker is concerned it is much the same.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 85 for our observations of these simulations to be what they purport to be. a wide variety of people seem to operate very realistically in this sort of context. the statistics which in real life represent people and things in simulations are merely representations of a fantasy. The direct experiences of the simulation can be quite similar to the simulated object. albeit representing imaginary objects. as a game proceeds. as the author can testify.5 Technical sounding phrases like ‘body-count’ and ‘kill ratio’ are hardly likely to facilitate an imaginative awareness of the realities behind the figures.
both from the rather bizarre nature of some of the decisions taken and also from the attitudes expressed during the fairly extensive de-briefing sessions. and Rapoport. Computers. Suppose we are attempting a computer simulation of some . the similarities cease. most of the participants being undergraduate and graduate students of international relations. but as with many controlled experiments it takes place in an extremely artificial environment. The players are playing for real if relatively small stakes. though one hopes that the whole network of knowledge of conflict behaviour in very different areas will gradually link up into a coherent whole. that the participants had not managed to get beyond perceiving the game as just a game even if an interesting one. These resemble gaming simulations in that they involve the activity of attempting to study a real system by examining some analogous system which is easier to manipulate. A.86 GAMES AND SIMULATION team and if the behaviour of that team becomes particularly eccentric then it is likely to effect the credibility of the whole game for one reason or another. though. indeed. the author once ran a series of simulations between two small teams with a scenario which was relatively constrained. but it was fairly clear. The psychological issues involved in this are obviously of some significance and it is itself a subject for useful research. The games went on for between three and four hours. Thus. Because of this.6 This is not to argue that the problem is necessarily insurmountable. The results in consequence do not normally have any direct interpretation in ‘real’ and more complex systems. It does highlight the question. It is a conventional type of experiment in that one is making a direct observation of the relevant behaviour of interest. however. necessary research if simulation is to continue to be used with the almost innocent zeal with which some people use it at the moment. Perhaps the most widely known series of experiments is reported and analysed in Chammah. though the prisoner’s dilemma has had pride of place.. and do so in a realistic manner. so no act of imagination is involved. though in this case it was not surmounted. The participants were almost all reasonably committed to the idea of gaming and appeared to take that activity seriously. First there are all computer simulations. The money is real. More seriously the apparent need for a working-in period before the participants really get into the spirit of a simulation makes it difficult to do short-period simulations. that we are dealing with people’s capacity to imagine themselves in situations they are not in reality in. Now these games are typically played for money. The conceptual issues involved in an all computer simulation are of a totally different nature from a gaming simulation. tangible and can be taken away after the game. H. it was not felt that the results of the game were worth publishing. The Prisoner’s Dilemma. Here. Large numbers of these gaming experiments have been carried out on different games. The crucial role which imagination plays in simulation with people distinguishes it from the widespread use of experiment in games such as iterated plays of the prisoner’s dilemma. Simulation and Validity Simulations are frequently enacted with computers and a brief comment on this is appropriate. also The Journal of Conflict Resolution has been one of the main outlets for the report of this sort of gaming results. so that the participant becomes richer or poorer according to how he and his rival act.
Each element in the conflict system is programmed to respond according to some specified sets of rules. This of course may be probabilistic —the computer is not bound to deterministic rules. then dissatisfaction in the civilian sector becomes more pronounced (or in the simulation might be held to) and there becomes an increased probability of a revolution. there are teams who act in much the same sort of way as the players in the ordinary gaming simulation. Apart from the natural confusion of titles—that is computer and gaming simulations are both simulations even though they involve very different things —there is the added problem that there is a widespread use of part-computer. Instead of having a player playing the revolutionaries (which would of course be quite possible) it is more common to build a rule into the computer which will give the conditions dictating when a revolution will break out. The point of the computer simulation is that the system being studied is so complex in the rules operated. In the pure game such figures have to be more or less held constant. However. if decisions involve the reduction of resources to a civilian sector. When a person is a subject in a gaming simulation he can choose what to do. in many simulations involving armaments. some of the response to the output might come not from another player but from a computer.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 87 interacting conflict process over time. Effective crisis games can be constructed without a computer as the background economic and social data can reasonly be held constant. In these. Thus. That is. The consequences of applying this rule on its own would not require a computer. that it takes the computer to work out the implications of the decisions being taken. . In effect. where the decision rules are laid down. often very complex rules. the simulation consists of part theory in the form of the computer element of the simulation. it would be possible to work it out on paper. part-human simulations. then increase arms by per cent. or strikes which will inhibit output. The simulation shows what these are. and part game where the decision rules are left free for the participants. in practice it is impossible. Thus a very simplistic rule might be for a country X: if country Y increases its arms by x per cent in a period. that it is a totally different activity from gaming. starting at the same initial point but using different rules and different values for the various variables so that one can see the effect of various different operations. A lot of the interest in the simulation is precisely how a person does choose and to that extent it can be predicted. In principle. which in part accounts for the popularity of the crisis game as a teaching game. or something of the sort. This is commonly done when more general social variables are pertinent to the problem in hand as well as the decisions of other parties. in the computer simulation the computer is told what to choose—or at least the decision rule which will specify what to choose in any given situation. However. and perhaps in the number of participants. what one has done in the computer simulation is work out the implications of sets of decisions which were decided on in the first place. Its tremendous power is that there can be repeated reiterations of the simulation. The virtue of having a computer element in a gaming simulation is that one can generate complex sets of data which change according to the movement of a game (such as Gross National Product figures or other economic and social factors) which it would be impractical to generate in any other way. but what is investigated is the logical implications of that theory. It is clear however. However. a theory of conduct has already been assumed.
Again we emphasise this result in finding out the consequences of known and programmed decision rules. and from people who. The great growth in the development of statistical data concerning the international system has made it more and more practical to test statistical hypotheses in the same way that economists test statistical or econometric propositions. it is possible to get somewhat more detached criteria of whether gaming simulations and reality correspond. what goes on if the game appears to correspond in some reasonable degree to the sort of thing that goes on in the social interactions they allegedly simulate. that is.7 The degree of correspondence with ‘reality’ was sufficiently close at . We try to find a theory which will describe the behaviour in the game. completely concealed from the research worker. have gone to the considerable trouble of arranging and running a simulation and hence are prone to look on its potentialities optimistically. of which there must now be thousands. after all. Unfortunately we are on the edge of a paradox. we can only tell whether the theory of game behaviour corresponds to the theory of ‘real’ behaviour if we already have a theory of ‘real’ behaviour: but this is what we set off to find out about by means of simulation in the first place. Thus we can only find out if the answer is correct if we know the answer in the first place. whereas in the game the decision rules are up to the participants. This was substantially extended and improved by Paul Smoker who took into account the criticism of the INS and devised the International Processes Simulation (IPS) again a computer-person game. the real world being not. though perhaps rather less than one would have expected given the importance of the issue and the prevalence of gaming. Stuart Bremmer devised what is in effect an all computer variant of the INS. However. Indeed most of the methods are taken from the econometricians or in some areas notably ‘factor analysis’ from the psychologists. Essentially what has been done by some research workers is to compare particular sets of interactions in simulation worlds and compare them with similar interactions in the real world. and a certain amount of work has been done on this. The results of the gaming simulations of the sixties—most in one way or another derived from the International Simulation (INS) originating at North Western University under Professor Harold Guetzkow—were compared by Guetzkow in an article in 1969. Fortunately we are saved from this paradox by being able to weaken some of the conditions. As if to emphasise the practical interconnections through conceptual differences between computer simulations and gaming simulations. Human decision-makers are replaced by sets of decision rules which a human might have. usually made by people whose experience of the real system comes solely from reading about it. like the author. though one which can be steered around if care is used. mainly on the basis that in the author’s experience and the almost unanimous opinion of practitioners of gaming. The assertion has been made that gaming simulations do have some correspondence with reality. However. However. We simulate the behaviour of one system (‘reality’) with that of another (the ‘game’) in order to find out about this initial system. this is moderate evidence if only because it is subjective. Games appear to have a certain degree of ‘face validity’. It is a very flexible game which can be used in a wide variety of contexts.88 GAMES AND SIMULATION Probably the best known of the person computer games is the International Simulation (INS) devised originally by Harold Guezkow. this is the case.
STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 89
least to make one think the activity was worth developing, though not sufficiently close to make it appropriate to think of simulation experiments as appropriate surrogates for the international system which could be experimented on at will. A more recent study comparing the results of a particular simulation with real world data has been done by Dr. Dennis Sandole which would lead one again to much the same conclusion.8 From the analyst’s view this is optimistic. A powerful technique is developing and while there is nothing in logic or nature to say that it has not reached its peak as an accurate representation of the reality it endeavours to simulate, it would seem that optimism is in order. What is slightly more worrying is that too much faith can be put in this as a technique as it stands at the moment. Gaming is used in the policy making process —apparently widely, though no doubt the most interesting policy games are done in secret and I for one, am unlikely ever to know of them (though some of my readers might). As a source of ideas this can be invaluable. Gaming is a powerful technique for suggesting a wider range of outcomes than might have been thought of by conventional analysis alone. It can be regarded almost as a psychological trick for generating new ideas. However, it is not in any sense a test of what the outcomes of any set of actions will be. The simulations are simply not sufficiently close representations of the international system for one to give any credence to the view that because something does not happen in a simulation it will not happen in real life. It broadens the set of possible alternatives, but it does not exclude options—which of course an ideal form of simulation would be able to do. Present simulations are a long way from that position as yet. Conclusions I hope this analysis has shown that gaming simulation and the theory of games have only a little in common. They share a word, but a word which has changed its meaning. The word ‘game’ indeed is one of the most harried in the social sciences—being dragged up in all sorts of situations and forced to bear some most extraordinary meanings. Both the theory of games and simulation games are also, of course, tools for analysing the international system, though in very different ways. A game theoretic approach to analysing or recommending behaviour in a simulation game is of course appropriate and increasingly we might expect to see simulation as a test bed for a variety of both descriptive and prescriptive theories derived from essentially rather simple models. I repeat my nagging fear that too much will be read into the results of such tests. Results are encouraging, but we have not yet replicated the international system in the laboratory. We should treat the results of simulations seriously but with caution. NOTES
1. A justification for calling it a zero-sum game is that for any constant sum game there corresponds a zero-sum game in which the pay-offs add up to zero, where exactly the same mode of play is indicated. In this game, by deducting 3 from each player’s pay-off we get a zero-sum game for which the analysis below is exactly the same as this constant sum game.
90 GAMES AND SIMULATION
2. The technicalities get rather complicated and as they would not add very much to my basic argument I shall not define this further. Good elementary descriptions of the concept are given in Rapoport, Anatol Zero Sum Games and Williams, The Compleat Strategyst. 3. This might be less true in American football than soccer but even here, definitions would be loose by game theory standards. 4. This development of extended game theory first achieved widespread notice with the publication of T.C.Schelling’s, Strategy of Conflict and has developed widely since then. Hedley Bull denies that Schelling’s insights into the international system depend on his use of extended game theory. This involves a very curious reading of the book, and is an even harder position to maintain about subsequent work. 5. It is here that simulation methods must take into account both cultural and personality factors. The fact that many of the British decision-makers and senior officers in the Second World War had personally experienced warfare as junior officers (normally the most dangerous way) in the First World War, gave them an awareness of the reality behind the statistics to an unusual degree. 6. The conclusions of this study were presented in a report to the Social Science Research Committee. 7. Guetzkow, Harold ‘Some correspondences between Simulations and “Realities” in International Relations’, in Kaplan, Morten (ed). New Approaches to International Relations (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1968). 8. Sandole, Dennis, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, 1979.
The Future of Strategic Studies*
This brief article is concerned with the study of those aspects of international politics that are particularly closely related to the phenomenon of war. War is, of course, an antonym for peace and, to some extent, studies of peace and war may be regarded as interchangeable. In this respect, however, it is only some aspects of a peaceful world that are of interest: those that seem relevant to considering how peace turns into war or how war might be returned to peace. Thus, even after trying to discount the professional deformation of having once been a professor of ‘war studies’, I prefer the latter term to ‘peace studies’, for while all conceivable ‘war studies’ are relevant to examining the nature and effects of war and preparations for it, this is true only of a part of conceivable ‘peace studies’. Whatever name one uses for it, the activity is central to international studies. It is surely the frequent occurrence of large scale, legitimised armed conflict that has chiefly distinguished international politics from the domestic variety and which constitutes the dominant problem for both statesman and scholar. The systematic study of war is not new either for the historian—who, I assume, seeks the most accurate explication possible of unique events—or for the theorist who seeks general propositions. Grotius and Clausewitz remain two writers without whose contribution no education in war or strategic studies can be complete. Since 1945, however, there has been an explosion of writing. This is presumably attributable to the coincidence of several causes. Nuclear weapons have completed the rise, through two World Wars, of the problem of large scale war to the unquestioned apex of concern for the leaders of great powers. At the same time, social and intellectual trends have made explicit analysis and justification a feature of all aspects of public policy. Quantitative and other systematic techniques of analysis, once more characteristic of the natural sciences, have permeated strategic studies along with other social sciences. The resulting spate of strategic studies has considerable but limited achievements to its credit. One might distinguish three levels of effort: first, general theories of the causes of war and conditions of peace; these are scarcely distinguishable from theories of international politics in general and have made little progress, few being as suggestive as those of classical political theory; second, middle-range analyses of particular component characteristics of war or near-war; it is at this level that most progress has been made and at which the state of contemporary understanding appears to be most superior to previous ages; third, very detailed studies of military strategy and operations; here there has
theoretical apparatus has given a spurious appearance of precision and definitiveness to studies that are open to grave question either on logical grounds or because of the questionable devices used to generate the data. such approaches may be seductive because a great deal of time can be spent inculcating statistical and other methods that are admirable in themselves and which facilitate exercises. assembling and trying to generalize from large assemblies of supposedly authentic and extensive data. I have been much more favorably impressed by frankly impressionistic efforts to apply insights from such social sciences as psychology and management studies to the illumination of particular sub-areas of strategic *A paper delivered at a conference on the future of international studies at the Institute for International Studies. the University of South Carolina. Methods well designed for the study of many aspects of domestic or private international affairs are therefore not effectively transferable to the more important features of international politics. There would be no reason to criticise such work. other than a kindly concern for how well others spend their time. like Morgenthau’s Politics of Nations. There really does seem to be an inevitably inverse ratio between the importance of political theoretical questions and their amenability to mathematical treatment. partly intuitive. the production of large arrays of data and elaborately presented. although I believe they will increasingly be so if they continue in their present vein. held in November 1979. In teaching. Nevertheless. I do not believe the efforts of modern methodologists have been wasted. some based on traditional modes of thoughts and exposition. like Kaplan’s System and Process. . Even where these efforts have gone beyond mere analogy and metaphor.92 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES been immense proliferation of detail and refinement of technique. There can be no doubt such efforts have generated a thoroughly desirable consciousness about method and about the inevitable permeation of any intellectual enterprise by theory. I still subscribe to the view that this was inevitable because of the limited sets of phenomena and consequently the salience of apparently random events in international politics. it is my impression that they contribute little but occasional arduously attained corroboration of insights achieved long ago by traditional search for regularities performed by synthesising historians and traditional. On the other hand. In international and strategic studies it has been particularly useful to inject the concept of system. were it not for the undue influence—now receding—on junior students and the great expense involved in the work. sometimes with fictional data. The effort to generate sufficient amounts of processable data usually reduces the material to a level of abstract impoverishment that ensures that the conclusions are equally degraded. and yet others. but it is not clear that any new order of thought has emerged or that much contribution is made to the broader understanding of international affairs. if by no means always refined. more recent. others. that can be marked right or wrong and thereby reinforce the appearance of ‘scientific’ precision that pervades many studies of the real world. political theorists. Attempts to approach general theory have produced a large number of texts and monographs. based on mathematical models.
however. projection and operational codes. many important sub-areas of strategic action have been identified in recent years as definable concepts for investigation and even. where strategy merges with technique. These sub-areas have been systematically mapped to create a morphology of strategic affairs. presumably because it was at once vitally important and in essence simple. Examples of this process constitute a catalogue of some of the most interesting analytical work done in the field of strategic studies. Similar developments followed the Korean War. The invention of the nuclear weapon itself was very early seen to have transformed the role of armed force as an instrument of policy and the efforts of such social scientists as Bernard Brodie and Jacob Viner paralleled the speculations of some of the nuclear scientists themselves to produce theories of deterrence. When the idea of Massive Retaliation strained the latter concept. This was both a natural and a theoretically seminal development. Gaming. The concept of arms control itself is yet another product of the pressures of real affairs. seem to have been stimulated by key events in the real world which have been seized upon and singled out for systematic study. but a wholly new explicitness was involved on which subsequent work has built a highly elaborate body of literature and doctrine.THE FUTURE OF STRATEGIC STUDIES 93 affairs. modelling and so on have much to contribute once the goals and values of sub-areas are firmly defined. the resulting critique produced a spate of theoretical writings on limited war that constitutes the largest core of contemporary strategic thought. crops up as a central theme in most of the sub-areas of strategic theory ranging. which has been of an episodic kind. that relating the theory to specific cases was infinitely complex. are used as suggestive analogies to deepen understanding of such factors as perception. arms control. for example. the system analysts of strategic weapons demonstrated. Soon. where large amounts of genuine data are susceptible to highly sophisticated analysis. Many of the more successful excursions into this type of analysis. The essential element in this thought. The Truman Administration pragmatically developed a practice of limited war. the idea of controlled use of force to preserve it as an instrument of policy. for a theory of limited use of force was a natural dialectical sequel to the theory of non-use embodied in the concept of deterrence. The problem of deterrence did more than anything else to create the modern academic field of strategic studies. and allowing the concept of . for action. from counterinsurgency to arms control. have entered the vocabulary of statesmen as well as scholars. efforts in which knowledge about levels of social activity directly amenable to such sciences. Deterrence was not new and the early theoretical expositions in the nuclear age were demonstrably imperfect. and strategic stability. There has thus emerged an area of strategic studies. Anxious popular reactions to massive retaliation and the proliferation of nuclear weapons produced such movements as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the naïve revival of projects for disarmament culminating in the competitive Soviet-American blueprints for General and Complete Disarmament promulgated at the end of the fifties. This has been done so successfully that some of the resulting concepts such as escalation. in some cases. At this medium level of analysis. as in the famous RAND basing studies of the mid-fifties. Reaction against the implausibility of these schemes generated the idea of arms control— moderating the effect of armament without abolishing it.
and Vietnam provided an unfortunate practical test- . The Cuban missile crisis provided a neat (sometimes deceptively so) case study on which a great deal of theoretical speculation and further empirical studies have been based. This development has had profound practical and theoretical effects. possible causes of war. moreover. Here. preconception. as Alastair Buchan somewhat uncharacteristically put it. there can be no doubt that important aspects of strategic behaviour have been more clearly identified than ever before and that rich fields remain for further work. It would be possible to go on at considerable length extending the list of subcategories of strategic studies in which the stimulus for useful work has been derived from the course of events.A. undeniably valuable work has been done on specific aspects of the problem. once again. have been deflated as recent theory and events have settled more firmly into historical perspective. have linked up with other areas of political enquiry—bureaucratic politics. At the most general level. Practical diplomacy during the Dulles era seems to have combined with theoretical speculation about deterrence to produce the theory of escalation. Statesmen and Cold War Crises. have been much less successful. the socalled arms race. The role of communication. Such much-discussed concepts as the action-reaction cycle or the military-industrial complex do not take us noticeably further than the insights of Richard Cobden or J. fields. has encouraged new kinds of scholar and new types of analysis to enter the military field. while the more grandiose claims that a new science of crisis management had been born. the ‘new diplomacy’. New criteria such as crisis stability and controllability have been articulated for military forces. Moreover. Work such as Graham Allison’s and more recent studies such as Richard Bett’s Soldiers. the dynamics of military competition.94 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES control to enter military policy rather than to oppose it from without. decisionmaking and the role of personality. operational codes and perception have been interestingly explored in the concentrated light of crisis situations. Yet another discrete area of investigation identified largely because of dramatic historical episodes is that of crisis management. the idea that military policy should always respond closely to higher politico-strategic purpose and that that purpose should be control and restraint rather than mere effectiveness in narrowly military terms. in which methods developed in many other areas of social science find useful applications. These concepts may not have been wholly absent in earlier times. that crisis management was. but they are undoubtedly more dominant and more universally and consciously pursued than ever before. General theories of the role of armaments. such authors as Coral Bell have elaborated the typology of crisis and conducted useful speculation about the dynamics of crises.Hobson. and so on. Two organisations born of the CND era—the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute—have led in one of the more undeniable achievements of post-war strategic studies: the provision of a commonly available body of data about military affairs and detailed explications of some of the most important lines of military technological development. Once again it would appear that. While the conclusions of many such studies are ambiguous and debatable. The creative period of the Western alliance system in the fifties provoked interest in the dynamics of alliance formation and disintegration. specific aspects of the topic have lent themselves to detailed theoretical examination frequently giving scope for much quantitative work and systems analysis.
be a matter of judgment. however. is this more necessary than in strategic studies where so much of thought and practice is dominated by ‘the military’ who are unusually subject to rigidifying cultural and institutional forces. in NATO’s behaviour during the Czechoslovakian crisis of 1968. The emphasis laid on clear categories. Inspiring metaphors and analogies may emerge. it is a positive element when theoretical work about international affairs is fairly easily translated into language comprehensible to the practitioner. Further areas in which to pursue these problems are being identified in the contemporary analysis of the shifting military balance in Europe and. of course. work that tells one something novel about the ‘real’ world and does so relatively directly. It is not. Beyond the mere empirical effort to discover what happened. For me. it does enable him to operate. Soviet use of proxies has added a new aspect to thinking about alliances. orderly and explicit in his work. of course. This has revivified interest in the much more fundamental questions of threat perception and intelligence. While there is no necessary connection between method and political purpose. new interest in ‘power projection’ is providing another area in which broad speculation can be married to detailed systems analysis. Clearly this leads back to the earlier work done on operational codes and bureaucratic politics. The search for theoretical explanations and for the illumination of events both past and present can enrich understanding and counteract the bias of those with practical political purposes in mind. One recent example is the stimulus given by the October war of 1973 to work on the role of surprise. although the practitioner’s own theory may be unconscious and flawed. it is clear that those who are . it is merely that they are not irrelevant. that practitioners are necessarily or even often successful. A losing soccer side at least plays soccer. The process whereby real events start substantial lines of theoretical investigation still continues. Merely espousing such principles. of course. precise. that all research should be ‘applied’.THE FUTURE OF STRATEGIC STUDIES 95 bed for the concept. Nowhere. What the real world is. relatively closely directed toward common policy questions. but even then the danger of confusing them with reality is serious. perhaps. for. Not. and this suggests to me a certain validity in his approach. or of fictional systems. than the more sweeping assessments of the traditionalists. does not guarantee performance and many of the ‘mere’ judgments of the modernist may be less easy to evaluate. buried in his data collection perhaps. must. Vietnam followed Malaya and Algeria as the progenitor of elaborate and rather unusually cosmopolitan theorising about insurgency and counterinsurgency. It will be very obvious that my own prejudice is for medium range theoretical work. retrospectively. It is this instinct that makes me uneasy when alleged students of strategy spend their time studying the behaviour of traffic or children. At the same time. theorising that was able to draw upon much older work on revolution and nationalism. A final very recent example of scholarly activity stimulated by events can be drawn from Soviet intervention in Angola and Ethiopia. ‘scientific’ techniques might fortify research against old and false assumptions has been consciously grasped by much ‘peace research’. it does not trot on the field and play golf. comprehensive sets of data and consistent method by the more ‘modern’ students give a useful reinforcement to the duty of any scholar to be coherent. The possibility that new.
Recent years have revealed our ignorance of Soviet thinking and remind us that the secrecy of the Soviet Union and linguistic incompetence on our own part have filtered our perceptions of Soviet thought through a very limited set of interpreters. if not uncharted. are drawn both consciously and. We are. Moreover. one suspects. One is simply the set of questions that current events will force on academic attention in the same way as such problems as the limitation of war or crisis management did in the past. unquestionably on the threshold of a general review of strategic concepts. Superpower parity and nuclear proliferation do not merely raise questions of the medium range kind—the problem of extended deterrence under conditions of mutual vulnerability. verification and the effect of new technology on the stability of particular segments of the military balance. Already subordinate areas of particular interest are becoming identifiable. This needs correcting both by renewed literary research and by systematic examination of the . it seems that the peace researchers have made their most valuable contributions when directing their energies to the medium range problems: to such sociological areas as the structure. the remoteness of much modern work from the real world and even from the actual study of politics. shields political naïveté from disillusionment or discovery. Wholly new methodological lines of work may open up but my imagination does not identify them. there is at least as great a tendency for the peace researcher operating in a democracy to underestimate threats as for a soldier to exaggerate them. toward the modern approach. and to the collection of military data. Instead I see in the present intellectual scene two somewhat different orders of medium-level problem calling out for exploration. therefore. to technical military topics like control. As recent work on assessments of the strategic balance reveals. My own expectations about the most promising fields for future research are naturally coloured by my view of the recent past. Perhaps scientific and political progress are thought to go together. his bias has inevitably laid him as open as the military man to distortion. less kindly. Moreover there is a rich body of historical material and a rather less impressive body of earlier theoretical work to review and revise. An already emergent issue is the economic dimension of national security. There is scope here not merely for exploring the non-military instruments but for re-examining force from fresh directions. In many such activities the distinctive interest and approach of the peace researcher has frequently been illuminating. Beyond the mere empirical examination of interests and vulnerabilities.96 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES determined their work should be aimed at abolishing war and combatting the military establishments. temperamentally. will now be traversed in unprecedented detail. for example—but also reveal how the whole literature of deterrence that forms the centre-piece of post-war strategic thought has been restricted to one historical context. but I do not believe he has profited more than anyone else from espousing novel methodology. most public writing on deterrence is from the West and most of that American. In the perspective of this paper. dynamics and role of military institutions. The oil problem has opened up once more areas of investigation which. Wider horizons are opened up by the evolution of the strategic nuclear balance. such as submarine warfare. the raw material issues lead into the complex and subtle question of the relation of military power to other forms of coercion. In the first place.
THE FUTURE OF STRATEGIC STUDIES 97 considerable record of explicit Soviet strategic behaviour that is now available. much work to be done reintegrating politically desiccated strategic thought into the mainstream of the theory of international politics. the less culturally limited the examination. both general and particular. can gunboat diplomacy survive the increasing inhibitions on gunboats using their guns? All of these questions. Once more. seem to be rendering military force no less important a feature of the international political system but one increasingly exercised in latent and indirect ways. Several influences in the modern world. So far as the narrower topic of strategic nuclear deterrence is concerned there is an obvious need to adapt the original bipolar model to multipolar forms and this. would seem to open up rich possibilities for the systematic examination of recent and not so recent historical experience. One is the emerging pattern of security systems among the nations of the Third World and the relation of these to the developed states. The Vietnamese war showed the dangerous inadequacy of culturally confined concepts of deterrence and escalation. It also begins to emerge that some of that misapprehension may have arisen because American strategic theory in general and concepts of nuclear deterrence in particular. The globalisation of strategic affairs and the elaboration beyond their merely military dimension that the oil shock and the overseas extension of Soviet power projection so sharply accelerated in the seventies suggest several others among the virtually infinite potential lines of theoretical investigation that will open up in the next few years. and the consequences predicted. therefore. the reasons for the phenomenon or the illusion of it explored. This refinement will have to accommodate the extension of deterrence theory beyond Western assumptions. depends upon rational behaviour by the actors. too. Deterrence. is merely the signpost to the larger task of putting strategic studies on a multi-cultural basis. most conspicuously nuclear weapons but also changing social attitudes and economic circumstances. Already it is clear that much Western confusion about Soviet behaviour arises from misapprehension of Soviet theory. There is. it is often said. Work of this kind should contribute to more general theoretical speculation. . What are the processes by which lessons are derived from experience in strategic affairs and novel behaviour adopted? What. the better. Again. There are obvious questions related to scale and cultural diversity but also possibilities for renewed examination of the relationship between stages of socio-economic evolution and propensity for conflict and war. have been much more abstract and divorced from broader questions of foreign policy than has been true of the Soviet Union. the topic has immense ramifications. Indeed the achievement of sovereignty by many times the number of independent actors on the traditional Eurocentric international scene provides a general opportunity to review many long-accepted theoretical propositions. This challenge. It needs to be determined more decisively whether this is so. A major part of this work will concern the non-belligerent roles of military coercive potential. however. for instance will be the long-term effect on the latent influence of military power if military power is increasingly latent? Even more specifically. will clearly require a shift out of the solely occidental mould. This is clearly not necessarily so but even within the concept itself there is room for much refinement of terms.
I believe the foremost achievement of strategic studies since 1945 has been to delineate in considerable detail the structure and dynamics of very many particular aspects of the strategic scene and to elaborate a general theory of deterrence that is now increasingly seen to have been partial and incomplete. refined and enriched by borrowings and contributions from the new quantitative and other approaches developed. they are typically expensive in both money and manpower. Immense though the effort invested here has been and considerable though the results have been in explicating the problem. It has yet to be demonstrated. it will be a process akin to a great deal of that with which modern conflict and peace research has busied itself and these disciplines may have a chance to prove their worth as the more traditional practitioners and theorists begin to plough the same furrows.98 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES The relationship between social system and security policy is also an area likely to command attention within the more parochial confines of the democracies. that this apparatus has had much influence on the course of military policy. To conclude. It is true that the SALT agreement(s) are major monuments to laborious negotiation and that there is an unprecedented number of other treaties extant between the great powers. quantitative and otherwise. all constitute obvious opportunities for applying the more intensive methods of investigation. in my view. If the spirit of arms control is modifying behaviour. been advanced most by relatively traditional methods of analysis. I tend to doubt whether they can ever be as productive as the more traditional methods. If this is so. The immediate problem of sustaining popular support for military establishments that are rarely employed and for the more expensive weapons systems which. developed in the ‘domestic’ social sciences. It seems very likely that the complexity of the military balance and its dynamics exceeds the capacity of necessarily simplified negotiating processes. employment policy. however. so that there has been a danger. So far I do not think those new approaches have contributed much in their own right to the actual understanding of strategic affairs. Special aspects of the problem. within those establishments. it is probably more by modifying the development of national security policies than by explicit. NATO countries in particular are clearly experiencing difficulty in sustaining the large but inhibited military programmes required by a deterrent stalemate. While it would be wrong as well as futile to suggest that such methods should be abandoned. Confidence building and mutually reassuring unilateral policies may be the dominant modes of ‘regulation’. agreed international regulation. now perhaps receding. that . such as the sociology of armed forces within democracies. may well stimulate renewed interest in the whole question of the role of military force within the international system. This is clearly a subject to which both peace researchers and those more reconciled to the traditional security framework will contribute. recruitment and social justice. are the least likely to be used. A final example of how the next stage of strategic theory may develop can be taken from the field of arms control. voluntary and compulsory systems of military service. often to great advantage. the practical achievements in the real world of affairs have been extremely limited. All of this work has. in the realms of ‘domestic’ political science. Consequently the future may lie more in the refinement of informal processes for international communication and moderation of strategic behaviour than in explicit agreement.
I hope the future will see no danger of academic energy being devoted more to methodological speculation. than to a direct assault on the many intriguing questions prompted by the evolution of strategic affairs.THE FUTURE OF STRATEGIC STUDIES 99 they would absorb too much of the resources available for research and of the mental horizons of newcomers to the field. not to say wrangling. A useful jolt having been given to complacency about accepted thought. .
Canada. Carnegie—Mellon University. 1900–1916 (1974) and Armies in Europe (1980). Social Sciences as Sorcery (1972). He has co-edited. South Africa. University of Newcastle upon Tyne. England. John Gooch teaches history at the University of Lancaster and is co-editor of the Journal of Strategic Studies. .Notes on Contributors S. contains a bibliography of his works. and Cultural Pollution (forthcoming). His publications include Oligopoly and Conflict: A Dynamic Approach (1972) and Conflict Analysis (1970). Ibadan. the University of Stockholm and University College. with Edward M. London. He has written elsewhere on strategic arms control.A. He has held posts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.L. History: Choice and Commitment (1977). University of Wales.Andreski is Professor and Head of Department of Sociology at the University of Reading. a collection of his essays. Arms and Strategy (1973) and Strategic Thought in the Nuclear Age (coauthor) (1980). Chile. He has held academic posts in many countries. besides articles on economic theory and political science in such journals as the Journal of The Royal Statistical Society. University of London. 1968–1977. He has written The Sea in Modern Strategy (1967). Santiago. Aaron L. Felix Gilbert is Professor Emeritus. (1973). Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research. He was Professor of War Studies. Among his other books are The Plans of War: The General Staff and British Military Strategy c. Over the last two years he has served as a consultant to the National Security Council and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. School of Historical Studies. He was formerly Professor of History at Bryn Mawr College. His books include Military Organisation and Society (1954). Laurence Martin is Vice-Chancellor. Michael Nicholson is from the Richardson Institute for Conflict and Peace Research at the University of Lancaster. 1964–1968.Friedberg is a doctoral candidate in Government at Harvard University. The Economic Journal.S. City University of New York and Simon Fraser University. The Prospects of a Revolution in the U. The Journal of Peace Research and Political Studies. Makers of Modern Strategy. and Professor of International Politics. including Rhodes University.Earle and Gordon Craig. School of Social Sciences.
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