Issues in Defence Policy

Edited by

Amos Perlmutter and John Gooch


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.O. or by any means. 3. stored in a retrieval photocopying.J. or transmitted in any form. electronic. Ltd British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Strategy and the social sciences. England This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library. recording. 2005. “To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www. Military policy I.eBookstore. 3. 07511 Copyright © 1981 Frank Cass & Co. 1. without the prior permission of Frank Cass and Company Limited. .” and in the United States of America by FRANK CASS AND COMPANY LIMITED c/o Biblio Distribution Centre 8 1 Adams Drive. London E11 IRS. Ltd. published by Frank Cass & Co. 11 Gainsborough Road. Gooch. P. Vol. or All rights reserved. mechanical. N. John 355′ . Amos II. Totowa.tandf. Perlmutter. No. No part of this publication may be reproduced. Box 327.First published 1981 in Great Britain by FRANK CASS AND COMPANY LIMITED Gainsborough House.

S.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.

’ The First World War demonstrated to strategic theorists the great destructive energies of the modern state. it was claimed. Strategy abandoned its historical roots. the time it took to mobilize those energies. The Second World War became a gigantic contest of resources rather than a duel of rapier-like thrusts. and for the strategist the chief lesson was perhaps that. which could then be applied to particular cases. and turned to the behavioural sciences in order to perform what now became its . Two rival intellectual approaches had by then opened up to attract the theorist. in a critical respect: it offered the possibility of mobilizing—to all intents and purposes. The advent of nuclear fission altered the nature of strategy. but the threat of war a central one. on the other. immediately—force of hitherto unimagined magnitude. the study of the past might reveal the existence of ‘rules’ or guidelines. With limited means at the generals’ disposal. which is the conscious exploitation of military force to promote the aims of policy. the vital sectors of enemy resistance were extraordinarily difficult to paralyse —not least because they were diffuse and difficult to determine. After the industrial revolution of the early nineteenth century. enable the practitioner to grasp a certain number of fundamental truths. and when the nature of those means conferred no advantage to either combatant unless one side possessed superior weapons. Clausewitz’s denial that war could be a single. strategy consisted in little more than the art of manoeuvring for an advantage on the field of battle. and to its destructive capacity. the application of pure reason might. and the difficulty of focussing them on specific and decisive military objectives. On the one hand. This latter was the position adopted by Foch. strategy became focused on the discovery of the means of effective application of force in a situation of balance. and of strategic thought. 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. instantaneous act had lost its validity.Introduction Strategy. who informed the readers of The Principles of War that ‘Strategy is but a question of will and common sense. The availability of nuclear weapons to both the United States and the USSR rendered full-fledged war a less useful instrument of policy. with the means in his hands. but appearances were delusory. which had as a consequence produced a situation in which no major power could hope to gain a qualitative advantage over a like rival. has passed through a number of phases of development which have related most closely to the degree to which force can be mobilized.

They also help to point the direction which future studies may take. Little enough attention has been paid to thinking about the processes which go into strategic thought. object is to encourage in its practitioners a measure of introspection. political scientists and the like to pause from their labours in order to consider the process rather than the product. and one less intimately connected with the nature of the means to hand. no less important. though it now seems to some the least relevant of the social sciences. Greater understanding of the complex processes which go into the creation of strategic thought can only be of value. could as often be mis-used. 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’. are equally forceful examples of the way in which societal parameters can shape strategic policies. and where the contributions of all the disciplines which were and are contributors to strategic thought can most profitably be made. rather than to analysing its products. Perhaps this is where past. and that it must be understood if contemporary nostrums are not to pass unquestioned into the canons of orthodoxy. so. . strategy has become a social science. present and future truly meet.2 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES central function: estimating the wide range of moves and reactions which occupied the area between peace and war. in a second sense also. it would seem to judge by the difficulty of persuading economists. and Germany’s to Blitzkrieg. Strategy has. The first three studies in this volume contribute to a recognition that it could be used most effectively. at any rate. 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.’ 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. The impact of history upon strategy gives it a strong claim to consideration. 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. however. A second. Britain’s attachment to blockade. widened in a second sense.

unless we also classify Napoleon’s rule as a military dictatorship. In the ancient Chinese political thinkers we repeatedly find the idea that great inequalities of wealth adversely affect the military strength. This fact is connected with the incompatibility between the internal and external uses of the armed forces. 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. or preparation. Polybius explains the victories of the Romans by the advantages of their mixed constitution. 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. the less capable they become of waging a war.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. 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. weapons and the economic potential—but also more intangible factors stemming from the internal dynamics of political systems. 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. the less amenable and dependable they become as tools of internal repression. for war. which (according to him) contrasts with the cowardice and factiousness of the soldiers who live luxuriously in the cities. 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. As a rule they emerge in countries at peace. It is also a historical fact that the military dictators (at least in modern times) have been notably pacific in external relations. while all the most aggressive and successfully imperialist polities were ruled by civilians. On this point Mao was a true heir of Lord Shang. . In other words: the more often the armed forces are used internally. which makes them less apt for one if they are being employed for the other. and secondly (when the military participation ratio is high) the more intensively they are—or have recently been—involved in a war. In contrast to what is suggested by the confused use of the term ‘militarism’. It is therefore. 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. Kemal’s dictatorship in Turkey being the only exception. The thesis presented here is that there exists an intrinsic incompatibility between the internal and the external uses of the armed forces.

The factors indicated above account to a large extent for the victories of the Israelis over the Arabs.4 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES By an external use I mean war.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. they are unlikely to do so as well as when the discipline is backed by conviction. The foregoing semi-deductive arguments are supported by comparative evidence such as the usually poor military performance of military dictatorships. so indispensable on a battlefield. in the sense in which this term is employed in my Military Organization and Society. nepotism and avoidance of harsher duties—destroy the respect of the soldiers for their commanders. may enhance the army’s performance in a war but it tends to lessen its willingness and dependability as an instrument against fellow citizens. England. the more support an army enjoys from the mass of the citizens. stressing the brotherhood within the nation. cannot flourish in a body riven by factiousness and intrigue. Such a situation may give rise to a stable dictatorship or remain in the inconclusive state of praetorianism. the greater is the likelihood that it will fight well and be helped by them. even when this would maximise the forces’ power. the less remains for other activities. by an internal use I mean the fighting. The desire to use the army against the civilian population may impede a full utilisation of the available manpower. The second aspect of the incompatibility in question is connected with the feelings of national solidarity: clearly. and that the equipment and the organisation adapted to one use will seldom be the best for another. 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. Israel is a *The University of Reading. The latter can occur in two ways. 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. than when it is despised and hated by them. Trust. The importance of this factor co-varies with the military participation ratio because. Internal politicking—usually accompanied by peculation. In conjunction with the impact of the defeat. threatening or coercing of fellow citizens and training for this activity. solidarity. . The armed forces’ role as an engine of coercion has the opposite effect and tends to weaken their strength for war. 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. in which case they become politicised and the arena for the struggles for power will be situated within them. although even hostile conscripts can be made to fight. Patriotic propaganda. because short-term conscripts are less dependable as agents of internal coercion than long-term professionals. 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. impede selection for posts on the basis of fitness and generally undermine the morale and the esprit de corps. dedication and the sense of honour. the preparations for it and the activities involved in maintaining a state of readiness.

while the only successful invasion of one state by another in post-colonial Africa was led by a civilian dictator of Tanzania. Nyere. and (symptomatically. The ease with which the Chinese warlords (in contrast to the communists) were subjugated by the Japanese. ruled by a woman prime minister) and Pakistan governed by a general. it is not the authoritarian character of the political system but the factionalism and corruption which seem to inhere in a purely military. 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. 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. It seems that despite very different circumstances. that the French statesmen had also two subsidiary aims in view: firstly. however. of having at their disposal an independent force which would make a military coup more difficult and risky to effect. It appears. The latter instances bring us to an important distinction. Though not explicitly analysed. similar motives partly account for the prominent role of the SS in Nazi Germany and of the NKVD troops (now KGB) in the USSR. they remain outside the main political arena. Another pertinent example is the war between India (like Israel. however. that undermines the armed forces’ battleworthiness. of course. unlegitimated rule. and secondly. the incompatibility between the internal and the external uses of the armed forces has been intuitively recognised by a number of statesmen. Amin. which was not the case in Indonesia. have proved as equally stable as the latter. not to give the generals an opportunity to acquire a taste for ‘pushing around’ civilians. The Somali war against Ethiopia launched by a military dictator ended in a failure. but not militocratic: it has a citizen army which strictly obeys the constitutional authorities. do not prove) my contention. A number of other examples support (though. The poor showing of the military dictators against the communists in South East Asia wherever the latter could put an army into the field. had they not been smashed from outside. The fascist states might. 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. . The War of the Pacific between Chile and Peru. 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. Mustafa Kemal illustrates this point. I suspect. The long history of militocracy in Latin America. 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. 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.ON THE PEACEFUL DISPOSITION OF MILITARY DICTATORSHIPS 5 highly militarised (and even militaristic) country. In both cases. perhaps) it overthrew a military dictator of Uganda. The ignominious collapse of the armies of Chiang-Kai-Tchek before the Maoist onslaught.

ruled by military dictators…not the other way round. 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. then Russia. let alone reforming it. On the other hand. and its army has a long tradition of obedience to the constituted authority.6 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES The vulnerability of the militocracies stems from the fundamental incompatibility we have discussed. especially of the communist kind. Significantly perhaps. The African . Lacking a doctrine which would legitimate and guide their actions. The military dictators in Eastern Europe during the inter-war period waged no wars on one another. Being primarily organised for defending the country. the military dictator of Spain employed all his guile to keep out of it. kept well out of the wars (except on a purely formal level in some instances) fought by parliamentary and dynastic states. With the progress of secularisation. which was also the area of the least disturbed international peace. 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. with Catholicism constituting its basic ideology. 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. Rather than purely militocratic. and took up arms against Russia only on the latter’s orders. 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. Paraguay had a dictator but he was a doctor. The only part of the world where military dictatorships were already common in the nineteenth century was the area of Iberian civilisation. whereas no such tendencies appear to be strong in one-party states. officers seldom know what to do. the army is seldom a good tool for ruling it. It was the latter which seized half the territory of its southern neighbour. not a general. The most persistently expanding empire in modern history—Muscovy. the chief motivation of the Portuguese military rebels seems to have been the desire to avoid the privations. where only one serious war between nations had occurred. Franco’s regime collapsed with the death of the caudillo and its relative durability was due to its mixed character. it was at first clericalist and semi-fascist. The Romanian Antonescu acquiesced to one third of his country being given to Hungary by Hitler. into which the democratic United States went with great energy. the military government of Portugal ended the war (February 1976) and dismantled the empire. Indeed. the Paraguayan resistance to the joint attack by Brazil. prone to military rule lost its last few colonies to the democratic United States. The British and the French colonial empires were built under parliamentary governments (and the same can be said of Belgium and Holland) while Spain. then the USSR—has never been ruled by a military usurper. The Iberic military dictators. moreover. and later predominantly a clericalist and bureaucratic regime. While the fascist dictator of Italy eagerly entered the war started by his erstwhile disciple. he did little to bolster up either. Argentina and Uruguay. dangers and frustration of the unending war. the system’s ideological foundations have been eroded and its powers of resistance correspondingly diminished.

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. The political set up in Japan at that time has been described as ‘government by assassination’. However. Among possible counter examples. although the officers were far from being the obedient executors of the civilian rulers’ will. regardless of whether they are hereditary emirs. Japan was only partly an instance of militocracy in the sense of the possession of all political authority by military officers. even if justified on such grounds. 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. it would be more exact to speak of assassination as the means of . Above all the emperor. admiration for military prowess and reverence for the military rank. 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. though undoubtedly authoritarian and militaristic. True. The opposition to zionism is a point of agreement among the Arabs. which entailed the inculcation of the martial virtues. warlike sentiments. the willingness to give so much scope to foreign business is incompatible with aggressive nationalism. in the way their counterparts were in Britain. the worship of the emperor and the cult of military virtues. Far from resulting from sheer coercion (which was. that is. Nevertheless. Together with Germany (whether Hohenzollern or nazi) Japan provided the purest modern example of militarism in the correct sense of this term. It does not seem that Nasser or Kassim were any keener on fighting the Israelis than were King Faruk or Feisal or Nuri Pasha. though not actually governing. but they simply continued the struggle which began before they came to power. Nevertheless. the policy of harnessing the energies of the entire nation for the purpose of waging war. the Latin American military dictators offer help to each other in dealing with the opposition. electioneering politicians or military dictators. 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. and the latter have not shown themselves to be clearly more adamant. and he was able to dismiss him after Hiroshima. It is germane to the present thesis that. the United States or the USSR. Though to a much greater extent than Germany. despite the recently unearthed evidence that Roosevelt did everything he could to provoke Japan into attacking the United States. of course. the Arab military dictators took part in the wars against Israel. employed against recalcitrants) the devout obedience of the populace stemmed from the fanatical nationalism. as there can be no doubt about Japan’s militarism and imperialism. 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. instead of sabre-rattling. 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. inviting foreign business may be regarded as the best method of furthering national prosperity. This may be the case where the military rulers accept bribes from foreign companies. Tojo’s rule in Japan calls for an examination.ON THE PEACEFUL DISPOSITION OF MILITARY DICTATORSHIPS 7 military dictators also remain at peace with their neighbours.

of confluence rather than interdependence between the two phenomena: having just miraculously won their independence. 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.8 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES pressure rather than governing. 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. because. Nonetheless. however. In the first place fascism and militarism are not co- . in contrast to what usually happens. his heirs. but his coup and the subsequent rule detracted rather than added to their strength. Pilsudski’s dictatorship in Poland came into existence through a classic military uprising. followed by a brief and limited civil war of the kind familiar in the countries of Iberic civilisation. combined with the fear of their relentless wrath. Kemal. The moral pressure of their selfsacrifice. 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. 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. and feeling constantly threatened by bigger neighbours. 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. known as ‘the colonels’. the conspirators on all occasions made appeals to the Emperor. Unlike most Latin American and African dictators. Pilsudski’s standing was in the first place due to his role as the leader in the wars of independence. as the wars he waged were defensive. Accusing their victims of treason. who made no attempt to take over the top positions but were content to remain in their posts. Pilsudski profited from these attitudes. 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. To call the present non-communist dictatorships in Latin America ‘fascist’ or ‘militarist’ is to sow confusion. can hardly be regarded as internationally aggressive. the monarchy having been abolished. the Poles naturally tended to be superpatriotic and revered the martial virtues and their military leaders. however. silenced the more liberal and pacific politicians and hoisted into leadership the unwavering protagonists of militarism and imperialism. 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. neither the conspirators nor the imperialist leaders whom they had lifted to power could be accused of venality. It was the case. it exemplified militarism (in the sense defined above) as well as militocracy. 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. Despite ultra-patriotic oratory. often surrendering voluntarily and submitting to punishment. and he remained genuinely preoccupied with the problems of defence.

But Lenin. None of these features can be found in the Latin American dictatorships commonly labelled as fascist. and Castro and Hua have. This feature was accompanied by the essentially novel cluster of intensive indoctrination and mobilisation of the masses. aggressive nationalism and militarism. The present regimes in the Argentine. however. 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. militarism was an essential part of fascism. and that the expression ‘military dictatorship’ hardly fits these cases. Geisel. the ultra-montane clericalism provided the ideological cement in Franco’s regime. 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.ON THE PEACEFUL DISPOSITION OF MILITARY DICTATORSHIPS 9 extensive: true. but it did not depend on or require it. an ideology and ideologically-committed followers. . in the USSR in the days of Stalin or Lenin. incidentally. Its most original feature was the organisation of a political party on para-military lines but in total independence of the existing army. Pinochet and Videla operate without any ideological propulsion except the purely negative: the opposition to communism. 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. or in Cuba or Czechoslovakia today. notwithstanding the important differences in ideology and practice between Castro and Mussolini. as the constitutional government was sliding into complete disorder. It follows then that the armed forces of the Latin American republics (with the exception of Cuba) are in reality misnamed police forces. the junta constitute the first government in that country’s history consisting mainly of people of lower middleclass origin. In Chile. Hitler and Mussolini had. and the institutionalisation of the undisputed supremacy of the party and its leader. whereas among Allende’s ministers there were many patricians like himself. and that they fit the thesis that militocracies are seldom externally militant. a political system which rests almost entirely on coercion by the police. Uruguay and Brazil are almost perfect examples of the pure police state: that is. Chile. 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. This. Systematic repression and the omnipotence of the police are immensely older phenomena than fascism. Strictly speaking. moreover. Although he had no ideology of his own creation. 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. fighting other armies—while by ‘police’ we ought to mean organised bodies of armed men adapted to coercing civilian populations. it is enough to observe that these regimes are neither nationalist nor militarist. which must be defined in terms of what was specific and new in Mussolini’s regime. militarism had deeper roots in republican France and the German constitutional monarchy before 1914 than in Mussolini’s Italy. In contrast. by ‘army’ or ‘military force’ we ought to mean an organised body of armed men adapted to waging war—that is.

London: Routledge and Kegan. .10 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES NOTES 1. Paul and California: California University Press. 1968.

But when the clash of armies has begun. serves best to show what is demanded from commander and troops in a battle. and that wars are decided in battles. What kind of qualities are required. but the works of military writers left few traces in them. Problems concerning arrangements to be made before a battle can be solved by prudence—we would say. he regards it as the culmination of war: the highest triumph a man can obtain is victory in battle. Its centerpiece is the account of a battle. but he wrote the account of the battle as a historian. they flee also on the left. 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. Machiavelli presents in a cool. Military writers and political historians existed side by side without taking much notice of each . by intelligence. it can best be demonstrated by example. however. 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. Machiavelli explains in lengthy detail how the Roman commanders drew up their troops for battle. In the other parts of the book. other qualities— qualities of a moral nature—are needed. Histories were full of descriptions of battles. his thesis that the Romans were superior to the moderns in organizing their armed forces. their manner of conducting war ought to be imitated by modern commanders in all its details. that for centuries. what they achieve. 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. Machiavelli’s Art of War shows the beginning of a division which continued throughout the following centuries. Although these classical views might have influenced Machiavelli in giving the battle the central place in his book. it was a famous and influential work. cannot be demonstrated by reasoning. preferably an artistically impressive narration. behold. their array so crowded that they scarcely can use their swords? … See them flee on the right flank. This is good classical tradition. when the preparations have ended and the fighting ought to begin.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. it is certain. the change in tone suggests still another motif. almost detached way. battles had this role in the writings of ancient historians. 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. the tone of the book suddenly changes. A narration. as they fight. however. Such qualities show themselves in the effects which they have on others.

epitomize extended parts of their stories. depended on whether the war was a war of defense or had the aim of territorial expansion.2 Because battles were subjects which invited the exercise of literary art.5 Clausewitz certainly had feeling for the dramatic elements. stressing the difficulties in bringing the Italian forces to a combined action and Clarendon’s account of the second battle of Newbury. A consequence of Clausewitz’s theories was to raise the importance of military history. the literary quality of a battle. Actually from the nineteenth century onwards. sometimes accounts of battles are small literary masterpieces which can be detached from their context and read independently. An account of what happened in a war. and war is only continuation of policy by other means. by Tolstoy in War and Peace. historians ought no longer to have treated battles as a special event which could be isolated from its context. ‘only a great battle can produce a major decision’. They had perhaps even more appeal to professional writers than to professional historians. present very full descriptions of battles because battles give an opportunity for demonstrating literary gifts. as ‘concentrated war’. composition of a battle scene remained a test of their literary talent. Princeton. 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. one is tempted to say ‘from above’. The most unforgettable battle scenes were composed by two of the greatest nineteenth-century novelists. while giving little attention to the details of military operations. in his view. What a battle really meant and implied. Historical writers. his description of the battle of Waterloo3 is a great work of literary art. Whatever you think about Treitschke’s political philosophy. Guicciardini’s account of the battle of Fornovo. The battle is only part of a larger context. Battle and campaign are subordinated to the purposes of war. by then Clausewitz had developed his military theories and given a new evaluation of the role of the battle in military operations. 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. as no other military writer. were usually *Institute for Advanced Study. as such they separate one phase of the historical development from the next and serve to structure the historical work. They also invite general reflections on the strengths and weaknesses of the contestants and represent turning points in the course of events. . descriptions of battles continued to be popular in the nineteenth century. It may seem astounding to ascribe to Clausewitz a part in reducing the role of the battle in war because Clausewitz.’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. showing the lack of energy on the royal side. and the war must be considered as an instrument that serves the general policy of a state.12 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES other. Nevertheless he placed the outcome of the battle in relation to the war as a whole. But for historians too. even descriptions of campaigns. and Zola in DéZbacle. stressed the importance of the battle as ‘the centre of gravity’ of an entire campaign.

For instance. Delbrück’s work seems to indicate little of these intentions. 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. 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. But in the work of a historian such statements would be inappropriate. or of history in general. the later Emperor Frederick. however. 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. and that the study of Clausewitz made him decide to concentrate on military history in his historical studies. but Clausewitz demonstrated that each war had its own character. must consider the limitations which are imposed by external circumstances of a technical or geographic nature.ACHIEVEMENTS AND FAILURES OF MILITARY HISTORY 13 included in historical narrations.’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. to be a critic. throughout the 1830s. 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. and must analyze the political intentions behind the enterprise of war.6 The process of their absorption was slow. He must be content to explain what has happened. Military history is an integral element of political history. gradual and partial. Clausewitz’s influence on German historical thinking becomes noticeable only at the end of the nineteenth century and even then remained limited. Clausewitz’s writings were published only after his death. which was shaped both by its political purposes and by the particular means available to achieve them. 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.8 Delbrück reports that when he was a young man the works of Clausewitz were given to him by the Prussian Crown Prince. at the same time this would do justice to what had been achieved. 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. There were only two important historians— both somewhat academic outsiders—who realized that in consequence of Clausewitz’s thought. At first glance. some discussion of his views began in the middle of the nineteenth century.’ Delbrück’s views on Clausewitz are somewhat startling. that these theories did not immediately penetrate into the writing of history. the military writer might discuss that the Prussians. after the battle of Waterloo.9 Delbrück found a fundamental difference between the work of the military writer and the work of the historian. Description of the efforts which had been made would show why further efforts had been impossible. The military writer has the right. even the obligation. It is understandable. He is able to say and ought to say what actions of the commander were faulty and what he ought to have done. It seems almost old-fashioned. 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. A look at the table of contents gives the impression that the work is .

But Hintze goes beyond Delbrück with the conclusion which he draws from this thesis. which was pursued by Frederick the Great. and Napoleon’s strategy of annihilation. 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. In his view. suffered a humiliating defeat by Napoleon and then. Delbrück’s first important publication was a biography of Gneisenau. organization and size of units. this view determined Delbrück’s famous but also much-debated and contested distinction between a strategy of attrition. one of Hintze’s chief concerns was establishment of the relationship which existed in history between military organization and political structure.11 The fault of the Prussian king and government was not a lack of insight into the necessity of . and Hintze began with research in Prussian eighteenth-century history and was soon recognized as an outstanding expert in this field. which had been considered as invincible. whose Geschichte der Infanterie (history of infantry) Delbrück undoubtedly knew. 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. Clausewitz’s statement also formed a starting point for Otto Hintze’s thought. in order to achieve coordination of politics and war. 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. each of them treating a particular period of European history from the ancient world on to the modern age. had been the decisive force behind the Prussian reforms. 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. after internal reforms.14 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES primarily an account of a large number of individual battles. He had a precursor in Wilhelm Rüstow. it triumphed in the wars of liberation. equipment and weapons. For most historians the ideas which had been developed in German philosophy and German classical literature. Hintze began his career as a student of Prussian history and Prussian history had a direct bearing on this problem. For many years. however. one of the most admired military leaders of the period of the war of liberation. The final chapter of these sections usually analyzes the significant battles of the period. Changes in the conduct of war can be seen as reflections of the differences between the periods in which the war took place. means for supply and provisioning. 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. It is preceded. The work is divided into various sections. 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. that in selecting the battles which he analyzes he was not determined by the fame of a battle or by its dramatic character. The Prussian army of the eighteenth century. Delbrück explains. military organization and political structure had to correspond to each other and to be closely integrated. It was the starting point for Clausewitz’s thinking about the problems of war. however. joined with the political and social changes in France during the revolutionary period. combat order. For Prussians this period of Prussian reforms was the most splendid but also the most discussed event of recent history.

Hintze had reservations about the tendency to see in history chiefly the working of individualities and individual factors. 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. refined and also modified his thesis. and although he remained convinced of the correctness and fruitfulness of this approach. They knew about the weaknesses and deficiencies of the Prussian administration. an empire or a territorial state. The struggles which unavoidably took place among these communities were the chief cause for the developments in military organizations and political institutions. for many years. although he did not believe in the existence of strict historical laws. 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. Hintze made a sharp distinction between early periods in which . Hintze. The issue was for him important also because. One country triumphed over others and expanded and this led to new military and political institutions. the nobility. but they needed a basis or a support in the institutional sphere to become effective. Hintze would not have denied the influence of the ‘new ideas’ of the time. But every change interfered with the privileges of the ruling class. Hintze was concerned with the relationship between military organization and political structure not only because. he had a pronounced interest in questions of historical method. But the dominating role of this class in Frederican Prussia made it impossible to overcome their resistance to a measure of this kind. and most institutions were established in order to serve and promote this basic need. 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. 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. ‘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 funds necessary to make army service attractive could be easily provided by abolishing the privilege of the nobility of exemption from the estate tax. from his early years on. whether it was a town. In following essays13 he substantiated. 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.ACHIEVEMENTS AND FAILURES OF MILITARY HISTORY 15 reform. 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. the king would not dare—or was not able—to overcome their obstinate resistance. They differed because the most appropriate form of defense and war depended on the nature of the country which it was to protect. Although Hintze’s main thesis—the dependence of the political structure on military needs—is clearly presented. 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. Spencer or Buckle—that history developed according to laws. his first attempt to demonstrate the importance of this relationship was somewhat simple and bare.’ 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.

Of course. They were citizen armies inspired by patriotism. but Britain’s wars against Napoleon were fought on the ‘fringes’ of Europe. 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. in Hintze’s view. although frequently intermixed with conscripts. the degree of democratization depended on the outside pressure to which a nation was exposed. military needs must precede all others. 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. 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. Hintze had an explanation why various European countries must differ in the particularities of their political structure. this reasoning served to justify the maintenance of a monarchical . impelled by social rather than political factors. The victorious French armies had been assembled on the basis of conscription.16 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES people lived in clan and tribal communities and two later periods of European history during which. chiefly composed of mercenaries. The people had to have a voice in the formation of their government. Feudal armies were armies of knights. 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. Although the organization of national armies since the French Revolution made the introduction of a representative element in the political constitution unavoidable. the age of nationalism and liberalism. authoritarian system in the Prussian-German Reich. In a country whose existence was threatened by other states. and its constitution could not hand over complete control to the people. was slower and more gradual than on the Continent. In Great Britain the development. and in consequence all over Europe military organizations and political institutions were changed. citizens needed a guarantee that the sacrifices which they were asked to undertake were made in their own interests and in their own cause. This was the crucial step towards the emergence of standing armies. According to Hintze the transition from the ancien regime to the nineteenth century. that means of horsemen. their superiority ended when foot soldiers had learned to fight as tactical units—that was the secret of the success. It must continue to contain an authoritarian element. Thus. the political institutions were decisively patterned by military institutions and their needs—the age of feudalism and the modern age. feeling that the cause for which they fought was their own cause. hierarchically structured body. the necessary complement of a military organization based on general conscription was a representative government. With general conscription becoming the basis for the formation of armed forces. He was unable to admit that his thesis about the relationship between military order and political structure implied a gradual disappearance of the monarchical. 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. first of the Swiss and then of the German Landsknechte. she had not been completely defeated by French military power as had the armies of the continental states.

He was a historian. raised questions about their validity and made a rethinking of the problems of politics and war necessary. Certainly. 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. 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. 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. Actually in the last twenty years of his life he made some of his most important contributions to the study of history. Hintze was aware of that. But. 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. he also recognized. A change also took place in Delbrück’s outlook. half-authoritarian system in a world moving steadily towards greater democratization. Interference of an all-powerful Parliament which might give preference to non-military interests would be dangerous. that this event necessitated a revision of his historical theories. Insofar as general conscription demanded a closer connection between individual and state. Actually Hintze went beyond justifying the maintenance of the German halfconstitutional. after the War. as we have shown. however. the commander-in-chief. The end of the Prussian monarchy was to him a personal loss.ACHIEVEMENTS AND FAILURES OF MILITARY HISTORY 17 authoritarian regime in Prussia-Germany. 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. . equal citizen rights and the existence of elected representative bodies fulfilled these needs. Like Hintze. and as such he disdained the idea of teaching generals how to conduct military operations. The preservation of an authoritarian and monarchical element in constitutional life had not resulted in providing superior military leadership and fighting capacity. 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. he became one of the most bitter and most vocal critics of the German High Command and its subordination of political to military considerations. It has to be admitted that Delbrück’s distinction was rather artificial and he did not remain within the limits which he had set. Delbrück’s confidence in the excellence of Prussian military thinking had been undermined. Hintze became much more pluralistic. it changed their attitude. well-equipped and well-trained armed forces a necessity. it penetrated to the core of their historical notions. The outcome of the First World War represented a refutation of Hintze’s views. must have an independent authority. and the monarch.

Moreover. bound together in a common history which. The most important. it provoked thinking about the possibility of the appearance of different kinds of war: limited political wars and world wars. and one cannot compromise with evil. the First World War demonstrated that. crucial factor which the Second World War brought into the discussion of military affairs. with military establishments that had their traditions. 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. despite significant differences. It ended with a polarization of power which had far-reaching. This was no longer a European war. discipline and hierarchy so that they tended to form a state within the state. seapower was revealed as a determining factor whereas its role in previous wars had been contributory to the outcome rather than decisive. The result has been a strange change in . It was this situation which Delbrück’s and Hintze’s writings had explored. whatever the differences of military conduct in history. had led to common institutional features and some commonly held beliefs. Military affairs had a certain amount of autonomy. but policy could not be made without it. The military factor did no longer dominate. but also could not be disregarded. The presence of moral considerations. in a democratic age. it did not make policy. 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. Before entering upon a war or continuing it. Consequently. This distinction. closely related to Clausewitz’s ideas. make it impossible to end a war before the enemy is completely helpless.14 First of all. competing against each other but also conscious of a common interest in maintaining the status quo. every war among great powers becomes an extreme war. in wars of this kind military considerations and calculations prevail over political considerations—the military become the decision-makers. however. but they unavoidably touched upon all aspects of political and social life. it must carefully consider whether its people regard the war as morally justified or justifiable. dominating the globe. The sufferings. 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. partly still unexplored consequences for the future organization of national armies. however. With the First World War it became evident that the wars of the twentieth century would be fundamentally different from those of preceding times.18 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES The First World War placed political and military reasoning into new relationships. The Second World War reinforced and accentuated the novel nature of twentiethcentury war. The tendency to carry through the war till the enemy is completely defeated and surrenders has been immeasurably strengthened by the outlawry of war. was the invention and employment of new weapons: it brought us the notion of nuclear war. suggests that. One novel feature of the First World War was immediately regarded as most consequential: the participation of the United States and Japan. also limits the freedom of action of a government. to which the entire population is subjected. ‘Unconditional surrender’ is the necessary conclusion of a war among great modern nations.

5. and Clarendon. chapter 11 of Clausewitz. 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. Machiavelli’s description of an ‘ideal battle’ will be found in the third book of his Art of War. In the second book of his Deutsche Geschichte im neunzehnten Jahrhundert. Princeton. The armed forces have become more isolated from the bulk of the population. military affairs have become very remote to the great mass of the people. intellectual and social developments. The Chief Works. 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. chapter 15. ed. on one hand. In Francesco Guicciardini. Their views and judgements. NOTES 1. I have used the translation by Allan Gilbert. We cannot leave the route which Delbrück and Hintze have charted. One might say that. My Early Life. only go forward on it. which is published in the second volume of Machiavelli. book II. History of the Rebellion. The revolutionary changes in military affairs have given rise to a great number of valuable technical investigations about new weapons. chapters 154–160. involved in the problems of the construction of the new weapons. On Clausewitz as historian. people are no longer able to comprehend what the new weapons can do and what a future war will be.Churchill. On Clausewitz’s influence. about changes in tactics and strategy. have moved much closer to the military establishment.ACHIEVEMENTS AND FAILURES OF MILITARY HISTORY 19 the relationship between military and civilian life. we certainly cannot do it without greater insight into the decision-making process. book VIII. and his attempt to ‘treat . 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. see Michael Howard’s introductory essay to the translation mentioned in the previous note. chapters 8 and 9. 1965. These quotations are from book IV. Storia d’Italia. 2. there are certain groups which. by Peter Paret and Michael Howard. the decision-making process is no longer centred exclusively at the top—the head of the government or the military commander. Manpower has become less important. but having become more distant from the military establishment. Now easily available in Winston S. but that military problems are now of urgent importance to certain groups of society. their choice is limited by previously made decisions and arrangements in the construction of the implements of war. 1976. and transl. but are more intensely connected with particular groups and the interests of certain classes. its connection with industrial life and with sections of the academic community has become very close. If we ever gain such insight. but some of the most interesting and important ones are studies concerned with the decision-making process. Durham. However. 4. 3. 6. about the possibilities of limited war. On War.

1962) pp. Hintze’s essay ‘Staatenbildung und Verfassungsentwicklung’. Clausewitz and the State. Although. 64–87. see Juergen Kocka. see Peter Paret. vol. 12. Hans-Ulrich Wehler.20 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 7. 9. 1955). . Hans Delbrück als Kritiker der Wilhelminischen Epoche (Düsseldorf. IV (Göttingen. Clausewitz and the State (New York. Shattered Peace (Boston. 1976) pp. not always acceptable. Wehler. 10. Clausewitz (Paris. under the title ‘Military Organization and the Organization of the State’ in English in The Historical Essays of Otto Hintze. 1976) pp. is printed in English translation in The Historical Essays of Otto Hintze. This article. see Peter Paret. III. 1975). first published in 1896. What I have in mind. see the article ‘Hans Delbrück’ by Andreas Hillgruber in Deutsche Historiker. Penser La Guerre. 1976) are stimulating for considerations about changes in military thinking. both authors try to explain how the decision to use the atomic bomb was taken. ‘Otto Hintze’ in Deutsche Historiker. political. The work was reedited in 1962 by Otto Haintz. 352–4. 14. which contains a bibliographical essay. Gesammelte Abhandlungen: Staat und Verfassung. will be found in Otto Hintze. 11. 1975) and Daniel Yergin. For Hintze. 331–355. in my opinion. pp. Oestreich (Goettingen. ed. 15. published 1902. also Annelise Thimme. 1977). 34–51. and also my introduction to The Historical Essays of Otto Hintze (New York. the reflections in Raymond Aron. (New York. ed. diplomatic and military events in analytic narratives’. both with bibliographies. vol.Sherwin. 180–215. pp. can be seen from the books by Martin J. For Delbrück’s view of Clausewitz as ‘military critic’. 1972). Published. II: L’âge planétaire. ed. see particularly vol. For Hans Delbrück. A World Destroyed (New York. brought about by the two World Wars. 13. 8.

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. Concurrently with this development there occurred a resurgence of the military aristocracy. 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. 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. in the words of one historian. more accurately. and used theoretically in developing the ‘principles of war’ and in devising tactical doctrine and strategic hypotheses with which to engage the next enemy. The officer now had to be given a specialist education. nowhere more so than in Great Britain.2 It also demonstrates that history may still have its uses.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. or. 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 . Analysis of how this has occurred helps explain why it is that. rather than merely an apprenticeship in the craft of war. Prior to that war. until not long since. This was certainly the case until after the Second World War. when mathematicians and social scientists shouldered aside historians as the most valued consorts of the military. It seems possible to argue that it has been much mis-used. history—had been used extensively: both practically applied in the training of officers. been much used in developing war theory in its most general sense. History has. ‘we have steadily lost confidence in the continuing relevance of the recent past’. past experience—that is to say.’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. riding a wave of reform which put much greater emphasis on intellectual capacity than had previously been the case. its use has been misunderstood and its findings misapplied.

as well as large practical experience. Lloyd brought formidable intellectual gifts. Munich. 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. . the theory of knowledge generally embodied in the ideas of the Enlightenment determined that history would be used as a quarry. However. Here the Enlightenment came to the assistance of the educators and the educated. the intellectuals of the Enlightenment set to work to prove the truth of the proposition that laws existed in all fields of human endeavour. and others followed at Wiener Neustadt. War they tended to exempt from their enquiries. Lloyd spoke and wrote fluent French. and who knew and admired Chevalier Folard. Lloyd dealt with the same great themes as his master: what was man’s will? how did it operate. The professionalization of war thus led to the search for truths from immediate past experience. who had fought in Italy in 1742–3 and again in 1746. written about 1766. and practical experience of military engineering in Spain. it was covered with shadows. to the study of war. but by the addition of what were not far removed from theories of behaviour. Petersburg. Italian and Spanish. Guided by Montesquieu. The past is. This mode of attacking the past was first established in Britain by Edward Lloyd in what was nominally a work of history. rather than Rousseau. and had enough German to make himself understood. and that from those patterns valid generalisations could be made about human behaviour. the maréchal de Saxe had been prepared to admit that war was a science— thereby tacitly acknowledging that. His education had included a spell at the Jesuit college in Rome. if only you could find out what they were. as yet. of itself. by contributing the notion that patterns existed not simply in relation to scientific phenomena. the ore extracted from the past would be smelted not by historical analysis as it later came to be understood. University of Lancaster. It was Montesquieu.22 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES created in France in 1776. who influenced Lloyd’s intellect. such laws existed—though he hastily added that. St. 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. or what we might call contemporary history. Naples and Sandhurst. which acted as the catalyst to produce pure metal. As early as 1732. the marquis of Las Minas. Here he was much influenced by his patron. where he had trained for the priesthood. No doubt as a consequence of his travels. one of a small but significant group of French thinkers who were currently examining war in an historical context.3 The most obvious material to utilise in the new processes of education lay readily to hand in the form of immediate past experience. However. in his Essais philosophiques sur les gouvernements. for it too. and what determined his relations with the physical world? In the course of his enquiries.4 Lloyd’s A History of the Late War in Germany (1766) was his best known foray into the military field. a somewhat formless substance to which some sort of ordering process must be applied if it is to yield much. *Department of History. and remains so. but also in all human activity. for many of them regarded it as wasteful and not a few as conjectural.

both sensual and social—especially fear. Observation of the past had undoubtedly helped Lloyd to conclude that wars were never terminated by complete victories. by way of the pastoral to the commercial—to explain the relationship between social grouping and the extent of individual liberty. and discipline long before the war was over and the book begun. geography. would we expect him to have done so. Rather. 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. fear. knowing his background and his interests. opinion. Pietro Verri. the development of a campaign—but in its essence required consideration of psychology.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. The sheer range of Lloyd’s interests. Here. physiology. in April 1760 that Lloyd had already formed his beliefs about the character and qualities of physical force. extending from obsessive criticisms about the imperfections of military dress to detailed appreciation of military geography. which strikes the modern reader as remarkable not least for its width. disguised from many of his subsequent readers the true nature of his fundamental thought processes. he categorised and generalised with the aid of observations made during the war itself.5 In other writings. for example.7 Lloyd was at once led off down a by-way far from an established path of history. and adopting a pluralist model to explain human behaviour much along the lines of his mentor. the role of courage. Lloyd was crossing the boundaries between history and the social sciences. Lloyd did not approach the task of analysing the war of 1756–63 by way of straightforward historical method. arguing that these did not explain how and why armies were put in motion. anthropology. This he believed to be the most difficult branch of the profession: ‘It supposes a perfect knowledge of the passions. Montesquieu. liberty. he drew even farther away from mere analysis of the technical factors which operated on the battlefield.6 The basis of Lloyd’s analysis was his definition of the ‘philosophy of war’. kingdoms were not overturned. music and other phenomena which together governed men’s behaviour. War was not to be explained by a narrative of discrete historical events—the gradual unfolding of a battle. honour and shame—as well as riches. as circumstances may require’. It is clear. or else disregarded as the product of a despised eighteenth century intuition and rationalism. as he examined in their turn the passions. religion and economics.8 From this conclusion. because it is from that source. The subtleties of his analysis. from a letter written by an Italian friend of Lloyd’s. religion. nor. as in his other analytical works. were obscured by his more striking use of the past. which he saw as being the art of persuasion by means of which a general mastered the inclinations of his troops. He was certainly not regaling his readers with ‘lessons’ from history. as well as history. In . That the vehicle for this analysis was ostensibly a history was essentially coincidental and not purposive. 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 subsequently committed his views to print in what was history only in a special sense. and nations not enslaved. a general must draw his arguments to persuade or dissuade. his eighteenth century formalism betrayed himself in a fondness for reducing problems to equations or figures.

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. but the simplest thing is difficult’. 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. and the two most influential theorists of the age were to play their part in the process. Clausewitz and Jomini were to continue. rather than causing him to arrive at them. and not the most important one. including presumably.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. the prescriptions of analysis. the strength of the Enlightenment— individualism.13 Aron has claimed that his method was closer to the eighteenth century than to the nineteenth. What Lloyd had begun. However.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. Clausewitz started from a concept of nature which allowed him to theorise on the intrinsic essence of things. First. Clausewitz continued the manipulation of the past. historical works. In a note dated 10 July 1827. is confirmed by the fact that the starting point of On War as it was printed is a series of abstract definitions. 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. limited in reality—it has been claimed that it was his reflection on historical evidence which prompted him to arrive at it in 1827. Paret has recently suggested that Clausewitz’s approach to knowledge was akin to that of Husserlian phenomenology. 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.14 Certainly. history existed to test. risk and discovery—supposedly went down before the rational and impersonal force of the Hegelian dialectic. Reality obtruded in two guises. adventure.10 It was this which led him to attempt to equip war with a framework of theory which would serve others as a guide.11 Unwittingly. which was of uneven value and often confusing in detail. The past was only a tributary to his channel of thought.12 and the proposition that history served chiefly to confirm Clausewitz’s conclusions. A critical use of history was only one facet of his approach to his task. it will have been correlated with history. Clausewitz stated that he had tested each of his conclusions against the actual history of war. and perhaps modify. it served as proof of theory: ‘Historical examples . in the case of his theory of the dual nature of war—absolute in the abstract. In the development of his theory. 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’. and more obviously inspired by Kant’s ‘Table of Categories’ than by Hegel. Theory itself existed to serve as a guide for anyone wishing to learn about war from books. indeed. Clausewitz was too much a man of experience to allow his theoretical definitions to stand untested by reality.24 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES the confrontation between Lloyd and Clausewitz.

For him. and never always made it clear which side of the balance he was working on. ‘Where a new or debatable point of view is concerned’ he wrote. le rapport entre theorie et histoire demeure au centre de la réflexion’. When he came to deploy historical examples in his work.’19 Perhaps the most striking example of Clausewitz’s use of history comes in Book VII of On War. il observe l’histoire a travers ses concepts’. or of its application. Clausewitz used history as an adjunct to theory—a means by which to test propositions. can guarantee success. for he used history in two distinct but inter-related ways. Every age.17 Clausewitz’s use of history was further obscured because he concerned himself before all else with the relationship between theory and practice. or a decisive turn in the battle not perceived sooner. who may lay out the stages of a battle and the movement of troops. Clausewitz used history to emphasize that only abstractions of the broadest generalization could remain immutable. when applied to a defined situation. Raymond Aron has succinctly summed up the problem: ‘Clausewitz ne precise pas.’20 In laying out his ideas.18 Clausewitz defined historical research as the discovery and interpretation of equivocal facts.CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 25 clarify everything and also provide the best kind of proof in the empirical sciences. preferring to use it sparingly rather than pepper his audience with numerous cases in point. history was the . both as a whole and in regard to their details. being convinced that the farther one was removed from events in time the less one could know about them. As an illustrative or heuristic device. He was also careful to limit his use of history. it could be deployed in order to provide an explanation of an idea. as opposed to the process by which he generated them. and its own peculiar preconceptions. ‘a single thoroughly detailed event is more instructive than ten that are only touched on. on the conceptual level. as Clausewitz reminds his reader. This is particularly true of the art of war. concluded Clausewitz the historian. ‘for in the art of war experience counts more than any amount of abstract truths’. and even from the same people at different times. and that those abstractions were essentially about the nature of human behaviour. illustrate his argument or demonstrate a point. but who cannot by that process explain why a particular movement was not carried out more effectively.16 As historian.’21 Friction negates the idea of a given body of rules which. it played a role of some sort in the devising of his ideas and theories. had ‘its own kind of war. 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.’ Secondly. ‘The same political object can elicit differing reactions from different peoples. History emphasises that human behaviour never follows defined rules. the practitioner must have recourse to the reality of the past. 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. he made little use of classical times (unlike his eighteenth-century predecessors). The concept of ‘friction’ rescues the historian. between ideal and actuality. Clausewitz bequeathed to all his readers a confusing legacy. and remarked—confusingly—that critical narrative must go hand in hand with this process. à chaque instant. but rather a number of different theories. applicable to any epoque. s’il raisonne ou s’il observe. its own limiting conditions.

while history might offer the most secure path towards valid generalizations about war. To read his work—and it was much read and much followed in Britain. and represented Jomini’s last word on the great combinations of war.22 a chamber within which he tested the properties of concepts.25 He offered numerous qualifications designed to demonstrate to his readers that.23 Unwittingly. could yield up secrets which could help master the future. source from which to derive knowledge of war. immutable principles existed which the study of history could reveal: ‘la stratégie surtout’.26 Although he was prepared to allow that a few fundamental principles of war did exist. then. He believed that the only reasonable theory of war was one based not merely on history. Antoine Jomini. when viewed as the consequence of policy. Clausewitz played a part in the perversion of historical method which dominated much British theorizing about war before 1914—and indeed afterwards.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. he pointed out early on. He never claimed for it the status of the sole. or even the chief. although it must be admitted that Jomini did not push this aspect of his thought nearly as far as either of his predecessors. he informed his readers in his Précis de l’Art de Guerre. wars differed in their characteristics according to the differences in their political dimension.26 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES laboratory of theory. Although he did cull from the past four immutable precepts of strategy. in war.24 The Précis was written only after a lengthy study of the history of the Revolutionary wars. normative use of history which was to prove unfortunate in the hands of his successors.28 This represents a widening of the frame of reference which begins to approach some of the ideas of both Lloyd and Clausewitz. that Jomini did not intend his work to be regarded in a normative light. who possessed minds infinitely less subtle and less capacious. as elsewhere. they were only generalizations and no more. he also pointed out that. Clausewitz’s great rival and an equally profound influence on British strategic thought in the nineteenth century. and with the aid of which he explained the differences between abstraction and reality. and on the basis of a great deal of personal experience of Napoleonic warfare. Historical analysis also allowed Jomini to recognise and acknowledge the importance of the human element in warfare—the morale of the soldier. but on military history. ‘Ici les préceptes…ne servent que de jalons approximatifs’. the moral qualities of the general—though he arrived at them from . played his part in fixing in men’s minds the idea that the past. 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. 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. 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. if attacked with determination. It is therefore important to emphasize what contemporaries overlooked. To this he coupled an eighteenth century conviction that. ‘fut la même sous César comme sous Napoleon’.

Of the nineteen campaigns he selected to use as illustrations of the principles of war. Napier or Archduke Charles. It was commonplace. history was pressed into service as the milch-cow from which to wring the secrets of military success. Essentially. or with elementary geometrical works which tended ‘to treat their subject in too abstract a form.30 Hamley chose to teach with the aid of example.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. the most reliable—material could be found was one which was to provoke profound disagreement later in the century. to find military treatises which. in the face of copious modern records. demonstrates that he saw the past essentially as a treasure house. Jomini’s work was adopted by the burgeoning machinery of military education (not least because it was distinguished by its clarity— unlike Clausewitz. Hamley’s method of selecting representative operations. eleven were from the Napoleonic period. First. directly or indirectly. and the concurrent pressure for improvement in military education which produced the founding of the Staff College in 1858. 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. He sided with Clausewitz in believing that. Jomini helped set the mould into which history was to be forced by the many writers and theorists he—and Clausewitz —influenced. The question of whereabouts in history the best— that is. Jomini was drawing lessons from history to guide future generations. each of whom assumed considerable prior knowledge in their reader. by their precision and heavy illustration with diagrams. looked like propositions of Euclid. 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. helped give the necessary stimulus to more ‘scientific’ thinking about war. and become obscure in attempting to be scientific’. For one thing. there was no profound marrying of the two until after the Crimean war in England. and the remainder were of more recent provenance. 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. and the purely historical basis for his thought in this respect did not permit him to push his ideas very far forward. The Crimean war. each of which illustrated a strategic principle. Hamley’s opening sentence made it quite plain that history was at once to be pressed into service. to be plundered in search of illustrative effect rather than being examined and analysed for its . ‘No kind of history’ he informed his readers. Jomini was learnable) and became the staple fare of many military men during the century. he reported.CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 27 a different direction. As the idea of war as a science gained ground during the nineteenth century. ‘so fascinates mankind as the history of wars’. one for the theory of war and the other for history. 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. Secondly.

These were first ordered by Cardwell in 1871.34 though all too often it was seen as reflecting an experience foreign to European social and political make-up.33 There was. 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.E. at the decisive point.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. 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. argued forcefully that the more recent a war was. another example in the recent past which might have provided historical fodder—the American Civil War. In this. ‘Hamleyism’— the serving up of undiluted Hamley—was what got the best marks in the service academies. Chesney drew attention to the Prussian manoeuvres in . 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. he was at one with Jomini. who argued that the campaigns of any age could illustrate the unchanging principle of war.32 A number of British theorists. he urged. most notably Jomini himself. moral. felt the same overwhelming attraction for contemporary history.31 It enshrined not only a concept of the principles of war.’37 Alongside him stood G. of course. Led by Lewal. representing the ‘modernist school’ which looked for the surest means of distinguishing right from wrong.36 On the opposite side stood Captain J.N. ‘namely to ensure superiority. paragraph by paragraph. sentence by sentence. 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. chief amongst them Lonsdale Hale and F. and indeed The Operations of War was expressly designed not so much to present Hamley’s own theories as those of others.W. line by line’. and its influence reigned until the very final years of the nineteenth century. the more relevant it was. however unreal.28 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES own sake. There also emerged a brand new alternative to history in any form. and largely irrelevant to the old continent. chiefly because the authorities controlling the Staff College entrance examination made such a fetish of it as to kill independent thought and judgement. This debate was never resolved. notably by Sir George Chesney.R. and believed that the student should concentrate on studying the Great Captains of the past. the annual Manoeuvre Acts were passed until 1875. The German Official History of the war. French officers soon plunged into the study of their immediate past as the mea culpa of the old Imperial Army. who felt sheer temporal proximity to be of little importance.Maude. and again in 1882. but also an attitude towards the use of history. ‘should be studied page by page. its adherents falling into one of two camps.F. though for different reasons. was better than going back to the past were soon cautioned by Sir George Chesney. Those tempted to believe that any form of practice.Donaldson. physical and numerical. Some attention was given to this at the time. His work was especially important because of the sway it exerted over orthodox military thought for many years after its publication. Lonsdale Hale. in the shape of annual full-scale manoeuvres.Henderson.

that of today [Clausewitzian] with the relation of forces. This was further reinforcement for the idea of the value of history. and partly because his work suffered from the absence of a true consideration of the human element on warfare. 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 frequently reminded his readers. tracing cause and effect. ‘there are only wars. producing not only a number of studies of the American Civil War but even one of much more unorthodox hue—Red Indian Warfare (1891). The rules of strategy are few and simple’. There is no such thing as war in the abstract’. not content with merely reading a lively narrative. he must put himself in their place. and give him a better opportunity to master his profession.R. through a study of the past under his methods. However Henderson’s use of history was more flexible and less prescriptive. contrasted strongly with early ideas of noting the chronological occurrence of events. had in their turn studied their distinguished predecessors. that campaigns should be presented in terms of the underlying motive and by way of study of the commander’s reactions to events. ascertaining the relative importance of the moral and the physical and deducing for himself the principles on which the generals acted. and no two of them are alike. led by G. through inability to recognise the interaction of moral elements in real war. He wished the student to test himself against the past: His study of the campaigns of his famous predecessors must be active not passive. 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. For Henderson. not as the repository of the ‘rules of the game’.F. ‘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. but working out every step of the operation with map and compass. Henderson cast his net wide. were either sceptical of the existence of such principles or doubtful of their value. As a later writer put it. remarked Henderson. 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’. investigating the reasons of each movement. but as accumulated military experience. the ‘Great Captains’ were great because they understood the potency of moral force and took it into account in their planning. the whole affair degenerated into ‘tactical nonsense’.41 In reaching for illustrations to help the modern soldier become more efficient. ‘They may be learned in a week. They may be taught by familiar illustrations or by a dozen diagrams. and that history could be used to demonstrate both their existence and their validity.’38 His successors. from which a certain amount could be learned—though less than Hamely and his ilk had claimed for it. He was confident that.’39 The reaction against Hamleyism came partly because of its founder’s careless study of the sources available to him. declaimed Spenser Wilkinson.CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 29 1869 when.42 The basis of his thought. Henderson.’40 History however still had its place. War was not so much a question .

for ‘he found in these campaigns a complete study of human nature affected by discipline. finding out the respective governments’ objectives and the ways in which the commanders in the field attempted to fulfil policy aims. on the battlefield. Never give up the pursuit so long as your men have the strength to follow… To move swiftly. bound and gagged by its master.30 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES of numerical size. the historian would have the surest foundation on which to build his study of the past. and secure all the fruits of victory is the secret of successful war. he believed in only two great principles. physical and moral. Henderson was an adherent to the ‘Indirect Approach’: ‘Surprise’. Always mystify. by patriotism. ‘From this starting point. which went some way towards the ideal of letting it speak for itself. which struck heavily and directly at enemy morale: 1. The Great Captains themselves aimed in every move they made to destroy the confidence of the enemy. might be gained a clue to what happened in a good many campaigns. to concentrate the superior force. i. By starting from the political situation. much as Clausewitz had approached it in the spirit of philosophical enquiry.’43 This was the value of the past. It was for this reason.46 He approached war in a genuine spirit of historical enquiry. that Napoleon advocated the study of the campaigns of the great commanders. by stratagems surprise is made possible. by distrust and many other things. Henderson’s approach to the use of history. was carried to its furthest extreme by Spenser Wilkinson. 2. and surprise the enemy. with the vantage point of wide intellectual horizons. ‘is the greatest of all foes. strike vigorously.44 In many ways. we shall see something of the development and the nature of war. encouraging the reader to use inductive logic rather than forcing ‘lessons’ out of the past. it was because they had a full knowledge of the enemy’s character. if they ran risks. because his use of history had been more flexible and less deterministic than his predecessors. To achieve this. weaponry and manoeuvres. The misuse made of history in attempting to show how to ‘win wars’ had been countered. rather than rendering it a mute captive. 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. as of understanding human nature. Unfortunately it was to be resuscitated by the two most eminent military theorists in Britain. mislead. he wrote.’45 His findings were fewer in number and more widely applicable.e. . 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. who between them dominated the inter-war period. by over-confidence. by political interests. he explained. by the weight of responsibility. the present. and by a comparision in that way of a sufficient number of campaigns. saw that war would be better understood if it was related to political and social movements as a whole. Wilkinson.’ said Wilkinson.

His view of history was ruthlessly utilitarian: ‘unless history can teach us how to look at the future’. Indeed. It has been claimed for him that he could achieve a ‘total insight’ into history without delving much into dusty files. each was a ‘visionary of the future’. in small wars in primitive countries. an ability which made him generally illuminating. and believing also that strategy was a pragmatic science based on a number of immutable principles to which. His belief that it was a science was based on the somewhat feeble grounds that it was built on facts. which stated that armies must adapt to changes in their environment in order to remain fit for war. Fuller was essentially a ‘plunderer’. though it did not say what they were. formulated in Dragon’s Teeth (1932). had with the addition of powerful critical thought. They would be better depicted. Fuller was fully capable of blithely ignoring the evidence of contemporary history if he felt like doing so. they swung the pendulum back from Wilkinson to Hamley and Jomini.’50 Given that the past had a value.47 Fuller’s approach to the past was defined by the belief that there was a science of war. for they. it had been well said. pen in hand. he believed it possible to predict events in war as surely as Darwin could when he grasped ‘the fundamental principles of life’. In their approach to the past. rather. and justifiably influential. used history to do little more than authenticate strategic propositions. To be right in the particulars demands detailed research into the primary materials —too tedious. albeit such a narrow one. in the sense that Wilkinson was. he wrote. Already at Staff College.C. his tendency to frame a priori hypotheses and then test them by applying them to the history of warfare had been remarked.49 As an historian.CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 31 Both J. they posed arm in arm with Clio. soldiers were more use than aeroplanes. He knew principles lay in the past. looking forward to a better future in which wars could be won with less cost.51 Both halves of this judgement justify the charge that Fuller debased history. and because Field Service Regulations told him the principles of war were ‘neither numerous nor in themselves very abstruse’. and that they could be ascertained and studied. because of his views on science. totally . that it was governed by principles and laws.48 From this came his ‘law of military development’. too. Fuller’s historical method eschewed much in the way of primary research. Fuller proceeded to put forward his theories of mechanised warfare. with their feet upon the Muse’s prostrate body. Practical as well as practising historians. waiting only like fossils to be uncovered. through their study of the past. for a man of Fuller’s impatient intellect? To be wrong in those particulars vitiates judgements about the general. if wrong in certain particulars. Believing in a law which governed past and future. once they had been defined. ‘the history of war is but a bloody romance. As theories they were undeniably brilliant. But they were not the products of historical scholarship. Darwinianism formed the basis for his ‘military science’.F. and sure in the conviction that the one true value of history was its usefulness for the future. extrapolated the past into the future. And surely no historian worthy of the name would ever claim ‘total insight’ into any historical phenomenon. Neither was an historian. Fortified by a pseudo-scientific determinism. there was little to add. Fuller turned to history to find what he was looking for. In 1927 he wrote an article on ‘The Problems of Air Warfare’ in which he argued that. perhaps.Fuller and Basil Liddell Hart liked to present themselves as thinkers who.

that ‘field warfare always begets siege warfare. and an often cursory acquaintance with the past. put a higher premium on the somewhat nebulous quality of ‘vision’ than on the raw material on which it came to rest. It is difficult to determine whether. he relied upon selective reading of secondary works. They represent the last of a line of theorists on war who. Quite how deeply acquainted he was with original sources remains unclear. Yet in placing such a heavy weight on historical evidence to support their conclusions. and using historical methods which were. The latest. for themselves. believed at bottom that history was made by great men. He. shared many of his antagonist’s assumptions. the undertone of contempt for democracy which is present in Fuller’s historical work. it did so in the last war and will do so in the next. they did both themselves and history something of a disservice. Liddell Hart. in Lectures on F. looked to the past to help him resolve the problems of the future. and should not. be under-rated. too. Both Fuller and Liddell Hart contributed original ideas about tactics and strategy which were the product of fertile and able minds. Liddell Hart tested a priori propositions. and much more obvious in his political life. ‘the creative imagination’ he informed Fuller.53 In essence. Polish survivors of the campaign of September 1939 would have found much to quarrel with in the proposition. Paradoxically. in Liddell Hart’s work.R.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’. ‘is often more likely to arrive at historical truths than the pedantic burrower in documents. or built upon the work of his predecessors by further example and extrapolation (his apparent debt to Henderson remains to be fully explored). too. admits that Liddell Hart had a cavalier way with evidence. III. somewhat idiosyncratic. He. used history for preconceived ends.’52 In fact. Those ideas were of great value. Basil Liddell Hart. whilst recognising that force would still be used in the future to resolve international disagreements. Fuller’s noted contemporary and sparring-partner. the value of history in theorising about the nature of war may now be greater than ever it was. shrewd guesses about the future.) He. too. Certainly his approach to the raw material of the past shared many of the deficiencies of Fuller’s work. to say the least. and made extensive use of private sources—a fact which reflected his journalistic interests. Fuller used history as the vehicle by which to propagate ideas which were the product of observation of the present. turned to history for a message. like Fuller. study of his thought. and that his approach to history was ‘intuitive and eclectic’. seeing the American Civil War as a confrontation of rival generals. scrupulous. it should be emphasised. or else did not give the muse much chance to speak for herself. were remarkably prescient. Others were considerably wide of the mark. for the most part and by different means.S. in his study of history. It was Fuller’s unshakeable certainty about the past which enabled him to make dogmatic assertions about the future. (There is not. In large part this is due to the changes that have happened to the discipline . Some of these. 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.’54 As a result. 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.

The adoption and adaption of social science methodology has produced new insights. as if that happening had been inevitable. their influence unrecognised. say. a given event could only be explained by explaining how people thought within a fixed frame of reference. The shared cultural and social assumptions of a particular age or group are now more clearly recognised. 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. new ways of looking at problems. Until not very long ago. Source materials of every kind are now being plumbed to depths hitherto unknown. ennabling him to ask —and to answer—different questions from his linear. many historians saw their task as explaining what had happened. as Hugh Trevor Roper has recently reminded us. A further development in history. that what ‘ought’ to happen may not in fact occur. and it is possible to produce a much more satisfying historical explanation of. historical phenomena which were previously taken for granted or else left unexamined. and explain. brought out into the open. Taking a given event. practitioners of the craft have been aware of the need to examine. predecessor. Since 1968. and not why they did not think.55 there is no iron law binding historians to the belief that what did happen had to happen. Another example of the potential use of history lies in the historian’s recent exploration of delusion: what was expected to happen. so I’ll explain how’ approach. alliance politics and alliance strategy is now being given scholarly attention. First.CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 33 itself. Historical analysis of the development and characteristics of ideology. and of its influence on the development of military doctrine. the explanations more comprehensive as a result of the lines of enquiry now being pursued. The new explorers do not. cause and effect. of event and consequence. the possibilities more varied. The patterns of the past have become richer and more complex. and new areas of study open up every day. with impressive results. In two ways. a number of different futures are possible according to the decisions men take and to the role of chance or luck. the historical framework in which history operated was thus limited. and given their due weight in explaining historical events. to take only one other area of importance. 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 one of particular value in the study of war. Nor is this an isolated example. Secondly. when James Joll published his seminal study of ‘1914: The Unspoken Assumptions’. That such historical study has now gained the academic respectability it deserves can only add to the worth of history. they reasoned out why it happened through cause and effect. for the most part. and even new problems. is the widening of the historian’s frame of reference which has taken place. for the historian to deal with. but did not happen.and therefore act. can thus come to the aid of the contemporary strategic analyst. For example. At any moment in time. 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). carry the cumbersome intellectual baggage of believing that the past can . differently. the success of the Blitzkrieg in Russia than by means of the simple narrative of cause and effect.

The Army in Victorian Society (London: 1977). Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton (Cambridge: 1977). Aron. 24. NOTES 1. . but not unjustified. 8. 51–77. p. p. 25. 164. 137 et seq. 150–4... Raymond Aron. 13. 28. p. Ibid. 16. pp. p. Carl von Clausewitz. Ibid. p. The History of the Late War in Germany (London: 1781). Ibid. 21. Brian Bond. p. Franco Venturi. valuable by being founded on a distinct unwillingness to prescribe for tomorrow on the basis of yesterday. p. Aron. André Corvisier. Harries Jenkins. p. Edward M. see Michael Howard. in Journal of the Royal United Services Institution. Ibid. From the Dardanelles to Oran (Oxford: 1974). pp. A. 26. 15. Clausewitz (Paris: 1976). 81. Précis de l’art de guerre (Paris: 1838). Edinburgh. p. 357. pp. What this amounts to is that history has advanced as a discipline. pp.Spiers. 3. On War. 14. edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: 1976). 339.. Ibid. 170. 17.Marder. 3. 9. pp. I p. 30. p. 20. 5. 9.. 375. 70– 1. Paret. 122. 14. p. p. 12. 372. Précis. 593.. 32. p.. 18. p. 329. 373. Ibid. 4. 173. 23. 1979. pp. On War. Ibid. p.van Creveld. Rivista storica italiana XCI. I pp. 1866 (7th edition. 10..J. 7. 19. 390–4. 1854–1914 (London: 1972). Ibid. On War. pp. The Army and Society 1815–1914 (London: 1980). II p. p. Armées et sociétés en Europe de 1494 à 1789 (Paris: 1976). p. 383–9. ‘Jomini and the Classical Tradition in Military Thought’ in Studies in War and Peace (London: 1970). p. p. 70. and that it is better equipped now than it has ever been to do its job—of explaining the past. 45. 371. G. The Operations of War Explained and Illustrated. I p. 22.. see M. On the reception of Jomini’s ideas. 6. Clausewitz and the State (Oxford: 1976).34 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES explain the future. Penser la guerre. nor do they start their search with the intention of seeking to prove a priori assumptions of a narrow and descriptive kind. Its findings are likely to be made more. Ibid. March 1979. pp. 26.. The Victorian Army and the Staff College. 317. Venturi. 2. 27. and not less. Ibid. For some harsh. 26–7. 29. Peter Paret. 185. 433. 317. 1909). 70. criticisms of Clausewitz’s historical legacy. 12. 11. Brian Bond.. 134. p. 21–36. ‘Le avventure del Generale Henry Lloyd’. 76.. Edinburgh and London.

. ‘Boney’ Fuller: The Intellectual General (London: 1977). G. 294.I. pp.S.U. p. p.S. pp. 46. J. 274. 38. p.R.Maude.Trythall. p. 52.S.R. 42. 31. gives a good example of this phenomenon. 308. IX.R. Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War (London: 1898). Raoul Girardet. The Education of an Army (London: 1965). p. The Operations of War. in J. 33.R. 42. The Professional Study of Military History’. 6. ‘Boney’ Fuller. 55. pp. 40.I.F. Hale p. cit. 1866.C. Jay Luvaas. Liddell Hart to Fuller.U. 82. 1910.D. 39. ‘Strategy in a New Light’. VII. 50. Quo.Bailes. Ibid. 181–3. 49.U. Quo. 296–7. The Science of War (London: 1905). ‘The Recent Campaigns in Virginia and Maryland’.Fuller’s Theory of Mechanized Warfare’. p. Trythall. 53.I. 30. United Services Magazine XLI... 1980. Ibid. pp. ‘Strategy in a New Light—A Reply’. 54. 52.R. U. Jay Luvaas. 1897. p. 57. 33. 35. Journal of Strategic Studies I. ‘J. Reid. 37. Wilkinson. 32. J. 720.U. ‘Boney’ Fuller. XL. 522. p. xviii. 178. 833–5. 36. London 1907 (revised ed. H. 500.I. 1864. Times Literary Supplement. J.CLIO AND MARS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF HISTORY 35 31. 174. 11 March 1928. 44. ‘The Study of Military History by the Regimental Officers of the Army’. 1910. Liddell Hart: A Study of his Military Thought (London: 1977). 43. 136.S.).N. ‘Boney’ Fuller. 45. Ibid. Military History applied to Modern Warfare. Barnett.J. A.T.M. 1978. 47. 690 et seq. pp. 41. Brian Bond. Brian Holden Reid. p. 1979. I p. in J. 25 July 1980.S.S. ‘Sherman’s Campaigns in Georgia’. also ‘Boney’ Fuller. The Military Legacy of the Civil War (Chicago: 1959). 157.Atkinson. 49.R. 1876. Ph. F. p. 11.Henderson. p.I XLI. p. 1979. . p. London. My italics. p. C. 270. 34. p. p. 27. 38. p. 48.F. p.R. p. La société militaire dans la France contemporaine (Paris: 1953). 105. 51.H.U. The Influence of Continental Examples and Colonial Warfare upon the reform of the Late Victorian Army. Journal of the Royal United Services Institution XX.

36 .

A change in policy would pose tremendous risks. Strategic ‘Doctrine’— 1945 to 1980 Aaron L. it is argued.Friedberg* Introduction The United States has come to a conspicuous turning point in the evolution of its nuclear strategy. Indeed. U. it is argued. In the past.A History of the U. critics and observers claim that the United States has long lacked a strategy for the conduct of nuclear war. debate and uncertainty. between now and the end of this century. but we are not at all sure what we should do. Opposing camps warn against continuing to adhere to or daring to depart from the strictures of past policy. On the other hand. much of what today passes for informed discussion is really no more than noisy disagreement over opposing misconceptions. the United States has always relied almost exclusively on the threat of urban industrial devastation to deter aggression. We sense that the concepts which have shaped our thinking are inadequate but we have no ready substitutes with which to replace them. In the event of a major conflict. a growing number of analysts. structure and purpose of U. 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. the current debate over what weapons to buy. . inevitably produces turmoil.S. forces would be prepared to do little except execute massive nuclear attacks on Soviet cities. Not surprisingly. A handful of mistaken notions tend to divide participants in the debate over nuclear strategy. especially when it is accompanied by a sense of urgency. We feel the need to do something.S. what targets to aim at and what treaties to negotiate is cast largely in historical terms.S. 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. But what exactly has been our strategic nuclear doctrine over the last thirty-five years? What have been the character. Change. 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. 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. A change in policy is clearly essential.


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.


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.


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.Twining declared. intention to forego attacks on cities might encourage the Soviets to practice similar restraint. 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.Vandenberg told a Senate sub-committee in June 1953.’15 The other maintained.19 Despite its obvious attractions. while the U.S.S. ‘the proper role of air forces is to destroy the enemy’s industrial potential.14 As a result. a declared U. And. while it now clearly existed. In the words of one expert: the counterforce target system.S. Avoiding unnecessary civilian casualties had considerable moral appeal.S. Air Force certainly wanted more planes and better target information. In addition. nuclear and thus relatively brief. the idea of ‘pure counterforce’ or ‘counterforce/no cities’ targeting failed to catch on within the Air Force. One group argued that. Nevertheless. ‘We can now aim directly to disarm an enemy rather than to destroy him as was so often necessary in wars of the past. the bases of the small and concentrated Soviet long-range air force. which means that we must as quickly as possible destroy their capability of doing damage to us. Soviet military installations of all types were extensively targeted during these years. 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. 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.17 In February of the same year General Nathan F. although a top priority. as General Hoyt S. as was widely assumed. Ex-Secretary of the Air Force Thomas K. 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. represented a lesser effort than the industrial/urban target system. in the period 1954 to 1956 these were simply not available. in the words of General Curtis LeMay. concentrating on promptly destroying Soviet forces-in-being offered the best means of achieving victory.20 . Massive.’18 In theory. was still quite small. 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. a future war turned out to be unrestrained.’16 In 1954 and 1955 a number of proposals for a shift to pure counterforce targeting began to appear.A HISTORY OF THE U. command control and communications systems and supply lines. 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. and Soviet nuclear arsenals increased in size.’12 The counterforce target set. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 41 counterforce targets. This would be particularly true if. During this period a debate over targeting policy began within the Air Force.

it was claimed.25 To this end.S.21 According to Navy spokesmen. primarily the Navy. draw up a National Strategic Target List (NSTL) and prepare a Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) for the conduct of nuclear war.22 Moreover.S. some Navy officers began to argue that SAC had in effect outlived its usefulness. It also provided options for withholding attack by country and for withholding direct attack on cities. not his civilian population. Basic U. calling the policy of ‘finite deterrence’ a ‘bluff strategy’ which did not ‘include the capability for military victory’. THE FIRST SIOP. THE SIOP REVISED 1961–1974 In 1961 work on revising the first SIOP was begun. With its Polaris ballistic missile submarine about to be deployed. The Air Force counterattacked.24 4.28 .42 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 3. massive attack. 1960–1961 By the end of the fifties another debate over targeting had broken out. in Henry Rowen’s words. in the event of a nuclear war stemming from a major attack on the Alliance. should be the destruction of the enemy’s military forces. The principal purpose of this effort was to introduce some measure of flexibility into U. plans for all-out nuclear war.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.27 The targeting of military installations thus continued under McNamara. options were developed that differentiated more clearly between attacks against military targets and against cities. A study completed in late 1959 resolved these issues. In his often quoted Ann Arbor speech of June 1962 the Secretary of Defense said: principal military objectives.S. additional forces directed at military installations represented wasteful ‘overkill’ and could be eliminated. A Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff (JSTPS) was formed to facilitate inter-service cooperation. was a secure force capable of destroying a finite number of Soviet cities (perhaps as many as 200). the Air Force asserted that it should be given tighter operational control over all U. All that was required to deter the USSR from attacking the United States. including the Navy’s new submarines. nuclear forces.23 An ‘optimum mix’ of ‘high priority military. this one between the Air Force and the other services. industrial and government control targets’ was designated for destruction in a single.

30 Henry Rowen notes that. relatively small portions of the existing target lists —Zincluding military and non-military targets—could be attacked without unleashing a full-scale nuclear assault. however. war plans. It does not mean first in time.S. especially nuclear threat ones. in fact the targeting of military facilities continued throughout the sixties and into the seventies. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 43 McNamara reiterated this view in his FY 1963 budget statement in which he argued. our war plans have always included military targets…[I]f deterrence fails. Presumably the most time urgent targets would be military forces.’29 Despite subsequent shifts in declaratory policy which encouraged the belief that only urban areas would be hit in an all-out war. to the urban-industrial targets. Highest priority also does not mean that the greatest weight of effort would have to be allocated against urban-industrial targets. detailed set . ‘A major mission of the strategic retaliatory forces is to deter war by their capability to destroy the enemy’s war-making capabilities. 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]’.S. ‘From 1960 to 1974.35 5. the nuclear planning process experienced no important change from the early 1960s until 1974. The assignment of weapons to a growing target list went on in accordance with the political direction established in the early 1960s. the war plans provide the National Command Authorities…with a well thought-out. he confirms the hints about the relative composition of actual nuclear war plans contained in the statement about target priorities cited above. Now.’31 But he goes on to explain: A high ‘priority’ in this context means ‘most important’. Military installations were still targeted. ‘Most of our planned targets’ he says ‘were military forces’.34 Moreover. and then to nuclear threat and other military forces.A HISTORY OF THE U. in his annual report for FY 1975 explained the new policy: [I]n addition to retaliatory targeting against urban and industrial centers. the priority in the assignment of weapons was first. 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.33 Rowen confirms this view saying.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. rather that the confidence of being able to destroy these targets should be high. Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger.

Rather than massive options. now we are grouping them into operational plans which would be more responsive to the range of challenges that might face us.’40 To summarize briefly. command bunkers. airfields. not only because some of the launch vehicles might have aborted or have been withheld.37 A persistent interest in targeting military installations. and nuclear weapons storage sites. and lines of communication necessary to the conduct of theater campaigns. In the past. We already have a long list of such possible targets. 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.’38 More recently. (Although the targeting of urban industrial areas during this period was intended to have an immediate effect on the war on the ground. they would seem to have increased in importance.44 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES of options. most of those options—whether the principal targets were cities. There is no reason to believe that military targets of all sorts have declined in perceived significance over the last five years. ‘many of these targets would remain of interest after an enemy had struck. In January 1976 Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld stressed the value of targeting enemy submarine pens. the United States did not explicitly target Soviet military installations with its nuclear forces. and a variety of other important assets not necessarily collocated with urban populations. Secretary of Defence Harold Brown has made similar arguments for retaining the capability to destroy at least some ‘hard targets’— missile silos. including hardened Soviet ICBM silos. many other types of military installations. 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). war reserve stocks. but also airfields. Rumsfeld asserted. is reflected in the public statements of high Defense Department officials from 1974 to the present. If anything.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’. we now want to provide the President with a wider set of much more selective targeting options. command bunkers and radar installations.) From the early sixties to the present Soviet military forces. industrial facilities.’39 Brown argues further that enemy general purpose forces ‘can and should be targeted’ along with ‘the command-control. . ‘Contrary to popular view’. for example—could be used to reload and recycle offensive forces. but also because some of the launch points—bomber bases and certain ICBM silos. but on a second-strike could suppress his withheld missiles and recycling bombers. or military installations—have involved relatively massive responses. between the end of World War II and the first years of the fifties.

‘CITY BUSTING’ 1945–1950 Strategic planning in the immediate post-war period was marked by confusion and disagreement. 1. War plans must be directed at achieving some realistic political and military objectives or they will be empty. Nevertheless. From 1974 to 1977 official U. The likely character of a future war. U. the history of the last thirty-five years can usefully be divided into five distinct periods. Between 1950 and 1960 American war plans called for simultaneous attacks on Soviet bloc economic and military targets. in the event of war.S.S. 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. has always had a nuclear strategy (a set of objectives. planning for the conduct of nuclear war emphasized the prompt destruction of enemy urban-industrial areas. target lists do not by themselves make a strategy. crudely defined. some strategies have probably been ‘better’ than others. As the more sophisticated critics point out. the effectiveness of atomic bombardment —all were topics of . however. plans for the conduct of strategic nuclear war.S. would leave the President no choice but to acquiesce to Soviet demands or unleash massive nuclear attacks on Soviet cities.A HISTORY OF THE U.S. Over the past twenty years numerous civilian analysts. The statement that the United States has never had a strategy for nuclear war is demonstrably false. politicians and military men (some of them in a position to know better) have bewailed the inadequacy of a policy which.S. In other words. During the period 1962 to 1974 the United States adhered to a strategy of ‘second-strike counterforce’. 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.41 In its cruder form this criticism is usually directed at the ‘assured destruction’ reasoning which is assumed to inform U. From 1945 to 1950 U. 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. forces have long been prepared to do a good deal more than simply destroy large civilian targets. while the U. the importance of air power in prosecuting such a conflict. as our brief discussion of targeting should suggest. Some signs of change are already becoming apparent.S. Attacks on Soviet military installations were stressed with strikes against economic targets to be held in reserve. however. 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. Over the past three years American nuclear strategy has been undergoing a re-examination. senseless and dangerous. and an accompanying plan containing detailed target and employment requirements). policy called for escalation control through limited strategic operations and attacks on enemy recovery resources if a war escalated out of control. For purposes of discussion. In fact.

‘would make any serious effort to make strategy conform to actual capabilities’. at the request of Secretary of Defense Forrestal the so-called ‘Harmon Committee’ evaluated the impact of . American military planners were looking for ways to defeat superior Soviet ground forces as quickly as possible.46 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES considerable and unresolvable debate. government control.42 Essentially. As David MacIsaac has noted. 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’. 2. The best way to do this seemed to be to hit at those cities which contained the heart of the Russian war machine.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. 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’.44 Such operations might continue for some time. 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. in the event of war. 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’. In mid-1949. Vandenberg predicted that execution of the then-current war plan (which called for delivery of 133 bombs against urban industrial. in MacIsaac’s words.47 Others in the defense establishment were less sanguine. 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’. petroleum. but it was hoped that massed atomic air attacks would quickly destroy the Soviet Union’s willingness and ability to wage war. the shortages of weapons and delivery vehicles already cited rendered the early musings of the various military planning groups completely unrealistic. the largest atomic air offensive feasible was to be unleashed against the USSR in the shortest possible period of time. the longer term ability of its economy to support combat and its will to continue the conflict. 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. In May 1948 the Joint Chiefs of Staffs (JCS) ordered the Joint Emergency War Plan HALFMOON circulated for planning purposes.46 At the end of the year Air Force Chief of Staff Hoyt S.43 Thus. 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. At the same time.

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’. In the words of the report however. or critically weaken the power of Soviet leadership to dominate the people’. strategy for nuclear war. nuclear threat and retardation targets were all to be hit simultaneously. The committee concluded that planned air attacks alone would not ‘destroy the roots of Communism. If war came (probably as the result of Soviet aggression in Europe) U.48 The committee. The dominant concept of these years was embodied in ‘the strategy of the optimum mix’ spelled out in planning papers prepared during 1959–60. ‘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’. The extent to which the nuclear air efforts of the various services would have been coordinated is unclear. From this point until the end of the decade. the image of a ‘spasm war’ seems to have dominated the planning process. fears about Soviet intentions in Europe and the emergence of a Soviet nuclear threat combined to produce a shift in the U.50 It subsequently found its way into the first SIOP which. More importantly from an immediate military standpoint ‘the capability of Soviet armed forces to advance rapidly into selected areas of Western Europe.51 . 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. the basic American strategy for nuclear war remained unchanged. destroy the Russian economy and drain the Soviet state of its willingness to wage war. 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. a strategic air offensive against urban industrial targets could not guarantee ‘victory’ no matter how that crucial word might be defined. as debates over targeting swirled in and around the military. an ad hoc group of army. however. 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. according to one observer. Nor is it apparent what connection was assumed to exist between nuclear air and subsequent ground and naval operations.S.S. the war would be won. slow or stop the Red Army’s advance into Europe. government control. with aerially delivered nuclear weapons. War would be fast-paced and it was assumed that the early stages of any all-out struggle would probably prove decisive. It was assumed that a massive multi-layered atomic air attack would prevent the Soviets from using their own steadily growing nuclear capability. By the end of the fifties. While ground and naval forces would undoubtedly participate in combat.49 In short. Warsupporting industrial. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 47 an atomic air offensive against the Soviet Union.S. the Middle East and the Far East would not be seriously impaired’. 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. and won quickly. nuclear equipped forces—the long-range bombers of SAC. Doubts over the prevailing Air Force strategic concept.A HISTORY OF THE U. navy and air force officers.7 million fatalities and 4 million casualties.

In February McNamara stressed the importance of forces capable of surviving an enemy surprise attack.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. 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’. 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. Worst of all. They argued that in its preparations for nuclear war the United States was committing itself to unnecessarily large and destructive attacks. 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.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. In early 1961 a review of the SIOP was begun. the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave their approval at the end of the year and the proposed changes were adopted in January 1962.48 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 3. We may have to retaliate with a single massive attack. In any case. the very size of the American nuclear threat might render it incredible thus encouraging certain forms of limited aggression. by knocking out the enemy’s bases before he has had time to launch his second salvos. As we have already seen. These men believed that existing plans for the use of nuclear weapons were too massive and too inflexible. Equally important.S. the revised SIOP grouped targets into three clusters—nuclear threat. other military and urban-industrial. Or. 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. our forces can be used in several different ways. strategy for the next twelve years. According to Desmond Ball.52 These alterations in the war plans were to shape U. We may seek to terminate a war on favorable terms by using our forces as a bargaining weapon—by threatening further attack. we may be able to use our retaliatory forces to limit damage done to ourselves and our allies. our large . said the Secretary.

S. Despite the clear emphasis on retaliation. Congressional ‘hawks’ attacked the no-cities doctrine as weak and denounced its creators for lacking resolve. In the event of war the primary U. in McNamara’s words.S.S.57 The reasoning behind U. Some felt that McNamara’s statements were designed to dissuade them from acquiring their own nuclear capabilities. first strike against Soviet forces. Residual U.S. objective would have been to strip away Soviet strategic nuclear power while minimizing civilian casualties and holding Russian cities hostage. the strategy of second strike counterforce began to come under heavy criticism from a number of different directions. The emphasis in the thinking of high civilian officials and certainly in their public statements was on survivable ‘second-strike’ forces. war plans was thus clear and direct. strategy drew a mixed reaction from the European members of NATO.A HISTORY OF THE U.S. sufficient reserve striking power to destroy an enemy society if driven to it’. forces and options would. forces would have been used to extract a satisfactory political settlement from the Soviet leadership. would ‘retain.S.S. Such an attack would most likely have been carried out in support of NATO forces in Europe. the U. even in the face of a massive surprise attack. ‘Doves’ worried that the new policy made it more likely that the United States would strike first with nuclear weapons. Others feared that anything less than the threat of . give ‘a possible opponent the strongest imaginable incentive to refrain from striking our own cities’. Strikes against cities would bring a devastating response. But. In the words of one author: The changes [in the SIOP] provided some pre-emptive counterforce options as part of graduated options. the announced changes in U. not…his civilian population’.S.58 b) The Shift Towards ‘Assured Destruction’ Almost as soon as it was announced. there appears to have been some thought given to the possibility of a pre-emptive U. reaffirming their intention to strike simultaneously at all American civilian and military targets as soon as general hostilities began. thereby codifying first-strike ideas that had inevitably been present in some form or other in the thinking of both military and civilian leaders. 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. Finally.S. If forced into a war the United States would seek to destroy ‘the enemy’s military forces. This structuring of U. Ineffective attacks on U. if necessary. forces would diminish the size of the Soviet arsenal and invite a counterforce second strike without severely weakening American nuclear might. 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.56 These points were reiterated in the Ann Arbor speech. Soviet spokesmen denied the possibility that a nuclear conflict could be kept controlled.

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. 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. In the Defense Program for fiscal years 1964 through 1968. it was clear to McNamara that the Services.50 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES an all-out response would encourage Soviet aggression.62 The Secretary went on to point out that In planning our second strike force. 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. 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. To do this they had to devise some means of measuring the adequacy 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. strike back at the Soviet urban and industrial complex in a controlled and deliberate way.60 Ball writes that by late 1962. 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. 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. policy however. 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. 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. And they had to find a way of using those force measurements to restrain service demands for further increases in spending on strategic forces. throughout the period under consideration. 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.S. we have provided.59 All these criticisms undoubtedly had some impact on McNamara’s thinking. More important in changing the direction of U. and particularly the Air Force.S.63 . were the increasingly apparent bureaucratic and budgetary consequences of a second strike counterforce strategy. strategic arsenal.

protective measures the incremental costs of maintaining a given level of damage limiting capacity would grow steadily. the .S. ‘assured destruction’ was the more important. interlocking offensive and defensive measures. forces ‘In the event…[of] war…to limit damage to our population and industrial capacity. as McNamara hastened to point out. 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.S. The second aggregate capability or mission (dubbed ‘damage limitation’ by McNamara) called for U. Unlike ‘assured destruction’. 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’. 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. 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. McNamara began to raise questions about the future utility of a strategy which relied on large-scale counterforce attacks. or combination of aggressors. Thus the requirements of the assured destruction mission provided Defense Department planners with a useful force sizing index. identifiable system of targets would have to be hit in order to do this level of damage.S.S.66 This McNamara termed the ‘assured destruction’ mission. Moreover. damage to the United States could only be limited through the successful application of a series of costly.65 In 1964 McNamara differentiated between the two missions which he said the strategic forces program. The effectiveness of these measures seemed likely to decline as Soviet forces became larger and more capable. even after absorbing a surprise first strike. however.68 A finite. as the Russians took steps to offset U. But. 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.] 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. The Secretary suggested that ‘the destruction of.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.A HISTORY OF THE U. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 51 For the first time. say.

i. It is our ability to destroy an attacker as a viable 20th Century nation that provides the deterrent. no matter how much we spend on them. ‘Under these circumstances’. capable of reducing damage to truly nominal levels…we now have no way to accomplish this. an increase in Soviet damage limiting capability would force the United States to ‘make greater investments in Assured Destruction’. but possibly counterproductive as well.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.52 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES concept of ‘damage limitation’ was open-ended.. damage limiting efforts were not only potentially wasteful. 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. strategic forces. In a statement accompanying the Fiscal Year 1968–72 Defense Program and the 1968 Defense Budget the Secretary said: Damage limiting programs. first strike (which I believe to be the case).71 Similarly. McNamara proclaimed the inevitability of ‘mutual deterrence’. in 1968. He pointed out that: For a ‘Damage Limiting’ posture to contribute significantly to the deterrent…it would have to be extremely effective.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’. can never substitute for an Assured Destruction capability in the deterrent role.S. By the end of Johnson’s term civilian officials concentrated almost exclusively on . It was therefore of little use to civilian officials searching for ways to control the growth of U.e. He pointed out that If the general nuclear war policy of the Soviet Union also has as its objective the deterrence of a U.76 It is clear that between 1963 and 1968 the public statements of high Defense Department officials underwent a significant change.70 McNamara went on to argue that U.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’. 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. not our ability to partially limit damage to ourselves.S.74 Finally.69 By 1967 McNamara had taken his arguments a step further.

Finally. that the United States enjoyed vast strategic superiority over the Russians. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 53 defining the adequacy of U.78 The majority of designated targets were still military installations and options for city-avoiding attacks were kept in the SIOP. that the strategy of second strike counterforce provided no useful indicators of sufficiency. Negotiated agreements could then bring the arms race to a halt and ensure a stable strategic balance. second-strike. strategic offensive forces. war plans changed little between 1962 and 1974. ‘assured destruction’ forces was thus inevitable. operational plans continued to be guided by a strategy of second strike counterforce. It seemed equally clear that U.69 Contrary to increasingly widespread popular belief. In the minds of many observers the U. strategic forces.S. Victory had become impossible. He and his advisors believed that the United States would maintain a margin of quantitative and qualitative superiority well into the future. Within the first year of McNamara’s term two things quickly became apparent. The whole notion of assured destruction stemmed from McNamara’s desire to establish some reasonable limits on the growth of U. U. mutual destruction was assured. strategic forces in terms of their ability to carry out the ‘assured destruction’ mission. First. Repeated discussions of the importance of maintaining assured destruction forces left the unmistakeable impression that U. strategic policy from the mid-sixties down to the present day.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.S. The Secretary of Defense also issued a series of public statements that were to cloud and confuse the debate over U. Acting on these apparently reasonable convictions McNamara moved to limit the size and capabilities of U.S.S.S. McNamara and his aides became convinced that such a state of affairs was not only inevitable but desirable. second. But their investigations of ‘damage limitation’ quickly convinced them that. A form of ‘parity’ in which both sides maintained secure. The best explanation for the growing divergence between declaratory policy and actual employment plans during the 1960s is presented by Henry Rowen. most importantly. 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. before long. forces were now directed solely against those targets. U.S.77 The rhetorical shifts catalogued above were the outward manifestations of an internal debate over American strategic policy and.A HISTORY OF THE U. Once parity had been achieved neither side would have any incentive to further increase the size of its strategic forces. over force size. It seemed obvious that American planners regarded the ability to attack Soviet urban industrial areas as the sine qua non of deterrence. the evidence suggests that U.S. 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. In fact. war plans had been altered.S. ‘strategy’ for nuclear war was now to simply blast away at Soviet cities once hostilities began.S. And.

in the event of a nuclear attack.S.80 For the time being at least there was no reason for any responsible officials to make such a proposal.82 Because of decisions made in the early sixties. In February. the President’s statement served to highlight an important fact. President had been significantly narrowed.S. forces against Soviet nuclear threat targets began to decline. Under these circumstances it would have made little sense not to prepare options for comparatively small attacks aimed exclusively at the counterforce target set. Between 1966 and 1970 the size of their land-based missile force grew by 1007. large numbers of warheads specifically designed to destroy hardened Soviet military installations were not procured. At the same time.’84 By 1970 it would appear that the attack options available to a U.S. counter-urban industrial option. 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. 4. During this same period the Russian navy deployed 20 new ballistic missile submarines. be left with the single option of ordering the mass destruction of enemy civilians. 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. 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 capabilities of U. from 292 to 1299 ICBMs launchers. In 1966 the Soviets began to deploy large numbers of ICBMs in hardened underground silos.83 Inevitably. hardness and mobility of Soviet long-range nuclear forces…resulted in a decline in damage expectancies for this class of targets. ballistic missile launchers deployed had leveled off.81 The Soviet strategic offensive arsenal was becoming larger and less vulnerable. in his Foreign Policy Message to the Congress. President Nixon asked: Should a President. For the first time in several years the declaratory policy of the . forces were capable of destroying the full range of both urban industrial and nuclear threat targets within the Soviet Union.S. U. ‘increases in the number. To quote Henry Rowen.54 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES denying service and Congressional claims for more money for strategic forces… However. the number of U.

or do nothing. Given changes in the balance. First.S. resulting finally in the changes announced by Secretary Schlesinger in January 1974.S. if not with actual employment plans.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. Yet existing war plans still consisted entirely of options for massive counterforce and combined counterforce-countervalue attacks. strategy. through a combination of offensive and defensive means.S. war plans and the basic strategy they reflected were woefully inadequate. significantly limit damage to itself in an all-out nuclear war.87 The United States could neither disarm the Soviet Union nor. Both sides had sufficient secure forces to do tremendous urban industrial damage to the enemy. to unleash the massive ‘assured destruction’ strike on all targets—military and urban industrial. Budgetary constraints and the force limits negotiated in SALT made considerable increases in the size of U. 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. Particular attention appears to have been paid to the strategic forces and to the problem of increasing the flexibility of existing nuclear war plans. Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union could now hope to disarm the other in a pre-emptive first-strike.A HISTORY OF THE U. offensive forces highly unlikely. the national political leadership was no longer certain that such a form of parity was desirable. even after absorbing a surprise attack. In 1972. U. In a sense the form of parity that McNamara had predicted in the early sixties had finally arrived. as Nixon’s statement indicates. there was fear that in the event of war a lack of flexibility would quickly lead to unnecessary and ultimately fruitless escalation. Massive counterforce attacks could no longer be effectively executed. But. because of changes in the strategic nuclear balance. 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.S.S. the best hope of limiting damage in a nuclear war seemed to lie in finding a way to control the . This fact caused concern on a number of accounts. the Department of Defense began to study possible revisions of the SIOP. The shifts in the balance noted above had decreased the offensive damage limiting capability of American strategic forces. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 55 mid-sixties had begun to converge with real capabilities. Between 1972 and 1974. Moreover. b) The Search for a New Strategy During 1969 and 1970 a series of studies aimed at determining future U. military requirements was undertaken by the Nixon Administration. according to one observer. At the very least there was growing concern that. a fullscale inter-agency review was undertaken.

And. In the event of a Soviet invasion of Europe which threatened to overwhelm conventional defenses. full-scale counterforce strike. cities or on a handful of military installations seemed quite small. Now. if we are to ensure the credibility of our strategic deterrent.S. should deterrence fail. In fact it seemed much more likely that U. 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. according to Schlesinger.56 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES escalation process. how to control the process of escalation so as to limit damage to . strategic forces would be involved and that large counterforce strikes against Soviet intercontinental systems would be undertaken. the situation had changed. The U. Such an attack might come before the Soviets initiated a nuclear offensive or it could come in response to a Soviet theater nuclear strike.89 In other words. Thus American planners were concerned with two central problems: how. 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. strategic forces with the European theater continued to appear necessary. to be certain that we have a comparable capability in our strategic systems and in our targeting doctrine. Controlling escalation would in turn require that large scale attacks be avoided as long as possible. ‘Damage may thus be limited and further escalation avoided’. There was another. more immediate problem.’ The Secretary went on to assert: This poses for us an obligation. the United States was committed to use nuclear weapons. if deterrence failed.S. 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. The United States could no longer threaten an effective.S. and to be certain that the USSR has no misunderstanding on this point. especially when the likely American response would have been to destroy all remaining Soviet strategic forces. however. the United States would be able to bring all but the largest nuclear conflicts to a rapid conclusion before cities are struck. in Schlesinger’s words ‘to shore up deterrence across the entire spectrum of risk’. threatening large attacks in response to theater aggression no longer seemed credible. the Soviet Union had acquired ‘the capability in its missile forces to undertake selective attacks against targets other than cities.S. 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.90 and. Being forced to execute such attacks by the inflexibility of existing plans was an extremely worrisome prospect. Some means of ‘extending deterrence’. of ‘coupling’ U. Nevertheless.88 The character of existing war plans also raised questions about the American ability to deter certain types of threats. With the American margin in counterforce capability now significantly diminished. counterforce threat had also been a central element in NATO strategy. The probability of a Russian leader ordering attacks on one or two U. the United States needed options between inaction and very large attacks if it was to deter the threat of controlled strikes against its territory.

signalling U. resolve while at the same time indicating the American desire that an unfolding conflict be kept limited. ‘we shall rely in the wartime period upon reserving our ‘assured destruction’ force and persuading. some limited nuclear options (LNOs) were specifically designed to support theater forces. In the first instance the existence of a wide range of options was assumed to increase the deterrent credibility of U. while executing one or a series of limited nuclear options the U. mostly military targets. strategists needs to be discussed. 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. To ensure restraint the United States would always have to hold some of the enemy’s most valued assets as ‘hostages’. the existence of LNOs and the structuring of those options (relatively small attacks. As Lynn Davis. To quote Secretary Schlesinger. minimized collateral damage) was intended to facilitate escalation control. If escalation was to be controlled through the use of limited strategic operations it was essential that. any potential foe not to attack cities’.S. And they would prevent the worsening of a military situation ‘on the ground’. That force. What we need is a series of measured responses to aggression which bear some relation to the provocation. as the Soviets build up their strategic forces. the current Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.S. and 2)…chang[ing] an enemy leader’s perceptions about the prospects for a quick. might have to be withheld ‘for an extended period of time’.S.93 Finally. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 57 the United States and its allies. have prospects of terminating hostilities before general nuclear war breaks out.S. cheap victory. through intrawar deterrence.91 The grouping of targets into relatively small operational packages has already been discussed.S. It has been this problem of not having sufficient options between massive response and doing nothing. the enemy have no reason to raise dramatically the level of conflict. at each stage in an ongoing war. In essence. 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. In addition. One final element in the thinking of U.A HISTORY OF THE U. strategic forces. 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. and leave some possibility for restoring deterrence.94 LNOs would provide a President with alternatives to a big. points out in her monograph ‘Limited Nuclear Options’. escalatory response to enemy aggression. would have to continue to hold at least a counter-urban industrial ‘assured destruction’ force in reserve. said Schlesinger. The purposes which the creation of these packages were intended to serve should be readily apparent. that has prompted the President’s concerns and those of our Allies.92 And the concerns that led to this restructuring of plans have been briefly reviewed. To quote Schlesinger again.95 Thus a central .

One. 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. it is clear that a major review has been taking place.97 The other approach. assume that population and industry are strongly correlated with them. Soviet forces would not be able to destroy U. Such attacks would also be designed to limit the Soviet Union’s ability to retard U. bringing hostilities to an acceptable close at the lowest level of conflict possible thereby limiting damage to the United States and its allies. recovery. Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld.S. in Rumsfeld’s words: …views assured retaliation as the effort to prevent or retard an enemy’s military.S. 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. as he termed it.S. and measure effectiveness as a function of the number of people killed and cities destroyed’. If necessary. strategy for nuclear war was as follows: In the event that deterrence failed the primary U.98 .S. the ‘assured retaliation’ mission. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS 1977–1980 It is not yet possible to say a great deal about the most recent changes in U. by 1977 the publicly declared U. Thus. was simpy to ‘target major cities. We believe that a substantial number of military forces and critical industries in the Soviet Union should be directly targeted. nuclear strategy was announced in January 1977 by Schlesinger’s successor. political. forces being held in reserve. he said.S. nuclear strategy. escalation control and thus damage limitation were to be achieved through the use of limited nuclear options. 5. The public statements of high government officials to date reveal no dramatic shifts in policy. Rumsfeld went on to advocate the second approach and to announce that: The present planning objective of the Defense Department is clear. Nonetheless. for the foreseeable future. – by his ability to recover politically and economically from the exchange. These options would serve both a military and a political purpose. objective was to control the process of escalation.58 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES assumption behind the change in strategy announced in 1974 was that.96 In his statement to the Congress Rumsfeld compared two approaches to the ‘assured destruction’ or. A further change in U. political and economic assets so as to retard the USSR’s recovery in the post-war period.S. If escalation control failed the United States would seek to destroy Soviet military.

the United States might seek to exploit specific weaknesses in the political and economic structure of the Soviet Union. 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’.S. 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.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.S. nuclear targeting and strategy raises several interrelated analytical questions. therefore. can and should we seek a more unified strategic doctrine? . began the process of outlining the requirements for a ‘countervailing strategy’. and what can we learn from such evaluation? What is it in our preparations.S. 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. Secretary of Defense Brown. to control escalation if deterrence fails and to achieve reasonable objectives in an extremely intense conflict remain to be determined. Certainly alterations in U. Conclusions The preceding discussion of the history of U. over the broadest plausible range of scenarios’.99 In general. Also discussed were ‘high accuracy and reduced nuclear yields’ which. ability to deter Soviet aggression at various levels. —Soviet conflict under control. would ‘be equally important in minimizing collateral damage and the escalation that could follow from it. the United States aims ‘…to make a Soviet victory as improbable (seen through Soviet eyes) as we can make it. as Secretary Brown put it in his Report for Fiscal Year 1981. 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. might be of greater value to the Soviet leadership).A HISTORY OF THE U. The effects of this emerging threat on the 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.100 There are indications that in an all-out war. 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.101 In addition.S. The Secretary of Defense has called for plans to ‘include options to attack the targets that comprise the Sovie…political power structure’.S. posture and declaratory policy which has deterred Soviet aggression? And. 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. in Brown’s words. in his annual report for fiscal year 1980.’103 These tentative discussions are taking place against a background of growing concern over the capabilities of Soviet offensive forces.

did not even have the weapons necessary to destroy a large number of Soviet cities. at various times between 1945 and the present. 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. forces must be based on a realistic consideration of present conditions. and its allies would have depended a great deal on unpredictable . Whether planned strikes could actually have prevented Soviet nuclear attacks on the U. not on a harkening back to some mythical past state of affairs. Through most of that period the U. why not? What might be the consequences of not having an effective countermilitary capability? (Including a substantial capability against Soviet strategic forces. Having said this it is important to ask if.S. 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.S. whether or not they could have been expected to achieve pre-defined objectives. 1950–1960. In any case it is apparent that U. disrupt Red Army operations and disable the budding Soviet nuclear force. and. However. Between 1945 and 1950 the United States lacked the resources for a pure ‘city-busting’ strategy.60 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES COUNTERFORCE TARGETING Much debate in the West presently centers on the presumed counterforce capability of proposed weapons systems. 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. any argument against improving the counter-military effectiveness of U.S. The growing size and destructive power of the U.S. 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. Another more important set of questions will not be addressed here—Have U. 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. There is considerable concern expressed over the possibility of a shift from a policy of ‘deterrence’ to preparations for ‘war-fighting’.) And what should we target instead?’ EVALUATING PAST STRATEGIES The United States has always had a strategy for the use of its nuclear weapons. existing war plans have made internal sense—if they have been supported adequately by existing capabilities.S. This last is a particularly important point. including Soviet strategic forces. war plans have always called for the widespread use of strategic nuclear weapons against Soviet military targets. Even if the rather small attacks planned in the late forties could have been carried out.S. if executed. By the late fifties it would appear that the United States was well situated to devastate the Russian economy. 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.

) But full-scale counterforce strikes. as we have seen. The declining margin of U. The strategy of ‘second-strike counterforce’ (which. advantage in counter-military capabilities gave rise to the strategy of escalation control through limited nuclear operations.S. During this period a U. Even more important.104 And the damage done to American urban industrial areas in such an attack would likely have been substantial. Finally. as during the fifties. forces in the mid-sixties could have proved extremely disruptive.S. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 61 operational factors such as warning time.S.S. Similarly. 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. 1974–1980. However. political willingness to launch a preemptive strike and so on. whether preemptive or retaliatory. Escalation would have to be controlled and an intense war ended . could not have disabled Soviet offensive forces. political and military destruction of the Soviet state is a matter for conjecture. did not preclude the possibility of a counterforce first-strike) made the most sense between 1962 and 1969 or 1970. the United States could have ‘won’ a nuclear war during the 1950s. A Soviet pre-emptive attack on U.S. by some identifiable standard. attacks without escalating an ongoing conflict. 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. war plans did not reflect real changes in the strategic balance that had rendered old targeting and employment concepts obsolete.A HISTORY OF THE U. retaliation would have been equally devastating and probably a good deal more so. the United States could have done very little to limit the damage done by an irrational surprise Soviet countervalue attack. preemptive attack could probably have disabled Soviet long-range nuclear forces while holding Russian cities hostage. repeatedly if necessary. Whether (as was intended) such an attack could have been accomplished without causing numerous Russian civilian casualties is unclear. In other words.S. 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 their execution would in fact have assured the economic. 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.S. alert rates. perhaps more so than was generally recognized at the time. it was assumed that LNOs would be accompanied by a range of other military and political measures. U. That the Soviets would be willing to ‘play along’—to respond in a controlled way to limited U. 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. it would appear that American forces could have retaliated effectively against their Soviet counterparts without necessarily beginning an uncontrolled ‘city-busting’ exchange. It seems possible however that. The ‘assured destruction’ attacks which received so much public attention could undoubtedly have been carried out. Still. Throughout this period. 1962–1974.

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’. therefore to find some Soviet contingency planning for various kinds of limited nuclear options at the theater and. much of the hardware needed to make more controlled strikes feasible has been developed and deployed. in theater conflict displays some Soviet willingness to embrace conflict limitation notions previously rejected. Soviet strategic nuclear force growth and modernization.62 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES on favorable terms through a combination of successful local defense. nuclear arsenal —have undoubtedly become more intense.107 . 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. at the strategic level. The political objections to such attacks—that they would encourage escalation rather than controlling it— remain the same. in addition. Nevertheless.106 In any case. withheld threats and forceful diplomacy. from the very large (McNamara’s counterforce second-strike) to the quite small (Schlesinger’s proposed attack on Soviet petroleum refineries). Military objections—that all but the largest LNOs would have no prompt effect on events in the theater of battle.S. perhaps. the willingness of an American President to order an LNO has probably declined over the past five or six years. there has never been much public evidence of elaborate preparations to coordinate limited strategic. It would not be surprising. Russian military writers continue to discount the possibility of a controlled nuclear conflict.105 Since the mid-seventies. 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.) It seems safe to assume that paper plans for limited attacks have also been prepared. It is not clear how much detailed thought has ever been given to the problem. conventional and diplomatic means in the event of war.S. or at least a non-nuclear phase. Growing counter-military capabilities have not been accompanied by any visible change in Soviet doctrine. But as Fritz Ermarth has pointed out: [Q]ualified acceptance in doctrine and posture of a non-nuclear scenario. In their pronouncements on the subject. and that the execution of LNOs would expose remaining American strategic forces to disruption and destruction while drawing down the U. improved retargeting computers and so on. strategic attacks to control escalation. (More accurate warheads. theater nuclear. Although it is difficult to know with any certainty. The United States has always had the theoretical capability to execute a range of ‘limited’ strategic attacks. 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.

more serious criticism of a history centered on war plans is that. whatever its other faults. to operational military problems. WHAT DETERS? To focus on the traditional element in U. And second.S. implicitly. under the right circumstances.A HISTORY OF THE U. Another. 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. If the shift towards counter-recovery targeting produced a greater emphasis on attacking economic choke points and centers of economic. then the post-Rumsfeld war plans were probably better designed to retard Soviet reconstitution than their predecessors. more importantly. In summary. 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. industrial performance in peacetime to be convinced of that fact. it misses the point. this attempt to evaluate U. Nevertheless prediction is an essential and unavoidable part of the strategic planning process at any level. First. strategies for nuclear war should point up two important facts. In fact.S.S. Preventing enemy domination would have also required the destruction of Soviet capabilities for projecting all forms of military power and the protection of U. other than central system nuclear) non-nuclear and non-military factors will affect war outcomes. estimates of war outcomes and. military and political assets. on deterrence failures is to risk the accusation that one lacks interest in the problem of preventing war in the first place. This is a milder second cousin to the claim that thinking about war makes it more likely. The American ability to do both of these things (and especially the latter) was and is still quite limited.S. deterrence may fail in a number of ways not the least likely of which is that one day. to likely patterns of political decisionmaking in war time is shrouded in doubt.S. in the preparations and perceptions of our likely enemy.e. that many non-‘strategic’ (i. military and political control. we and our opponents could have rather different images of how a conflict would turn out. For this reason alone we ought to be interested in war plans. Everything from weapons effects. . One has only to look at the econometricians’ projections of U. Military planners always prepare for war. 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. that predicting outcomes and designing strategies to make those which appear desirable more likely is an extremely uncertain business. on war plans and thus. economic. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 63 If a war fought in the mid to late seventies had escalated out of control. 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. strategic doctrine. in some substantial measure. it is. Neither is very enlightening or particularly fair.

In the case of the United States. This is a generalized sensation rather than an entirely rational conclusion based on any elaborate set of calculations. like individual anxiety. has tended to emphasize the grim human. especially during the last twenty years. and one can assume also the Soviet Union. 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. 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. But. war plans and capabilities of the nuclear superpowers. horrible image of mass death and destruction. 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. 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.64 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES after all. however. Military considerations matter. It is possible that. even when. For better or worse.S. Calculations of relative advantage (or the lack of it) have been made during crises. It is worth remembering that a nuclear war of virtually any size or conceivable configuration would be destructive almost beyond belief. But another mechanism is at work beneath the surface. then. One plausible answer to the question ‘What deters?’ is thus ‘the threat of massive civilian casualties and enormous economic losses’. This is not a false statement but it is not entirely true either. plans for nuclear war have always had a heavy counter-military emphasis. military imperatives—the desire to destroy. Moreover. It certainly would stand a better chance of imposing an outcome on its weaker opponent short of total conflict. what prevents war is not the threat of military defeat but the spectre of societal devastation. Finally. with important behavioral consequences. the world has been and is likely to continue to be governed by the principles embodied in the notion of assured destruction. under some circumstances. U. Day to day political reality may be dominated by the simple. (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 nuclear age. Our declaratory policy. (as in 1945–50) those plans called simply for strikes against Soviet cities. This is true regardless of the doctrines. Apparently marginal advantages could also be significant—the ability to locate and destroy critical elements of the enemy’s command and control system. their job to do so. even the appearance or the perception of military advantage could have important political consequences in peacetime and crisis. But it is a sensation. disrupt or disable the enemy’s forces as quickly and efficiently as possible—have been preeminent in the design of operational war plans. In large measure. economic and social consequences of . a nuclear war might not be an undifferentiated disaster. As has been illustrated here. In the current cycle of nuclear revisionism some of our more enthusiastic armchair strategists have tended to lose sight of those facts. things do not stop there. for example. Even in the nuclear age they continue to play a role in determining the likelihood and the likely outcome of any future war.

our efforts to modernize the strategic forces and improve planning for nuclear war were.108 there must obviously be a premium on purposeful action and an efficient use of available resources. when belief in the wisdom of such a policy was most widespread. 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. misdirected. uncoordinated and. by the seeming certainty of denial and punishment. In the years ahead. at best. Our ‘doctrine’ contained two strands—one ‘traditional’ and military. Progress in this direction will require that we first dispel some of the notions which have tended to underpin the other.S. only partly successful. 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. At worst these efforts were sporadic. The function of doctrine is to provide direction to planning and to guide the making of difficult allocational decisions. War has probably been prevented by a combination of counterforce and countervalue threats. 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. With Soviet superiority looming on the horizon. doctrine were greatest was the time when the United States reached and then passed its broadest margin of strategic superiority. It is probably no accident that the period in which (as the Soviets might say) the ‘contradictions’ in U. Without a more unified and coherent doctrine it will be extremely difficult for us to make progress towards redressing an increasingly unfavorable strategic balance. at times. 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. the United States did not adhere to a doctrine of mutually assured destruction. 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’. In the decade just past. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 65 nuclear conflict. 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.A HISTORY OF THE U. policy was shaped by conflicting forces. achieved significant military advantage over their principal opponents and wish (or are forced) to turn their attention to other problems. the other more ‘modern’ and ‘assured destructionist’ in tone.S. more modern half of our ‘doctrine’— that . Throughout that decade (as in the years before and after) U. Notions of stability are likely to be particularly appealing to states which have exerted great effort. 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. Saying that one or the other threat—defeat or devastation—was solely responsible for keeping the peace is clearly impossible.S.

109 In a democracy obtaining absolute unity of views on almost any issue is virtually impossible. Senator Clayborne Pell. But there is much which deserves to be retained. during hearings on the SALT II treaty. p. XXI. efforts to steady the strategic competition through negotiated agreements are still worth pursuing. NOTES 1. a more unified strategic doctrine will have to be more openly ‘traditional’ in direction and tone.S. 96:1. and over one thousand high-ranking military officers. The assumptions which underly the ‘modern’ portion of our doctrine need to be reexamined. p. 1979). Hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But they cannot be undertaken lightly. Kissinger. Yet a defense establishment working at cross purposes is unlikely to give adequate response to a rapidly changing and increasingly dangerous situation. Survival. 6 (November/December 1979). On careful consideration. 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. while such policies may have received excessive attention under the ‘modern’ approach. Nuclear weapons are qualitatively different from any mankind has previously possessed. it was understood that the policy we had in the United States was a policy of mutually assured destruction (MAD). 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. doctrine of mutually assured destruction is widespread. No.66 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES counterforce targeting and defensive systems are inherently dangerous. If anyone doubts that belief in a U. (Washington: GPO. part 1 (Washington: GPO. . 547. During recent Congressional hearings Representative Ronald Dellums referred to ‘the principle of mutual assured destruction’ and to the targeting of ‘populations and industrial bases. Finally. 1979). that nuclear weapons cannot have military and political utility and that competition in the strategic nuclear arena is always undesirable. 267. 381.’ The SALT II Treaty. said ‘some years back. p. In general then. let them consider the words of a Congressman. a former Cabinet official. some such measures may seem necessary despite the dangers they pose. Hearings before the House Armed Services Committee. 96:1. In his controversial Brussels speech in September. ‘NATO: The Next Thirty Years’. a Senator. part l. We need a more unified strategic doctrine. 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. 1979. 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. 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. To shape it we will have first to engage in an open and intelligent debate.

1979). There is in fact no other target system worth comparable consideration’. Bernard Brodie.’ According to Pipes. that no defense was possible against them and that they therefore had no political utility. pages 167.Aldridge. 3. The Wall Street Journal. insofar as it can be reached and destroyed is certainly the first and most important target system. In fact he argued that.S.’ If deterrence failed. 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. 1978. cautions that it is the Soviets who have devised a ‘fresh strategy’ for nuclear war. pages 1.’ And he asserted that. One-time Lockheed employee Robert C. Harvard history professor Richard Pipes. Robert C. 5. 1979). Bernard Brodie is sometimes cited for his allegedly ‘assured destructionist’ views.A HISTORY OF THE U.’ For Brodie ‘assured destruction’ might have been an accurate description of the likely consequences of total nuclear war. the United States was ‘henceforward committed to the strategy of deterrence’. economics or physics. (Princeton: Princeton University Press.Aldrige writes that ‘Deterrence is the strategic policy under which most of us believe the Pentagon is still operating. 12 October. The Counterforce Syndrome (Washington: The Transnational Institute. having foresworn ‘preventive war’. ought to be designed by professional military men rather than professors of history. 96:1.S.S. Secretary of Defense McNamara’s annual posture statements certainly contributed to this confusion. America’s nuclear strategy (which ‘rests on the concept of deterrence’) is largely the product of the post-war musings of ‘American intellectuals’.’ 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’. These men believed that the use of nuclear weapons threatened all humanity. And. Richard Pipes. 66. The Journal of American History. 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. policy since the 1960s…’ The officers went on to warn against ‘adherence to the obviously bankrupt doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)’. ‘Rethinking Our Nuclear Strategy’. 1978). ‘the opponent’s strategic bombardment power. 1 (June. pp. 292. The strategy of deterrence ought always to envisage the possibility of deterrence failing. Hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The SALT II Treaty. But he pointed out that ‘what looks like the most rational deterrence policy [threatening enemy cities] involves commitment to a strategy of response which. See pages 51–55 of this paper. 4. An excellent discussion of U. 64–5. 393. It was certainly not an outcome he welcomed nor a ‘strategy’ he favored. and 63. pp. government. 402 and 397. ‘American Nuclear Strategy and the Hydrogen Bomb Decision’. Strategy in the Missile Age. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 67 2. 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. 1965). Brodie did not advocate the wholesale slaughter of enemy civilians. Writing in 1959 Brodie urged that ‘Provisions…be made for the saving of life on a vast scale. he says. if we ever had to execute it. No. in the event of war. 61–3. might then look very foolish. plans and preparations in the immediate post-war period can be found in David Alan Rosenberg. To the list of noteables in footnote 1 we can add a former weapons engineer and a noted academic. 3. . Pipes closes with a call for ‘a military strategy to meet the Soviets’ which. part 4 (Washington: GPC. in a letter to senator Frank Church. Nor did he favor leaving American civilians exposed to Soviet attack. During the mid-sixties. on the other hand.

15. Rowen. 22. Rowen. 51–2.. p. This half of U. 9. 21. Déja Vu: The Return to Counterforce in the Nixon Administration (Santa Monica: The California Seminar on Arms Control and Foreign Policy. 46. Doctrine: A History of Basic Thinking in the United States Air Force 1907–1964. 28.Leghorn. Washington. ‘Formulating Strategic Doctrine’. Ibid. 566–7. pp.Rowen.Dunning quoted in Futrell. p. 14. Appendix K: Adequacy of Current Organization: Defense and Arms Control (Washington: GPO. Goldberg. 3. 11 Ibid. For example. See pp. ‘The Air Force and Strategic Thought 1945–1951’ paper presented at a colloquium of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. 15. since the early fifties U. Ibid. 138. 28 January. In early 1948 there were only 32 modified B-29s capable of carrying the atomic bomb. Desmond Ball. p. 1979). 2 (Fall 1978). Rosenberg. p. ‘Contrasts in American and Soviet Strategic Thought’. 222. p. ‘A Brief Survey of the Evolution of Ideas About Counterforce’. p. in Commission on the Organization of the Government for the Conduct of Foreign Policy. Ibid. 27. p. 20. International Security. June 21. D. 390. 10. 19.. 227. p. Ibid. David MacIsaac.C. p. p. 225. 25–29. 22. 1974). 12. Cited in Ball. Henry S. A New Counterforce Strategy for Air Warfare’. See pp. p. Alfred Goldberg. ‘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. p. Rowen. During the sixties procurement of ballistic missile defenses and hard target killing warheads was constrained. How We Can Exploit America’s Atomic Advantage’. October 1967). 390. Ibid. 391. Brigadier General John A..68 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 6. 30.. Also T. June 1971). 16. 230. 18. p. There were no such constraints in the fifties. 14. Ibid.Walkowicz. February 1955. II (Maxwell Air Force Base: Aerospace Studies Institute. June 1975). 1955.S. 8. See an article by Colonel Richard S.. 220. p. pp. 11. 27. 10. Robert Frank Futrell. 551. 26. Air Force Magazine. 32.S. ‘No Need to Bomb Cities to Win War. 64– 5. 49–51 for a more detailed discussion. 7. pp. (Santa Monica: The RAND Corporation. Concepts. 13. in part because some high government officials believed that protecting population and threatening enemy nuclear forces would be ‘destabilizing’. Volume 4. RM-5431PR. 17. 31. 23.S. 24. 6. pp. . Some far less potent restraints still exist today. 25. Ideas. 51–55 for an explanation of the divergence between targeting and declaratory policy. In July of the same year there were apparently 50 bombs in the stockpile. Fritz Ermarth. p.. 78–94. nuclear strategy has called for a good deal more than the pure ‘city-busting’ strikes which an assured destruction doctrine would require. p.. ‘Counterforce Strategy. p.F. Ibid. No. 29 Ibid.. 391.82. p. News and World Report. U.

Ball.. Ibid. 1977). Fiscal Year 1978 (Washington:GPO. 78. p. 60. Secretary of Defense Robert S. Fiscal Year 1975 (Washington: GPO. 43. 15. Ibid. p. Secretary of Defense James R. 53. 49. 230. 3 (March 1979). pages 227 and 230.’ While this damage would be ‘highly concentrated in time’ and accompanied by ‘residual radioactivity’ Gray maintains that ‘neither of these factors need prove fatal. ‘Soviet Strategic Vulnerabilities’. 46. Ibid. 42. 47. 50. 44. 51. 64. or even severely embarrassing. Annual Defense Department Report.. Rowen. 231. 17 January. p.. Ibid. 41. March 4. Air Force Magazine. p. 7. 54. 77. 25. p. Rowen. Colin Gray. 30. 62. 1979). p. p. Ibid.. 4. 12. Ibid. 1974). p. Fiscal Year 1980 (Washington: GPO. p. to a Soviet recovery effort’. 52. 4. p. p. 12. 62. 39. 63. 8. 1948) cited in Rosenberg. . 58. claims in a recent article that ‘Most Western strategic thinking. 222. p. 11. 45. 36. 38. Ibid. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Ibid. 37. 35. for example. Ibid.. 34. Ibid.S. 61. 59. Ibid. Ibid. p. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown.) One wonders who is being less ‘serious’ about the problems of nuclear war.. and even planning.Schlesinger. 29. p.Rumsfeld. 25 January. Rowen. Ball. p. p. p. 52. Ball. January 30.McNamara.. Ibid. retaliatory [second] strike in the mid-1980s with forces currently programmed would do as much damage as the Germans achieved in World War II. (Gray.. 40. 57. Goldberg.. Ibid. p. 66. 65. betrays a basic lack of seriousness about the conduct of war’. 15. No. 5. p.. 6. Rowen. 43–44 for a brief explanation of the origins of the ‘optimum mix’.Gray. See pp. 1963). Annual Defense Department Report. Ball.A HISTORY OF THE U. 232. 16. STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 69 33. p. 16. Annual Defense Department Report. Ball. (See Colin S. Fiscal Years 1964 to 1968 Defense Program and Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 1964 (Washington: GPO. 55. p. 39. 48. 47. p. 61. Ibid. p. p. p. p. MacIsaac. 14.S.) He goes on to assert (without any visible evidence) that ‘[I]t is unlikely that a U. Ibid. p. From Joint Emergency War Plan HALFMOON (19 May. 56.

A Report to the Congress: U. 38–40. Ibid. 38–9. p. Rowen. Lynn Davis. Secretary of Defense Robert S. 1977). 227. 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. Ibid. 76.’ His response — ‘They certainly do. Fiscal Year 1965 (Washington: GPO.054 where it remained from that point to the present. a hard target killing warhead considered at one time as the primary MIRV payload for upgraded U. Ibid.Nixon. p. p. 72. Ball. 71.’ Greenwood. 87. Fiscal Years 1969 to 1973 Defense Program and Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 1969 (Washington: GPO. Secretary of Defense Robert S. Schlesinger.S. Ibid. February 18. 47. p. 1968).’ As a result ‘neither Minuteman III nor Poseidon were optimised specifically for the counterforce mission. if cautiously. California. 85. 3–4. Ibid. Ibid. 81.S. Limited Nuclear Options: Deterrence and the New American Doctrine. Ibid. 39. January 22. Secretary of Defense Robert S. Fiscal Years 1966 to 1970 Defense Program and Defense Budget for Fiscal Year l966 (Washington: GPO. 4. 39. 37. Annual Defense Department Report. Fiscal Years 1968 to 1972 Defense Program and Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 1968 (Washington: GPO. p. Making the MIRV (Ballinger Publishing Company: Cambridge. 59. p. 77. 70. p. 1976). 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. pp.. 40. Rowen. 1976). Strategic Power: Military Capabilities and Political Utility (Sage Publications: Beverley Hills. 1965). pp. 75. But. 88. p. In 1966 the United States had deployed 904 ICBM launchers. p. Ted Greenwood has detailed the rise and fall of the Mark 17.. 1967). Adelphi Papers Number 121 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies. Foreign Policy for the 1970s. Edward Luttwak.. p. p. p. 67. 68. Schlesinger.McNamara. 80. 1967). 22. . 78.McNamara. A New Strategy for Peace. Throughout this period military officers still spoke openly. 86. 122. 89.. 74. 80. Edward Luttwak refers to the cancellation in the early sixties of ‘a research program for large ICBMs (WS.70 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 66. 69. 18 February. pp. 83. p.McNamara. 84. By 1967 the number had risen 150 to 1. The Military Balance 1977–1978 (International Institute for Strategic Studies: London. January 23. 38. FY 1975. Massachusetts.. ICBMs and SLBMs. Rowen.McNamara. 1970. 53. 221. Richard M. The Military Balance 1977– 1978. of their continued interest in the ‘damage limiting’ mission. p. 79. 120)’. 70–1. 16. 82. 12. FY 1975. 73.Wheeler. then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was asked if ‘our war plans do allocate weapons for damage limitation or counterforce. 1975). p. Ibid. pages 80 and 90. 232. Appearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee in 1968. p.’ Ted Greenwood. p. p. General Earle G. Secretary of Defense Robert S. More concretely.

p. 1979. coupled with a simultaneous countermilitary attack against all interesting targets in CONUS. Hearings on U. p. March 1974). pp.Schlesinger. 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’. Annual Defense Department Report. Johan J. p.’ Bernard Weinraub. Fiscal Year 1981 (Washington: GPO.S. p. ‘Soviet Nuclear Edge in Mid-80s Is Envisioned by U. 66. 97. 4. may very well envisage a massive and rapidly executed preemptive theater nuclear blitz against NATO. has written that the policy of recovery retardation was ‘shaped under Secretary of Defense James R. 14 January. Intelligence. 104. 95. 1977). STRATEGIC ‘DOCTRINE’—1945 TO 1980 71 90. Donald H. Schlesinger. See pp. Richard Burt. Press reports appearing in January 1979 refer to a ‘ year Pentagon study’ of U. Richard Burt. 105.’ New York Times. 99. 5. 68. Ermarth. 96. FY 1980. 2nd Session (Washington: GPO. In January 1980 Secretary of Defense Brown announced ‘We have recently completed a basic re-examination of our strategic policy. 5. p. FY 1978. 91. 149. A14. p. Lambeth. Ibid. 66. while holding U.A HISTORY OF THE U. 11 February. p. policy. and Soviet Strategic Doctrine and Military Policies Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. New York Times. 108.S. Ibid. Inc. ‘Brown Says Soviets Long Sought Way to Knock out U.”’ Walter Pincus. in Beyond Nuclear Deterrence eds. 93. Bernard Weinraub. Missiles’. 93rd Congress. Washington Post. Brown. 38. 11–12. 101. 8. p.S. cities as hostages with a large residual force to deter the United States from retaliating against the Soviet ZI. p. See Weinraub and Robert Kaylor. Thinking the Unthinkable: Studying New Approaches to a Nuclear War’. 107. FY 1981.S. in an article in the New York Times.. 103. 31 May. 92. 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. ‘Selective Nuclear Operations and Soviet Strategy’. p.Rumsfeld. Ibid.Holst and Uwe Nerlich (New York: Crane Russak and Company. 1979. FY 1975. Ibid. Weinraub. 98. 1979.’ Benjamin S. Rumsfeld. 106. 1979. Benjamin Lambeth discusses the Soviet image of a ‘limited nuclear operation’ which ‘if it’ exists. perhaps at the same time as the LNO concept was being discussed. 101. 5. A 11 February. p. Washington Post. p. Thus it would appear that a major review was begun in the summer of 1977. There are indications that the modifications announced in early 1977 had been under consideration for some time. p.. 94.S. .. 13 May. Testimony of Secretary of Defense James R. 77. 1980).’ Secretary of Defense Harold Brown. 102. ‘Brown Would Widen Range of Russian Military Targets’. ‘Pentagon Seeking Shift in Nuclear Deterrent Policy’. 5. Davis. 1980. 7. p. Schlesinger and then publicly outlined by his successor. 100. Brown. 45–46. 29 January. 5 January. p. 1979.S. New York Times.

33 (Winter 1978–79). pp. . Foreign Policy.72 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 109. 92–100. No. For a defense of arms control in light of the revisionist critique the author modestly suggests his own ‘What SALT Can (And Cannot) Do’.

Calling desperately important activities ‘games’ might be just one of those devices. It may also have its point. possibly someday ourselves. games. It is deeply ingrained and at best we must live with it. If so. We should peep over them from time to time to orient ourselves however unpleasant this may be. if we are to think rationally and carefully about war and its prevention. then we must use whatever psychological devices are available to assist us in clarity of thought rather than wallowing in self-indulgent emotionalism. 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. does not mean that the activity of play may not have some correspondence with that in more deadly situations. in the ordinary sense of the word are things which are done for amusement—that of the spectators if not of the participants. Admittedly the use of the word ‘game’ has been extended a long way from its everyday usage. 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. the analysis of these similarities may prove fruitful. the word is used. Even in these days of highly professionalised sport. 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. There are three different sorts of activity called games which are of use to the conflict researcher or strategist. and that the participants emerge from the game more or less intact even if they are the losers. That society is relatively unaffected by who wins or loses these games. whether the game is an active physical game like football or a sedentary game like chess. 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. A lot of games involve strategic factors. one of the more horrific forms of human activity. Secondly. a purpose of trivialising the language of war is to put barriers between ourselves and reality in order to protect ourselves from psychological disaster. However.Games and Simulation Michael Nicholson* Types of Games It is a macabre irony that war. Nevertheless. 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.

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. Even apart from their simplicity. (ii) Simulation Games and (iii) Experimental Games. 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. Simulation games are very different. 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. These are normally games with a very simple structure and frequently only two players. is intended to be a theory of rational behaviour under conflict situations. but the same technique is widely used in business games. when the connections are not always very close. or ‘mini-games’. and cousins of the simulation exercise are used in the study of almost any form of human interaction. University of Lancaster. show what links there are between them and. The three are (i) the Theory of Games. Very briefly. or Game Theory. 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. equally importantly what links do not exist. War games and diplomatic games are the ones most likely to be of interest to readers of this article. Richardson Institute for Conflict and Peace Research. 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. from the treatment of alcoholics to negotiation with terrorists. 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. The aim of this article is to demonstrate the relationship which exists between these different areas of study.74 GAMES AND SIMULATION particularly when the word itself is in danger of misleading. I assume consciousness that these fields exist. these experimental games are fundamentally different from the simulation games. 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. the Theory of Games. They involve people playing roles in imaginary worlds created by some game designer. There are variants and offshoots of each of course but these represent three broad categories of activity. Subsequent developments have gone in different directions though even the less formal of them use a certain amount of symbolism and diagramatic representation. Experimental games are games played in the psychological laboratory for ‘real’ stakes unlike the imaginary stakes of the simulation. 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. normally money. they receive pay-offs.

the problems of siting a new airport do not rest under one disciplinary head. either immediately or for developments they might plausibly lead to. for example takes place in economics. J. does not I think use an analogue of Berne’s ‘game’ in his analysis of the international system. will enable us to better understand the behaviour of the international system and hopefully improve its operation. in somewhat different manifestations. it has been noticed that various phenomena appear. and if a greater convenience is to be gained by ignoring them. Bargaining. either now or in prospect. 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. was a serious study of how people interact at the personal level. Spanier’s book. in different disciplines and thus disciplines can learn from each other. and in particular dwelt on neurotic interactions. and it does not represent a distinct conceptual category. On the grounds that the human mind has a limited capacity. Berne’s book. the techniques which are found useful in one social discipline can often be adapted to analyse problems in another. They are techniques which. sociology. industrial relations and practically everywhere else. economics and so on. the divisions being rather roughly determined by the sorts of interactions under study. 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.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 75 devices for learning more about conflict behaviour in particular in the international system. Hence it becomes sensible to look for a general theory of bargaining. The weakening of the disciplinary boundaries has been due to a growth in three tendencies. perhaps more. While in its worst forms. 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. this is of course perfectly legitimate. Therefore I shall not deal with it further. For example. presumably after the psychoanalyst Berne’s book called Games People Play. the elements of which can be interpreted in its different manifestations. though written in popular style. it has become clear that few problems fall neatly into one discipline alone. though interesting. Finally. It is within this last category that the various techniques of simulation and the theory of games lie. ‘Game’ in Berne’s analysis is different again from any of the categories discussed in this paper. Their applications are by no means restricted to the international system and indeed their significance in other areas is equally. There is a final use of the word game which I shall not deal with.Spanier wrote a book called Games Nations Play. First. political science. in its better forms it does make it clear that disciplinary boundaries are for convenience only. as social scientists have become more ambitious in the last three decades or so and more involved in the analysis of real world problems. 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. Secondly. . 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. All are used in the analysis of other forms of social behaviour. Conventionally the analysis of human behaviour has been divided into a variety of subgroups such as psychology. However. then there is every reason for doing so.

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. 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. we must veer away from spending too long on the methodological presuppositions of the social sciences and move on to the substance. it is a useful beginning to any theory of behaviour to assume first that people are aiming to achieve some specified goals. However. Further. There are payoffs which are the gains or losses which each of the players receive at the end of play. If it does not we can modify the assumption. This is precisely what has happened in the development of the theory of games. they themselves are only part of broader areas of study. but we have the framework and context in which we are able to do this. For the moment we shall regard these as numerical benefits such as money. and then see if the observation of what actually goes on bears this assumption out. for in the second case coalitions are possible. 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 . 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. 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. 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. I shall talk of the first as ‘strict game theory’ and the second as ‘extended game theory’. As far as the second issue is concerned. most of these developments resulting from the reasonable ambition to apply the theory. The Theory of Games Two things (amongst others) are worth bearing prominently in mind when initially approaching the theory of games. From grossly simplified pictures we can move to the less simplified. In this seminal work the authors define the game as involving the following entities. There are players who are the familiar unitary decision makers. it is a theory which can only be directly applied to a grossly simplified picture of the world. but pointing to a distinction which again we shall discuss later.76 GAMES AND SIMULATION important. We proceed by building a bare frame and filling it in as we go along. 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. and then on further to something which more closely corresponds to reality. it is one aspect of prescriptive decision theory. particularly in the case of simulation and the theory of games. A second and slightly modified edition appeared in 1947. while in the case of the experimental games it is one area of experimental psychology. In the case of game theory. First. The unreality of the initial picture need only disturb us if it appears difficult to elaborate. creating a whole domain of complexities absent from the relative simplicity of the two-person game. There is a major distinction between games in which there are just two players and those in which there are more than two.

Thus. 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. L or R). the alternatives being defined by the game. particularly in the discussion of the theory of games. if both A and B choose left on each occasion. whether it is anticipated that there will be only one play with the opponent or several. However. and for our present purposes most importantly. 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. It is undeniably an extremely simple game but I suggest that even at this level of simplicity it is not utterly trivial in that. for a strict games theorist would speak of a ‘play’ of chess in circumstances where normal beings would speak of a ‘game’ of chess.e. it would take more than a cursory examination to determine what is a ‘best’ strategy to play in this game. 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. A makes the choice of whether to go left or right (i. the reader should shelve until later one query. each at an end point where the pay-offs are determined as given.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 77 loss to all the competitors added together (the non-zero sum game). units which for convenience can most easily be thought of as money sums. Let us consider a very simple game which is represented by diagram I. one for each player. Another pair of strategies. 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). secondly to make it clear that we are operating in a particular tradition of the social sciences involving very tightly defined terms. 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). This sort of representation of a game is known as the game in extensive form. Remembering that a strategy was defined as the set of alternatives chosen at each move by the two parties. to show what sort of situation game theory might be applicable to. A will receive 9 and B will lose 3 units. This is another slight departure from conventional usage. I do claim that the analysis of conflict behaviour in these terms is considerably more than this. A games theorist (at least in his professional capacity) would speak of the game of chess meaning the rule book. but it will be convenience to leave these arguments until later. 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. 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. then B makes a choice of L or R and they end up after two such moves. (I am not for the moment concerned with whether these would be very sensible strategies to use. Some of this is merely to make it clear—the obvious is after all comprehensible. −3). but thirdly. and a strategy is a set of particular alternatives chosen from the initial move to the termination of a play.) . for anyone who was innocent of games theory. Before embarking on the descriptions of the theory and its evaluation within its own terms of reference. There are times. A play of a game consists of a sequence of moves. when all that seems to be happening is that there is an elaborate statement of the obvious.

2. 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. Notice for example that the entry under A’s row RL and B’s column LR (10. 1 A in Extensive Form Fig. 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. This representation is known as the game in normal form. −4). .78 GAMES AND SIMULATION Fig.

The questions to be asked about this are first how plausible is it within its own framework. 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. such that if the two players follow the rule the game will be ‘solved’? The answer is a qualified ‘yes’. 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. For instance. on the assumption that B was being advised by a like-minded consultant could hardly do otherwise than recommend the maximin strategy. The essence of zero-sum game is that the loss to oneself is a gain to one’s opponent. and likewise for him. This sort of game is known (misleadingly) as a zero-sum game. The row at the bottom equivalently gives B’s worst outcomes. chess and so on? The last of these will be deferred for a few paragraphs. The game therefore is one for the division of some given quantity of goods. A will play LR and B will play RL. The term ‘zero-sum game’ is now widely used—commonly as a term of abuse. if this rule is applied. it would seem to be advice of pessimism and gloom. The best of A’s worst outcomes is 6 and the best of B’s worst outcomes is 0. However. Thus an advisor to A.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 79 Before going on with further analysis we should pause to consider one important point. The basic question posed by Von Neumann and Morgenstern was: Is there a decision rule concerning the strategies—which is in some sense ‘rational’. Thus. first let us go back to the game in normal form as represented by the pay-off matrix (fig 2). 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. providing B continues with his RL strategy then there is nothing which A can do which will profit him by altering his strategy. In non-zero sum . and finally what is its application to the relatively unstructured situations we find in social life. 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. The rule proposed is the famous maximin principle (note the spelling). Thus the worst outcome for A if strategy LL is played is −1. In saying that someone perceives a situation as zero sum. the total of which remains constant independently of what strategies the players use.1 It is a game in which any gain which A makes is matched by exactly the same loss to B. A gets all six units plus another from B but the pay-off to the two combined is nevertheless the same. 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. always fearing for the worst. On the face of it. In the case of LL against LR. namely 6. The same will apply to B. as distinct from the complex but nevertheless structured situations we find in card games. Considering it from the point of view of A’s interests then. Hence. if LR is played +6 and so on as indicated in the column on the right. if he moves to RR he will only get a pay-off of 4 instead of the 6 which his equilibrium strategy will bring. but on reflection it appears appropriate in the zero-sum case. namely that providing A sticks to his strategy he can only lose by moving from his equilibrium strategy. This pair of strategies is known as the solution of the game. If we add the pay-offs together in each pair they all come to the same number. 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. or sometimes (less misleadingly) as a constant sum game.

is relatively easy to grasp. at least by hand.2) (4. there are ten thousand possible ending points. at least as yet. but it is clear that it would be very easy to devise pay-off matrices which did not have this characteristic. 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. where instead of playing a single strategy on each play.5) (3. However. 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. the computer can deal with very large numbers of figures. as demonstrated.80 GAMES AND SIMULATION situations this would not normally be the case but in zero sum situations it is. and hence far from being a recommendation for the gloomy. 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. However.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. Hence. While the matrix was chosen to make a point. 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. This is through the device of ‘mixed’ strategies. in practice it will be impossible to do. it would be hard to maintain that it would be the appropriate strategy for either player. 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. This gave us sixteen possible ending points to the game which. The theory has been explained in terms of highly structured and extremely simple games. is going very rapidly to run into enormous problems of complexity.3) B2 (2. with ten alternatives at each move. the particular strategy is chosen in a random manner so that the opponent cannot predict it in advance. First. any game which is remotely like a real situation. Now in the matrix illustrating the game. the player plays two or more strategies in a given proportion to each other but where on any given play. while if there had been four moves each. The really severe problem must now be faced. the game described involved two players in two moves and at each move each player had two alternatives to choose from. or even a real game one is likely to play (in the ordinary usage sense of the word ‘game’). However. such that even if it is in principle possible to solve it. We can illustrate this by a simple example: B1 (5. It is this which gives it its stability. it appears to be the only sensible type of strategy. in a game with still only two players and two moves each but with ten alternatives at each move (still a fairly simple game). These matrices do not have this equilibrium ‘saddle point’ which gives this solution its appeal.4) A1 A2 In this game the maximin strategy in for A is A2 and for B is B2. there would have been one hundred million possible ending points. Admittedly.

The second point is that the games as explained involve clear-cut moves and clear-cut ending points. 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. A very brief reminder might be helpful.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 81 play such a game. I shall discuss just one approach. but it cannot prescribe a full scheme of play. and the sheer intellectual paradox which raises the whole issue of the meaning of rational choice.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.. and has spawned a vast literature from discussion of deterrence to anarchism. e. However.g. It highlights a number of problems in conflict situations and further. two-alternative model while still retaining its essential character. and permissible alternative at each move are usually fairly cleared laid down. Consequently.2) A1 A2 The first choice (A.1) B2 (1.4) (2. Almost any rule of individual rationality which one could devise would appear to indicate this. which in one form or another is widely used. 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. a point which of course has exercised political philosophers almost since there was such an enquiry. it can be complicated to incorporate more of the realities of social life. Adam Smith appeared to dispose of the question at least as far as the economic world was concerned. 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. However by playing ‘rationally’ both players will be worse off. but many are sceptical of his success even in that sphere. chess. 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. its robustness in that it can be extended from the two-person. produces socially optimal solutions. both a strategy and a play could be expressed unambiguously. 2) pay-off instead of the (3. at least in its narrow sense. In this sense it is a very rich model. It is thus possible to describe card games in this way as the moves. Thus. This of course raises the problem of whether or when the pursuit of individual rationality. B1 (3.3) (4. such that the player in the most favoured position. while the second can be regarded as defect choices. . as they will receive the (2. and B) can be regarded as cooperative choices. 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. while in its elementary form it is very simple. has lead to wide interest in the prisoner’s dilemma. cannot be beaten). 3) pay-off. if there is one. The game’s richness in its capacity to reflect the underlying logic of a large number of social conflict situations.

such as. Alliances are a widespread phenomenon of international as well as other social behaviour. but a little nearer. with ‘win’. of course. claims in international waters and so on. the threats of war. If one issue dominated all others and is of a once and for all nature. often in many different domains of conduct such as trade. where it is possible physically for either party to attack.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. a war which will risk the elimination or total transformation of one party. but where either the outcome would be in doubt or the costs of achieving victory would be too high. Hence. However. 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. 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. Defections from the cooperative alternative can be ‘punished’ by the victim. though again it is by no means clear that it is completely eliminated. both zerosum games. This sequence of prisoner’s dilemma games we shall call the ‘prisoner’s dilemma super-game’. and other aspects of the undeniably complex international scene. issues more commonly have a continuing quality which makes the supergame analysis more appropriate. 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. the non-cooperative strategy). 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. However. 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. certainly on the international field. Take for example. If the theory of games runs into difficulties in describing chess and football. The point about the supergame analysis is that it reflects the fact that in most social interactions. a strategic relationship between two countries. Failure to cooperate in one dimension can be ‘punished’ by the other party by an instransigent attitude on some other issue. If one were to put it in supergame terms. with a move taking place daily or whatever the suitably short period is. which again raise plentiful complications however desirable and necessary they may be in ordering the disordered . the structure is a fruitful one for analysis. Nevertheless. for instance. 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. then one might get very despondent about it being of much use in describing wars. ‘draw’ and ‘lose’ as the pay-offs. then the one-shot game analysis might become appropriate. 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. However. where they would if they could win without damage. there is a continuous interaction between the parties concerned. security. then the whole situation is regarded as a play. thus reducing the temptation for such courses of action.

for example. Even different individuals within the teams may receive private briefs. and a game where the communication between teams is relatively impersonal is only one. theory is of use in providing a heuristic base for the analysis of certain types of conflict situation. in my view. Clearly the scope of inventiveness on the part of the designer is enormous. They are also used for different purposes which can be conveniently divided into training. up to a point. There are other games where the central focus of the game may be negotiation in a conference. There is no realistic possibility. Despite the similarity of titles the two fields of study are not particularly closely related to each other. Games have even appeared on television. from the problem of the gross simplifications involved in regarding governments as unitary decision makers. in the way it is used in war gaming. It is this last with which I am most concerned and which raises some of the most interesting problems. 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. to the game in the more orthodox sense of the word. educational and research. There are many different forms of game. 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. which someone has not gamed somewhere. that real international conflicts will be interpreted as games and solved either by the protagonists or by some outside analyst. a specially important class being crisis games. However. The despondency is. perfectly justified. even if not ‘strict’ game theory in the sense discussed above. 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. Business games are probably the most highly developed. Games of various sorts are used in many different contexts and for a wide variety of different purposes. though as mentioned earlier there is scarcely any human activity involving conflict.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 83 world. one proviso still holds.4 Simulation Games It would be natural but incorrect to think that the theory of games was closely related to simulation gaming. though this is one problem we shall not attempt to tackle in this essay. In gaming it is less precisely defined. without some enormous and at the moment unimaginable theoretical breakthrough. Tactical games. business gaming. There can be many variations in the amount of information which people are given. The word ‘game’ is once again used in a more extended manner than in normal speech. Different countries may be given different sets of information. I shall make such connections as there are at a later stage. All this is apart. of course. The very briefest description of the activity is therefore all that is necessary. often played over some physical representation on a . crisis gaming or anything else. War games and diplomatic games are the ones which are of main relevance here. and have probably participated in some game somewhere or other. its resolution or exacerbation. In this. and further there is an uneasy band in the spectrum which leads from the psychological laboratory or its makeshift equivalent. but I shall just briefly comment on the other two first. However.

international crisis games are widely played in higher educational institutions and even schools. leaving only educational efficacy as the remaining issue. 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. Further the number of crises which have occurred in the world is relatively limited. wind tunnels are used to study the behaviour of model aircraft as a guide to formulating theories as to the behaviour of real aircraft. The normal meaning of experimentation is the setting up of some situation in order to see how it behaves. There are two forms of experiment. In the mechanical sciences. This sort of experiment on simulated systems is widespread for reasons of economy. safety. say. and where research and training overlap (e. The obvious point is that they are relatively inexpensive and errors have no disastrous ‘real’ consequences. whereas an experiment was deliberately set up in order to carry out the observation. in tactical games again) where the issues of the legitimacy and usefulness of the activity are raised in their most severe form. 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.g. for example. However. then the other games will also do so. another procedure is used when this is a simulation experiment. where there is no necessary supposition that the participants are aspirant prime ministers. Thus. However. the parallels are sufficiently close for us to be able to make preliminary theories about the behaviour of the larger system. 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. The model can be studied much more easily and cheaply than the larger system and while the results are different. Simulation games are a form of experiment. It is distinguished from ‘pure’ observation by the characteristic that a pure observation involves observing something which would have happened anyway. and for ethical reasons in the case of medical experiments. 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. 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. Thus an experiment in. 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. 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. One involves taking the entities one wants to observe and looking at them under controlled and typically simplified conditions. If the research games pass the conceptual test.84 GAMES AND SIMULATION terrain. 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 . are of this nature. mechanics is designed so that the number of variables which can be manipulated is restricted. Real battles are not easy to arrange. 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. The same applies to research games.

However. However. The direct experiences of the simulation can be quite similar to the simulated object. that participants in a game are more anxious to show that gaming simulation is nonsense. or for some other reason want the game to fail and this obviously can be achieved. Thus we have a curious situation. However. a wide variety of people seem to operate very realistically in this sort of context. whatever their brief may say. The types of behaviour which are exhibited under simulation conditions do correspond with what one might call historically plausible patterns of behaviour. albeit a highly disciplined and structured one. It sometimes happens. as far as the immediate experience of the experimental decision-maker is concerned it is much the same. Let us examine the process of simulation more closely. correspond to the flow of information which a real decision-maker would have to cope with. On the face of it. In real life. the statistics which in real life represent people and things in simulations are merely representations of a fantasy. 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. albeit representing imaginary objects. They appear to be clearly aware that no battle-fleets are at their disposal. 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. 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. and he can issue orders say. I shall suggest that the tool is somewhat more useful than initial intuition would lead us to believe. it would not seem very likely that a group of people pretending to be statesmen in fact behave like real statesmen. participants become more and more seriously involved and the suspension of disbelief necessary for the operation of the game becomes more clear-cut. How well then. do people believe in these fantasies? The answer appears to be surprisingly well. Some degree of commitment to the concept that gaming might at least possibly be interesting is necessary. The more complex the situation is then the more can the flow of information. for convenience taking a crisis simulation where there is interaction between teams. However. as a game proceeds. to call up some reserves which in due course will mean that he has another set of figures before him. 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. 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.5 Technical sounding phrases like ‘body-count’ and ‘kill ratio’ are hardly likely to facilitate an imaginative awareness of the realities behind the figures. A strong personality in one team acting in a disparaging manner can ruin that . Clearly personality and the goals of the participants are factors in this. in other words simulated decisionmakers may act like some real decision-makers because some real decision-makers lack the imagination even to imagine reality. as the author can testify.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 85 for our observations of these simulations to be what they purport to be. real troops would correspond to the number on the piece of paper whereas in the simulation all that exists is the number. a mark on a piece of paper.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma. H. The psychological issues involved in this are obviously of some significance and it is itself a subject for useful research. 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 the participants had not managed to get beyond perceiving the game as just a game even if an interesting one.6 This is not to argue that the problem is necessarily insurmountable. though one hopes that the whole network of knowledge of conflict behaviour in very different areas will gradually link up into a coherent whole. 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. that we are dealing with people’s capacity to imagine themselves in situations they are not in reality in. and do so in a realistic manner. most of the participants being undergraduate and graduate students of international relations. though the prisoner’s dilemma has had pride of place. so that the participant becomes richer or poorer according to how he and his rival act. necessary research if simulation is to continue to be used with the almost innocent zeal with which some people use it at the moment. and Rapoport. but as with many controlled experiments it takes place in an extremely artificial environment. Computers. also The Journal of Conflict Resolution has been one of the main outlets for the report of this sort of gaming results. The participants were almost all reasonably committed to the idea of gaming and appeared to take that activity seriously. though in this case it was not surmounted. Here. It does highlight the question. The games went on for between three and four hours.. tangible and can be taken away after the game. Large numbers of these gaming experiments have been carried out on different games. Now these games are typically played for money. the author once ran a series of simulations between two small teams with a scenario which was relatively constrained. Perhaps the most widely known series of experiments is reported and analysed in Chammah. indeed. A. First there are all computer simulations. but it was fairly clear. The conceptual issues involved in an all computer simulation are of a totally different nature from a gaming simulation. Because of this. it was not felt that the results of the game were worth publishing. the similarities cease. Thus. Simulation and Validity Simulations are frequently enacted with computers and a brief comment on this is appropriate. It is a conventional type of experiment in that one is making a direct observation of the relevant behaviour of interest. The players are playing for real if relatively small stakes. so no act of imagination is involved. however. The money is real. Suppose we are attempting a computer simulation of some . 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.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. The results in consequence do not normally have any direct interpretation in ‘real’ and more complex systems. though. 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.

if decisions involve the reduction of resources to a civilian sector. that it is a totally different activity from gaming. some of the response to the output might come not from another player but from a computer. 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. However. and part game where the decision rules are left free for the participants. 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. . it would be possible to work it out on paper. 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. In the pure game such figures have to be more or less held constant. Thus a very simplistic rule might be for a country X: if country Y increases its arms by x per cent in a period. which in part accounts for the popularity of the crisis game as a teaching game. 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. there are teams who act in much the same sort of way as the players in the ordinary gaming simulation. 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. This of course may be probabilistic —the computer is not bound to deterministic rules. 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. Effective crisis games can be constructed without a computer as the background economic and social data can reasonly be held constant. a theory of conduct has already been assumed. or something of the sort. That is. In these. The point of the computer simulation is that the system being studied is so complex in the rules operated. It is clear however. A lot of the interest in the simulation is precisely how a person does choose and to that extent it can be predicted. and perhaps in the number of participants. When a person is a subject in a gaming simulation he can choose what to do. part-human simulations. that it takes the computer to work out the implications of the decisions being taken. then increase arms by per cent. in practice it is impossible. or strikes which will inhibit output. In principle. Its tremendous power is that there can be repeated reiterations of the simulation. The consequences of applying this rule on its own would not require a computer. Thus. 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. This is commonly done when more general social variables are pertinent to the problem in hand as well as the decisions of other parties. often very complex rules. Each element in the conflict system is programmed to respond according to some specified sets of rules. where the decision rules are laid down. The simulation shows what these are. in many simulations involving armaments. However.STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 87 interacting conflict process over time. In effect. but what is investigated is the logical implications of that theory. the simulation consists of part theory in the form of the computer element of the simulation. However.

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. 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 1969.7 The degree of correspondence with ‘reality’ was sufficiently close at . Again we emphasise this result in finding out the consequences of known and programmed decision rules. though one which can be steered around if care is used. The assertion has been made that gaming simulations do have some correspondence with reality. and from people who. Unfortunately we are on the edge of a paradox. whereas in the game the decision rules are up to the participants. it is possible to get somewhat more detached criteria of whether gaming simulations and reality correspond. Thus we can only find out if the answer is correct if we know the answer in the first place.88 GAMES AND SIMULATION Probably the best known of the person computer games is the International Simulation (INS) devised originally by Harold Guezkow. mainly on the basis that in the author’s experience and the almost unanimous opinion of practitioners of gaming. like the author. As if to emphasise the practical interconnections through conceptual differences between computer simulations and gaming simulations. However. Games appear to have a certain degree of ‘face validity’. usually made by people whose experience of the real system comes solely from reading about it. Human decision-makers are replaced by sets of decision rules which a human might have. this is moderate evidence if only because it is subjective. and a certain amount of work has been done on this. It is a very flexible game which can be used in a wide variety of contexts. However. that is. Stuart Bremmer devised what is in effect an all computer variant of the INS. 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. 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 the case. Indeed most of the methods are taken from the econometricians or in some areas notably ‘factor analysis’ from the psychologists. Fortunately we are saved from this paradox by being able to weaken some of the conditions. though perhaps rather less than one would have expected given the importance of the issue and the prevalence of gaming. We try to find a theory which will describe the behaviour in the game. 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. the real world being not. 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 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. 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. of which there must now be thousands. after all. However.


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.


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*
Laurence Martin

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

Attempts to approach general theory have produced a large number of texts and monographs. based on mathematical models. On the other hand. political theorists. There would be no reason to criticise such work. assembling and trying to generalize from large assemblies of supposedly authentic and extensive data. partly intuitive. 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. if by no means always refined. Nevertheless. were it not for the undue influence—now receding—on junior students and the great expense involved in the work. the production of large arrays of data and elaborately presented. more recent. like Morgenthau’s Politics of Nations. like Kaplan’s System and Process. although I believe they will increasingly be so if they continue in their present vein. 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. 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. others. some based on traditional modes of thoughts and exposition. other than a kindly concern for how well others spend their time. the University of South Carolina. 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. . sometimes with fictional data. 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. 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. 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. In teaching. There really does seem to be an inevitably inverse ratio between the importance of political theoretical questions and their amenability to mathematical treatment. that can be marked right or wrong and thereby reinforce the appearance of ‘scientific’ precision that pervades many studies of the real world. 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. In international and strategic studies it has been particularly useful to inject the concept of system.92 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES been immense proliferation of detail and refinement of technique. held in November 1979. 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. and yet others. Even where these efforts have gone beyond mere analogy and metaphor. I do not believe the efforts of modern methodologists have been wasted.

THE FUTURE OF STRATEGIC STUDIES 93 affairs. Examples of this process constitute a catalogue of some of the most interesting analytical work done in the field of strategic studies. These sub-areas have been systematically mapped to create a morphology of strategic affairs. seem to have been stimulated by key events in the real world which have been seized upon and singled out for systematic study. There has thus emerged an area of strategic studies. the idea of controlled use of force to preserve it as an instrument of policy. 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. for action. where large amounts of genuine data are susceptible to highly sophisticated analysis. Soon. Deterrence was not new and the early theoretical expositions in the nuclear age were demonstrably imperfect. When the idea of Massive Retaliation strained the latter concept. modelling and so on have much to contribute once the goals and values of sub-areas are firmly defined. arms control. projection and operational codes. This was both a natural and a theoretically seminal development. however. which has been of an episodic kind. have entered the vocabulary of statesmen as well as scholars. The problem of deterrence did more than anything else to create the modern academic field of strategic studies. Similar developments followed the Korean War. presumably because it was at once vitally important and in essence simple. as in the famous RAND basing studies of the mid-fifties. Many of the more successful excursions into this type of analysis. 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. efforts in which knowledge about levels of social activity directly amenable to such sciences. Reaction against the implausibility of these schemes generated the idea of arms control— moderating the effect of armament without abolishing it. many important sub-areas of strategic action have been identified in recent years as definable concepts for investigation and even. but a wholly new explicitness was involved on which subsequent work has built a highly elaborate body of literature and doctrine. and allowing the concept of . The Truman Administration pragmatically developed a practice of limited war. are used as suggestive analogies to deepen understanding of such factors as perception. and strategic stability. from counterinsurgency to arms control. crops up as a central theme in most of the sub-areas of strategic theory ranging. for example. Gaming. 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. in some cases. The concept of arms control itself is yet another product of the pressures of real affairs. At this medium level of analysis. The essential element in this thought. This has been done so successfully that some of the resulting concepts such as escalation. where strategy merges with technique. the resulting critique produced a spate of theoretical writings on limited war that constitutes the largest core of contemporary strategic thought. that relating the theory to specific cases was infinitely complex. the system analysts of strategic weapons demonstrated.

have been much less successful. and so on. have been deflated as recent theory and events have settled more firmly into historical perspective. in which methods developed in many other areas of social science find useful applications. At the most general level. but they are undoubtedly more dominant and more universally and consciously pursued than ever before. 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. operational codes and perception have been interestingly explored in the concentrated light of crisis situations. Here. and Vietnam provided an unfortunate practical test- . 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. 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.A.Hobson. decisionmaking and the role of personality. 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.94 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES control to enter military policy rather than to oppose it from without. 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. Practical diplomacy during the Dulles era seems to have combined with theoretical speculation about deterrence to produce the theory of escalation. the dynamics of military competition. have linked up with other areas of political enquiry—bureaucratic politics. moreover. such authors as Coral Bell have elaborated the typology of crisis and conducted useful speculation about the dynamics of crises. Once again it would appear that. undeniably valuable work has been done on specific aspects of the problem. fields. Moreover. This development has had profound practical and theoretical effects. possible causes of war. Yet another discrete area of investigation identified largely because of dramatic historical episodes is that of crisis management. the ‘new diplomacy’. Work such as Graham Allison’s and more recent studies such as Richard Bett’s Soldiers. While the conclusions of many such studies are ambiguous and debatable. has encouraged new kinds of scholar and new types of analysis to enter the military field. The role of communication. General theories of the role of armaments. as Alastair Buchan somewhat uncharacteristically put it. that crisis management was. specific aspects of the topic have lent themselves to detailed theoretical examination frequently giving scope for much quantitative work and systems analysis. while the more grandiose claims that a new science of crisis management had been born. These concepts may not have been wholly absent in earlier times. 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. the socalled arms race. once again. preconception. Statesmen and Cold War Crises. New criteria such as crisis stability and controllability have been articulated for military forces. The creative period of the Western alliance system in the fifties provoked interest in the dynamics of alliance formation and disintegration.

‘scientific’ techniques might fortify research against old and false assumptions has been consciously grasped by much ‘peace research’. although the practitioner’s own theory may be unconscious and flawed. perhaps. Further areas in which to pursue these problems are being identified in the contemporary analysis of the shifting military balance in Europe and. for. 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. it does enable him to operate. it is a positive element when theoretical work about international affairs is fairly easily translated into language comprehensible to the practitioner. For me. orderly and explicit in his work. 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. Soviet use of proxies has added a new aspect to thinking about alliances. of course. A losing soccer side at least plays soccer. it is clear that those who are . It is not. be a matter of judgment. 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. than the more sweeping assessments of the traditionalists. This has revivified interest in the much more fundamental questions of threat perception and intelligence. but even then the danger of confusing them with reality is serious. that practitioners are necessarily or even often successful. in NATO’s behaviour during the Czechoslovakian crisis of 1968. must. does not guarantee performance and many of the ‘mere’ judgments of the modernist may be less easy to evaluate. 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. Inspiring metaphors and analogies may emerge. It is this instinct that makes me uneasy when alleged students of strategy spend their time studying the behaviour of traffic or children. precise. The possibility that new. retrospectively. What the real world is. of course. One recent example is the stimulus given by the October war of 1973 to work on the role of surprise. however. that all research should be ‘applied’. or of fictional systems. theorising that was able to draw upon much older work on revolution and nationalism. Clearly this leads back to the earlier work done on operational codes and bureaucratic politics. The process whereby real events start substantial lines of theoretical investigation still continues. and this suggests to me a certain validity in his approach. Not. The emphasis laid on clear categories. relatively closely directed toward common policy questions. Nowhere. it is merely that they are not irrelevant. Merely espousing such principles. of course. buried in his data collection perhaps.THE FUTURE OF STRATEGIC STUDIES 95 bed for the concept. At the same time. it does not trot on the field and play golf. 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. work that tells one something novel about the ‘real’ world and does so relatively directly. Beyond the mere empirical effort to discover what happened. A final very recent example of scholarly activity stimulated by events can be drawn from Soviet intervention in Angola and Ethiopia.

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. to technical military topics like control. but I do not believe he has profited more than anyone else from espousing novel methodology. Moreover there is a rich body of historical material and a rather less impressive body of earlier theoretical work to review and revise. verification and the effect of new technology on the stability of particular segments of the military balance. 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. unquestionably on the threshold of a general review of strategic concepts. Perhaps scientific and political progress are thought to go together. 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. Instead I see in the present intellectual scene two somewhat different orders of medium-level problem calling out for exploration. one suspects. most public writing on deterrence is from the West and most of that American. We are. the remoteness of much modern work from the real world and even from the actual study of politics. There is scope here not merely for exploring the non-military instruments but for re-examining force from fresh directions. therefore. As recent work on assessments of the strategic balance reveals. 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.96 STRATEGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES determined their work should be aimed at abolishing war and combatting the military establishments. shields political naïveté from disillusionment or discovery. his bias has inevitably laid him as open as the military man to distortion. In the first place. and to the collection of military data. less kindly. Already subordinate areas of particular interest are becoming identifiable. will now be traversed in unprecedented detail. are drawn both consciously and. Wider horizons are opened up by the evolution of the strategic nuclear balance. My own expectations about the most promising fields for future research are naturally coloured by my view of the recent past. Wholly new methodological lines of work may open up but my imagination does not identify them. An already emergent issue is the economic dimension of national security. This needs correcting both by renewed literary research and by systematic examination of the . the raw material issues lead into the complex and subtle question of the relation of military power to other forms of coercion. 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. if not uncharted. such as submarine warfare. In the perspective of this paper. The oil problem has opened up once more areas of investigation which. Moreover. dynamics and role of military institutions. toward the modern approach. temperamentally. 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. 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.

the less culturally limited the examination. for instance will be the long-term effect on the latent influence of military power if military power is increasingly latent? Even more specifically. the better. This challenge. Deterrence. The Vietnamese war showed the dangerous inadequacy of culturally confined concepts of deterrence and escalation. much work to be done reintegrating politically desiccated strategic thought into the mainstream of the theory of international politics. This refinement will have to accommodate the extension of deterrence theory beyond Western assumptions. A major part of this work will concern the non-belligerent roles of military coercive potential. 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. can gunboat diplomacy survive the increasing inhibitions on gunboats using their guns? All of these questions. Several influences in the modern world. and the consequences predicted. 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. most conspicuously nuclear weapons but also changing social attitudes and economic circumstances. This is clearly not necessarily so but even within the concept itself there is room for much refinement of terms. however. have been much more abstract and divorced from broader questions of foreign policy than has been true of the Soviet Union. 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. 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. 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. depends upon rational behaviour by the actors. both general and particular. is merely the signpost to the larger task of putting strategic studies on a multi-cultural basis. Once more. the topic has immense ramifications. Work of this kind should contribute to more general theoretical speculation. the reasons for the phenomenon or the illusion of it explored. 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.THE FUTURE OF STRATEGIC STUDIES 97 considerable record of explicit Soviet strategic behaviour that is now available. too. There is. Again. It needs to be determined more decisively whether this is so. One is the emerging pattern of security systems among the nations of the Third World and the relation of these to the developed states. it is often said. would seem to open up rich possibilities for the systematic examination of recent and not so recent historical experience. Already it is clear that much Western confusion about Soviet behaviour arises from misapprehension of Soviet theory. therefore. . will clearly require a shift out of the solely occidental mould. What are the processes by which lessons are derived from experience in strategic affairs and novel behaviour adopted? What.

I tend to doubt whether they can ever be as productive as the more traditional methods. Confidence building and mutually reassuring unilateral policies may be the dominant modes of ‘regulation’. now perhaps receding. quantitative and otherwise. NATO countries in particular are clearly experiencing difficulty in sustaining the large but inhibited military programmes required by a deterrent stalemate. that this apparatus has had much influence on the course of military policy. It has yet to be demonstrated. refined and enriched by borrowings and contributions from the new quantitative and other approaches developed. so that there has been a danger. 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. recruitment and social justice. may well stimulate renewed interest in the whole question of the role of military force within the international system. all constitute obvious opportunities for applying the more intensive methods of investigation. 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. Immense though the effort invested here has been and considerable though the results have been in explicating the problem. If this is so. such as the sociology of armed forces within democracies. however.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. are the least likely to be used. within those establishments. The immediate problem of sustaining popular support for military establishments that are rarely employed and for the more expensive weapons systems which. it is probably more by modifying the development of national security policies than by explicit. While it would be wrong as well as futile to suggest that such methods should be abandoned. All of this work has. often to great advantage. Consequently the future may lie more in the refinement of informal processes for international communication and moderation of strategic behaviour than in explicit agreement. that . been advanced most by relatively traditional methods of analysis. 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. voluntary and compulsory systems of military service. It seems very likely that the complexity of the military balance and its dynamics exceeds the capacity of necessarily simplified negotiating processes. So far I do not think those new approaches have contributed much in their own right to the actual understanding of strategic affairs. in the realms of ‘domestic’ political science. agreed international regulation. If the spirit of arms control is modifying behaviour. employment policy. the practical achievements in the real world of affairs have been extremely limited. A final example of how the next stage of strategic theory may develop can be taken from the field of arms control. This is clearly a subject to which both peace researchers and those more reconciled to the traditional security framework will contribute. developed in the ‘domestic’ social sciences. Special aspects of the problem. in my view. To conclude. they are typically expensive in both money and manpower.

A useful jolt having been given to complacency about accepted thought.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. . than to a direct assault on the many intriguing questions prompted by the evolution of strategic affairs. I hope the future will see no danger of academic energy being devoted more to methodological speculation. not to say wrangling.

100 .

University of Wales. 1968–1977.S. His books include Military Organisation and Society (1954). Among his other books are The Plans of War: The General Staff and British Military Strategy c. Santiago. Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research. Felix Gilbert is Professor Emeritus. He has co-edited. Canada. History: Choice and Commitment (1977). and Professor of International Politics. Chile. with Edward M. (1973). John Gooch teaches history at the University of Lancaster and is co-editor of the Journal of Strategic Studies. University of Newcastle upon Tyne. contains a bibliography of his works. a collection of his essays. His publications include Oligopoly and Conflict: A Dynamic Approach (1972) and Conflict Analysis (1970). and Cultural Pollution (forthcoming). the University of Stockholm and University College. 1964–1968.Andreski is Professor and Head of Department of Sociology at the University of Reading. Carnegie—Mellon University. He was formerly Professor of History at Bryn Mawr College. The Economic Journal.Friedberg is a doctoral candidate in Government at Harvard University. England.Notes on Contributors S. School of Social Sciences. He was Professor of War Studies. Over the last two years he has served as a consultant to the National Security Council and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. City University of New York and Simon Fraser University.A. . Michael Nicholson is from the Richardson Institute for Conflict and Peace Research at the University of Lancaster. He has written elsewhere on strategic arms control.Earle and Gordon Craig. including Rhodes University. besides articles on economic theory and political science in such journals as the Journal of The Royal Statistical Society. He has held academic posts in many countries. Laurence Martin is Vice-Chancellor. Makers of Modern Strategy. 1900–1916 (1974) and Armies in Europe (1980). Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has written The Sea in Modern Strategy (1967). Aaron L. University of London. Ibadan. South Africa. He has held posts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. London. Arms and Strategy (1973) and Strategic Thought in the Nuclear Age (coauthor) (1980). The Prospects of a Revolution in the U.L. School of Historical Studies. Social Sciences as Sorcery (1972). The Journal of Peace Research and Political Studies.

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