The Struggle for the Pacific

By Gregory Bienstock | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
WAR AND STRATEGY

ANYONE who seeks to prophesy the possible course of a future war has to keep this fact firmly in mind, that an accurate forecast, even a very general one, is next to impossible, because it is beyond one's power to foresee the technical and political factors whereby the progress of the war will necessarily be conditioned. The general staffs, indeed, have to go on constructing plans for military operations without which modern warfare is unthinkable, but the politicians dare not mistake these for prophecy and must consider the future with a caution that is almost cynical in its scepticism.

Strategy constitutes an essential element in foreign policy, and that not only in the sense made famous by Clausewitz, who regarded war as the continuation of political action carried out with distinctly different media, but simply because the hopes and plans of the general staff, who have to weigh the chances of victory and the consequences of defeat, decisively influence action in the field of foreign policy. No one can claim to be an expert in foreign policy who has not to a certain extent grasped the principles of strategy and is not in fact himself a strategist. It is only after having ascertained the position as seen by the chief of the general staff that a Foreign Secretary can take his decisions. In 1911 the French Prime Minister, Joseph Caillaux, faced with the German challenge in what is known as "the Panther leap to Agadir," had to decide what line of policy to take; he asked General Joffre if France in the event of war could positively count on victory. The General gave an evasive reply, and Caillaux thereupon decided on a policy of understanding with Berlin.1 Here as always plans of campaign in which there is so often an element of fantasy mattered little. What did matter was the necessity to get a view of the strategical situation clear enough to enable a foreign

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The Struggle for the Pacific
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Preface 9
  • Contents 13
  • List of Maps 15
  • Chapter I The Pacific World In The Making 17
  • Notes to Chapter I 95
  • Chapter II Rivalries in the Pacific 102
  • Notes to Chapter II 197
  • Chapter III War and Strategy 213
  • Notes to Chapter III 255
  • Epilogue 263
  • Bibliography 271
  • Index of Names 289
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