Plotting Power: Strategy in the Eighteenth Century

Plotting Power: Strategy in the Eighteenth Century

Plotting Power: Strategy in the Eighteenth Century

Plotting Power: Strategy in the Eighteenth Century

Synopsis

Military strategy takes place as much on broad national and international stages as on battlefields. In a brilliant reimagining of the impetus and scope of eighteenth-century warfare, historian Jeremy Black takes us far and wide, from the battlefields and global maneuvers in North America and Europe to the military machinations and plotting of such Asian powers as China, Japan, Burma, Vietnam, and Siam. Europeans coined the term "strategy" only two centuries ago, but strategy as a concept has been practiced globally throughout history. Taking issue with traditional military historians, Black argues persuasively that strategy was as much political as battlefield tactics and that plotting power did not always involve outright warfare but also global considerations of alliance building, trade agreements, and intimidation.

Excerpt

Strategy is a term much debated now. indeed, in the West, helping both to provoke and to focus this debate, there is a sense that strategy is in some way a lost art and a repeated argument to that effect. This sense reflects a crisis of confidence as a result of repeated setbacks, or at least serious difficulties, for Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s and 2010s, and the linked problems for Western goals. the rhetoric and associated disquiet about absent or flawed strategy rose to a hitherto unmatched height in 2015. This was specifically in response to the isis terrorist attack on Paris and to the more general imbroglio concerning Western policy toward Syria and indeed the Middle East as a whole.

The rhetoric and disquiet also reflected a more general concern in the West in the 2000s and 2010s about drift and drift in the case of the conception and implementation of what was variously described as policy and strategy. the confused and largely unsuccessful response to Chinese and Russian expansionism was an aspect of this disquiet. in this context of concern and the response to concern, the term strategy was much employed and not always in an illuminating fashion. That itself was an instructive comment on the vocabulary of strategy. So also was the extent to which commentators focused on differences and tensions arising from contrasting goals between the powers, notably Russia and the Western powers. These contrasts underlined the extent to which alliances and would-be alliances entailed commitments and possibilities in terms of goals and means that involved the pressures and problems of cooperation. To offer an account of strategy as a military activity that . . .

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