Academic journal article Military Review

The Shaping of Grand Strategy: Policy, Diplomacy, and War

Academic journal article Military Review

The Shaping of Grand Strategy: Policy, Diplomacy, and War

Article excerpt


Policy, Diplomacy, and War, edited by William Murray, Richard Hart Sinnreich, and James

Lacey, Cambridge University Press, New York

2011, 283 pages, $27.99

WILLIAM MURRAY, Richard Hart Sinnreich, James Lacey, and other noted scholars have written a fascinating book detailing the complexities and risks of developing and executing grand strategy. The authors present historical case studies of renowned leaders' experiences and strategic events that shaped grand strategy. The book begins with King Louis XIV of France, followed by the Seven Years' War, Otto von Bismarck, British strategic transformation, and Neville Chamberlain. It ends with a look at U.S. presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.

A theme that resonates in the book is that grand strategy is rarely well conceived or successful. In only two of the seven cases presented, Franklin D. Roosevelt (World War II strategy) and Harry S. Truman (containment strategy), did grand strategy achieve its end state or long-term goal. The authors attribute Roosevelt and Truman's success to their willingness to adapt to constantly changing environments, their ability to see things as they were and not as they wished them to be, their understanding of the finiteness of national resources, and their desire not to fall victim to ambition. They understood their nation's enemies and explicitly used their militaries as a political tool of deterrence or last resort.

On the other hand, King Louis XIV exhausted the resources of France with an overly ambitious grand strategy to make France the preeminent power of Europe by military coercion and war. …

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