The Evolution of Strategy: Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-11-30
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Is there a 'Western way of war' which pursues battles of annihilation and single-minded military victory? Is warfare on a path to ever greater destructive force? This magisterial new account answers these questions by tracing the history of Western thinking about strategy - the employment of military force as a political instrument - from antiquity to the present day. Assessing sources from Vegetius to contemporary America, and with a particular focus on strategy since the Napoleonic Wars, Beatrice Heuser explores the evolution of strategic thought, the social institutions, norms and patterns of behaviour within which it operates, the policies that guide it and the cultures that influence it. Ranging across technology and warfare, total warfare and small wars as well as land, sea, air and nuclear warfare, she demonstrates that warfare and strategic thinking have fluctuated wildly in their aims, intensity, limitations and excesses over the past two millennia.

Author Biography

Beatrice Heuser holds the Chair of International History at the School of Politics and International Relations, University of Reading. Her publications include Reading Clausewitz (2002); Nuclear Mentalities? (1998) and Nuclear Strategies and Forces for Europe, 1949-2000 (1997), both on nuclear issues in NATO as a whole, and Britain, France, and Germany in particular.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. xi
A note on referencingp. xiii
What is strategy?p. 3
Art of war or science of war, and technical definitions of 'strategy'p. 3
The articulation of different dimensions of Strategyp. 9
What is this book examining?p. 29
Long-term constants
Warfare and mindsets from Antiquity to the Middle Agesp. 39
Technology and warfarep. 39
Causes, aims and ethics of war from the Roman Empire to the late Middle Agesp. 42
Warfare and mindsets in early modern Europep. 54
Causes, aims and practice of war in early modern Europep. 54
The ethics of war in early modern Europep. 64
Themes in early thinking about Strategyp. 76
Sieges and static defences from Troy to Basrap. 76
Feudal levies, mercenaries or militia?p. 82
Battle avoidance or decisive battles?p. 89
Limited and unlimited warsp. 97
The enduring quest for eternal principles governing warfarep. 100
The Napoleonic paradigm and Total War
The age and mindset of the Napoleonic paradigmp. 113
Causes of wars, world-views and war aims 1792-1914p. 113
The influence of Social Darwinism and racismp. 123
The Napoleonic paradigm transformed: from total mobilisation to total warp. 137
The quest for total victoryp. 139
The centrality of the battlep. 142
Annihilation of the enemyp. 145
The universal cult of the offensivep. 146
Total mobilisation or professional military elites?p. 152
Challenges to the Napoleonic paradigm versus the culmination of Total Warp. 171
Mars mechanised: the Napoleonic paradigm versus technological innovationp. 171
The dissenters: Corbett's limited wars and Jaurès's defensive armyp. 176
Lessons of the First World Warp. 179
Strategy responses to the First World Warp. 181
The Second World War: culmination of Total Warp. 194
Naval and maritime Strategy
Long-term trends and early maritime Strategyp. 201
Strategy on land, at sea and in the airp. 201
Writing in the age of oar and sailp. 207
The age of steam to the First World Warp. 216
The 'Anglo-Saxon' writers in the age of steamp. 216
French naval theorists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuriesp. 233
Germany before the First World Warp. 245
Conclusionsp. 247
The World Wars and their lessons for maritime Strategistsp. 248
The First World Warp. 248
British lessonsp. 250
French lessonsp. 256
The second-tier powersp. 260
US lessons from the Second World Warp. 266
Conclusionsp. 267
Maritime Strategy in the nuclear agep. 268
The Cold War frameworkp. 268
Multiple roles for naviesp. 276
Strategies for second-tier powersp. 286
Change of world-views and principles in conducting international affairsp. 290
Conclusionsp. 291
Air power and nuclear Strategy
War in the third dimensionp. 297
Child and grandchild of naval Strategyp. 297
The beginnings of air powerp. 298
Four schools of air powerp. 313
The strategic or city bombing schoolp. 314
The military targets school: denialp. 336
The leadership targeting school: decapitationp. 342
The political signalling school: games theoriesp. 345
Conclusionsp. 350
Nuclear Strategyp. 351
Targetsp. 351
Deterrencep. 357
Nuclear war-fighting Strategyp. 366
War taken to its absurd extremep. 382
Asymmetric or 'small' wars
From partisan warfare to people's warp. 387
Two meanings of 'small war'p. 387
The mosquito and the lion: tacticsp. 397
Hearts and minds Ip. 414
Defence in depthp. 416
Counterinsurgencyp. 419
The legal status of insurgentsp. 419
Brutal repressionp. 422
Hearts and minds IIp. 427
Conclusionsp. 436
The quest for new paradigms after the World Wars
Wars without victories, victories without peacep. 441
The First World War as turning point?p. 441
Causes, conduct and ethics of wars since 1945p. 444
The relinquishment of the Napoleonic paradigmp. 453
The return of limited warsp. 456
Coercionp. 463
Defensive defence and the relinquishment of victoryp. 467
No end of history, the dialectic continuesp. 472
The Napoleonic paradigm strikes back: Summers's Clausewitzian critiquep. 472
Major war since 1945p. 477
The return of small warsp. 480
Future developmentsp. 486
Epilogue: Strategy-making versus bureaucratic politicsp. 488
Policy and Strategy in practicep. 488
The frailty of human logicp. 498
Summaries and conclusionsp. 500
Bibliographyp. 506
Indexp. 571
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