Conclusion: Bandit Country and the Strategist's Quest for Control

Colin S. Gray

in The Strategy Bridge

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199579662
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594458 | DOI:
Conclusion: Bandit Country and the Strategist's Quest for Control

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It is a risk worth taking to consider the strategist as hero, so challenging is the function that is his uniquely, properly conceived as a whole, as strategic performance which is command performance. The strategist's mission is far more difficult than are those of the policymaker and the tactician. Fortunately for the strategist, he can find educational value in an eternal general theory of strategy. Less fortunately, though, he must always adapt the dicta of that general theory for detailed application in the strategy he needs for his today. Clausewitz alone is excellent as a guide, but even as a general education in strategy the great Prussian is not sufficient for the twenty‐first century, but he does come close. Through all of history, the challenges that we expressed generically in the strategic function of ‘ends, ways, and means’ have not altered. It is well to be alert to the reality that although every strategy must be a plan, formal or informal, not all plans truly will be strategies. Strategic theory helps the practicing strategist to think competently with discipline about his complex subject; theory sorts things out rigorously. Strategy is far more art than science, by any plausible definition. It is difficult, but nonetheless can be, and has been, practiced successfully. The practice of strategy is effected by command performance that has to be severally enabled. By way of important caveats, strategy as ideas and as practiced by command, can be hampered by the misuse of historical analogy; a neglect of the vital human factor; a reified strategism that exalts unduly the potential benefits of strategy; a ‘presentism’ that plans for tomorrow in a manner that is unwisely hostage to the leading concerns of today; and an improperly autarchic view of strategy, one which neglects the quintessential instrumentality of the strategic function.

Keywords: strategist; hero; command performance; strategic theory; Clausewitz; historical analogy; ‘strategism’; ‘presentism’; instrumentality

Chapter.  13067 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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