Beatrice Heuser

in Military History

ISBN: 9780199791279
Published online February 2012 | | DOI:

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The term strategy is difficult to define and to circumscribe. It was not used in the Occident until the late 18th century, and since then its meaning has changed considerably. Today, strategy is largely taken to mean, in its original military-political context, a comprehensive plan in pursuit of political ends, including the threat or actual use of force, in a dialectic of wills between at least two sides in a conflict. These sides interact; thus, a strategy will rarely be successful if it shows no adaptability. This bibliography will not consider the now more popular use of the term strategy to refer merely to a complex plan in any walk of life. Strategy, in the aforementioned definition, can be taken to be either theoretical—with war in general in mind or a specific situation—or applied. Few applied strategic concepts have survived from earlier times, because for many centuries practitioners made do without writing them down. Once strategic concepts were generated systematically by governments, they were invariably compromise documents drawn up jointly by a number of actors, which usually deprived them of the coherence found in most of the single-authored theoretical works. Moreover, applied strategic concepts (or strategic concepts drawn up in times of peace for the eventuality of war) are often lacking in explicit articulation of the reasons why certain courses of action are preferred. Because they were more readily accessible, theoretical works have enjoyed more scholarly attention than has the fragmentary evidence we have of applied strategic concepts throughout history. Applied strategic concepts, in so far as these existed or can be surmised from circumstantial evidence (e.g., the Schlieffen Plan), will be discussed under other Oxford Bibliographies articles relating to individual wars.

Article.  13938 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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