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December 13, 2010


YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

Floating animal heads is the only thing that pleases the Floating Clausewitz Head... and they are in short supply.

Boyd knew that nuance in each conflict prevented text book answers from ever existing that describe how to win. All you can do is increase your potential avenues for winning, and decrease potential avenues for the enemy (I doubt one can do both in equal measure. There must be some trade off between the two, though not mutually exclusive).

The essence of grand strategy is vision. Really, it doesn't need to be anything more than a vision for the practitioner of grand strategy, given the enormity of the implementation of things on such a macro level. Again, this is what Boyd understood, and so espoused organizations that increase options and allow a greater variety of visions (possibilities). Many people seem to struggle with what Sun Tzu's notion of formlessness is. However, I view it as being poised to take advantage of any one of the possibilities that seem the best for the moment.

Where I think people get caught up in the need of an enemy for a proper strategy, is actually on the operational level. Just as I said above, formlessness is the ability to take advantage of a plethora of possibilities that present them self. However, nothing is truly implemented until that moment of realization, so it does not seem like we even had a strategy till that point (especially in retrospect?).

On a personal level, anything I can consider a success on my part has not occurred because I could spell out each step I had to take beforehand. I don't see why it would be any different on a larger scale. Granted, the person with the vision (strategy) has to be able to articulate what they do know to those who will carry out the vision. Viscount Nelson is remembered because he was able to articulate his vision sufficiently. As is much the case with any great name from military history.


Quick thought: In business-land, you can't build a business that is based on an enemy. It needs operate independently. Arguably, it needs to affect the environment.

Think Square vs. Paypal instead of what it was - innovate beyond the confines of that dialectic.


Lucien, I think vision is a large part of it. That's the genius of Fouche's "strategic aggregator" post, because it describes that vision in the sense of what vision is able to achieve.

Shlok, after reading much of the ONA literature as well as the Boston Consulting Group stuff, I'm beginning to think that "competitive strategy" as well as "planned emergence" approaches have a lot to teach the defense community and academia in terms of thinking about strategy.

Bruno Behrend

Why does no one apply this stuff to politics, and if they do, who are they?



The major difference, I think, is the lack of direct applications. There is plenty of what might be considered tactical, operational, and strategic literature specialized to politics--running from everything to the tactics of local competitions to campaign thought to overall thoughts on political strategy. Taking military or grand-strategic thought could give political strategists some insightful metaphors but might also prove to be superfluous and confirm ideas they already hold.


However, a serious academic effort that explores parallels and disconnects between political strategy and military strategy would be insightful.

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