THE GRAND STRATEGY OF CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ

WAR ROOM welcomes Francis Miyata to demonstrate that Clausewitz provides an implicit definition of grand strategy in his magnum opus, On War. Francis argues that the definition is found not in his theory of war but extrapolated from his theory of the state, which is the bearer of multiple means of political intercourse, including war. He examines how the definition integrates all the tools of statecraft into a seamless whole, which today more than ever is an imperative of strategizing amidst the conditions of contemporary global politics.

THE SOUL OF BATTLE: DEMOCRACIES AT WAR (DUSTY SHELVES)

The DUSTY SHELVES series welcomes Mitchell Klingenberg to dust off Victor Davis Hanson’s The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny. Klingenberg examines Hanson’s analysis of the human personalities of Epaminondas of Thebes, William T. Sherman, and George S. Patton. Looking at the nature and character of war through the actions of these three leaders, Hanson illustrates the imperative of a nation to exercise moral authority through armed conflict when confronted with evil.

THE INFORMATION APOCALYPSE PART X: THE ROAD AHEAD

 “Great leaders have a vision of the future that does not yet exist, and an ability to communicate that vision. When we put words to the world we imagine, we can inspire others to join us in creating a brighter future.” Simon Sinek The future is replete with opportunities for managing the pace of change, responding to change, […]

THE ART OF NON-WAR: SUN TZU AND GREAT POWER COMPETITION

As the joint force refocuses efforts to address state centric great power competition it must examine and develop strategic frameworks designed to be utilized in an operating environment where a myriad of systemic factors limit the effectiveness of kinetic military force. WAR ROOM welcomes James Micciche to take a new look at Sun Tzu’s teachings in the context of non-war. The “Art of War” provides the basic tenets for the joint force to enhance competitive efforts below levels of armed conflict.

THE INTERIM NSS: A TOUCHSTONE

Mandated by public law, the National Security Strategy (NSS) is the report that the President of the United States sends to Congress to communicate the administration’s strategy and vision regarding national security. It is to be submitted to Congress in a classified format no later than 150 days after the date on which a new President takes office. But Congress isn’t the only audience of the NSS as there is typically an unclassified summary that communicates the administration’s intent to the military, the citizenry, and friends and foes alike. Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Whitt is in the virtual studio with podcast editor Ron Granieri to discuss the Interim NSS that the Biden administration released on 3 Mar 2021. Ron and Jacqueline take a look at what’s different in this document and perhaps more importantly what is similar to previous administration’s NSS reports.

REFRAMING THE MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN

If the western world truly seeks victory in Afghanistan there needs to be a better understanding of what that victory looks like. The ongoing peace talks with the Taliban are a necessary first step. And a wide look at history over many conflicts reveals that western nations have succeeded in the past at reaching political solutions through similar negotiations, patience, and international cooperation. WAR ROOM welcomes Tom Spahr to examine why a U.S. military exit from Afghanistan in May 2021, or shortly thereafter, is not feasible. He predicts getting to an acceptable agreement with the Taliban will take years, if not decades, and political and military leaders should plan for the long haul.

THE IMPENDING CLIMATE WAR WITH CHINA

Climate change is still a divisive topic and some countries are doing better at addressing it than others. China’s economy depends largely on “dirty energy” and their belligerent nature makes them an easy target for pundits to blame. At least one conservative commentator has facetiously suggested military action to curb their emissions. WAR ROOM welcomes back Pete Helzer as he examines why the United States needs to start taking diplomatic and economic steps to address climate change before it becomes an urgent matter that would require military intervention.

INTERNATIONAL ORDER IN A CONTESTED ENVIRONMENT

The U.S.-led rules based international order has been at the forefront of U.S. defense strategy since the end of WWII. However, the environment that enabled the growth and establishment of the order as a central strategic mechanism during the Cold War and following the Soviet Union’s collapse does not exist in present day East Asia. WAR ROOM welcomes Jarrod Knapp as he examines the ideological differences, the pressure of China’s regional hegemonic rise, and a historical reluctance to form alliances among East Asian states that limit the order’s efficacy.

SHARING MORE THAN RED, WHITE, AND BLUE: FRENCH FOREIGN POLICY SINCE WWII (DUSTY SHELVES)

DUSTY SHELVES welcomes Mark Lottman as he examines Herbert Tint’s French Foreign Policy since the Second World War. Tint’s book delves into a number of challenges that the French government had to deal with in the decades following WWII. Lottman sees the parallels with current domestic and foreign policy issues in the United States, and suggests there are lessons to be gleaned from France’s history.

THE ARMY’S ROBERT E. LEE PROBLEM

On 5 February, 2021, newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed military leaders to lead a one-day stand-down within the next 60 days to address extremism within the nation’s armed forces. That same afternoon our Editor-In Chief, Jacqueline Whitt sat down with Ty Seidule in the virtual studio to record this episode. Seidule, a prominent figure in the conversation about extremism, has long fought against the veneration of Robert E. Lee and the Confederate cause in the Army, specifically at the United States Military Academy. His 2015 video on Prager University, “Was the Civil War About Slavery?” has been viewed over 34 million times. And his newest book Robert E. Lee and Me is drawing both praise and anger. Their discussion ranges from his childhood in the south to his time at West Point as the Head of the Department of History, and what he’s been doing since his retirement as a brigadier general in 2020.

WHAT NORMS ARE AT STAKE WITH A RETIRED GENERAL AS SECDEF?

The fourth offering in this brief series is this article by Marybeth P. Ulrich and Noah C. Fisher. They examine the erosion of norms that has occurred with the nomination and confirmation of retired Army General Lloyd Austin as the Secretary of Defense. Austin’s confirmation is the third time that a waiver for the “cooling off” period has been granted, but perhaps more importantly the second in four years. Ulrich and Fisher appraise what impact this waiver may have and remind us that “norms that are not enforced cease to be norms, having lost the shared understanding that underpin them.” 

THE ROLE OF RETIRED SENIOR OFFICERS

This third offering in this brief series is by Jeff Baker. In it he examines the role of the retired senior military leader, generals and admirals, in the political sphere. Their participation in politics, even out of uniform, has long been considered taboo. Perhaps it’s time to re-look the benefits of decades of training, education and experience possessed by these skilled and seasoned leaders.

HOW MUCH FOR THE PEN? SCHELLING (GREAT STRATEGISTS)

A BETTER PEACE welcomes back Tami Davis Biddle to our GREAT STRATEGISTS series. She joins WAR ROOM podcast editor Ron Granieri in the virtual studio to discuss the contributions of Thomas C. Schelling to the Cold War nuclear strategy realm.

PRAETORIAN PROPENSITIES

The second offering in this brief series is this article by Todd Schmidt. He claims that the terms “apolitical” and “non-partisan” are often confused and misused. The reality of an apolitical, non-partisan military does not exist. Since the creation of the country the military of the United States has been intensely political, and many senior military professionals have been crucial members of political society. And thoughtful actions must occur to ensure the healthy rebalance of civil-military relations.

SHOULD THE MILITARY LEADERSHIP SPEAK UP ON PARTISAN POLITICS?

The first offering in this brief series is this article by Jovanna Davidovic. She posits that the simple litmus test of not appearing partisan as a way of determining whether or not to speak out as a military member is problematic. Rather, the content of the discussion is more important: racism is wrong, genocide is wrong, torture is wrong—regardless of the political actor or party professing the idea.

WHEN A GENERAL WRITES FOR THE GENERALIST (ON WRITING)

A BETTER PEACE welcomes authors General Sir Rupert Smith and Ilana Bet-El to the virtual studio to talk about the ultimate goal of being understood as authors. Smith and Bet-El are co-authors of The Utility of Force now available in a second edition. They join our own Michael Neiberg to discuss their collaborative process and the different strengths and attributes they each bring to the effort. He is a retired British Army officer with a wealth of experience in matters of war and diplomacy culminating as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe. She is a strategic adviser, writer and historian with experience at the UN as well as advisory work around the world. Together they compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses to produce a book that is readable by academic, specialist and generalist alike.

Editor’s Note: We apologize for the intermittent sound quality of our guests. We had technical difficulties with the equipment, but we feel the intent of the conversation remains intact and is well worth the distractions.

CHINA, SUSTAINABLE ENERGY AND GREAT POWER COMPETITION

The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) BRI is currently the world’s largest global foreign investment program and has the potential to shape the future of global sustainable energy. In 2018, fossil fuels met 70% of the world’s increasing energy demand, and developing countries accounted for the majority of that demand. Developing states require tremendous amounts of energy to […]

THE FUTURE OF THE UNITED STATES’ FRIENDS AND FOES

As the United States sees its dominant position in the world diminish, and rising powers such as China ascend, it will find that allies will be indispensable in the coming years. The United States’ global power has been in steady decline over the past 20 years. The United States must, therefore, reevaluate its global presence […]

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: WHY THE ALLIES WON (DUSTY SHELVES)

With such overwhelming numbers, how could the Allies not win? The numbers in World War II are striking. The Allies, who in many ways had not prepared properly for conflict, produced just over 20,000 aircraft in 1939, a number already almost double that of Germany and Japan. By 1943, the Allies manufactured about three and […]

PAST VISIONS OF FUTURE WARS

A BETTER PEACE welcomes Adam Seipp to discuss the world of Cold War literature. Adam’s previous article in our DUSTY SHELVES series reviewed Sir John Hackett’s 1978 best seller, The Third World War: August 1985. Hackett, deemed both the heir to Pat Frank and Neville Shute and also the ancestor of Tom Clancy and so […]