Howard, Michael
January 1973
Foreign Affairs;Jan1973, Vol. 51 Issue 2, p253
The article examines the relevance of traditional military strategy in international relations and the development of foreign policies. Military strategy is organized coercion. It can be defensive or offensive: either posture involves the use or threatened use of force to compel an adversary to abandon his preferred course of action and conform to one's will. The traditional object of military operations was to force one's opponent into a position where the only alternatives open to him were compliance with one's own demands or acceptance of an intolerable level of destruction, extending even to total annihilation. Traditional strategy assumed that in any conflict the antagonists were in complete control of their national resources and that their governments commanded a total consensus of national will. The whole object of traditional strategy had been so to deploy armed force as to compel the enemy to face the inescapable alternatives of unacceptable destruction or compliance with one's will. The historical conditions which made traditional strategy possible have now very largely disappeared. It is not just that governments can no longer protect their populations against wholesale destruction by their enemies.


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