The Future of Strategy
October 2015, Polity
Strategy is not a modern invention. It is an essential and enduring feature of human history that is here to stay. In this original essay, Colin S. Gray, world-renowned scholar of strategic thought, discusses the meaning of strategy and its importance for politicians and the military as a means of achieving desired outcomes in complex, uncertain conditions.
Drawing on a wide range of examples from the Great Peloponnesian War to the Second World War, Vietnam, and the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gray ably shows how great military thinkers of the past and present have acted strategically in their various ideological, political, geographical and cultural contexts. Looking to the future, he argues that strategy will continue to provide a vital tool-kit for survival and security, but that the global threat posed by nuclear weapons remains an on-going challenge without obvious practical solutions. As Gray boldy asserts, there is no promised land ahead, only hard and dangerous times that will require us to master the theory and practice of strategy to secure our own future.
1 Politics the Master 7
2 Strategy: What It Is, and Why It Matters 23
3 Theory and Practice 43
4 Strategic History: Continuity and Change 63
5 Strategy, Strategies, and Geography 80
6 Strategy and the Future 98
Conclusion: What Do We Know with High Confidence? 107
Further reading 118
Colin S. Gray is Professor Emeritus of Strategic Studies at the University of Reading. He has served as a Defence Advisor to both UK and US governments and is the author of 28 books on military history and strategic studies, as well as numerous academic articles.
"In an era of strategic atrophy when we re wrestling with a world awash in change, The Future of Strategy provides the best and most relevant guide to navigate our way. Using enduring principles Colin Gray lights the path ahead in a book that stands alone in its clarity and strategic insight."
General James N. Mattis, USMC (ret.), Hoover Institution, Stanford University
"Colin S Gray is one of the great strategic thinkers of the day. In The Future of Strategy he argues that there is a general theory of strategy that applies to all times, places and circumstances. Insightful and controversial, it is a must-read for all students of strategic studies and policy makers who wrestle with the difficult strategic issues of the contemporary world."
John Baylis, Emeritus Professor, Swansea University