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1 - Thoughts on grand strategy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Williamson Murray
Affiliation:
Ohio State University, Emeritus
Williamson Murray
Affiliation:
Ohio State University
James Lacey
Affiliation:
Marine Corps War College
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Summary

What keeps big systems integrated? Can they go on getting bigger and bigger? How much do communications media matter? How far can globalization go? How does systems-failure begin to appear? From the reign of Hadrian, the Roman empire, gigantic system that it was, stopped getting bigger, more integrated, more complicated, stopped providing so many opportunities, stopped improving the possibilities of change and innovation. Maybe it was enough that the positive trends faltered; maybe they started to go into reverse. No one noticed for generations, but the pace and nature of change had altered for ever. The big labels, Greek, Roman, Christian, remained but concealed increasing chaos.

We might begin our examination of the issues involved in grand strategy with an effort to describe what we mean by the term. Over the centuries, some governments and their leaders have attempted to chart a course for their nations that has involved more than simply reacting to the course of events. In most cases they have confronted sudden and major changes in the international environment, often resulting from the outbreak of great conflicts, but at times involving economic, strategic, or political alterations that threaten the stability or even existence of their polities.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Shaping of Grand Strategy
Policy, Diplomacy, and War
, pp. 1 - 33
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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