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Strategy in the Contemporary World

Strategy in the Contemporary World (7th edn)

John Baylis, James J. Wirtz, and Jeannie L. Johnson
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date: 11 December 2023

p. 35520. Strategic Studies and its Criticslocked

p. 35520. Strategic Studies and its Criticslocked

  • Columba Peoples


This chapter examines key themes in the criticism levelled at strategic studies. It begins with a discussion of the relationship between strategic studies and its critics in the ‘golden age’, a period that saw the rise to prominence of a new breed of strategic thinker, the ‘civilian strategist’. These civilian strategists favoured the incorporation of game theory and systems analysis into the study of nuclear strategy and deterrence. After reviewing prominent critical appraisals of deterrence theory in the 1960s, the chapter explains how these critiques were subsequently addressed by strategic theorists. It then considers the emergence of a ‘third wave’ of strategists that engaged in a reconstructive critique of strategy, before concluding with an analysis of recent critical approaches to strategic studies that have focused on its role in constructing a particular Western-centric vision of world order, the relationship between strategic theory and policymaking, and the language of strategic studies.

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