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Cover Strategy in the Contemporary World

22. The Practice of Strategy  

Colin S. Gray and Jeannie L. Johnson

This chapter focuses on the requirements of what a good practice of strategy should be. It first provides an overview of the importance of strategic expertise and the reasons why good strategists are hard to find. It then highlights the qualities a good strategist needs to be effective, along with the obstacles to competent strategic performance and the flaws of contemporary strategic education, including insufficient attention to strategic classics and strategic history. The chapter also offers a remedy called the General Theory of Strategy, the core components of which are: understanding the nature and character of strategy, making strategies based on seven contexts (political, sociocultural, economic, technological, military, geographical, historical), and executing strategies. The chapter concludes by calling for a regular reassessment of strategic plans and engagements, driven by questions that examine the extent to which strategy has enabled, and will continue to enable, achievement of political objectives.

Chapter

Cover Strategy in the Contemporary World

2. The History of the Practice of Strategy from Antiquity to Napoleon  

Beatrice Heuser

This chapter discusses the history of the practice of strategy from Antiquity to the First World War. After introducing the reader to the various definitions of strategy, the chapter considers sources of Antiquity about warfare, from ancient Greece and Rome to the time of Rome’s Constantinopolitan (Byzantine) successors, Justinian I and Heraclius. It then examines episodes of European history since Antiquity for which historians claim to have found evidence of the practice of strategy. In particular, it looks at the West European Middle Ages, which saw the rise of complex decision-making involving multiple tools—strategy. It also analyses the transformation of warfare and of strategy in early modern Europe, covering case studies that span the wars involving Philip II of Spain, Louis XIV of France, and Frederick II of Prussia, as well as the American War of Independence and the Napoleonic Wars.