Units of Study

Here follows a daily schedule of our class meetings, discussion topics, and readings. Please note that this material is subject to change. Students are expected to prepare for each class meeting by reading the items listed here.


Lessons in Strategy from Classical Antiquity: An Example 

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  • Alfred Lord Tennyson, "The Charge of the Light Brigade," [1854] in The Poetic and Dramatic Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1910), pp. 226-27.

  • Hal Brands, What Good is Grand Strategy? Power and Purpose in American Statecraft from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014); read the introduction, "The Meaning and Challenge of Grand Strategy," pp. 1-16.


On the Nature of Power and Interests

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  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan [1651], ed. Marshall Missner (New York: Pearson Longman, 2008); read ch. 8, "Of the natural condition of mankind as concerning their felicity and misery," pp. 81-85.

  • Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, 7th ed., rev. Kenneth W. Thompson and W. David Clinton (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2005); read ch. 1, "A Realist Theory of International Politics," pp. 3-16.

  • Michael G. Roskin, "National Interest: From Abstraction to Strategy," in U.S. Army War College Guide to Strategy, ed. Joseph R. Cerami and James F. Holcomb, Jr. (Carlisle Barracks: U.S. Army War College, 2001), pp. 55-68.


Establishing a Strategic Frame of Mind

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  • Anne-Marie Slaughter, "How to Succeed in the Networked World: A Grand Strategy for the Digital Age," Foreign Affairs 96, no. 6 (December 2016): 76-89.

  • Rolf Dobelli, The Art of Thinking Clearly, trans. Nicky Griffin (Edinburgh: Sceptre, 2013); read "Why We Prefer a Wrong Map to No Map at All; Availability Bias," pp. 35-37.

  • Winston S. Churchill, Painting as a Pastime [1932] (New York: Cornerstone, 1965).


The Search for a Science in Strategy: Machiavelli

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  • Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. Harvey C. Mansfield, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).


The Search for a Science in Strategy: Clausewitz

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  • Carl von Clausewitz, On War, [1832] trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (New York: Penguin, 1976). Though other editions are readily available, for our purposes, please only use the Howard-Paret translation. Read the following:

    ·       Book I, Ch. 1, "What is War?" pp. 75-89.

    ·       Book I, Ch. 2, "Purpose and Means in War," pp. 90-99.

    ·       Book I, Ch. 3, "On Military Genius," pp. 100-12.

    ·       Book I, Ch. 8, “Concluding Observations on Book One,” pp. 122-23.

    ·       Book II, Ch. 2, excerpt on “Theory Should be Study, Not Doctrine,” p. 141.

    ·       Book III, Ch. 1, "Strategy," pp. 177-82.

    ·       Book III, Ch. 2, "Elements of Strategy," p. 183.

    ·       Book VIII, Ch. 1, "Introduction" [War Plans], pp. 577-78.

    ·       Book VIII, Ch. 2, "Absolute and Real War," pp. 579-81.

    ·       “Author’s Preface to an Unpublished Manuscript on the Theory of War” [1816-18], pp. 61-62.


Operations and Tactics

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  • Micah Zenko, Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy (New York: Basic, 2015); read ch. 1, "Best Practices in Red Teaming"; ch. 2, "Modern Military Red Teaming"; and ch. 3, "Alternatives: Intelligence Community Red Teaming," pp. 1-106.


Strategic Decision-Making

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  • Zenko, Red Team; read ch. 4, "Adversaries: Homeland Security Red Teaming"; ch. 5, "Competitors: Private-Sector Red Teaming"; and ch. 6, "Modesty, Misimpressions, and the Future of Red Teaming," pp. 107-239.


The Art and Science of Candid Appraisal

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  • Publius [Alexander Hamilton], "The Federalist No. 8: Consequences of Hostilities Between States" [20 November 1787], in The Federalist Papers, ed. Ian Shapiro (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), pp. 37-41.

  • Sir Eyre A. Crowe, Memorandum on the Present State of British Relations with France and Germany (1 January 1907); National Archives of the United Kingdom, FO 881/8882X.

  • Helmut Schmidt, The Balance of Power: Germany's Peace Policy and the Superpowers, [1969] trans. Edward Thomas (London: William Kimber, 1971); read ch. 1, "The Germans and Strategy," pp. 25-35.

  • Harold Mock, "Germany Among the Great Powers," unpublished MS (19 December 2018).


Managing Resources and Strategic Limits

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  • Marc Trachtenberg, "A 'Wasting Asset': American Strategy and the Shifting Nuclear Balance, 1949-1954," in History and Strategy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), pp. 100-52.

  • "A Report to the National Security Council on United States Objectives and Programs for National Security" [NSC-68], top secret (14 April 1950).

  • "A Report to the National Security Council on Basic National Security Policy" [NSC-162/2], top secret (30 October 1953).


Crisis Management

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  • Paul Gordon Lauren, Gordon A. Craig, and Alexander L. George, Force and Statecraft: Diplomatic Challenges of Our Time, 4th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); read ch. 11, "Crisis Management," pp. 220-42. 


Contemporary Grand Strategy: A Practical Case Study

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  • Barry R. Posen, "The New Internationalism: The Case for Restraint," lecture at George Washington University, Washington (22 June 2014). View online. Watch Posen's lecture (35 min.), and watch the question-and-answer period if you choose.

  • Anthony Lake, "From Containment to Enlargement," address at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington (21 September 1993).

  • Optional. Harold Mock, "North Atlantic Treaty Organization," in The SAGE Encyclopedia of War: Social Science Perspectives, vol. 3 (London: SAGE, 2017), pp. 1240-45.

  • Optional. Barry R. Posen, "A New U.S. Grand Strategy," Boston Review (1 July 2014).


Strategic Thought in the Private Sector

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  • James C. Collins and Jerry I. Poras, "Building Your Company's Vision," in On Strategy: HBR's 10 Must Reads (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2011), 77-102.

  • Benjamin Fulford, "Zipping Up the World," Forbes (24 November 2003).


Contemporary Issues: Global Climate Change

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  • Hal Brands, What Good is Grand Strategy? Power and Purpose in American Statecraft from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014); read the Conclusion, "Grappling with Grand Strategy," pp. 190-206.


Contemporary Issues: Great Power Rivalries

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  • Thomas Wright, “The Return of Great-Power Rivalry was Inevitable,” The Atlantic (12 September 2018); available online.


Contemporary Issues: Public Health

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  • Claire Felter and Danielle Renwick, “The Ebola Virus,” Council on Foreign Relations (12 June 2018); available online.

  • Claire Felter, “The End of Antibiotics,” Council on Foreign Relations (29 March 2018); available online.


Contemporary Issues: WMD Proliferation

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  • Readings for this session will be announced.