The Wonderful Trinity in a Globalized World
Strategy is, as this quote shows, a serious business. Yet, the word “strategy” is used in so many contexts that it risks losing its meaning. In the Swedish 2004 “white paper” on the future of its defense forces the word is used sixty- one times – but not once either in the meaning of “grand strategy” or of “military strategy”. However, this is exactly the meaning of strategy in this article. There are many definitions on strategy. The original term, in its modern sense, was coined by Paul Gédéon Joly de Maizeroy in 1771:
“Warfare is the science of the general, which the Greeks call strategy, deep science, sublime, which includes many other branches of science, but is based on tactics … In order to create plans, the strategist combines time, means and a number of interests.”
Obviously, great captains formulated and adhered to strategic plans much earlier, but the term as such did not exist. Instead, one generally referred to the “art of war” or, more specifically, to “grand tactics” or “the sublime parts” of tactics. It is interesting to note that the first part of the definition by Joly de Maizeroy highlights strategy as a “science”, while the latter part describes strategy as an art, something that is to be created. This dualism is very important: using strategic theory, the strategist creates a strategy in order to solve a certain strategic problem. Raymond Aron, and later Lucien Poirier, wrote about strategy as a “praxéologie” – a science with a practical purpose.
This article concentrates on strategic theory. It discusses some important notions with particular relevance to small states and to issues regarding symmetry – dissymmetry asymmetry. It also puts special emphasis on uncertainty and surprise – two elements which tend to make strategic action very difficult.