He then studied analytical economics at the London School of Economics where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science B. His book Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace is used as a textbook in war colleges and universities and has been translated into several languages. However, the book is recognized as seminal because it raised basic questions about the Roman army and its defense of the Roman frontier. Although many professional historians argued against his views on Roman strategy, some at book length, his work undoubtedly increased interest in the study of Roman frontiers and strategy. Since the s, he has published articles on the Byzantine Empire and his book, The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire, was published in late
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Start your review of Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace Write a review Nov 02, James Murphy rated it it was amazing I first encountered Luttwak many years ago through a book he wrote about the grand strategy of the Roman Empire.
Strategy is an ever-present condition whenever there are relations between nations, whether friendly or hostile. In fact, he tells us, a world in which strategy is being constantly shaped and projected, actively as in war or more deceptively as the grand strategy of winning the peace, is a normal world.
Most of the time successful strategy creates conditions which may be, eventually, unfavorable. Luttwak spends considerable time writing about the importance of persuasion and dissuasion through military power, the importance of harmony in the relation of vertical strategy military operations to horizontal diplomacy, propaganda, public opinion. One of the paradoxes of war, he tells us, is that it creates peace by destroying the means necessary to engage in combat.
But equally paradoxical is that the resulting peace creates war by breeding conditions in which advantage must be sought, strategies developed to persuade and dissuade, and the peace won even if war has to be resorted to. In the calculus of international relations, strategy and war are natural states.
These are just a few of the fascinating ideas and issues Luttwak deals with. And he illustrates his points with examples from recent history, some almost transferred directly from the status of current events. It can appear between different levels of war, when the right tactical decision may result in the worst operational outcome, as seen in the case of French soldiers who abandoned their positions in May to stop a limited German offensive, only to be taken aback by a full force attack. It can appear when more advanced technology yields a worse result because it discourages the enemy.
Had France relied on a less successful technique, such as trenches, Germany might have chosen a frontal attack, which France would have been able to intermit. My favourite section, however, is Chapter 4, where Luttwak describes reasons why democratic leaders make for terrible war commanders, writing that the necessity for transparency, the duty to explain actions to civilians, and the desire to be re-elected contradict the paradoxical logic of warfare.
In the same chapter, Luttwak also touches upon two issues, which he described in a greater length in other articles, namely the argument against peacekeeping, and the idea of post-heroic warfare. The former discusses the point that by interrupting conflicts and demanding peace treaties to be signed before the war reaches its natural end, we are only prolonging the conflict by letting all sides rearm.
The latter introduces an idea, also against a common sense logic, that the most powerful states, militarily, technologically and economically, are no longer able to defeat their weaker opponents because of development — when death among young people becomes uncommon and parents expect all their children to reach retirement, justifying casualties becomes difficult for any government.
And when a state is more concerned with keeping its soldiers alive than with winning a war, Luttwak writes, military victories are hard to accomplish. Strategy: A Logic of War and Peace is not a book for everyone — it is not always easy to read, and it demands a basic understanding of strategy from its readers. However, if you are a student of international relations, history, or security studies, I can wholeheartedly recommend it.
In the preface, Luttwak explains: " Recognize that every victory comes at a high enough cost that an immediate subsequent defeat is possible. Sometimes the best tech is the lowest; every tech will meet a countertech and your super-advanced modern wonder might be undone by something cheap and off-the-shelf. It is possible to lose because of the costs of a successful defense. The greatest virtue of war is that, in destruction, it consumes the ability to continue it indefinitely Negotiating ends to war might be worse than fighting to the bitter conclusion.
Humanitarian assistance is anything but. The game may be rigged for war if both sides want peace but know that their pursuit of it would incentivize the other side to seek dominance. Overall, Luttwak is a realist in his own right, despite his digs at Waltz and systemic realists. He is a game theorist in his own right, too, but with an understanding of the irrationality of the game.
Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace