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Andi Widjajanto S6016 The Study of War 2007

Review Essay:

The Paradoxical Logic of Strategy1


Andi Widjajanto
G0701818L In Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace Edward N. Luttwak argues that the entire realm of strategy is pervaded by a paradoxical logic [2]. Luttwaks method in identifying the paradoxical logic that rules strategy is by analysing five levels of strategy started from the technical level of strategy until the grand strategy level of strategy. He also adds the horizontal and vertical dimensions of strategy that will also increase the level of paradoxical logic of strategy. Luttwaks argument is not a new one. In On War Clausewitz offers explanation on why it is difficult to construct the absolute war (Clausewitz 1976, 78). This concept of pure war entails a single decisive act or a set of simultaneous ones leading to a complete and perfect decision (Clausewitz 1976, 78). For Clausewitz, the concept of absolute war is developed to provide a measure of how different war really is in practice (Smith 2001, 34). He indicates several independent variables that will determine the outcome of real war such as friction, the internal dynamics of war, as well as the social and political context of specific states engaged in war. Similar with Clausewitz, Luttwak also considers absolute war as a theoretical proposition. For him, the paradoxical logic of strategy is a given strategic setting that must be anticipated by any military and political leaders. By focusing in the persistence of the paradoxical logic of strategy, Luttwak tries to create awareness for all decision makers of the demanding process in making a coherent strategy. The process will be very challenging because it must cover five levels of strategy and two dimensions of strategy. In analysing all levels and dimensions of strategy, Luttwak hopes that he can devise and implement a grand strategy that will harmonize policy on all levels [265]. For him, the paradoxical logic of strategy can be overcome by great intellectual effort, sheer tenacity, and much political ingenuity [265]. It is hard for me to simply accept Luttwaks solution for addressing the paradoxical logic of strategy. For Luttwak, a coherent strategy that will impose a linear logic for all levels and dimensions of strategy can only be created by a military genius and can only be employed in an absolute war. Luttwak is waiting for the reincarnation of Napoleon to lead NATO in a nuclear war against a non-nuclear country.

A Review of Edward N. Luttwak: Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace. Rev. and enl. ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 2001. xii, 308pp.)
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Andi Widjajanto S6016 The Study of War 2007

In this essay, I will try to incorporate several theoretical propositions in strategic studies into Luttwaks framework to address the paradoxical logic of strategy in each level strategy. The first level of strategy is the technical level. In this level, Luttwak makes us aware of problematic interactions between soldiers, technicians, and politicians in deciding types of weapon system that should be developed [93-101]. Luttwaks depiction of the paradoxical logic in the technical level of strategy can also be explained by using the concept of arms dynamic developed by Buzan and Herring (1998). For both of them, the revolution in military technology has presented new challenges in internalizing new technological innovation into a military organization. By combining Luttwaks proposition and Buzan and Herings domestic structure models (Buzan and Hering 1998, 82), it can be said that the rise of political influence of military-industrial complexes have become the determinant factors that lead to the rise of paradoxical logic in the technical level. If this synthesis is accepted, the paradoxical logic in this level might be overcome by improving the relationships between civil and military technology development. The relationships can be improved by creating a strategic planning to control phases of technological innovation that might lead to the invention of a new weapon system. If this can be done successfully, a state will find itself as the leader of Revolution in Military Affairs (Knox and Murray 2001, 176). The second level of strategy is the tactical level. For Luttwak, the source of the paradoxical logic in this level comes from the full complexities of the human dimension of combat [109]. The outcome of war mainly depends on intangible factors such as individual morale, group discipline, and unit cohesion [105]. Since the interplay of these factors cannot be instantaneously controlled by any military commander, the result is the unpredictable outcomes of combat [110]. However, Biddles comparative study on three military operations presents a new solution to overcome the paradoxical logic in the tactical level (Biddle 2004). Biddle discovers that a modern-system force employment can significantly reduce tactical vulnerabilities (Biddle 2004, 2-3). This modern-system force employment has tactical key elements such as cover, concealment, dispersion, small-unit independent maneuver, suppression, and combined arms integration that can be employed in both offensive and defensive tactics (Biddle 2004, 35). For Biddle, in any warfare, a non-modern-system military will be unable to defeat a modern-system opponent (Biddle 2004, 191). The third level of strategy is the operational level. In this level, Luttwak tries to show correlation between the choices of operational strategy of attrition and maneuver with the national styles in war [118]. This correlation creates the paradoxical logic in the operational level. According to Luttwak, neither attrition nor relational maneuver is ever present in pure form, but their relative weight will usually reflect national selfimages as well as the overall approach to the business of war [136].

Andi Widjajanto S6016 The Study of War 2007

The deterministic influence of national self-images is accompanied by normative mind-sets that influence strategic choices in the theater level. Similar with the previous level, in this fourth level of strategy, the paradoxical logic of strategy is transpired due to the governing nature of political and cultural attitudes [158]. Luttwak presents a very strong case on how strategic choices between several types of defense strategy such as elastic, defense-in-depth, guerrilla warfare, and active defence could not be autonomously selected by military commanders. Strategic choices are made under constant pressure bestowed by political struggle in the national level. The paradoxical logic in the third and fourth level can be best understood by applying an approach best described as a strategic culture approach (Gray 1981; Johnson 1995; Kier 1995; Rosen 1995). This approach emerged in the early 1980s focused on explaining three levels of inputs into a states strategic culture: a macroenvironmental level consisting of geography, ethno-cultural characteristics, and history; a societal level consisting of social and economic, and political structure of societies; and a micro level consisting of military institutions and characteristic of civil-military relations (Johnston 1995, 37). Gray believes that strategic culture as part of the celebration of community beliefs about historical strategic experience can be utilised as a guide to action (Gray 2007, 148). He argues that strategic culture expresses comparative advantages that should be used by military leaders to design military operations (Gray 2007, 144-5). If it is used effectively, strategic culture can strengthen the solidity of the home front by expressing to general public a nation way of war. The fifth level of strategy is the grand strategy level. For Luttwak, in this level the paradoxical logic of strategy will come to an end in two dimensions of strategy: vertical and horizontal dimensions. He argues that grand strategy may be seen as a confluence of the military interactions that flow up and down level by level, forming strategy's "vertical" dimension, with the varied external relations among states forming strategy's "horizontal" dimension [209]. Sources of the paradoxical logic of grand strategy will come either from the failure to create an integrative defense strategy that coherently cements policies of all levels of strategy, or from incapacity in managing security dilemma resulted from strategic interaction between states. The problem of disintegrative defense strategy can be overcome by implementing Knox and Murrays Revolution of Military Affairs (RMA) that will impose a unification of national strategic concept that should in principle determine the structuring, composition, and employment concept of armed forces (Knox and Murray 2001, 180181). For them, a state should try to launch RMA not only to adapt the latest advances in military technology but also to increase the consistency of its national defence conception in all levels of strategy. A coherence national defense strategy should also be able to solve the difficulty in managing security dilemma. Jerviss conception of cooperation under the security dilemma can be used as a starting point to explore policy alternatives (Jervis, 1978). Jerviss security dilemma concept is used by Glaser and Kauffman to come out with an

Andi Widjajanto S6016 The Study of War 2007

alternative theory of offense-defense balance. One theoretical component provided by Glaser and Kauffman that is relevant to the problem of the paradoxical logic in horizontal dimension of strategy is the measurement of offense-defense balance at the level of whole wars (Glaser and Kauffman 1998, 73-74). They argue that the difficulty on integrating across levels of warfare has been exaggerated (Glaser and Kauffman 1998, 72). For them, the integration of strategy across levels of warfare can be achieved by assessing the direction and magnitude of the effect of all levels changes on the strategic offense-defense balance (Glaser and Kauffman 1998, 73-74).

In this essay, I accept Luttwaks conception of the paradoxical logic of strategy. But, I refused to accept it as a given strategic setting that cannot be overcome. I offered several theoretical conceptions developed by strategic studies scholars to be utilized in tackling the paradoxical logic in specific levels and dimensions of strategy. This incorporation method is used simply to show that academic engagements are still reliable in solving theoretical and empirical puzzles of the real war situations.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Biddle, Stephen. Military Power. Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004). Buzan, Barry and Eric Herring. The Arms Dynamic in World Politics (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1998). von Clausewitz, Carl. On War, trans. and ed. by Peter Paret and Michael Howard (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976). Glaser, Charles L. and Chaim Kaufmann. What is the Offense-Defense Balance and Can We Measure It? International Security, Vol.22, No.4. (Spring, 1998). Gray, Colin S.. National Styles in Strategy: The American Example, International Security, Vol. 6, No. 2. (Fall 1981). -----------------. Modern Strategy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). Johnston, Alistair Iain. Thinking About Strategic Culture, International Security, Vol. 19, No. 4. (Spring 1995). Kier, Elizabeth. Culture and Military Doctrine International Security, Vol. 19, No. 4. (Spring 1995). Knox, MacGregor and Williamson Murray. The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 13002050 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001). Rosen, Stephen Peter. Military Effectiveness: Why Society Matters, International Security, Vol. 19, No. 4. (Spring 1995) Smith, Huge. Clausewitz: Apostle of Modern War in Smith, Huge (ed.) The Strategist (Canberra: Australian Defense Studies Center, 2001).