Strategy & Policy

updated 5 July 2001

S&P protected page Requirements Resources
10 September 17 September 24 September
1 October 8 October 15 October
22 October 29 October 5 November
12 November 19 November 26 November
3 December


Professor Eliot Cohen.   Office hours (Rome 709) are held several times a week by appointment, and are posted at "Cohen's Corner" on the SAIS website.   Go  there for further information.   Sign up for a time slot, either in person, or by calling Ms. Thayer McKell (Rome 709) at 202.663.5774.   My office telephone number is 202.663.5781, and my email address is

Course concept

This course is an introduction to strategic studies, which deals with the preparation and use of military power to serve the ends of politics. Although the treatment is topical, two themes run throughout: Carl von Clausewitz's On War and alternatives to it and the development of warfare from the late nineteenth century to the present. Course prerequisites include a general knowledge of the history of international relations since the middle of the nineteenth century.  

The course is divided into three main parts:  an introductory discussion of strategic theory, focused on Clausewitz and alternatives to his theory of war;  an examination of the paradigmatic form of warfare that emerged in the nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century;  a discussion of challenges that have emerged to that paradigm since the Second World War.

The course is taught through a combination of lecture and discussion.  There will be optional discussion sections on Wednesday mornings (details below).

A note on electronic sources

There is a protected page, which may be accessed using a username and password that will be distributed in class.   To read the .pdf documents found there and on this syllabus you will need the free Adobe® Acrobat® Reader™.  The page has  back to top

In addition to class participation:


(1)  four  approximately 1000 word (3-4 page) review essays -- .pdf document
(2)  a final examination, which will draw on a set of core questions -- .pdf document


The protected page will have supporting materials to help select topics for the review essays, which are due in class on the day designated.


Books required for purchase:

Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Michael Howard and Peter Paret, trans. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984).

Peter Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986).

Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Roger T. Ames, trans. (New York: Ballantine Books, 1993).

Books recommended for purchase:

Michael Howard, The Causes of Wars (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983).


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Additional resources

Also at Cohen's Corner  are a variety of resources that you should consult, including a guide to my marginalia, and information on letters of recommendation and related matters.   The Strategic Studies home page can keep you posted on various doings in the program.   For Web-related sources, go to the Center for Strategic Education which has one of the best links sections around.  

There will be optional review and supplementary sessions from 0800 to 0900 on 26 September, 17 and 31 October (all Wednesdays); 9 and 16 November (Fridays); and 5 December (Wednesday).    The 17 October, 9 November, and 5 December sessions will deal with "military basics" -- a primer on basic organizational and conceptual issues (for more see the protected web page).

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10 September 1\Introduction: Why study strategy?
2\Warriors and the rest of us
~155 pages

Homer, The Iliad, Robert Fagles trans. (New York: Viking, 1990), Book I, (“The Rage of Achilles”), pp. 77-98, or Book XXII (“The Death of Hector”), pp. 541-58. 22 or 18 pages

Josephus, The Jewish War G. A. Williamson, trans. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1959), Excursus III, “The Roman Army,” pp. 378-82. 5 pages.

Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, William Scott Wilson, trans. (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1979), “From the First Chapter,” pp. 17-64. 48 pages.

William James, “The Moral Equivalent of War,” (1910) reprinted in William James: Writings 1902-1910 (New York: The Library of America, 1987), 1281-93, and other collections of James’s essays. 13 pages.

Paul Fussell, "Thank God for the Atom Bomb" and "An Exchange of Views," in Paul Fussell, Thank God for the Atom Bomb and Other Essays (New York: Ballantine Books, 1988), pp. 1-28. 28 pages.

Richard K. Betts, "Is Strategy an Illusion?"  International Security   25:2 (Fall 2000): 5-50.  41 pages.


Michael Howard, The Causes of Wars (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983), "War and the Nation State," "The Relevance of Traditional Strategy," "The Forgotten Dimensions of Strategy," pp. 23-35, 85-115. 44 pages. 

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17 September 3\Clausewitz I: the central teachings
4\Clausewitz II: the intangible elements of war
216 pages

Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Michael Howard and Peter Paret, trans. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), Books I, II; III, Chs. 1-10, 16; IV, Chs. 1-3; VI, Chs. 1, 26; VII, Chs. 2-5; VIII, pp. 75-123, 127-203, 216-19, 225-29, 357-59, 479-83, 524-28, 577-640 
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24 September 5\Alternatives to Clausewitz I: Sun Tzu
6\Alternatives to Clausewitz II: scientific strategy
192 pages

Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Roger T. Ames, trans. (New York: Ballantine Books, 1993), Chs. 1-13, pp. 101-73. 73 pages.

Samuel A. Tucker, ed. A Modern Design for Defense Decision (Washington, D.C.: Industrial College of the Armed Forces, 1966), "Systems Analysis," pp. 119-195. 77 pages.

Paul K. Davis, ed., New Challenges for Defense Planning: Rethinking How Much is Enough (Santa Monica: RAND, 1994), Ch. 12, Fred Frostic and Christopher J. Bowie, “Conventional Campaign Analysis of Major Regional Conflicts,” pp. 351-392. 42 pages.
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1 October
review essay #1 due
7\The origins of modern warfare: mass politics; railroads, rifles, and telegraph
8\The organizational dimension of strategy: the German general staff
197 pages

William H. McNeill, The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society since A.D. 1000 (Chicago: University of Chicago  Press, 1982), Ch. 7, "The Initial Industrialization of War, 1840-84," pp. 223-261. 39 pages.

Gerhard Ritter, The Sword and the Scepter, Heinz Norden trans. (Coral Gables, Florida: University of Miami Press, 1969), Vol. I, Ch. 8, pp. 187-262. 76 pages.

Gordon Craig, The Politics of the Prussian Army (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956), Ch. 5, pp. 180-216. 37 pages.

Peter Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), Chs. 10-11, Hajo Holborn, "The Prusso-German School: Moltke and the Rise of the General Staff;" Gunther E. Rothenburg, "Moltke, Schlieffen, and the Doctrine of Strategic Envelopment," pp. 281-325. 45 pages. 
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8 October 9\Strategy and the tactical environment: naval thought in the age of Mahan
10\How wars begin: the origins of World War I
191 pages

Philip Crowl, "Alfred Thayer Mahan: The Naval Historian," in Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy, pp. 444-77. 34 pages.

Charles H. Fairbanks, Jr., "The Origins of the Dreadnought Revolution," International History Review 13:2 (May 1991): 246-72. 27 pages.

Holger Herwig, "The German Reaction to the Dreadnought Revolution," International History Review 13:2 (May 1991): 273-83. 11 pages.

John Keegan, The First World War  (New York:  Knopf, 1998), chs. 1-3, "A European Tragedy,"  "War Plans," "The Crisis of 1914,"  pp. 3-70.

Marc Trachtenberg, "The Meaning of Mobilization in 1914," International Security 15:3 (Winter 1990/91): 120-150. 31 pages.

Donald Cameron Watt, "1939 revisited: on theories of the origins of wars," International Affairs 65:4 (Autumn 1989): 685-692. 8 pages.

Howard, Causes of Wars, The Causes of Wars, pp. 7-22. 16 pages.
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15 October
11\Innovation in war: the evolution of trench warfare
12\Levels of effectiveness: German performance in World War I
177 pages

Williamson Murray and Allan Millett, Military Effectiveness, 3 vols. (Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1988), Vol. I, chs. 1, 2, 3, 6, 9 ("The Effectiveness of Military Organizations," "Britain in the First World War," "The Dynamics of Necessity: German Military Policy During the First World War," "The French Army in the First World War," "Military Effectiveness in the First World War"), pp. 1-115, 190-228, 329-350. 177 pages.


Timothy Lupfer, The Dynamics of Doctrine: The Changes in German Tactical Doctrine During the First World War (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: US Army Command and General Staff College, 1981), entire. 58 pages.

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22 October
review essay #2 due
13\Innovation in peacetime: armored doctrine in the 1920's and 1930's
14\Net assessment: weighing the balance at Munich
232 pages

James Corum, The Roots of Blitzkrieg: Hans von Seeckt and German Military Reform (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1992), Chs. 2, 6, "Von Seeckt and Rethinking Warfare," "The Development of German Armor Doctrine," pp. 25-50, 122-43. 48 

Millett and Murray, Military Effectiveness, Vol. II, Chs. 1-2, 4, 7-8, "The Soviet Armed Forces in the Interwar Period," "The French Armed Forces, 1918-40," "The British Armed Forces, 1918-39," "Military Effectiveness of Armed Forces in the Interwar Period, 1919-1941: A Review," pp. 1-69, 98-130, 256-268. 115 pages.

Williamson Murray, The Change in the European Balance of Power, 1938-1939 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), Chs. 6-7, "Munich: The Diplomatic Crisis," "Munich: The Military Confrontation," pp. 195-263. 69 pages. 
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29 October 15\Quick wins & attrition: blitzkrieg in World War II
16\Intelligence and deception: Ultra and the Allies
217 pages

Martin S. Alexander, "The Fall of France 1940," Journal of Strategic Studies 13:1 (March 1990): 10-44. 35 pages.

Malcolm Smith, "The Allied Air Offensive," Journal of Strategic Studies 13:1 (March 1990): 67-83. 17 pages.

Samuel Eliot Morison, The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War (Boston: Little, Brown, 1963), pp. 493-512. 20 pages.

D. Clayton James, "American and Japanese Strategies in the Pacific War," in Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy, pp. 703-34. 32 pages.

Toshiyuki Yokoi, "Thoughts on Japan's Naval Defeat," United States Naval Institute Proceedings 86:10 (October 1960): 68-75. 8 pages.

Harry Hinsley, "World War II: An Intelligence Revolution," and Jürgen Rohwer, "Radio Intelligence in the Battle of the Atlantic," in The Intelligence Revolution: A Historical Perspective (Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1991), pp. 3-14, 77-111. 47 pages.

Michael Howard, British Intelligence in the Second World War, Vol. 5, Strategic Deception (London: HMSO, 1990), Chs. 1, 6, "The United Kingdom, 1939-August 1942," and "Fortitude, The United Kingdom, December 1943-June 1944," pp. 3-30, 103-32. 58 pages. 
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5 November 17\High command: coalition warfare, 1940-45
18\Nuclear weapons and strategy: the first nuclear revolution
220 pages

Robin Edmonds, The Big Three: Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin in Peace & War (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991), Chs. 8-16, pp. 207-391. 185 pages

Lawrence Freedman, “The First Two Generations of Nuclear Strategists,” in Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy, Ch. 25, pp. 735-78. 44 pages.


David Rosenberg, “Reality and Responsibility: Power and Process in Making of United States Nuclear Strategy, 1945-68,” The Journal of Strategic Studies 9:1 (March 1986): 35-52. 20 pages.

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12 November
review essay #3 due
19\Revolutionary warfare: from Algeria to Vietnam
20\Arms control and disarmament: capping the arms race
185 pages

Paret, Makers of Modern Strategy, Ch. 27, John Shy, "Revolutionary War," pp. 815-862. 48 pages.

Thomas C. Schelling and Morton H. Halperin, Strategy and Arms Control (New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1961), Pt. I, "The Potential Security Functions of Arms Control," pp. 1-39. 39 pages.

Richard Dean Burns, Encyclopedia of Arms Control and Disarmament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1993), Vol. I, “Arms Control Treaty Compliance,” “Arms Control Treaty Verification,” “Critics of Arms Control and Disarmament,” pp. 279-316, 325-32; Vol II, “The Washington Naval Limitation System, 1919-1939,” “From SALT to START: Limiting Strategic Nuclear Weapons,” “The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty: 1972 to the Present,” pages 639-56, 895-928. 98 pages.

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19 November
21\Cold War and hot wars
22\Peacekeeping, peacemaking, and humanitarian intervention
187 pages

John Lewis Gaddis, We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), Chs. 1-3, 10. Pp. 1-84, 281-96. 100 pages.

William S. Durch, ed., The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), pp. 16-76. 71 pages.

Romeo A. Dallaire, "The End of Innocence: Rwanda 1994," in Jonathan Moore, ed., Hard Choices: Moral Dilemmas in Humanitarian Intervention (New York: Rowan and Littlefield, 1998). pp. 71-86. 16 pages.

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26 November 23\The wars of the American empire
24\Postmodern war
196 pages

Andrew J. Bacevich, "Policing Utopia: The Military Imperatives of Globalization." The National Interest 56 (Summer 1999): 5-13. 9 pages.

Norman Cigar, "Iraq's Strategic Mindset in the Persian Gulf War: Blueprint for Defeat," Journal of Strategic Studies 15:1 (March 1992): 1-29. 29 pages.

Thomas A. Keaney and Eliot A. Cohen, Summary Report of the Gulf War Air Power Survey (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1993), Ch. 1, pp. 1-26. 26 pages.

Stephen Biddle, “Victory Misunderstood: What the Gulf War Tells Us about the Future of Conflict,” International Security 21:2 (Fall 1996):139-79. 41 pages.

Thomas G. Mahnken and Barry D. Watts, "What the Gulf War Can (and Cannot) Tell Us about the Future of Warfare,"  International Security  22:2  (Fall 1997):  151-62.  12 pages.

Scott D. Sagan, “Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons? Three Models in Search of a Bomb,” International Security 21:3 (Winter 1996): 54-86. 33 pages.

Charles H. Fairbanks, Jr., “The Postcommunist Wars,” Journal of Democracy 6:4 (October 1995): 18-34. 17 pages.

Walter Laqueur, “Postmodern Terrorism,” Foreign Affairs 75:5 (September/October 1996): 24-36. 13 pages.

James Adams, "Virtual Defense,"  Foreign Affairs  80:3 (May/June 2001):  98-113.  16 pages.

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3 December
review essay #4 due
25\A revolution in military affairs?
26\The future of war
204 pages

Eliot A. Cohen, “A Revolution in Warfare.” Foreign Affairs 75:2 (March/April 1996): 37-54. 15 pages

Michael Howard, "Military Science in an Age of Peace," Journal of the Royal United Services Institute 119:1 (March 1974): 3-11. 9 pages.

Samuel P. Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations," Foreign Affairs 72:3 (Summer 1993): 22-49. 28 pages.

John Mueller, Retreat from Doomsday: The Obsolescence of Major War (New York: Basic Books, 1988), Chs. 10, 11, "The Obsolescence of War in the Developed World," "Implications and Extrapolations," pp. 217-269. 53 pages.

Frank Fukuyama, "The End of History?" The National Interest 16 (Summer 1989): 3-18. 16 pages.

Jessica T. Mathews, “Power Shift.” Foreign Affairs 76:1 (January/February 1997): 50-67. 18 pages.

Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder, “Democratization and the Danger of War,” International Security 20:1 (Summer 1995): 5-38. 34 pages.

Lawrence Freedman, "The Changing Forms of Military Conflict," Survival 40:4 (Winter 1998-99): 39-56. 18 pages.

Michael T. Klare, "The New Geography of Conflict,"  Foreign Affairs  80:3 (May/June 2001):  49-61.  13 pages.

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