A Founder’s Passing

It is with great sadness that we write to let you know that CSD founder and executive director Dr. Patrick Garrity passed away peacefully after a long battle with skin cancer. Right up until the end, he devoted his time and thoughts to his life’s work, attending to his John Quincy Adams essay, the work of future scholars, and outreach for his beloved CSD.

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A Founder’s Passing

It is with great sadness that we write to let you know that CSD founder and executive director Dr. Patrick Garrity passed away peacefully after a long battle with skin cancer. Right up until the end, he devoted his time and thoughts to his life’s work, attending to his John Quincy Adams essay, the work of future scholars, and outreach for his beloved CSD.

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Uncovering the French Origins of COIN

The history of COIN doctrine can be traced across Francophone Africa and Southeast Asia to better understand how it is used or misused today. Perhaps because many counterinsurgency tactics have evolved and been adapted away from those used in the nineteenth century, analysis of contemporary COIN often ignores the doctrine’s colonial origins. Doing so, however, fails to consider how the foundational assumptions of the doctrine may well still limit its successful application in the twenty-first century. This essay, accordingly, sets out to unearth the possible repercussions of adopting the heart of a doctrine without a firm understanding of its initial purpose, seeking to understand whether that is compatible with today’s geostrategic objectives.

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Uncovering the French Origins of COIN

The history of COIN doctrine can be traced across Francophone Africa and Southeast Asia to better understand how it is used or misused today. Perhaps because many counterinsurgency tactics have evolved and been adapted away from those used in the nineteenth century, analysis of contemporary COIN often ignores the doctrine’s colonial origins. Doing so, however, fails to consider how the foundational assumptions of the doctrine may well still limit its successful application in the twenty-first century. This essay, accordingly, sets out to unearth the possible repercussions of adopting the heart of a doctrine without a firm understanding of its initial purpose, seeking to understand whether that is compatible with today’s geostrategic objectives.

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To Make a People: Strategic Rhetoric and the Declaration of Independence

To get to July 4, 1776, required no small amount of strategic thinking, of prudent statesmanship, of expert melding together of situational awareness, rhetorical prowess, alliance-leveraging, and political maneuverings. Jefferson was acutely aware that among the American colonial politicians of his day, there was an “inequality of pace with which [they] moved” towards the end goal of political independence from Great Britain, and that therefore a great “prudence [was] required to keep front and rear together,” for them ever to hope to be successful in the undertaking. How Jefferson and the more zealous members of his set built up to the Declaration of Independence is arguably a masterclass in statecraft, with publication of Jefferson’s Summary View as their opening move.

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To Make a People: Strategic Rhetoric and the Declaration of Independence

To get to July 4, 1776, required no small amount of strategic thinking, of prudent statesmanship, of expert melding together of situational awareness, rhetorical prowess, alliance-leveraging, and political maneuverings. Jefferson was acutely aware that among the American colonial politicians of his day, there was an “inequality of pace with which [they] moved” towards the end goal of political independence from Great Britain, and that therefore a great “prudence [was] required to keep front and rear together,” for them ever to hope to be successful in the undertaking. How Jefferson and the more zealous members of his set built up to the Declaration of Independence is arguably a masterclass in statecraft, with publication of Jefferson’s Summary View as their opening move.

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War By Other Means: An Examination of Clausewitz and Modern Terrorism

Clausewitz can help us to think about the historical evolution and present character of terrorism. A handful of scholars, notably M.L.R. Smith and Peter Neumann, have applied Clausewitzian ideas to terrorist campaigns. They show how his foundational idea of the “trinity”—composed of popular passion, military strategy, and political objectives—describes a terrorist cell just as readily as a conventional army or guerrilla outfit. As they describe it, terrorism is one option among many in the complex strategic environment of a decidedly weaker force struggling to “maximize its advantage vis-a-vis an opponent.” Here, Eric Fleury argues that terrorism is not merely one example of modern warfare among many that exhibits the continuing relevance of Clausewitz, but rather occupies a more fundamental role within his theory.

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War By Other Means: An Examination of Clausewitz and Modern Terrorism

Clausewitz can help us to think about the historical evolution and present character of terrorism. A handful of scholars, notably M.L.R. Smith and Peter Neumann, have applied Clausewitzian ideas to terrorist campaigns. They show how his foundational idea of the “trinity”—composed of popular passion, military strategy, and political objectives—describes a terrorist cell just as readily as a conventional army or guerrilla outfit. As they describe it, terrorism is one option among many in the complex strategic environment of a decidedly weaker force struggling to “maximize its advantage vis-a-vis an opponent.” Here, Eric Fleury argues that terrorism is not merely one example of modern warfare among many that exhibits the continuing relevance of Clausewitz, but rather occupies a more fundamental role within his theory.

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The Fleet was Ready

When Winston Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911, he oversaw major revisions to the Admiralty’s basic strategic concept for European war, and in the suite of war plans associated with this concept. A shift in the probable enemy of a future war—to Germany from France, for instance—necessitated these changes and, hence, necessitated a change in the strategic naval front, from the South to the East Coast, and from the Channel to the North Sea.  

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The Fleet was Ready

When Winston Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911, he oversaw major revisions to the Admiralty’s basic strategic concept for European war, and in the suite of war plans associated with this concept. A shift in the probable enemy of a future war—to Germany from France, for instance—necessitated these changes and, hence, necessitated a change in the strategic naval front, from the South to the East Coast, and from the Channel to the North Sea.  

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Churchill and the World Crisis

Churchill believes that, in trying retrospectively to untangle the complex knot of causation, it is critical to appreciate one primary, dynamic element – the deeply engrained Franco-German antagonism, a polarity that forced other nations, out of fear, opportunism, or both, to choose sides.  Britain was the last and most reluctant great European power to do so, and even at the last moment it was not clear, to outsiders at least, whether her choice would hold. 

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Churchill and the World Crisis

Churchill believes that, in trying retrospectively to untangle the complex knot of causation, it is critical to appreciate one primary, dynamic element – the deeply engrained Franco-German antagonism, a polarity that forced other nations, out of fear, opportunism, or both, to choose sides.  Britain was the last and most reluctant great European power to do so, and even at the last moment it was not clear, to outsiders at least, whether her choice would hold. 

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The Sage of Singapore

Lee Kuan Yew is often referred to as “the Sage of Singapore.” The Cambridge University-educated Lee was the founding father of that modern independent city-state.  He served as its prime minister from 1959 to 1990, overseeing its rise as the first of the Southeast Asian “tigers.”  He was also one of the region’s most influential international statesmen, renowned for his geopolitical acumen as well as his far-sighted economic vision. When Harry Lee spoke, people listened.

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The Sage of Singapore

Lee Kuan Yew is often referred to as “the Sage of Singapore.” The Cambridge University-educated Lee was the founding father of that modern independent city-state.  He served as its prime minister from 1959 to 1990, overseeing its rise as the first of the Southeast Asian “tigers.”  He was also one of the region’s most influential international statesmen, renowned for his geopolitical acumen as well as his far-sighted economic vision. When Harry Lee spoke, people listened.

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Colin Gray’s Geopolitics — Then and Now

Colin Gray's influential 1977 monograph, "The Geopolitics of the Nuclear Era, Heartland, Rimlands, and the Technological Revolution," helped to revive an understanding of international politics that had been largely discredited by its association with the Nazis and the German geopolitik of Karl Haushofer. Gray maintained this foundational assessment of international politics throughout his career, which took him through the end of the Cold War, the so-called post-Cold War, and what is now called the era of great power competition.

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Colin Gray’s Geopolitics — Then and Now

Colin Gray's influential 1977 monograph, "The Geopolitics of the Nuclear Era, Heartland, Rimlands, and the Technological Revolution," helped to revive an understanding of international politics that had been largely discredited by its association with the Nazis and the German geopolitik of Karl Haushofer. Gray maintained this foundational assessment of international politics throughout his career, which took him through the end of the Cold War, the so-called post-Cold War, and what is now called the era of great power competition.

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Kissinger and China

Ten years after publication of Kissinger's On China, the reader is invited to assess Kissinger’s judgment in light of such events as the unwinding of the global financial crisis and increased Chinese assertiveness, the shift in American foreign policy towards a great power competition framework, and Covid-19. His book appeared shortly before Graham Allison’s influential and controversial work on the Thucydides trap. I extrapolated from his argument at the time — perhaps inaccurately, but worthy of consideration — that Kissinger concluded the rise of China towards its historic position as the Middle Kingdom, if accommodated properly to a globalized world, is more or less inevitable and, rightly understood, desirable.

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Kissinger and China

Ten years after publication of Kissinger's On China, the reader is invited to assess Kissinger’s judgment in light of such events as the unwinding of the global financial crisis and increased Chinese assertiveness, the shift in American foreign policy towards a great power competition framework, and Covid-19. His book appeared shortly before Graham Allison’s influential and controversial work on the Thucydides trap. I extrapolated from his argument at the time — perhaps inaccurately, but worthy of consideration — that Kissinger concluded the rise of China towards its historic position as the Middle Kingdom, if accommodated properly to a globalized world, is more or less inevitable and, rightly understood, desirable.

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The Maritime Classics and the New Eurasian Age

In another recent book and article, Geoffrey Gresh has addressed what he characterizes as the real competition that has emerged in recent years across maritime Eurasia between the continent’s main rivals—China, Russia, and India—as they vie to achieve great power status and to expand beyond their regional seas. He argues that the rising competition will dominate and shape the upcoming century as each power increases its geoeconomic, geopolitical, and naval embrace of maritime Eurasia from the Baltic, Black, and Mediterranean Seas to the Indian Ocean, Pacific Asia, and the Arctic. In his introduction, he reviews the relevance of Mahan and Corbett to this discussion. But in Gresh's view, what Mahan and geographer Nicholas Spykman never imagined was the melting of the Arctic, the subsequent growing unification of maritime Eurasia’s disparate regions, and the emerging competition between Eurasia’s land powers at sea. That said, Gresh contends that the study of Mahan does have its utility in this context. None of the three Eurasian land powers he examined have achieved global maritime dominance similar to that of the United States today or Great Britain at the end of the nineteenth century, but the work of Mahan in his opus The Influence of Seapower upon History, 1660–1783 helps contextualize those characteristics that assist a great power in achieving global preeminence on the high seas.

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The Maritime Classics and the New Eurasian Age

In another recent book and article, Geoffrey Gresh has addressed what he characterizes as the real competition that has emerged in recent years across maritime Eurasia between the continent’s main rivals—China, Russia, and India—as they vie to achieve great power status and to expand beyond their regional seas. He argues that the rising competition will dominate and shape the upcoming century as each power increases its geoeconomic, geopolitical, and naval embrace of maritime Eurasia from the Baltic, Black, and Mediterranean Seas to the Indian Ocean, Pacific Asia, and the Arctic. In his introduction, he reviews the relevance of Mahan and Corbett to this discussion. But in Gresh's view, what Mahan and geographer Nicholas Spykman never imagined was the melting of the Arctic, the subsequent growing unification of maritime Eurasia’s disparate regions, and the emerging competition between Eurasia’s land powers at sea. That said, Gresh contends that the study of Mahan does have its utility in this context. None of the three Eurasian land powers he examined have achieved global maritime dominance similar to that of the United States today or Great Britain at the end of the nineteenth century, but the work of Mahan in his opus The Influence of Seapower upon History, 1660–1783 helps contextualize those characteristics that assist a great power in achieving global preeminence on the high seas.

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