Document: Charters of Freedom

US Founding

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, known collectively as the Charters of Freedom, have secured the rights of the American people for more than two and a quarter centuries and are considered instrumental to the founding and philosophy of the United States. They are both the product of strategic thinking, and also have continued to shape American strategic thinking for over two centuries.

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Book: The Liberation Trilogy

Rick Atkinson

Rick Atkinson, journalist and military historian, authored the Liberation Trilogy (2002-2013), an acclaimed narrative history of the U.S. military’s role in the liberation of Europe in World War II. The first volume, An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, published in 2002, received the Pulitzer Prize. The subsequent volumes were titled The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944; and The Guns at Last Light: The War in Europe, 1944-1945. Atkinson covers the war comprehensively, from grand strategy and the generals in command, to the details of daily life and small-unit combat. Atkinson’s perspective on war writ large, colored strongly by the experience of ordinary soldiers, is decidedly unsentimental and un-heroic, although he gives full due to the actions of heroic men (and women). He does not offer any startling new revelations or offer grand new theses about the war. The high-level argument throughout the Liberation Trilogy is that this was an absolutely necessary war, a war over the future of civilization (or, better put, between civilization and barbarism of the worst sort). The liberation from tyranny was real. At the same time, this war – any war – is a terrible thing.

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Resource: Grounded Curiosity’s Professional Military Education Gateway

Grounded Curiosity

An initiative of Grounded Curiosity, the Professional Military Education (PME) Prezi 2.0 is a gateway to over 200 PME sites of unclassified and English language resources from Five Eyes countries. It showcases a growing network of PME resources including websites, blogs, magazines, journals, podcasts, videos, social media sites, news, events, networks, guilds, contests, awards and mentoring opportunities.

To access the PME Prezi 2.o, click here.


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Resource: Armed Forces & Society

IUS Armed Forces & Society

The Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society is a forum for the interchange and assessment of research and scholarship in the social and behavioral sciences, dealing with the military establishment and civil-military relations. The IUS publishes the leading journal in military-related research, Armed Forces & Society.

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Resource: De Re Militari

De Re Militari

De Re Militari: The Society for Medieval Military History has an extensive compendium of translated medieval sources that deal with warfare in the Middle Ages.

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Book: The Age of The Democratic Revolution

R.R. Palmer

The French Revolution, in Palmer’s account, was part of a much broader historical current of political and social change that swept up the American colonies, the British Isles, and most of the European continent. Palmer drew on his own reading knowledge of French, German, Italian and Dutch, and enlisted assistance for such languages as Hungarian and Polish.

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Book: Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire

Edward Luttwak

Placing Edward Luttwak’s Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century CE to the Third in the category of a classic is bound to generate controversy, as did Luttwak’s book when it was first published in 1976. Some prominent scholars of Rome and the classical period dismissed the book as the product of an index-flipping amateur. They brought up particular inaccuracies and challenged many of its generalizations and interpretations. In the broader public policy arena, in the aftermath of Vietnam and the period of detente with the Soviet Union, those who wanted to pare down America’s global role did not take well to sympathetic studies of imperial strategy, grand or otherwise. On the other hand, for those who took strategy seriously and who fretted over the decline of American power and will, Luttwak’s emphasis on suasion and the economy of force too often seemed to offer a solution set that was too good to be true.

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Book: The Diplomacy of Imperialism (1890-1902)

William L. Langer

The Diplomacy of Imperialism is not an easy read nor does it contain a simple take-home message, although Langer believes that the basic outlines of the imperial struggle can be discerned (this outline is discussed briefly below). The volume is full of detail and events, individuals and agreements (or disagreements), which would have been familiar to an educated audience in the 1930s, but less so today. The contemporary reader will be struck with the complexity and fluidity of the diplomatic combinations and the shifting aims of the great powers – what Langer refers to as the “interpenetration” of alliances. By Langer’s account, there is no straight line between the imperial rivalries of the 1890s and early 1900s and the alignments that led to World War I.

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Resource: Army War College Review

Army War College

An electronic quarterly, The AWC Review connects student intellectual work with professionals invested in U.S. national security, Landpower, strategic leadership, global security studies, and the advancement of the profession of arms

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Book: Ideas & Diplomacy: Readings in the Intellectual Tradition of American Foreign Policy

Norman Graebner

Norman A. Graebner was a leading historian of American foreign relations who finished his distinguished career at UVA. Although one resists putting labels on scholars, Graebner can fairly be called a “realist” who emphasized American material-economic interests as the central explanatory factor in understanding U.S. foreign policy, rightly understood (and he thought American policymakers, especially in the twentieth century, too often got it wrong). Graebner edited Ideas and Diplomacy: Readings in the Intellectual Tradition of American Foreign Policy, which remains a most useful collection of key documents and texts.


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Book: Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, & World Order

Charles Hill

“The international world of states and their modern system is a literary realm,” writes Charles Hill in Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order (Yale University Press, 2010). “It is where the greatest issues of the human condition are played out.”

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Book: Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome

Victor Davis Hanson

Makers of Ancient Strategy concludes, or begins with, the premise that the military thinking and policies of the ancient Greeks and Romans remain surprisingly relevant for understanding conflict in the modern world. Human nature, which drives conflict, is unchanging. Much of the organized violence witnessed today – such as counterterrorism, urban fighting, insurgencies, preemptive war, and ethnic cleansing – has ample precedent in the classical era. For instance, the book examines the preemption and unilateralism used to instill democracy during Epaminondas’s great invasion of the Peloponnesus in 369 BC, as well as the counterinsurgency and terrorism that characterized Rome’s battles with insurgents such as Spartacus, Mithridates, and the Cilician pirates. The collection looks at the urban warfare that became increasingly common as more battles were fought within city walls. For those still enamored with technology-driven revolutions in military affairs, Hanson argues that the study of history, not recent in understanding of technological innovation, remains the better guide to the nature of contemporary warfare.  Even as the lines between conventional war and terrorism blur and as technology accelerates the pace and dangers of conflict, warfare has not been remade into something never before witnessed by earlier generations, so that we must now conceive of wholly new doctrines and paradigms to counteract such tactics.

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Book: Jay’s Treaty: A Study in Commerce and Diplomacy

Samuel Flagg Bemis

“America’s Advantage from Europe’s Distress.” Samuel Flagg Bemis, the most influential historian of early American foreign policy, thus summarized the essence of that policy as he understood it. The United States took advantage of Europe’s quarrels and its own detached geographical situation to achieve objectives that suited America’s interests and character. In his classic analysis of one of the most controversial diplomatic agreements in U.S. history—Jay’s Treaty: A Study in Commerce and Diplomacy (1923, rev. ed. 1962)—Bemis applied the “distress/advantage” criterion of American diplomatic success. But as always, he did so in a way that did not interfere with the presentation of the essential facts. He offered an unsurpassed examination of the strategic background and diplomatic record, after examining American, Canadian, British, French, and Scandinavian archives with the sort of detail and clarity of presentation that marked Henry Adams’ History of the United States during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

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Book: The Soldier and the State

Samuel Huntington

While the average political scientist is lucky to make a name for himself in one area of the field, Samuel Huntington has made major contributions to three: civil-military relations, democratic theory, and international relations. And while most people think of The Clash of Civilizations when they hear his name today, his most influential book—for better or worse—remains one that he wrote exactly a half-century ago: The Soldier and the State. Here, Huntington advances an institutional theory of civil-military relations, one that “focuses on the interaction of political actors played out in the specific institutional setting of government.”

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Book: Gold and Iron: Bismark, Bleichroder, & the Building of the German Empire

Fritz Stern

In 1862, shortly after taking office in the midst of a parliamentary crisis over defense spending, Prussian Minister-President Otto von Bismarck famously argued: “The position of Prussia in Germany will not be determined by its liberalism but by its power…. Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided—that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849—but by iron and blood.” (This expression was popularly transposed as “blood and iron.”) As Columbia University historian Fritz Stern brilliantly demonstrated in his classic Gold and Iron: Bismarck, Bleichröder, and the Building of the German Empire, other elements were involved in Bismarck’s invocation of Prussian and later German power. War and diplomacy require money. A modern economy as well as a modern armed force depends on iron. Gold and iron, furthermore, are not exclusively national products; at least in part they must be obtained, cultivated, and expended on the international stage.

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Resource: Great Thinkers

Great Thinkers

Great Thinkers is a web project dedicated to introducing readers to the great thinkers of Western thought, with a particular emphasis on political philosophy. Featuring biographies, introductory essays, bibliographies of the best secondary literature, as well as multimedia content on thinkers from Herodotus to Plato to Nietzsche to Mill, the site seeks to aid students and other interested parties in their study of the most fundamental ideas, texts, and thinkers of the tradition.

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Book: The Evolution of an Incidental Superpower

Mack T. Owens

Derek Reveron, Nikolas Gvosdev, and Mackubin Thomas Owens have co-authored US Foreign Policy and Defense Strategy: The Evolution of an Incidental Superpower (Georgetown University Press, 2014). They have produced an extremely useful compendium of the origins and fundamentals of what they term American global hegemony (what one might call grand strategy). They term this status “incidental,” rather than accidental or fully intended, as it came about originally when American optimism clashed with Soviet with Soviet expansionism; and it remains in effect because American officials believe that it is the best path of avoid or manage the dynamics that would lead to another great-power war.

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Resource: West Point’s Campaign Atlases

West Point

In 1938 the predecessors of today’s Department of History at the United States Military Academy began developing a series of campaign atlases to aid in teaching cadets a course entitled, “History of the Military Art.” Since then, the Department has produced over six atlases and more than one thousand maps, encompassing not only America’s wars but global conflicts as well. West Point has now made these accessible online.

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Book: Makers of Modern Strategy

Edward Mead Earle

Edward Meade Earle’s Makers of Modern Strategy:Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler (Princeton University Press, 1943) brought together many of the leading historians of the period, including Craig and Gilbert, R.R. Palmer, Hajo Halborn, Stefan T. Possony, and Margaret Sprout.  The contributors considered those writers, statesmen, and military officers who had thought most seriously about the art of controlling and utilizing the resources of a nation or a coalition of nations, to promote and secure their interests against enemies, actual, potential, or presumed.  These resources included not only the armed forces but a variety of nonmilitary factors, economic, psychological, moral, political, and technological.  The highest type of strategy—sometimes called grand strategy—so integrates the policies and armaments of the nation that the resort to war is rendered unnecessary or is undertaken with the maximum chance of victory.

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