Strategy without end

A little grim thought for a sunny Sunday.

While strategy must always be a dialectic between power and aims, it cannot be about final ends. It can only hope to guide the state through an unending process of uncertainty, fear and the threat of conflict. It is necessarily a pessimistic and anti-utopian thing.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be related to doing good or acting altruistically or positively. But it can’t be about ending the power-politics of the world in which bad things happen. As Walter McDougal argues,

…the most a wise statesman can do is imagine his ship of state on an infinite sea, with no port behind and no destination ahead, his sole responsibility being to weather the storms certain to come, and keep the ship on an even keel so long as he has the bridge.

The nautical metaphor of the ship and boundless ocean is a good one. It would appeal to that lifelong sailor and navalist, Franklin Roosevelt.

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