A strategy is:
The skilful planning or management of anything, such as a military campaign
Or a political campaign. Strategy is something that we often talk about when our enemies do anything. But rarely do we talk about strategy, and for good reason, we hardly ever have a strategy. We have desires, ambitions but no skilful plan or management to achieve those things. I think it's about time we started to think about strategy.
First lets look at the hierarchy of strategy, starting with the highest level and working down past strategy.
Grand Strategy is an overarching plan or goal, such as the US Policy of Containment during the Cold War. Another way of looking at it is that this is the plan that includes a number of strategies operating against various objectives all aimed at achieving the same outcome.
Strategy is a plan to deal with a particular part of a Grand Strategy or a plan without a need for any overarching strategy.
Operations is the next level down, an intermediate level between strategy and tactics. More complex than tactics but more local than strategy.
Tactics are the methods used to achieve results at the local area.
Strategy and tactics are often confused, strategy is a plan, tactics are the methods of achieving that plan. For example let us imagine a campaign against immigration.
Strategy is the overall idea, Stop Immigration.
Operations is organising the protests, or letter writing, or what have you.
Tactics is what happens within each part of that organisation. What do you do at the protest or who do you aim your letter writing campaign towards.
Strategy or Grand Strategy needs three aspects to work.
1. All Round Defence: It needs to cover a wide area of activities. It cannot have a single front but it must be able to be employed against any threat to the strategy. For example, the first version of the Policy of Containment was nearly entirely about Europe and the military aspect was neglected. It didn't cover a wide enough area to achieve it's objectives. Once those two areas were expanded the policy worked as it stopped the strategy from being flanked. If your strategy can be flanked then it will fail. You must have all round defence., you must be able to attack and defend on as many fronts as needed.
2. Simplicity becomes a Logic: A strategy must be able to be explained clearly in one sentence. For example The Policy of Containment was 'stop the spread of Communism', in WWII the Allies plan was 'destroy the Axis powers', both clear and simple. Which means that everyone can work towards achieving these aims because everyone understands them. That simplicity means that they become a logic, in many cases the next step is simply logical, it's not complex but something that people can do without having to think about it to much.
3. Formulating a Plan: Without a plan or plans then we simply have ideas and ambitions. Plans turn ideas into objectives. Objectives mean that work can be done to achieve results. Once a plan has been formulated then it can be implemented. That is the ultimate aim of a strategy.
There are also ideas that should not be part of any strategy.
It is always tempting to short circuit a strategy to obtain a short term advantage. This is nearly always a mistake. Most strategy is long term and should be treated as such.
There is no room for cynicism within strategy, A cynical strategy will fail because it is not simple or logical. People will become confused and lose focus on what the objectives are and once that happens it can be very difficult to get it back on track. Lying to others is a bad strategy, lying to yourself is even worse and can only end in disaster.
One thing that people do not want as part of their strategy is failure, but as it is a part of every aspect of life it cannot be avoided. Failure needs to be both accepted, that it will occur, and it must be built into your strategy. What happens when a part of the plan fails, is it a setback or is it time for a complete rethink?
That depends upon how badly damaged the strategy is, if it in danger of collapse then maybe it does need a rethink. If it simply a defeat in one part of the plan then it probably needs no change.
If we are to achieve our objectives then we need to do more than have ideas, dreams or ambitions. We need plans. We need strategies and even a grand strategy. Liberalism has one and it's working, look all around you at it's success. If we are to achieve anything we need to do better and get organised and that includes having a strategy.
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