The Mark of Strategic Genius


From Parameters, Autumn 1991, pp. 49-59.

During the last two decades of the Cold War, American strategy at the macro level was stagnant. The struggle was deadlocked; geography and ideology determined avenues of conflict with little opportunity for strategic flexibility or maneuver. While the Cold War occasionally spilled over into new areas and minor players switched sides, there was more strategic tinkering than innovation, more intra-alliance bargaining than creativity.

Except at the fringes of the conflict, force was unusable. As a result, strategists sought deterrence rather than the integration of military power into a pattern of cogent, goal-oriented behavior. Military objectives were negative--"prevent this" or "deter that." In the great global stalemate, the military was simply a night watchman writ large, protecting past gains and forestalling disaster rather than contributing to development of a more stable or secure world.

In 1989 the situation began to change. By lessening the chance that regional conflicts would spawn direct superpower confrontation, the implosion of the Soviet empire allowed military power to regain political utility. American strategy was unlimbered; creativity and innovation were again possible. Simultaneously, Saddam Hussein's titanic imprudence tested the skill of American strategists. In terms of strategic deployment, weaving a diverse military coalition, and integration of military force with other elements of national power on the battlefield, they met the challenge marvelously. But the more daunting task of engineering a stable world order remains.

For military strategists, the Gulf War provided further evidence of a shift in importance from the operational level of war to the strategic. When military strategy ossified during the Cold War, the operational level provided the only ground for innovation and creativity. The result was renewed interest in operational art and doctrinal developments such as AirLand Battle. Now operational innovation has run its course. In periods when strategy is unfettered, operational creativity is less pressing than strategic innovation. This means that the need for more and better American strategists is not yet sated. Unfortunately, we know how to produce more strategists, but are not so clear on how to produce better ones.

As with any military skill, we do not truly know how good we are at strategy until tested. What Edward Luttwak calls the "paradoxical logic of strategy" makes such a test difficult: the ultimate strategist is one who so intimidates the enemy that the application of military power is unnecessary. As Sun Tzu wrote, "To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."[1] The fact that we can conclusively test our strategists only in conflict complicates the task of producing better ones. We must, therefore, come up with second-best ways of predicting strategic skill. We need a model based on a clear notion of the sort of talents that lead to strategic success. History provides the key. By examining strategic geniuses of the past, we can identify the features of military leaders we want to cultivate in the future. Specifically, we must ask: What special traits allow strategic geniuses to tower above their peers? In the essay that follows, we shall be concerned not only with the traditional military strategist but with the grand strategist as well, for the security of the modern nation-state resides as much if not more in the empyrean realm of national policy and the politico-military interface as in the purely martial dimension.


The essence of strategy is efficiency. It seeks to use resources to attain goals with minimum waste and maximum chance of success. Strategists must assess, create, mobilize, integrate, and coordinate, all within a fluid range of constraints. Strategy is a demanding art which many practice and few master. But still, it can be mastered. Throughout history, towering individuals and transcendent groups broke the intellectual fetters which constrained their peers. Their genius redefined paradigms of national security, drove the evolution of strategy, and established standards by which the following generation of strategists was judged.

Still, it is not easy to distill the essential traits of this group. In fact, to attach the label "strategic genius" to an individual or group can be misleading. Any strategist makes innumerable decisions throughout a career. All occasionally make bad ones. Strategic geniuses are simply those who, in comparison to their peers, make a larger than normal proportion of extraordinarily good decisions over an extended period of time. Strategic geniuses are not perfect but are able to succeed to a greater degree than might be expected given their ratio of resources to constraints.

All talented strategists are good at one type of decision or dimension of their art. Strategic genius, by contrast, is more holistic. A strategic genius--whether individual or group--exhibits a complex combination of features which lead to success in many types of decisions and dimensions of strategy. Some of the features which propelled historic figures into the pantheon of strategic geniuses are time-specific. Alexander's good looks, the Duke of Marlborough's social graces, and Winston Churchill's absolute mastery of his language augmented strategic skill in a specific socio-political setting, but certainly are not prerequisites. Other features are timeless and essential. These warrant careful consideration.

Essential traits are associated with the three phases in the development of strategic genius. The initial step is mastery, during which the strategist develops a full understanding of the nature and utility of power in his time. The second is transcendence, during which the strategist overcomes the conceptual constraints which limit his generational peers. The third is consummation, during which the vision or new paradigm that emerged from transcendence is implemented.

For mastery, intellect is obviously a prerequisite. All strategic geniuses share a range of mental abilities which places them among the elite of their contemporaries. In Clausewitz's words, a genius shows "a sense of unity and a power of judgment raised to a marvelous pitch of vision, which easily grasps and dismisses a thousand remote possibilities which an ordinary mind would labor to identify and wear itself out in so doing."[2] Churchill, for example, was "a man of multiple genius"; Napoleon's "restless intelligence and impetuous imagination reached out in many directions, and surveyed from a lofty height the bearing of all things, far and near."[3] Furthermore, the intelligence is tightly focused--Eisenhower's concentration has been described as "intense, almost a physical embrace."[4] In addition to the breadth of their intellect, strategic geniuses exhibit a discriminatory logic which allows them to distinguish the unadulterated essence of problems. They have, in other words, what Nietzsche called the "long logic of great men."[5]

Still, great intellect is fairly common; strategic genius is not. Clearly a special type of intellect is required. Specifically, strategic geniuses are able to simultaneously master the two diverse dimensions of strategy--mechanical and human. The mechanical dimension focuses not on people, but on power, forces, and trends. Personalities, perceptions, beliefs, and expectations are irrelevant in this dimension. Strategy becomes like chess. Goals and resources are clear; the strategist must simply prioritize tasks and balance ends and means. Relationships are based on relatively clear cause and effect, which the strategist must master across time and space. There is little paradox in the mechanical realm, so that correct decisions invariably generate success. The requisite traits are those of the chessmaster: detachment, placidity, and the ability to understand complex cause-and-effect relationships and to project them into the future.

In the human dimension of strategy, the reigning factors are personalities, perceptions, beliefs, and expectations. Because these things are not controlled by rigid cause-and-effect relationships, paradox dominates. As Edward Luttwak noted, what appears best often is not.[6] Skill in the human dimension of strategy is coterminous with psychological acumen. The talented strategist understands and controls the weaknesses, perceptions, beliefs, expectations, vulnerabilities, and motives of himself, his staff, his allies, and his enemies. He understands the dictates of passion and fear. The phase of gaining mastery, we should note, addresses both the mechanical and human dimensions.

The next phase in the development of strategic genius--transcendence--requires additional characteristics. Most important are creativity and courage. These are closely linked. Creativity itself is fairly common, particularly in societies with thriving artistic, scientific, and entrepreneurial traditions. The will to act creatively in a bureaucratized or dangerous environment is not. A catalyst, taking the form of an intense sense of destiny, perhaps megalomania, is required to transform intellect and ambition into strategic genius. To phrase it differently, geniuses must both see beyond and reach beyond the strategic paradigms which dominate their age.

Consummation demands the imposition of new and often disconcerting ideas on staff and allies. It therefore requires a powerful and confident personality. Strategic geniuses share--again to borrow from Clausewitz--a special strength of character. History illustrates this. Marlborough, for example, was "driven by a ruthless daemon"; historian William Manchester accurately subtitled his study of Churchill "Visions of Glory."[7] But beyond simply possessing ambition, great strategists also understand the nature of personal drive and act accordingly. Bismarck, according to A. J. P. Taylor, "knew his own love of power too well to trust unchecked power to anyone else."[8] So too for all who would consummate a transcendent strategic vision.

The Politico-Military Context

While all strategic geniuses have focus, detachment, psychological acumen, creativity, and the courage born of supreme self-confidence, the importance and priority of specific traits vary according to the context in which the strategist operates. Two methods of categorization can be used to illustrate this point.

One way to categorize strategic geniuses is by the nature of their objective--are they transformers, reformers, or protectors? Within this framework, transformers who seek to alter fundamental social, political, and economic relations are the most ambitious. Foremost among this group are the great revolutionaries. Mao, the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary, is a good example. However great the impact of revolutionary strategists in the 20th century (and ongoing events in the communist bloc hint that this impact was transitory), the task of the revolutionary strategist is easier than that of his conservative counterpart, at least in the psychological sense. Revolutionaries are driven by a more or less clear vision of what needs to be changed; the revolutionary impulse cultivates the sort of innovation that characterizes genius. Revolution, in fact, demands creativity. For the revolutionary, all or most of the constraints of tradition and habit are gone or irrelevant. He is thus left with a strategic tabula rasa and the opportunity to shatter the rigidity of conventional wisdom.

Since revolutionaries are, at least in the initial stages of a conflict, the weaker antagonist, creativity is the most important trait. The confidence of revolutionaries must be natural since they are strategic autodidacts without institutions or education to bolster and develop them. The need to create new institutions for the development and application of strategy is central. It means that the creativity of a revolutionary strategic genius must be organizational as well as conceptual. Lenin, from this perspective, was a strategic genius while Marx was not. Furthermore, since the authority of a revolutionary strategist is based on skill and success rather than institutional, organizational, or ascriptive factors, talent in the human dimension of strategy weighs more heavily than the mechanical.

Reformers seek unification of all or part of some political system while leaving fundamental relationships within the various parts of the system intact. Reformist strategies can take two forms. Quasi-revolutionaries like Napoleon, Genghis Khan, and Alexander thought it possible to radically alter the international system without changing the domestic political structures of the components of empire. It was, after all, Napoleon who quashed or postponed the social change unleashed by the French Revolution. Alexander, in a similar vein, simply substituted Greeks for Persians within the political framework of satrapies.[9]The reformers' assault on the old is thus more rhetorical and symbolic than substantive. Being essentially a half-measure, the resulting institutional rearrangement tends toward fragility.

A less ambitious variant of reform can prove more enduring. Strategic homogenizers like Otto von Bismarck and Abraham Lincoln did not seek unification of a culturally or ethnically heterogeneous state system, but of a national system where the foundation of unity already existed. They succeeded by applying the resources of the most powerful segment of the national system against the recalcitrant but weaker components. In the future, this type of strategist might emerge in regions with some existing basis for unity, such as the Arab world, southern or western Africa, or southern Asia.

Reformers tend to arrogate extant strategic institutions and adapt them rather than create from scratch. Institutional, organizational, or ascriptive sources of authority are often important. For example, Ghengis Khan was the son of a chieftain and Napoleon was a member of the officer corps. Personal traits thus augment and amplify other sources of authority rather than substituting for them. Given this, the reformer's talent in the mechanical dimension of strategy is often coequal with talent in the human.

Conservative strategists--protectors of a power system--form the last of our strategic triumvirate as determined on the basis of political objective. Klemens von Metternich, Henry Kissinger, Winston Churchill, and, perhaps, Mikhail Gorbachev provide examples. Since the existence of major challenges indicates that the legitimacy of a political system is in decline, the task of conservative strategists is never easy. Metternich, an Austrian diplomat who attempted to reconstruct and stabilize the European state system ravaged by Napoleon, is the conservative archetype. Like any strategic genius Metternich exhibited "an extraordinary ability to grasp the fundamentals of a situation and a profound psychological insight which enabled him to dominate his adversaries."[10] But he also possessed certain talents peculiar to a conservative such as the ability to elevate proportion and balance into principles which could--on the psychological battlefields of strategy--hold their own against the emotional appeals of revolution. Metternich also perfected the diplomatic demeanor so vital to conservative strategists: he was subtle when necessary, forceful when possible, and imbued with the tact and personal sophistication necessary for one who seeks reconciliation rather than conflict and the attainment of national objectives with minimum use of force.

For protectors, institutional, organizational, and ascriptive sources of authority are even more important than for reformers. Metternich and Churchill arose from the aristocracy; Gorbachev's initial power base was the traditional nomenklatura. Protectors often find that preserving the peace within the power elite is as important and difficult as imposing their will on antagonists. As with revolutionary strategists--who also must look inward as much as outward--protectors find that skill in the human dimension is more important than the mechanical.

With respect to all categories of strategic genius, we get a clearer picture of reality by recognizing that the quality is often collective--that is, it can reside in groups as well as in individuals alone. Collective strategic genius is the composite of several strategically competent voices, the trait of a group of strategists none of whom are, in their own right, transcendent or towering geniuses. Victorian Britain, for example, showed that a certain type of political culture, in combination with consensus on the ends of strategy, can generate an elite which engineers and manages a brilliant strategy even in the absence of a single dominant figure. Similarly, the strategic achievements of Rome, guided by a series of rulers, "remains entirely unsurpassed."[11] And perhaps future students of strategy will detect collective genius in late 20th-century American strategy (despite the fact that its underlying political culture militates against strategic coherence).[l2] Was there, for example, a single strategic intelligence that conceptualized the historic Gulf War set pieces Desert Shield and Desert Storm, or were the strategic brilliancies reflected there not rather the product of composite authorship and inspiration?

Collective strategic genius most often occurs in conservative states. It is better at protecting power relationships than remolding them. Collective strategic genius, in other words, is not adept at great leaps of creativity. It transcends structural inefficiency rather than conceptual blinders. It steadies and regulates the application of power rather than mobilizing latent power. The requisite trait, then, is the ability to sublimate personal preferences and ambitions to group views and goals.

Even given the historical importance of collective strategic leadership, the towering individual offers more concentrated lessons. What makes individual strategic genius so rare is the difficulty of balancing efficiency and creativity, especially while serving as both architect of strategy and head of state or government. Many of the great captains of history--Alexander, Caesar, Frederick, Napoleon, Hitler--attempted this. At times they succeeded. But in the end it is extraordinarily difficult--perhaps impossible--for one individual to combine genius in both military and grand strategy. They require, after all, different skills. The military strategic genius must have the "strength of character" Clausewitz described; for the grand strategist, attributes of character and persona are less important, but breadth of vision and statesmanship more so. This latter trait is often alien to the military leader. Kissinger observed that "a man who has been used to command finds it almost impossible to learn to negotiate, because negotiation is an admission of finite power."[13]

As shown by Napoleon, Hitler, and, most recently, Saddam Hussein, a common pattern for those who insist on controlling grand and military strategy is initial success and eventual failure. For the French Emperor "the unity of political and military authority eliminated the friction at the top that otherwise was inevitable. Above all it facilitated quick decisions and their rapid implementation, and made possible the startling flexibility with which he adjusted his diplomacy to the shifting military situation, increasing his demands or showing a willingness to compromise as he saw fit."[14] But this never guaranteed sound policy; by the end of Napoleon's career, failure in the realm of diplomacy, especially an unwillingness to compromise with opponents and allies, inspired the formation of the Grand Alliance and led to his defeat. [15]

For Napoleon, unquestioned genius in military strategy bred an ill-founded overconfidence in his talent for grand strategy. Hitler was perhaps the opposite. As John Keegan has written, "It was as a soldier, quite as much as a politician or an artist--strangest of his delusions--that he thought of himself."[16] So when Hitler abandoned political for military strategy in 1939, "his strategical gifts soon proved inadequate to solve the problems he created for himself." By the end of 1940, his initiatives were "marked increasingly by impatience, by plans that were ill-conceived, implemented without conviction, and then abandoned, by profligacy in the use of human and material resources, and by an impulsive willfulness that had disastrous results."[l7]

Saddam Hussein, the antithesis of military genius, is instructive by way of negative example. The atmosphere of fear and intimidation that prevailed in his councils of war apparently prevented his receiving the benefit of honest, forthright, disinterested politico-military advice from his staff and subordinates. Thus he was effectively denied the benefits of any collective wisdom that might have corrected his own fatal strategic blindness.

Individual strategic genius, being so narrowly based, is inherently precarious and erratic. Collective strategic genius too is often inadequate, particularly for revolutionary and reform objectives. However, there is an alternative, a variant of collective genius, which largely circumvents these problems: strategic partnerships. Dyads or triads can overcome the shortcomings of an individual strategist and effectively integrate grand and military strategy. They provide a form in between individual and broad collective genius which combines some of the advantages of each in an organic whole greater than the sum of the parts. This genius-in-partnership is especially conducive to the synchronization of military and political ends during times of great conflict.

A perfect example is the strategic partnership of Franklin Roosevelt and his military leaders, especially Eisenhower, Marshall, MacArthur, and Nimitz. Roosevelt "was the principal architect of the basic strategic decisions that contributed so heavily to the early defeat of Germany and Japan," yet he encouraged the notion that his military advisers were responsible for basic strategy.[18] The same holds for the strategic triad of Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman. Each of them, taken alone, was competent, but together they attained genius. Lincoln certainly had the raw talent to become a first-rate strategist. T. Harry Williams only partially overstates the case when he labels Lincoln "a better natural strategist than were most of the trained soldiers."[19] But he entered the war with no appropriate military experience, and thus his genius required a catalyst.

As J. F. C. Fuller noted, the basic strategy of the Union took form early in the war, but "its full meaning was not understood until Grant became general-in-chief."[20] This propitious partnership was evident to the participants. Immediately after the appointment of Grant as commanding general of Union forces, the President was pleased that the Union's plans and actions reflected suggestions that he had made repeatedly to others like Joseph Hooker only to see them ignored.[21] Thus the symbiotic relationship was at its best: Grant was not imaginative, Lincoln was.[22] And even if one accepts Colin R. Ballard's contention that Lincoln himself was an exceptional military strategist,[23] the fact remains that it took Grant to translate Lincoln's strategic vision into victory. Even in the wake of the costly Wilderness-Spotsylvania-Cold Harbor campaign, besieged with calls for Grant's dismissal, Lincoln responded bluntly: "I need this man." The President clearly recognized the significance of his complementary relationship with Grant.

Other examples of genius-in-partnership, such as that of Ho Chi Minh and General Giap, are less well documented and analyzed, but are nonetheless clear to students of strategy.[24] The great strength of such relationships is that only one partner requires true genius, the other only extraordinary competence. Neither Grant nor Eisenhower were of themselves geniuses, but in combination with their respective civilian chiefs, they comprised a crucial part of a dazzling strategic team. There is perhaps no better example than that of the British in World War II. English military leaders such as Montgomery could not be considered strategic geniuses, but when Churchill "succeeded in mastering his own military establishment and making it an efficient collaborator in the pursuit of his objectives,"[25] the result was brilliant.


Strategic genius is a midwife, easing transitions in the international system. Since the United States is now on the cusp of a transitional phase, it is vital that we cultivate broad competence in strategy and hope that from this, genius will emerge. Yet the central issue is not whether individuals with the potential for strategic genius exist. They always do. The question is whether those who control the gates to power will open them for visionaries who discomfort their intellectual inferiors. Toward this end, historical examples of strategic genius can provide lessons useful for the cultivation of strategic competence. For the United States, the key question becomes: What sort of environment should be most conducive to the development of the right combination of traits?

First, such an environment should make the human dimension of strategy at least coequal with the mechanistic. During the education of strategists we stress "ends, means, and ways." To formulate strategy, we have elaborate processes to identify the costs, benefits, and risks of strategic options. Thinking within the mechanistic dimension is not bad. In fact, it is essential. What erodes the efficacy of our strategy, however, is the virtual exclusion of the human dimension during the education of strategists and during the formulation of strategy. In the human dimension, psychological and cultural acumen is as important as detached cause-and-effect rationality. We must recognize this and cultivate it.

Second, such an environment should include methods for developing long-term partnerships. Most great strategic dyads or triads were born through coincidence. The right people simply happened to be thrust together in time of danger. A more effective method of developing strategic partnerships is to provide career-long opportunities for compatible and symbiotic teams to work together.

Third, such an environment should minimize barriers to creativity and boldness. These are difficult traits to foster in a bureaucratic system. There are, though, several ways to do this. One is to provide greater input from strategic thinkers outside the government. A willingness to accept risk, perhaps even to the point of recklessness, is a characteristic of a theoretical strategist. Not obliged to shoulder culpability for the consequences of theory applied in the untidy realm of reality, a theoretical strategist can easily afford to be bold. Boldness can also emerge from extraordinary ambition and confidence within the strategy formulation system. But such traits are formed when individuals are very young, and cannot be cultivated by a nation attempting to find strategists. Further, great ambition can be dangerous, particularly for democracies. This leaves one final source of boldness: a strategic culture that rewards audacity and, within reason, limits the personal costs of failed boldness. Such a system would have its price, such as the occasional Oliver North. But, in the long term, the disadvantages of approaching the world astrategically are greater. Clausewitz wrote: "Happy is the army where ill-timed boldness occurs frequently; it is a luxuriant weed, but indicates the richness of the soil."[26] The same holds for the community of strategists.

Understanding the environment most conducive to the development of strategic talent is simply the first step. Once understood, we must develop a program to create such an environment. The environment itself would serve something like "strategic vision" in a campaign plan, defining the ultimate objective. Attaining it would require altering reward structures, educational methodologies, and career paths. These cannot be done all at once, but require a systematic program of actions, all leading toward the final goal.

The foundation of such a program must be a basic domestic consensus on the role of American power in the emerging global system. Different types of strategy require different arrays of traits. The United States must decide whether, in a particular global or regional setting, its aim is to transform, reform, or protect the political structure at risk. This determination, in turn, indicates which of the features of strategic genius we wish to bring to the fore. Once we determine what our strategic role in the new world order should be, then we can begin to develop strategic competence in an orderly and effective way.


1. Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Samuel B. Griffith (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963), p. 77. Of course, if the adversaries are mutually intimidated, as with US-Soviet nuclear deterrence, we are back to a posture of strategic stasis.

2. Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1976), p. 112.

3. Robert Lewis Taylor, Winston Churchill: An Informal Study of Greatness (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1952), p. 3; Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Life of Nelson (Boston: Little, Brown, 1897), p. 258.

4. Stephen E. Ambrose, Eisenhower (Norwalk, Conn.: Easton, 1983), 1, 272.

5. Friedreich Nietzsche, The Will To Power (New York: Vintage, 1968), p. 505.

6. Edward N. Luttwak, Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 1987).

7. David Chandler, Marlborough as Military Commander (New York: Charles Scribner,1973), p.313; William Manchester, The Last Lion (New York: Dell, 1983).

8. A. J. P. Taylor, Bismarck: The Man and Statesman (New York: Vintage, 1967), p. 260.

9. J. F. C. Fuller, The Generalship of Alexander the Great (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1981), p. 58.

10. Henry A. Kissinger, A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-1822 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1957), p. 319.

11. Edward N. Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1976), p. xi,

12. See Frederick M. Downey and Steven Metz, "The American Political Culture and Strategic Planning," Parameters, 18 (September 1988), 34-42.

13. Kissinger, A World Restored, p. 43.

14. Peter Paret, "Napoleon and the Revolution in War," in Makers of Modern Strategy From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Peter Paret (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1986), p. 129.

15. Steven T. Ross, European Diplomatic History (Malabar, Fla.: Robert E. Krieger, 1981), p. 339.

16. John Keegan, The Mask of Command (New York: Penguin, 1988), p. 235.

17. Gordon A Craig, "The Political Leader as Strategist," in Makers of Modern Strategy From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Paret, pp. 493-94. For assessment of Hitler's strategic vision and strategic lapses, see Ronald Lewin, Hitler's Mistakes (New York: William Morrow, 1984).

18. Robert Dallek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945 (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1979), p. 532.

19. T. Harry Williams, Lincoln and His Generals (New York: Vintage, 1952), p. 7.

20. J. E C. Fuller, The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1958), p. 31.

21. Carl Sandburg, Lincoln (Norwalk, Conn.: Easton, 1956), p. 464.

22. Fuller, The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant, p. 197. Though we must note that Grant's highly unorthodox maneuver against Vicksburg--whereby he crossed the Mississippi south of Vicksburg and attacked that city from the east, with his logistics line thus running through enemy territory--was imaginative in the extreme, showing the mark of true transcendance.

23. Colin R. Ballard, The Military Genius of Abraham Lincoln (Cleveland: World, 1952).

24. Philip B . Davidson, Vietnam at War (Novato, Calif.: Presidio, 1988), p. 808. For extended analysis prior to Giap's greatest triumph, see Robert J. O'Neill, General Giap--Politician and Strategist (New York: Praeger, 1969).

25. Gordon A. Craig, "The Political Leader as Strategist," in Makers of Modern Strategy From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Paret, pp. 508-09.

26. Clausewitz, On War, p. 190.

Dr. Steven Metz is associate professor of low-intensity conflict at the Air War College. He holds a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of South Carolina and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He has taught at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and at several universities. Dr. Metz's essays on strategy have appeared in Strategic Review, Comparative Strategy, Journal of Strategic Studies, Military Review, and Parameters.

Reviewed 29 August 1997. Please send comments or corrections to