[eDebate] Possible Topic Area

Calum Matheson u.hrair
Mon Dec 22 22:28:39 CST 2008

This isn't really a reply to Dr. Glass, but just an explanation of why I
suggested the phrase "grand strategy."  I'm certainly open to alternative

"Strategy" can be defined to narrowly--a military strategy, as opposed to a
grand strategy, may be defined as a plan to accomplish a particular military
objective.  Grand strategy can be defined as a broader policy, by the
civilian leadership, fitting the use of force into an overall plan to
achieve American objectives.  I want the aff to be able to do things other
than simply reduce US deployed forces--offshore balancing for example--and
be able to make the requisite changes in force structure, etc.  The phrase
"military strategy" is properly used (according to some narrow definitions)
only to describe land forces (so JFC Fuller was a military strategist, for
example, as opposed to Alfred Thayer Mahan, a naval strategist).

"Doctrine" was also not what I was looking for, although I intend to explore
it as a separate area within the broader topic. It is my understanding that
this describes a set of rules or procedures governing the conduct of the
military.  So Operation Gericht (the WWI German operation around Verdun,
1916) was an "operation," the "strategy" was attrition, but the "grand
strategy" was the overall German plan to dominate continental Europe
(presumably for the purposes of evil, knowing them).  I could certainly be
wrong about this (the terms, not the intent of Germany to do evil).

Is anyone interested in this topic willing to suggest (directly to me, if
you wish) alternate terms?  "Grand strategy" is not meant to be the primary
limiting term, but rather to allow the aff to include broad changes in force
deployment.  The "reduce deployment" part is supposed to be the primary

Some examples of how "grand strategy" is used:

Christopher Layne uses it to describe a policy of offshore balancing,
including the end of large-scale forward deployment (in "The Peace of
Illusions," for example).

This is Robert Art, in "A Grand Strategy for America:"
"Grand strategy, like foreign policy, deals with the momentous choices that
a nation makes in foreign affairs, but it differs from foreign policy in one
fundamental respect.  To define a nation's foreign policy is to lay out the
full range of goals that a state should seek in the world and then determine
how all the instruments of statecraft?political power, military power,
economic power, ideological power?should be integrated and employed with one
another to achieve those goals.  Grand strategy, too, deals with the full
range of goals that a state should seek, but it concentrates primarily on
how the military instrument should be employed to achieve them.  It
prescribes how a nation should wield its military instrument to realize its
foreign policy goals."

On Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 9:44 PM, David Glass <gacggc at gmail.com> wrote:

> hmm I'd just get rid of the words "grand strategy to"
> grand is obv problematic
> a strategy need not be implement even if its purpose is to do something
> so consider:
> Resolved: The United States Federal Government should  significantly
> reduce its overseas military deployment.
> On Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 5:14 PM, Calum Matheson <u.hrair at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I may or may not work on a Russia topic, but I'm interested in another
> one
> > too, about US military policy.
> >
> > I'm thinking about something like this:
> > Resolved: The United States Federal Government should adopt a grand
> strategy
> > significantly reducing its overseas military deployment.
> >
> > Topical affs would include offshore balancing, various incarnations of
> > selective engagement, strict isolationism, and more radical options like
> > discontinue the war on terrorism, disband the military, and so on. Policy
> > advantage areas would include terrorism and proliferation of course, but
> > also (in my opinion) a much more nuanced discussion of military power
> than
> > that to which we have recently been accustomed.
> >
> > The advantages wouldn't all be about hegemony, but it has bothered me for
> > some time now how often we talk about that, and how rarely actual
> strategy
> > is involved, and how shallow our discussions must necessarily be when
> > neither side can actually change the way military force is used, as
> opposed
> > to the simple level of its power.
> >
> > I'd like to include a version with a non-US actor, something like this:
> > Resolved: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization should substantially
> change
> > one or more of its operational doctrines.
> >
> > "Operational doctrine" is a term of art that would create a somewhat
> > different focus for the topic than the US-only resolution above. I'm not
> > sure what I think about international actor resolutions yet, but there
> seems
> > to be some interest.  I like the idea of NATO as an actor: the c/p ground
> is
> > particularly interesting (US or EU, with multilateralism, burden sharing,
> > and EU defense as extremely well-developed net benefits/disads), and it
> > avoids the most common objection that I've heard to these topics, namely
> > that there is insufficient advocacy literature in English.
> >
> > I've already done a fair amount of research on this, especially the terms
> > that might be included, although the resolutions above are very much
> > preliminary ones. Anyone who is interested in
> > helping/criticizing/questioning/attacking me without clogging the
> electronic
> > tubes should feel free to contact me at u.hrair at gmail.com.
> >
> > Calum
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > eDebate mailing list
> > eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
> > http://www.ndtceda.com/mailman/listinfo/edebate
> >
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