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Home » Thinkers » J. C. Wylie » Military Strategy: A general theory of power control by J. C. Wylie » Excerpt from J. C. Wylie’s Military Strategy: Universal strategy II

Excerpt from J. C. Wylie’s Military Strategy: Universal strategy II

<img title=”RADM J.C. Wylie” alt=”RADM J.C. Wylie” src=”; height=”251″ width=”200″ /> Rear Admiral J.C. Wylie

From <a href=””>Rear Admiral J.C. Wylie’s</a> <a href=”;amp;camp=1789&amp;amp;creative=390957&amp;amp;creativeASIN=0870213628&amp;amp;linkCode=as2&amp;amp;tag=thecomofpubsa-20″><em>Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power Control</em></a>:
<blockquote>We have established the strategic aim as some measure or some kind of control; and we have stated that a general theory of strategy “should be able to provide a common and basic frame of reference for the special talents of the soldier, the sailor, the airman, the politician, the economist, and the philosopher in their common efforts toward a common aim”.

The inclusion of these latter three along with the men at arms is, of course, deliberate. It is deliberate because control—direct, indirect, subtle, passive, partial, or complete—is sought in so many ways other than military. Diplomatically it is exerted largely by mutual agreement. Economically it is exerted largely by self-interest and, in its most basic form, a desire to keep up the habit of eating. Philosophically the pressures and constraints of control are perhaps the most subtle and at times, the most pervasive and persuasive of all.

Consider the amount of control exercised over the past two millennia by the philosophy of Christianity. Consider the control exercised today by the philosophy of communism. And by the philosophy of individual freedom.

This is what we seem somehow to have missed in our strategy for freedom in the rural-peasant societies of the world—in those areas where the Mao theory of “wars of national liberation” is, far and away, the most dangerous foe we have to face.

In some ways we have, intuitively, recognized the problem. The “strategic hamlet” program in South Vietnam is aimed at forestalling or making more difficult the communist efforts to provide the “water” for the guerrilla “fish”. The Peace Corps seems to be headed generally in along a roughly parallel path. But neither of these efforts seems to get at the root of the problem, which is the need for articulation of a philosophy to be “for”.

This is not a suggestion that someone go out and think up a brand new religion or a brand new political scheme. But it is a suggestion that, at the least, we might do a better job of adapting what we have (which is very fine indeed) to the actual situations that confront us.

We have known for a long time that, in our society, the Anglo-American, two-party electoral system of applied democracy is both an efficient and an acceptable system for the allocation, use, and transfer of power, which is the basic problem of politics. And we have known, too, that it provides us a quite satisfactory context for the observance of our predominantly Christian spiritual ethic.

But we have had a great deal of difficulty in stretching these two schemes of ours to fit other societies. Our basic, and usually tacit, assumptions have not often been in very close coincidence with those of other societies that we have wanted to win over to our side.

If we could adjust the assumptions to fit the reality of the scene of action, we might get forrader faster.

It is a little difficult to give an illustration of what is meant in this abstract discussion of philosophic strategy because illustrations are so scarce—or because I am a sailor, not a philosopher. But two short ones may serve.

One is the way that Mao has rearranged the theories of Marx to fit the situation in China. Marx focused on the urban worker who suffered under the dislocations of the early days of the Industrial Revolution. This man did not exist in China, or at least did not exist in sufficient number to be a governing element of effective revolution. So Mao revised Marxian theory to focus on the rural peasant, and the revised theory has worked with chilling effectiveness in rural societies.

The other example is fictional, but its nevertheless directly relevant to today’s problems of what strategies we should use to influence the uncommitted areas of the world toward us rather than toward the communists. Father Finian, in the <em>The Ugly American</em>, went into a remote corner of Southeast Asia and helped the villagers devise a rationale, and, within that rationale, a plan of action designed in order to achieve the end of defeating the communists.

This fictional Roman Catholic priest, and quite fittingly a Jesuit intellectual disciplinarian, devised a strategy firmly rooted in the reality of the scene of action; he put into effect his plan of action; and he achieved his end.

It is something like this that we need to serve as a sort of foundation on which to build the whole strategic rationale. We would not all agree that it need be based on Jesuit Catholicism, or perhaps even on any religious philosophy. But it must have an acceptable and locally viable philosophic base; and it must be a strategy suited to, rather than imposed upon, the actual scene. The fighters must believe in what they fight for. The basic assumptions must fit the reality.</blockquote>


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