Best Defense

Lessons of history for the future of war

Comments at a surprisingly lively panel at the New America/ASU conference on the future of war.

warrior

“A good strategy seems to be about adaptation and flexibility,” said Sir Lawrence Freedman at the beginning of a surprisingly lively panel at the New America/ASU conference on the future of war. He also advised against thinking about strategy as a form of planning. A proven way to accumulate power is through alliances and coalitions, he added.

He said this during an all-star panel of historians and strategic experts. A fine comment from Phillip Bobbitt: “Warfare in the 21st century: Outsourced, decentralized, nationalistic, ethnic.” He warned that the nature of the state is changing, and with it, war will change, because the state is the context of war.

Ian Morris, the Stanford historian and classicist, added that the value of trying to predict the future, especially in predictive planning, is that it forces you to examine your assumptions.

Wikimedia Commons/Bibi Saint-Pol

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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