Strategy and Politics by Colin S. Gray, Book Review

COLIN S. GRAY (born 1943) is a British-American strategic thinker and professor of International Relations and Strategic Studies at the University of Reading, where he is the director of the Centre for Strategic Studies.  Dr. Gray has written 29 books, including: The Sheriff: America’s Defense of the New World Order (University Press of Kentucky, 2004); Another Bloody Century: Future Warfare (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005); Strategy and History: Essays on Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2006); Fighting Talk: Forty Maxims on War, Peace and Strategy (Potomac Books, 2009) and so on. In addition to his books, he has innumerable journal articles over security and strategy issues.

In the book called “Strategy and Politics” (2016), Dr. Gray examines the relation between ‘strategy’ and ‘politics’. In essence, the book gives a framework for understanding how these two concepts are correlated with each other. More specifically, the book argues that strategy is the key necessary tool in order to achieve political aims.  The book is very technical, and focuses on how to make a strategy and achieve a political aim, and offers advice on what works and what does not work in advancing strategy. In this vein, the book begins with defining general strategy structure and put emphasis on ends and means basically. From the mind of Dr. Gray, each category is essential for constructing a strategy and, therefore, he states that “An army can fight well, however, it will achieve little if it is politically hopeless”.

The main purpose of the author, however, is to make a complementary work in the security – strategy literature. Despite the fact that strategy is always the product of political process, the relationship between two concepts and their ancillary activities has scarcely been touched by scholars hence the author aims to complete a missing part in the literature. Accordingly, Dr. Gray claims that neither strategy nor politics can make sense if considered alone; strategy requires direction that can only be provided by political process whilst politics cannot be implemented without strategy.

“Strategy and Politics” is a book of total eleven chapters and each chapter based on how and why strategy and politics interact each other and how this interaction has had significant consequences historically. In fact, the author tries to reply these main questions through the book;

  • what strategy is (and is not)
  • why strategy is essential
  • what strategy does and how it does it
  • how strategy is made and executed

The book defines the strategy structure with ends, means, ways and assumptions.In other words, strategy(mean)is a must for a political aim(end)and the rest the of the book consists from the ways to use during strategy construction. There are also other considerable points made by the book such as; “strategy always and everywhere has a political meaning” or “politics and strategy are driven by ‘passion’ not necessarily by a rational calculation”.Accordingly, strategists can make irrational decisions under different circumstances and if policy is the product of politics and it is liable to change, so does the strategy. So, the book argues, assuming states make long term strategies is elusive.

Dr Gray also examines the importance of strategy in the political context and warfare. To him, war is a political instrument and it has a political meaning and claims that all strategic history should be examined in political context. In this sense, ignoring the political side of the history is strategically lethal. Apart from main concept of strategy, there is a hierarchy between different concepts such as security, military, grand strategy and politics. One important issue emphasised by the author here is that, strategy first made at home and then can able to serve the external policies successfully.

Towards the middle of the book, in chapter five, for example, the book presents the dynamics of making strategy process and highlights the prudence and adaptabilityin strategy making. As the strategy has a changeable character, it is a “work in progress” and it is not avoidable in the long term. Beside such discourses and definitions, in some chapters, the book touches upon the role of history, geography, culture and circumstances. Although the chapters are intriguing both in strategy making and behaviour, none of them appears as vital factors in adapting the strategy issue.

One of the major themes of the book is about theory and practice. Dr Gray argues that strategy is for the practice of theory. The hardest point for strategy is that, there is no formulation or set of rules for a successful strategy to taught in class, rather it should be practiced in all circumstances. For understanding the strategy, the motto ‘strategy never sleeps’ is helpful. As strategy and theory are quite dissimilar, strategy is mostly engaged as for an action, not for a study. As following, the book benefits from S. Huntington’s “The Soldier and the State” (1957) book. Huntington argues that statesman set their authority to the highest level, however, military try to maintain the security hence the dispute between two sides appears.

The fascinating detail about the book is that the author well-experienced about the strategy topic and shares the all possible approaches into the subject. He intends to give the key points of the strategy making and it is a guide book for security, conflict, strategy students. It clearly corrects some serious deficiency and explains the high relevance of political factors for matter of general defence. It is important to note that, there is not one way on making a strategy and it is definitely a guess-work. In other words, with the lack of certainty, strategists try to fulfil the “mission impossible”.

Written by a leading scholar and former practitioner, this book “Strategy and Politics” is an essential reading for all students of military strategy, strategic studies, security studies and war and conflict studies. While it can be argued that too much emphasis is placed on strategy in detail, the book unfortunately cannot avoid from the repetition. There is an over-endorsed relation with politics in every case, and this leads readers to get lost in descriptive explanations within an unconvincing context.


The Slow and the Serious approach to Life

1. Patience-Patience means you make time your ally, not your enemy. It takes as long as it takes.

2. The Work-You embrace doing what is good and necessary and required. This is non negotiable. You are industrious because this gets you what you want, there is no hesitation on this.

3. You Improve-All the time, someway, somehow. This is not a goal, it is a Way of Being. Mental, physical, spiritual, intellectual; choose one and get better at it every day.

4. Fortitude-You don’t stop moving, EVER. Even if momentum is a screeching, scraping inch, you keep moving.

Over time, momentum builds, and you become impossible to stop.

5. Pain tolerance-instant gratification will be tempting, as will shortcuts. Ignore them. You will be made to deal with pitfalls, setbacks, and adversity that comes with playing the long game. You will handle these things.

6. Discipline-Inarguable. Consistency across what is good and beneficial is mandatory for the outcomes you desire. You embrace this, or accept that you will fail. Discipline is everything or nothing, there is no in between.

7. Purpose-if you have no aim, no vision, and no aspirations, it’s impossible to apply yourself. Nothingness grants no direction.

Tate Modern unveils artworks tackling migration and sexual brutality

Migration and sexual brutality has been reflected on this week’s Tate Modern Gallery artworks. It seems the topic deserve more praising than old times.. A nice corporation by Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh and India’s Amar Kanwar have just tackled todays two popular issues in their artwork. Large installations under the project called “The Way Earthly Things Going On” has been revealed. The immersive exhibition entered the Tate’s collection this Monday by a name inspired by Bob Marley’s song; So Much Trouble in the World and recorded specifically by Ancient Greek lament. It is interesting to note that visitors will have a chance to observe the show in a dark gloomy room which better reveals the state of the things. The collection director of the Tate Modern, Gregor Muir believed that this is the most powerful international artwork he has ever seen in the gallery. Ogboh and Kanwar appreciated by the chance that their work found a place at Tate as it’s a big opportunity for any artist. Eight screens of “sexual brutality” explores the challenging subject of harassment in times of conflict. Tate Modern said the project is provided with funds by South Asia committee.

Life is all about ambition and I finally figured out; simplicity is the key to happiness.

In my modest opinion, when you ask something madly in life that’s where your exam starts with it. It might includes some mental violence and odd feelings you would not normally consider. Yet life always refresh us, it is a constant reinvention. I don’t think it tells you to give up but it tries to heal you instead.

It has taken me to the age of 28 to realise that if something in life is getting in the way of that, maybe it’s time to change. When you feel lost, maybe you are gaining in the invisible.. You never know, hold on. It’s pretty simple, really. I’d take on way too much in my quest to achieve, achieve, achieve – and “keep it simple” was the one piece of advice I never wanted to hear. Simple always seemed so boring, so safe, so unambitious. Now, keeping things simple is my daily goal. I’m more focused on my happiness than I am on my success and, weirdly, that seems to have made me the most successful I’ve ever been.

Lately, I started to enjoy more simple things in life like staying home rather than spending time out much, enjoying quite moments, watching, reading etc. It almost feels like my brain is in rest and my soul is in natural high. I think this is the life I’ve missed, this is the life I always have been succesful and feel the most happiest inside my mind. I have been stressing for most of my adult life. I’ve overloaded myself to the point of mania, and for what? With the hope of being succesful, yes. Because I always wanted to be succeed, yep. Because I’ve lived most of my life with a fear of running out of time, absolutely.

Now the one thing I actually want to prove to myself is that I know how to switch off, and chill the hell out.  Short time ago, I didn’t think my brain had that function. But now I’m trying and getting good at it, and gently shaving off work, social engagements – even friends – to have a simpler life has helped.

Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Munich film. Those lines were amazing and it makes me feel like I should share on my wordpress.

Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right” does not assign a moral category to “wrong”. Free will inevitably causes wrong. That’s written by Marx. The blind anarchy of capitalism. So you have to be prepared to reconsider right and wrong. Because basically those are just terms that express a horrible struggle, parts of an equation of pure dialectic.

I love philosopy. The limits of perception are always astray on the abyss of perspective and the conviction of such in its acceptance of an unceasing, gorgeous, streaming cocktail of sensory stimuli, “unequivocally” or so perceive by many as the very definition of truth. Ironically the myopic acceptance of such “truth” presents a beautiful paradox, which constantly hovers the borders of realism and surrealism. Paradox critical to an idea, idea which impregnated the mind of men since it became aware of its own existence; paradox that when unraveled can only come to one and simple logical conclusion . . . That there’s no truth, only perception, who’s limits lay astray, on a abyss of perspective. “For what matters is not the things that happen to us but the way we choose to think of the things that happen to us.”



Tough Talk

When I was at the Istanbul airport in June I saw Scarlett Johanson’s picture on the wall and it was saying “I am strong, I am free but I still need love.”

For me, I am quite talented to make wrong choices and end up breaking down, so I took it way too personal. I think every woman has kind of heart breaking but unless I’m addressing it as a larger problem, for me to talk about my own personal experience with it feels a little disturbing. You have to get to your breaking point… Rock bottom is the moment when you’re like, “I’ve lost myself. Why am I standing outside this bar in the midnight and texting while my friends are inside and having fun? Or taking a taxi to see him at some ungodly hour? Your consolation comes through whispering to yourself: This isn’t me.

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