U.S. President Obama has articulated a strategic vision that focuses on war’s terrible costs, but argues that engaging in warfare is sometimes necessary, according to Bob Woodward. The President seems to share this view of strategy with Chuck Hagel, nominee for Secretary of Defense. Veteran reporter Bob Woodward reports on the the similarities in Obama’s and Hagel’s views of strategy in the Washington Post.
Woodward’s observations are interesting, but seem to refer more to the political level of military decision-making than the sphere of strategy.
Many historians examine military institutions and their prosecution of warfare using the concept of distinct political, strategic, operational, and tactical levels of organization and activity. On this approach, see the classic study: Allan R. Millett and Williamson Murray, eds., Military Effectiveness, 3 vols. (Cambridge, MA: Unwin Hyman, 1988).
Journalists often seem to confuse decision-making over whether or not to commence military action, ultimately a political act, with strategic thinking. Similarly, the Surge, a political decision to send reinforcements to Iraq, is frequently described as a strategy.
The lack of clarity in reporting on war and society issues in the American media unfortunately tends to produce uncritical and ineffective discussions of military priorities and policies.