Can states act strategically?
The purpose of this essay is two-fold: to assess states’ capability to act strategically and to determine the extent to which they do so in the contemporary world. On the face of it, the question implied can draw two immediate points of deliberation: 1) can states just have a strategy, or is state-action better explained by an agenda-based list of things to do that are not too dissimilar from state to state; and 2) can states lay out a good strategy that will prove effective in reaching their desired goals. Hew Strachan provides useful insight when conceptualising initial thought vis-à-vis this question, and he claims that strategy is a ‘declaration of intent, and an indication of the possible means required to fulfil that intent’. On the other hand, Richard Betts takes a narrower view by saying that strategy is the link between military means and political ends. In this essay, strategy is defined as a rational process of planning the ways the desired goals can be achieved by taking into consideration the available resources for accomplishing them. After looking at historical events and evaluating leaders’ and states’ strategies, I will begin to discuss my first objective in this essay – the assessment of states’ capability to act strategically.