The Classics of Strategy and Diplomacy is a project designed to encourage the study of those books, memoirs, essays, speeches, and documents that best illuminate the nature of international politics and strategic affairs. The Classics website provides the central resource base for this activity, and links together an informal consortium of academic institutions and scholars under the administrative auspices of the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University. The project is coordinated by Dr. Patrick J. Garrity, Miller Center of Public Affairs, the University of Virginia. The website includes:
- Classic Works in Strategy and Diplomacy
- American Classics
- Notable Books and Documents
- Academic Forum
- Essays and Reviews
- Reading Lists and Course Syllabi
- Links to Other Sites of Interest
We believe that the Classics, rightly understood, challenge us to explore the dynamic relationships among the fundamental elements that shape international politics, such as statecraft, geography, culture, economics, and technology. They cause us to take into account the possibilities and limitations of human foresight—"reflection and choice"—when confronted with necessity, accident, and chance, as well as with strategic purpose and deception. Several related questions guide our conversation about the strategic classics: How can one best integrate all facets of national power to achieve critical policy objectives – what might be called grand strategy? In particular, what is the proper relationship between diplomacy and military power? Do regime types matter in the conduct of international politics, and how do they impact policies?
Critics of the traditional approach to strategy point out that the authorities do not agree with each other. These critics contend that the ancient verities have been superseded due to the effects of globalization, the existence of nuclear weapons, changing international norms, and the like. Or, that attempts to apply coercive power for political ends too often lead to uncontrollable and adverse results. We welcome discussion and debate over such propositions, which are perhaps not quite as new as sometimes supposed, and which the Classics, from different perspectives, indeed often anticipated.
We do not aim for definitive solutions to current policy matters. We recognize that the practical application of strategy and diplomacy is the task of statesmanship. Strategic classicists, as such, run the risk of becoming armchair generals or political ideologues. John Quincy Adams—a bookish statesman if there ever was one—concluded that the lessons of the Classics, to be applied properly, must be accompanied by a natural aptitude for policy and real-world experience. We hope to contribute modestly to the first element of the prudential triumvirate.