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Jack Snyder's analysis of the attitudes of military planners in the years prior to the Great War offers new insight into the tragic miscalculations of that era and into their possible parallels in present-day war planning. By 1914, the European military powers had adopted offensive military strategies even though there was considerable evidence to support the notion that much greater advantage lay with defensive strategies. The author argues that organizational biases inherent in military strategists' attitudes make war more likely by encouraging offensive postures even when the motive is self-defense.
Drawing on new historical evidence of the specific circumstances surrounding French, German, and Russian strategic policy, Snyder demonstrates that it is not only rational analysis that determines strategic doctrine, but also the attitudes of military planners. Snyder argues that the use of rational calculation often falls victim to the pursuit of organizational interests such as autonomy, prestige, growth, and wealth. Furthermore, efforts to justify the preferred policy bring biases into strategists' decisions―biases reflecting the influences of parochial interests and preconceptions, and those resulting from attempts to simplify unduly their analytical tasks.
The frightening lesson here is that doctrines can be destabilizing even when weapons are not, because doctrine may be more responsive to the organizational needs of the military than to the implications of the prevailing weapons technology. By examining the historical failure of offensive doctrine, Jack Snyder makes a valuable contribution to the literature on the causes of war.
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Jack Snyder is the Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science and Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. He is the author of The Ideology of the Offensive: Military Decision Making and the Disasters of 1914; Myths of Empire: Domestic Politics and International Ambition (both published by Cornell); and From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Conflict; and is the coeditor of Civil Wars, Insecurity, and Intervention.Review:
"This is a penetrating account, filled with valuable theoretical insights, of the military planning in France, Germany, and Russia on the eve of the First World War. Using the analytical approach of controlled comparison, Jack Snyder examines the role of doctrinal and organizational biases in military decision making and operational planning. . . . Snyder is superb in detailing Russian war planning in this era, providing the best account in English on this topic."―Orbis
"Snyder has made a significant contribution to strategic thought."―Military Review
"One of the best comparative surveys of the war plans and strategic thinking of the General Staffs from the Franco-Prussian War to 1914. . . . An ambitious and interesting book both in its historical scope and in its theoretical implications for military decision making."―Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
"Jack Snyder has a keen sensitivity to major pre-war diplomatic and strategic policy; there are few events which have escaped his notice and scarcely any material which he has not covered. Much of what he says will be of great and new interest to strategic historians."―Samuel R. Williamson, Jr., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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Book Description Cornell Univ Pr, 1984. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110801416574
Book Description Cornell Univ Pr, 1984. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0801416574