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Sir Basil H. Liddell Hart and the Gulf War

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This essay concentrates on some of the contributions of Sir Basil H. Liddell Harts theories to the military strategies used during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. It is important to stress that Hart, like all the other military writers, was a product of his time, and was reacting to his own personal observations of the horrors of World War I trench warfare on the western front. Hart drew distinctions between policy and strategy, stressing that policy was the business of the government, and strategy was the military means to implement that policy. He also referred to this overarching policy as grand strategy, including economic and diplomatic pressure as well as military force in his definition. He believed that nations do not wage war for wars sake, but only to achieve their stated policies. The role of grand strategy is to coordinate and harness all of the nations resources to achieve the political objective. In this regard, he agreed with Clausewitz, who said that war was an instrument of policy. If military action is called for, however, Hart believed that one of the key goals of this grand strategy is to look beyond the conflict to the subsequent peace. What conditions will exist at the end of the conflict or battle If the grand strategy and policy determine that a military action is required, then theoretically, the military strategy is developed to meet these political and national objectives. This brief assessment of some of Liddell Harts theories shows some strong correlations with the strategies pursued in the Persian Gulf. The point is, however, that any one of four or five other military theorists could have just as easily found their ideas reflected in the conduct of this battle. What differentiates each of these is the degree to which they emphasize their principles. They all reflect their times and their experiences.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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