17.484 Comparative Grand Strategy and Military Doctrine

As taught in: Fall 2004

A black and white photo of two officers inspecting sailors on deck.

Inspection of Russian Navy, 1893. (Image courtesy of theĀ Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. [reproduction number, LC-D4-21158 (b&w glass neg.)]

Level:

Graduate

Instructors:

Prof. Barry Posen

Course Features

Course Description

This course will conduct a comparative study of the grand strategies of the great powers (Britain, France, Germany and Russia) competing for mastery of Europe from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Grand strategy is the collection of political and military means and ends with which a state attempts to achieve security. We will examine strategic developments in the years preceding World Wars I and II, and how those developments played themselves out in these wars. The following questions will guide the inquiry: What is grand strategy and what are its critical aspects? What recurring factors have exerted the greatest influence on the strategies of the states selected for study? How may the quality of a grand strategy be judged? What consequences seem to follow from grand strategies of different types? A second theme of the course is methodological. We will pay close attention to how comparative historical case studies are conducted.