The world is awash with politica and strategic advice purporting to be remedies for current and anticipated ills. Rather less abundant are works that seek to render thought about strategic problems more robust. To that end, I examine strategic phenomena from five perspectives, each of which is seriously undertheorized for the explanation necessary as a basis for understanding.
My chosen five are concepts, ethics, culture, geography, and technology. Despite the familiar character of these perspectives and their intrinsic significances, comprehension of their meanings for strategy in general and for their relative importance in particular historical cases is seriously weak. Lawrence sees a whole house of war, which I adapt as a whole house of strategy.
It is ironic, not paradoxical, to argue for a holistic understanding of strategy and to lay emphasis upon a general theory whose tenets unite the field, while also emphasizing the need to explore the single subject of strategy from different perspectives. The contradiction between unity and division is only apparent because it is the robust inclusivity of the general theory of strategy that enables particular perspectives to be explored safely. When the general theory is regarded properly as being conceptually sovereign, the danger is greatly reduced that strategic practice will be in thrall to some reductionist views (for example, strategy regarded as applied intellect, morality, culture, geography, or technology). It is only possible to allow the distinctive perspectives on the whole house of strategy their due when that edifice is standing whole and well constructed.