Strategic theories and politics development in the 21st century

Andrea K. Riemer

 

The wars inIraqandAfghanistanand the parallel running financial and economic crisis have given rise to doubt again and again whether it is possible to “carry out” strategy sensibly today, and, if so, what strategic concepts should look like. Additionally there are fierce discussions as to why in the course of the last 20 years economy was not successful in providing decent strategic concepts, and why the field was left to short-term politics development. Politics development has undoubtedly taken over the reins. There are almost no theoretical concepts which forge links between theory and practice. The reasons for this are complex and can seldom be classified. Starting point of the following considerations is the concept of order and its partially distinct and inherent contradictions. Order represents the “strategic pitch“ and is embedded in its environment. If this environment is unknown, it will basically not be possible to assess whether strategic concepts and theories meet practical demands and whether they are keeping with the times. Furthermore, due to the lack of knowledge of order, one cannot find out what features the strategic concepts and theories must have in order to design order and to develop in a certain direction. Thus, dealing with the strategic pitch is an indispensable reference frame. These remarks represent one of several possible ways how to grasp and understand the strategic pitch. At any rate it is synthetic and meets the overall approach which is called for time and again. At the same time one can and should choose other ways as well - but it is essential that they keep abreast of the complexity of reality. Present-day international order, which contains networkish structures and complex relation meshes, suggests that there are polycentric organisation forms where several action and control centres exist. Here hardly any single element (protagonist) on its own is capable of determining and controlling the entire structure with all its contents and features for a longer period of time. In this context it is obvious that strategy and strategic theories have to adapt to this area of action both in content and from a formal point of view. It is also obvious that there is both an intellectual and a pragmatic demand. It is high time that both the academic community and the political decision-makers find some common ground; its extent will not only have to depend on the smallest common minimum, but on the magnitude of its contribution to the prosperity of the whole. What may be sounding idealistic is an indispensable necessity in an order which lives on unintentional effects as well as on hybridicity and on protagonists who know exactly which challenges they have to produce in order to really rock the whole. Unfortunately the political decision-makers and the academic community for the most part lack this sense of responsibility by which both will be judged.