On strategy Ideas for strategists (part 2) „It's all about interests!"

Wolfgang Pusztai


In the course of the second step of the Terry-Deibel-Model the „Ends & Means“ are analyzed, built on the strategic environment. While doing so, first the own national interests are compiled and priorities established. Afterwards opportunities and threats arising from the strategic environment for these interests are derived and analyzed. After the individual steps of the Terry-Deibel-Model have been worked out thoroughly, a conclusive foreign affairs strategy should have been developed as well. Usually completed strategies are at least roughly summarized and published. Such a publication, however, cannot contain all steps and contents of its development because of reasons of national security. Its communication to the national and international public helps to calculate the respective actor, thus contributing to realizing the strategy, though. A good strategy does not appear suddenly in its finished form. It is developed gradually, with an idea in the beginning, which is discussed and modified, and which is to be adapted continuously to the international strategic environment. Aim and/or reward of all these extensive efforts is the good chance to get the own interests accepted. A passive strategy, or a strategy of idleness, often leads to the reproach of being someone who jumps on the bandwagon, but this hardly ever has any consequences, so politics can live well with it. More important, however, is the fact that without an appropriate strategy one is exposed to progressive globalization with all its positive and negative consequences. One misses the possibility to influence the events as defined by own interests, misses opportunities, and has to accept the development of threats, although the state is actually pledged to counter them in time in order to protect the citizens. The consequences of inadequate strategic thinking come up later - and mostly too late, as history has taught us. The more nations of a region are “brought into line” and are united, the more one can rely on the others in the field of foreign affairs strategy. On the other hand one will have to realize that the own interests, which perhaps come up because of specific features, cannot be pursued efficiently enough, and that the own means have been wasted. The prerequisite for developing a strategy is the capability to analyze correctly and clearly. If this is extant, the interests of a nation should stand out distinctly as well. The decisive task of the strategist - to establish priorities - can and must be discussed thoroughly with all relevant actors of the nation. Actually, the foreign affairs strategy is much too important and ought, therefore, not serve as a plaything of domestic policies. In an extreme case, such a weakness is even apt to “invite” attacks from outside (comp. the Madrid train attacks of 2004).