The Ideology of the Offensive: Military Decision Making and the Disasters of 1914 by Jack SnyderThe Ideology of the Offensive: Military Decision Making and the Disasters of 1914 by Jack Snyder

The Ideology of the Offensive: Military Decision Making and the Disasters of 1914

byJack Snyder

Paperback | February 14, 1989

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Jack Snyder's analysis of the attitudes of military planners in the years prior to the Great War offers new insight into the tragic miscalculations of that era and into their possible parallels in present-day war planning. By 1914, the European military powers had adopted offensive military strategies even though there was considerable evidence to support the notion that much greater advantage lay with defensive strategies. The author argues that organizational biases inherent in military strategists' attitudes make war more likely by encouraging offensive postures even when the motive is self-defense.

Drawing on new historical evidence of the specific circumstances surrounding French, German, and Russian strategic policy, Snyder demonstrates that it is not only rational analysis that determines strategic doctrine, but also the attitudes of military planners. Snyder argues that the use of rational calculation often falls victim to the pursuit of organizational interests such as autonomy, prestige, growth, and wealth. Furthermore, efforts to justify the preferred policy bring biases into strategists' decisions—biases reflecting the influences of parochial interests and preconceptions, and those resulting from attempts to simplify unduly their analytical tasks.

The frightening lesson here is that doctrines can be destabilizing even when weapons are not, because doctrine may be more responsive to the organizational needs of the military than to the implications of the prevailing weapons technology. By examining the historical failure of offensive doctrine, Jack Snyder makes a valuable contribution to the literature on the causes of war.

Jack Snyder is the Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science and Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. He is the author of The Ideology of the Offensive: Military Decision Making and the Disasters of 1914; Myths of Empire: Domestic Politics and Internatio...
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Title:The Ideology of the Offensive: Military Decision Making and the Disasters of 1914Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.27 inPublished:February 14, 1989Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESS

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801482445

ISBN - 13:9780801482441

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Editorial Reviews

"Jack Snyder has a keen sensitivity to major pre-war diplomatic and strategic policy; there are few events which have escaped his notice and scarcely any material which he has not covered. Much of what he says will be of great and new interest to strategic historians."—Samuel R. Williamson, Jr., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill