31st December 2011: John Lewis Gaddis on Grand Strategy


I’m reading John Lewis Gaddis’s biography George Kennan: An American Life (New York: Penguin USA, 2011) at the moment.


Gaddis is an expert on the Cold War and grand strategy: the coordinated use of a country’s diplomatic, informational, military and economic resources to achieve national aims. In this lecture at Princeton University on 30th April 2009, Gaddis explains what grand strategy is; the origins of Yale University’s grand strategy program (information and 2010 syllabus here); and considers the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s expansion as a case study. You can read the talk’s transcript here.


Yale’s grand strategy program has three strands. Classics involves immersion into the Western canon of Thucydides, Publius, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, Kant, Metternich, Churchill, Hitler and Reagan, and Eastern philosophers such as Sun Tzu. An Odyssey internship provides a praxis in metic intelligence and decision-making. Finally, the Responsibilities semester considers the contemporary grand strategies of Fukuyama, Huntington, and Zakaria; provides student-driven Marshall briefings on contemporary issues; and a crisis simulation exercise.