Gregory R. Copley

Home    About the Author    News    Critics' Views    Speakers' Bureau    Other Books    Appearances    Maxims
 

Gregory Copley (left), with the former Premier of Western Australia, Sir Charles Court, 95, when Copley, as President of the ISSA, presented Sir Charles with the ISSA Award for Outstanding Contributions to Strategic Progress. In The Art of Victory, Copley said that Charles Court was the man responsible for creating the basis for Australia's current strategic wealth.

Strategic Vision Beyond Instant Gratification

By Gregory R. Copley.

An Editorial in Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy journal, October 20, 2006.

Societies decline when they spend more strategic capital than they can afford, which often means spending more than they can quickly replace, particularly in times of crisis. The question, however, which is rarely asked is what comprises “strategic capital”. In many senses, this goes to the question of what comprises a grand strategy, because in many ways “strategic capital” and “grand strategy” parallel each other. 

The grand strategy of a nation, or a society, must define comprehensive goals in all of the areas vital to its survival, security, and control over its destiny; from questions of population cohesion and efficiency, to physical infrastructure, resources, capital resources and capital management skills, and to appropriate mechanisms of national security. And, most critically, it must address national identity and prestige. 

“Strategic capital”, then, defines the society’s balance sheet in all of these areas, and rising or declining strength in one area affects the strength of other factors. Moreover, by including national “prestige”, “skills”, and “efficiency” in the matrix, it is clear that the capital base is not entirely physical or visible. Indeed, what makes “strategic capital” viable or decisive is the intangible factor, just as financial capital remains of less value if it is not employed within the framework of a viable investment plan. 

For much of the past thousand years we have seen the “strategic capital” of the West gradually and erratically build — even as the definition of what constituted “the West” continued to evolve — while the strategic capital of much of Asia and the Middle East remained static and undeveloped. But with the end of the Cold War in 1990, the West began a process of “spending the peace dividend” which was, very directly, a process of “spending strategic capital”. 

Moreover, it was a process of erosion which occurred at a time of global strategic dynamism, when Western society itself was being redefined along with all other societies; and when the West itself began to come under attack as part of the redefinition of global society within the ambit of “globalization”.  This was no time for the West — that is, modern society — to take a vacation. This was a time for the West to get back to work on new definitions of its goals and the means to achieve them. 

In essence, the end of the Cold War saw global human society thrown back on the drawing board, to be redefined. And most of the world’s most successful society — the West — elected not to take the lead in that redefinition, allowing either a single power (the US) to attempt to speak for modern society, or the disenfranchised elements of global society to strive for their own version of human societal evolution. 

The action of Europe — ie: the European Union (EU) — to avoid re-taking control of its destiny by merely slicing up the pie (the wealth) created over the previous thousand years by the strivings of generations does not constitute a decision. It represented, merely, “spending the strategic capital”. The entire premise of the European Union is that the wealth which took a millennium (or perhaps two) to create was now absolute and indissoluble as well as self- perpetuating. Most citizens of the EU — and many other citizens of the West — had forgotten the fundamental lesson of history that there can be no such thing as a static victory. Victory must be achieved constantly, or else it wastes into decline and dust. 

In The Art of Victory, I stressed this point, in Chapter 20, “The Never-Ending Challenge”: 

It is tempting to think that the task of securing victory can be completed. That would imply that a single power, a single government, a single entity could reign supreme and perfect, free from challenge. The groans of fear and anguish which arose in parts of the world when the US was viewed as the “sole global superpower” were unwarranted and unrealistic. The utopian belief in the eventual creation of a single “world government” is equally unrealistic, and yet many seemingly intelligent people hold the hope that the United Nations could fulfill such a function. 

All things in nature die when they no longer share the planet with others of their species. And yet to share space is to compete for it, and the resources of that space. The late European businessman, Sir James Goldsmith, once said: “When you marry your mistress, you automatically create a job vacancy.” Facetious or not, the parallel applies to many aspects of life: when your adversary is destroyed or disappears, another will rise to take its place. Interaction — and therefore competition — is the reality, and joy, of life. The same applies in the intellectual environment: without debate, there is no intellectual progress. 

Competition stirs productivity and growth. The total elimination of competition — either by state decree, the destruction of rivals, or merger — stirs complacency, sloth, and decline. 

Similarly, the slump of societies into individual “consumerism”, in which productivity for the greater efficacy of a society is supplanted by the individual need for “immediate gratification”, is a sign of strategic decline. The sharks circle at the smell of such blood. But the reality is that the corpse of the West would not feed the sharks for long. In truth, the decline of one civilization does not necessarily mark the success of its rival.  


 

     



 
Copyright © 2006, Gregory R. Copley. All rights reserved.
     
loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loans loansloans loans loans loans loans loans loans insurance insurance mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage mortgage insurance insurance insurance insurance insuranceinsurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insuranceinsurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance insurance