"Monday Musings” are designed to get quick, insightful thoughts based around three questions from those interested in strategy, from the most experienced and lauded, to our newest thinkers/writers.
1. Who had the greatest impact on you intellectually (whether through writing, mentorship, etc.)?
The list is really too long, but let me attempt an answer. I have been blessed to have many impactful teachers throughout my life. A lot of the most influential focused on my writing and communication skills, which are absolutely essential. My English and History teachers have been particularly inspiring. I have also had great foreign language teachers. I think learning other languages has been invaluable.
2. What book (fiction, history, or academic) do you think best explains strategy?
I think most respondents cite Clausewitz, Machiavelli, and/or Sun Tzu with this question. There are many nuggets of wisdom available with those writers, but while reading them it is important to note the context behind their writings. You wouldn’t sketch out a budget based on the costs Sun Tzu outlines. But, these authors and others provide excellent conceptual frames to think about war and strategy. To do strategy well though, you need to look at a variety of different sources and constantly question assumptions.
I was struck by the recent discovery of a battle in ancient Europe at a time historians never thought possible (Slaughter at the Bridge). We can only guess at the social, political, and economic factors that resulted in that conflict. The battle took place about 800 years before Sun Tzu. And the scale of that engagement is quite significant. Evidence points to fighters traveling from far afield as well. It roughly coincides with a period of large migrations and an uptick in conflict around Europe and Asia. That kind of conflict doesn’t fit as nicely into early modern European or Imperial Chinese frames.
3. What do you want your legacy to be?
The blog I started, Point of Decision, has been helpful for a few veterans to get their start with writing. I’m very proud of that. I’ve been on a semi-hiatus with the blog for 2016, and I’ll write why ironically when I decide to end that hiatus. One reason was that by late 2015 I was spending a lot of time trying to come up with material and I realized I was burning myself out. The essay contests in late 2015 and early 2016 were a lot of fun, and we will do that again at #TheLittleBlogThatCould.
But, I want to do more. As a veteran, I’ve received help from many people, and I would like to continue to do more for that community. The blog was one part of that, but I intend to be more involved in helping vets with careers and other aspects of life.
Chris Zeitz is a veteran of military intelligence who served one year in Afghanistan. While in the Army, he also attended the Britannia Arms pub in Monterey. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Diplomacy from Norwich University. The views contained in this article are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of any U.S. Government agency.
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