Greek mythologies, while not perfect analogies, provide ample cautions for military leadership faced with the prospect of future algorithmic warfare. Advanced military technologies named after Greek mythological characters—Harpy, Gorgon, Athena, Aegis, Talos, etc.—suggest an analogical construct reminiscent of ancient heroes who relied on the favor of the gods to tip the enigmatic scales in their favor.
This tunnel vision, and the misinterpretation of past grand strategic success...has the potential to shape the spectrum of analysis that informs American grand strategic thought today. To face the siren songs of historical mythology and American exceptionalism, the U.S. must first find the mast before it tethers itself to it. Some general agreement about where we are and where we want to go is the first step in the right direction towards a grand strategy firmly connected to reality.
The Winter War highlights the importance of situating campaign assessment within appropriate historical context to ensure the right conclusions are drawn. It also demonstrates that tactical setbacks, rather than successes, provide the obvious and crude necessity for strategic and operational review and adjustment. The current Western predisposition to analyse ‘successful’ tactical actions to inform the development of strategy is a frustrating example of our failure to understand this. It is all too easy to focus on what has been done well at the tactical level–as in the case of the ‘gallant’ Finns. However, the more difficult intellectual experiment is to review a campaign in its totality–to examine whether tactical actions were linked to a strategy that achieves the political objective and overall victory.