chapter  2
The development of American strategic thought and practice
Pages 26

A body of literature has built up in the past few decades debating whether there is a distinct “American way of war” that explains the way in which Americans think about, and conduct, warfare. The starting point in the debate was the publication of Russell Weigley’s The American Way of War in 1973. Weigley’s thesis was that, from the American Civil War onwards, Americans conducted war in a way that sought to achieve their objectives through destroying the enemy’s armed forces on the battlefield through the use of overwhelming force. It was an approach dominated by deeds, not words: “[T]he evolution of American strategy before the 1950s has to be traced less in writings about strategy than in the application of strategic thought in war. It has to be a history of ideas expressed in action.”1