Thinking Out of the Box: Reading Military Texts from a Different Perspective   [open pdf - 78KB]

"'Persuasive in peace, decisive in war, preeminent in any form of combat'--with these goals in mind, and constantly using such terms as 'full-dimensional,' 'full spectrum,' 'dominant,' and 'dominance,' the Joint Staff white paper 'Joint Vision 2010' and its extension 'Joint Vision 2020' paint a picture of where U.S. military forces should head as they move into the twenty-first century. 'Vision' papers of individual services, such as 'Marine Corps Strategy 21', follow the lead of the joint documents in their proclamations of capabilities within specific competencies. The claims are bold indeed; these vision documents declare that the U.S. military will be able to go everywhere and do everything. Realistically, that is not possible, but a reader is hard pressed to discern from the language of the texts that hard choices have been made, significant alternatives rejected. There seems to be a sentence or phrase to cover every eventuality of future conflict. This, of course, gives the sense that the vision statements are pablum, saying nothing by saying everything. That, however, is an unfortunate and inaccurate impression. The vision documents are in fact more nuanced than they appear. But how can we get at their full meaning? One way to explicate vision documents is to adapt 'deconstruction,' a technique of reading that arose as a postmodernist philosophical school. To 'deconstruct' a text is to use perspectives, and viewpoints that are, ideally, useful for understanding. Through this approach, attentive readers can examine even U.S. military 'vision documents,' clarify their content, and develop implicit alternatives to their central themes. After briefly outlining the technique, we will apply it to two current case studies."

2002 Naval War College Review. Posted here with permission. Documents are for personal use only and not for commercial profit.
Retrieved From:
Naval War College Review: http://www.usnwc.edu/Publications/Naval-War-College-Review.aspx
Media Type:
Naval War College Review (Autumn 2002), v. 55 no. 4, p. 83-95
Help with citations