Harold Rood

The fuss over President Trump’s decision to kill Iranian General Qasem Soleimani is causing the usual hair-on-fire reaction among the media and foreign policy elites. Everyone is playing the parlor game of wondering how Iran might respond, and how we might respond to Iran’s well-develop capacity for “asymmetric warfare.” Steve Hayward gets to wondering what the late professor of international relations Harold W. Rood (d. 2011) might think of the scene. Prof. Rood disdained all of the usual cliches of strategic matters in favor of a simple question: “If there’s going to be a war, who is going to win?”

Since the Iran has been in a state of war against the United States for 40 years now, it is a question that ought to be asked more often, though it is considered wholly retrograde to do so. Perhaps President Trump—no grand strategist—his nonetheless crystalized this question for the first time since the Iranian revolution.

Steve found a recording of a brief talk Prof. Rood delivered to the Philadelphia Society back in 1980 on how to understand grand strategy that, with only a little imagination, you can apply to today’s scene, plus it is a classic example of Prof. Rood’s marvelous method of indirect instruction, where his historical examples and observations about anomalies lead the listener to make his or her own conclusions.

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