Danilenko Ignat Semenovich – Major-General, Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, Academician of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.
To the 90th anniversary of the release of the work of Alexander Andreevich Svechin “Strategy”
The work of Alexander Andreevich Svechin “Strategy” was first published in 1926. And soon it was subjected to destructive criticism and was sent for a long time into oblivion, like all of Svechin’s work. But it stood the test of silence and subsequent negligence.
And today the “Strategy” remains a powerful source for the development of creative strategic thinking, despite the large, largely unforeseen, changes in the environment and content of human life, the well-being and security of which increasingly depend on the validity and implementation of appropriate strategies.
Unfortunately, it is worth noting that not everyone who does this professionally or writes on strategic topics understands this. It is felt that some of them did not appeal to Svechin’s “Strategy”, which, undoubtedly, would help broader and deeper look at the specific strategic problem being analyzed. But the book “Strategy”, as they say, is not even heard by specialists.
Today the work of AA. Candle “Strategy” requires, as it were, a modern review, an analysis of its positions and ideas through the prism of the past 90 years and modern problems of the development of strategic thinking. You can even say, through the prism of not passed, and lived by her years and aspiration for the future, because it is about the life of the ideas of AA. Candle.
The theoretical work of any author lives while the ideas set forth therein are claimed, while he is a means of purposeful development of the intellect. Currently, the “Strategy” deserves no less, but more attention compared to the one that it caused during its release 90 years ago.
The book “Strategy” was preceded by a whole series of works by A.A. Candle on the history of military strategy. This allowed him to make serious generalizations and conclusions in the new work, to present the strategy as a history of centuries-old military practice and a special kind of purposeful thinking that eventually became a special direction in military science. On the basis of his analysis, the “Strategy presents the creative synthesis of all preceding classical strategic thought.
It is reasonable to raise a number of questions: What did this work give AA? Suppository for the further development of strategy as a science and orientation of the practical matter of training the army and the country for future wars? How did they react to him immediately after the release and the next time, and what did he find practical application? Why is this work relevant and what does it have to do with it today?
It is difficult to answer these questions in a brief article. This task is feasible scientific conference, perhaps not one, but several. I will only indicate some approaches in the hope of a broad discussion. Immediately only answer the last question, because it was he who pushed to write this article. The modern attitude to the “Strategy” does not correspond to its role in the history of strategy development and does not correspond to its potential for the development of the theory of strategy and mass strategic thinking.
For the strategy as a scientific and educational discipline, the development of lively strategic thinking, the work of A.A. Candle gave a lot. He raised them to a new scientific and educational-pedagogical level. The “Strategy” combined the latest achievements of military strategy as a science with a program for its development as an academic discipline.
Logicality and accessibility of the exposition of labor made it possible to use it as a textbook. In it, the author showed the talent of both an outstanding scientist and an outstanding teacher. The work was based on the materials of lectures, which Alexander Andreevich read for two years at the Military Academy of the Red Army. The military strategy is presented in it as a process of more than a century and a half formation and the change of its doctrines, confirmed or refuted by subsequent wars. The study is brought to its logical conclusion: the state of the theory of strategy is presented on the basis of an analysis of the experience of the last two wars, the First World War and the Civil War, and is focused on the future.
The work came out when many active participants in these wars were still alive, including large military leaders and general staff who developed and directed strategic operations. Such were among the teachers and students of the courses of the leading staff of the Military Academy of the Red Army. So the lack of interested readers, analysts and critics of the “Strategy” during its release was not. Great interest in it was shown by the Soviet and foreign military-scientific community. This fact is eloquently evidenced by the fact that in the following year, 1927, it was re-published, like the first, with a five thousandth edition.
Immediately there were different reviews, critically-approving and not very agreeable with some of the author’s provisions, but without an indiscriminate and unproven denial of the value and importance of the work itself. But that was before 1930. This year began the annihilating criticism of the “Strategy” and its author from the positions of political unreliability and professional inconsistency attributed to him. This campaign was led by M.N. Tukhachevsky, who at that time had in the Red Army great power.
Among professional, stimulating the development of the theory of strategy, the most interesting was the review by Professor A.E. Snesarev. It presented a review of the merits and shortcomings of labor, identified the problems over which it is desirable to continue the work of the author. With it, and today it is useful to get acquainted with the analysis of the “Strategy”. The main value of this work, according to Snesarev, was the development of strategic thinking. His review ended with the words: “Such bright as meteor books like” Strategy “AA. The candle should be greeted loudly and warmly, getting everyone’s attention and causing general curiosity ” (highlighted by ID).
The opposite, hostile attitude towards the “Strategy” and the whole creative work of Svechin was taken by MN. Tukhachevsky. True, not immediately after the release of the “Strategy”, but in three years. He delivered a keynote address at a specially organized conference to discredit this and other works of Alexander Andreevich. His report, too, ended in an appeal, but in another direction: “The purification of our military thought from any Svechin deposit is a matter of paramount importance” (ID).
In the end, not the opinion of authoritative scientists – Professor Snesarev A.E. And others determined the subsequent official attitude to the “Strategy” Svechin, and the authoritative position of Tukhachevsky. In his attitude to AA. Candle clearly visible personal motive. As the brilliant A.S. Pushkin in one of his little tragedies (Mozart and Salieri), envious candidates for exclusivity can not tolerate more talented, truly unusual creators. Tukhachevsky clearly claimed the laurels of the leading strategist of the Soviet Union. Authority AA. The candle made this claim Tukhachevsky untenable. In addition, Svechin plagued him with criticism of the failed strategy in the war against the Pan-Polish, the fault for which, to a large extent, fell personally on Tukhachevsky.
But if we reject personal motivation in the approaches to the strategy of Svechin and Tukhachevsky, then the matter, in my opinion, boils down to the following.
A.A. Svechin analyzed and developed the theory of military strategy from patriotic positions, the interests of the country’s military security as a geopolitical reality and existing opportunities to organize its defense against all kinds of possible military aggression.
Tukhachevsky and his supporters approached military strategy from the narrow positions of left radicalism, subordination of military policy and military strategy in the event of war to the interests of advancing the cause of the world revolution. In Alexander Andreevich they saw the principal opponent of this approach. Serious political charges were brought against him: “Of course, Svechin wrote his” Strategy “not to prepare the victories of the Red Army. On the contrary, the essence of the “Strategy” Svechin is defeatist in application to the USSR … The entire “Strategy” Svechin is the defense of the capitalist world from the offensive of the Red Army. ”
Strategist Tukhachevsky formally triumphed over strategist Svechin in the early 1930s. But the party-state power in these years begins in a number of directions, including military policy, to move away from left doctrinaire to the position of realism. The military-political situation in the world demanded the shift of military policy, accordingly, and the military strategy aside from left radicalism in the direction of the priority of protecting the national-state existence of the Soviet Union. The commitment of the World Revolution remained, but in the form of ideological declarations.
The Soviet Union in the 1920s did not have to push the world revolution, orienting its military strategy on this. The problem was to ensure historical survival in case of military aggression by large states and even coalitions of small and medium-sized states.
It seems that this was guided by AA. Svechin in substantiating the provisions of the future strategy. In the preface to the first edition of The Strategy, he wrote: “We are contemplating a modern war with all its capabilities and do not seek to narrow our theory to a sketch of the red Soviet strategic doctrine. The situation of the war, in which the USSR may be involved, is extremely difficult to foresee, and to any restrictions of the general doctrine of war one must be treated with extreme caution. ”
Tukhachevsky chose this position as a particularly important criterion for exterminating Svechin, who was at that time in the camps on a false charge of counter-revolutionary activity. The future Marshal of the Soviet Union defended the red Soviet strategic doctrine of the 1920s. But, as already noted, in the 30s a shift in the entire policy begins, including the military party-state policy toward national interests, preparations for defense against military aggression, the readiness to commit acts in the first half of the 30s of the 20th Century has shown Japan.
For this reason AA. Svechin as a connoisseur of Japan, her armed forces and military strategy was returned from the camps to military service in the intelligence of the Red Army. He is even soon given the rank of general.
But Tukhachev’s criticism was not declared untenable. Although Tukhachevsky’s position was not consistent with the political course of the party-state leadership. In professional terms, his criticism of A.A. The candle was also insolvent.
After the arrest and conviction Tukhachevsky on the idea was to follow the full rehabilitation of Svechin from political accusations and untenable criticism from a professional standpoint. Alexander Andreevich hoped so. The autobiography he wrote on August 9, 1937, ends with the words: “At the present time I have one concern – to remove from my track record all the signs of bringing me to a criminal record in 1931 and to remove from my labors the ban imposed by Gamarnik and Tukhachevsky.” But this did not follow. Why? It is difficult to explain. And a year after the execution of AA Tukhachevsky. Svechin was also subjected to repression and sentenced to a “higher measure”.
The state was preparing for war. The most experienced military professional and leading theorist of military strategy was extremely necessary to him. Perhaps the role of the leading strategist appeared other applicants. Perhaps, intrigues of intricate internal political struggle have worked. Svechin’s price and external opponents of the USSR knew the price, and their agents could put their hand to his fate. But all this is only from the field of assumptions. The reality is that the country lost a great military theorist, strategist and creator of the theory of operational art on the eve of a new great war.
With his military experience, developed military-scientific thinking, responsible approach to the defense of the Fatherland, he could undoubtedly give (and undoubtedly give) a lot of valuable expert assessments and recommendations to the country’s leadership both in preparation for defense and in conducting war.
By age and state of health, General A.A. Svechin, who was awarded the title twice – the imperial and Soviet governments, could have successfully led the headquarters and commanded military alliances during the Great Patriotic War. But on this inestimable and irretrievable social losses from its senseless destruction did not end there.
The book “Strategy” and other works of Alexander Andreevich were withdrawn from the common use funds. They were imposed a kind of political taboo. Although the top management could use them. They were not destroyed, but sent to the special protection. Hence, they knew the price. Who and to what extent they used it, it is difficult to establish. Undoubtedly, one thing: the influence of AA. The candle on the strategic thinking of military professionals in the prewar years and during the Great Patriotic War was preserved and was significant. Many of his memorable lectures were remembered. For example, the Marshal of the Soviet Union Meretskov recalled them with gratitude.
The influence of Svechin’s strategic ideas has taken place, but certainly not to the extent that it could have been if he lived, worked and served the Fatherland in the military field he had chosen in his childhood.
The war confirmed the fidelity of many of the provisions and ideas of the Svechin Strategy. For example, the idea of an integral commander in the wars of the twentieth century, in whose hands all the forces and resources of the country must be concentrated, the leadership of all fronts of the modern military struggle: armed, economic, political and others. Such an integral commander during the Great Patriotic War was the State Defense Committee, headed by I.V. Stalin.
The creation of T-bills was, perhaps, one of the most successful strategic decisions on organizing and managing the conduct of the Great Patriotic War.
Svechin’s ideas on the strategy of wear and tear and war in the war were not mentioned openly by anyone, nor about the concept of the “Integral Commander”. The strategy of death was rejected before the war and no one spoke about it either. But how it was needed in the initial period of the war! And I had to turn to her. Even in the Moscow battle, the 75th anniversary of which is celebrated this year, it was required to exhaust the fascist “Typhoon” in the beginning with the method of exhaustion, and only then to pass to the counteroffensive. But for neglecting the preliminary theoretical preparation, the practice, which operated by trial and error, had to pay a large price.
The examples confirming the fidelity of the strategic provisions and ideas justified by Svechin in the “Strategy” and his other works on the strategic subject, confirmed by the experience of the Great Patriotic War and throughout the Second World War, are many. Unfortunately, nobody studied and analyzed them. It seems that this should be done even now, albeit with great delay. This work would bring great benefit to the historical science and science of strategy.
After the end of the Second World War, the “Strategy” and all the work of Svechin were not in demand, even after his rehabilitation in 1956. The theoretical heritage of Alexander Andreevich was not attracted the attention of the scientific community of the country. Interest was shown to him, mainly, as a repressed person in Khrushchev’s campaign against the cult of Stalin’s personality, and not to his creativity.
In the first post-war decade, there was no work such as A. A. Svechin’s “Strategy”, which would pretend to an in-depth analysis and evaluation of the strategy in the Great Patriotic War and World War II. Immediately after the war, there were many victorious and laudatory publications about the superiority of the Soviet strategy. Then, during the “debunking of the personality cult,” the pendulum swung in the opposite direction – the opening up of only strategic mistakes by the country’s leadership, down to the devaluation of the Great Victory. To create the same true history of World War II and further development of strategy as a science, an impartial and honest analysis of events was required. But the post-war internal and international situation not only complicated, but actually excluded, its conduct.
The transition of the Western allies of the USSR in the Second World War immediately after its termination to a position of confrontation and open hostility towards the country of the Soviets, with their monopoly of nuclear weapons, created a fundamentally new, extremely dangerous military and political situation. An impartial honest analysis of the Second World War in conditions of a latent new war objectively became impossible.
As the ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu said, war is a path of deception. To reveal the methods of deceit and lies in the strategic operations of the just-ended war in conditions of the unfolded preparations for a new war was unreasonable. And, of course, both sides did not go for this, but at the same time, demanding the truth from each other.
Created at the initiative of the West, the historical situation required the Soviet political and military leadership to develop a fundamentally new strategy.
The United States and Great Britain were preparing a one-sided genocidal war against the Soviet Union by the method of atomic bombing of its large and small cities. We bought our allies (the economic power that grew up during the war allowed it to be done) and surrounded the USSR with its military bases. To delay the implementation of this strategy could only be a dislocation in the countries of Europe liberated by the Soviet Army of a large mass of Soviet troops that entered there during the war and were in close contact with American and British troops.
To force the West to abandon the strategy of preparing nuclear bombings of Soviet cities could only either unconditional surrender to the West, or the liquidation of its monopoly on nuclear weapons and the achievement of an approximate parity in its quantity and delivery vehicles. At the surrender of the USSR did not go. The second option was chosen.
It should be noted that the deep reason for the post-war confrontation between the West and the USSR was its traditional, centuries-old policy towards Russia. The West was the dominant region over the world for five centuries, since the Great Discoveries. Russia, becoming a great power, was in a difficult situation between the West and the rest of the world. It did not yield to colonization (it did not allow the scale of the country and civilizational differences) and sought to cooperate with the West, at certain periods with excessive zeal. It came down to the power planting of the power of Western culture and the adoption of the dominant layer of the Western way of life, right up to the transition of the elite to one of the western languages.
But the popular masses firmly adhered to their civilizational foundations. This forced to adhere to these foundations and part of the ruling circles in the interests of gaining mass support. In strategic thinking, two currents were formed: nationally oriented and Westernistic. This made itself felt in foreign policy. But this topic is not the subject of this article.
It is worth mentioning that the West has never perceived Russia as a part of its world. He needed a colonized Russia, and not an independent and powerful partner country, claiming for equal rights. This explains the constant desire of the West to weaken Russia and the periodic attempts to destroy and colonize it.
Therefore, it is not by chance that after the Second World War the West, in the person of the leading US and Great Britain, took a course to preserve and strengthen its dominant position in the world. Objectively and subjectively, this was hampered only by the Soviet Union, mainly by the fact of its very existence and additionally – by its political-ideological course.
The post-war military-strategic confrontation unprecedented in scale, strength and destiny, unfolded not accidentally. The West had great economic superiority and had a monopoly on nuclear weapons. From the Soviet Union, economically greatly weakened by the war, this confrontation required a consistent, rigid and, at the same time, flexible foreign and domestic policies.
In this respect, much could give Svechin’s “Strategy”, the method of linking the strategy to all types of politics, the interrelationship of all fronts of the military struggle, the singling out of decision-makers in a rapidly changing environment. It required a new attitude of the masses to the strategy, not the distance of the strategy from the masses, but the development of their strategic thinking in the interests of conscious participation in the implementation of the strategy’s fateful for the country, all and each of its citizens.
Objectively, it was not the narrowing, but the expansion of development of the strategy by military and political personnel, that was not to be postponed until the nomination for a responsible military and political post, but much earlier, as recommended by Svechin.
Unfortunately, it turned out the other way around. With the advent of nuclear missile weapons, not only the practical side of the strategy, but also the mastery of its theory, has moved to the highest state and military leadership. Strategic thinking, as it were, withered, interest in its development decreased. Open works, like “Strategy” Svechin, did not come out.
Only in 1962 did the collective work “Military Strategy”, led by Marshal of the Soviet Union Sokolovsky VD, appeared. Its authors noted in the introduction that “in Soviet open literature there is a clear lack of work that gives a general idea of military strategy in all the diversity of the issues it studies. In fact, after A. Svechin’s book The Strategy, published in the first edition in 1926, very far from the correct Marxist interpretation of the essence and content of military strategy and not devoid of many methodological flaws, no open work was published in the Soviet Union Soviet military authors devoted to the military strategy as a whole. ”
In this case, the authors, after more than 30 years, unequivocally repeated the evaluation of the “Strategy”, imposed on the scientific community by M. Tukhachevsky in due time. Although they advocated the development of a strategic soap, in practice they narrowed strategic thinking, concentrating it on the problems of armed struggle, only taking into account the use of nuclear missile weapons. Indeed, the availability and use of these weapons has become a central problem of military policy and military strategy. Not only genocidal, but also suicidal wars, leading to the death of both opposing sides, became possible. The exclusion of these wars was the first task of the political and military strategy of the Soviet Union.
But the West at the same time began to expand the means and methods of warfare not only with traditional destructive weapons, equipping them with super-powerful charges and ultra-long delivery vehicles, but parallel with the development of new means and methods for their effective use that were not related to traditional weapons, The name of “soft power”, non-lethal weapons, etc. It turned out that these means can destroy and change the spiritual and psychic qualities of large masses of people, subordinate their will and actions to their goals. And the breakdown of the will of the enemy is the main goal of the military struggle. Opportunity to unleash and conduct, new, unconventional wars, at all without the use of destructive weapons or with limited use, as a means of securing, threat of use, etc., has opened up.
The theoreticians of the war, who reduced its essence only to armed struggle, did not see that in the formal world, the use of unconventional means and methods of military, in its aims, struggle, which in generalized terms was called the Cold War, is increasingly unfolding. Soviet military theorists not only did not see its origin and development, but did not recognize it as a war when it became a threat to the geopolitical collapse of the country. The fact that the Soviet Union has lost the war to the West in such a mediocre and devastating manner, a considerable part of the blame lies with military theoreticians. They defended their position from “Svechin, who was very far from the correct Marxist interpretation of the essence and content of military strategy,” warning that “every limitation of the general doctrine of war must be treated with utmost caution.”
In Svechin’s “Strategy” on the basis of analysis of the history of the First World War and the Civil War, the strategy was filled with economic, political, scientific and technical, all social content. Alongside the armed front and in conjunction with it, the economic and political fronts appeared, it was not ruled out, but new fronts were expected. With this it was difficult to agree with those who were focused solely on armed struggle, especially when they received nuclear missile weapons at their disposal. The military struggle was incredibly complicated, and accordingly the strategy was to deal with the preparation and conduct of all possible and likely wars and military conflicts.
Overcoming the monopoly of the West over nuclear weapons, the rapid movement towards equality and even some superiority in the quality and quantity of charges, and the means for delivering them to any distance, created the impression of achieving reliable military security for the Soviet Union. But the West imposed on him a fundamentally new war, which the political and military leadership of the USSR saw not as a war, but only as an intensification of confrontation in peacetime.
But the unilateral refusal to conduct any war leads to surrender.
For the Soviet Union, capitulation in the war turned out to be time-consuming. The enemy was not in a hurry not to provoke a transition to an armed struggle that could not end with an acceptable damage. He contributed in every way to the growth of internal tension, primarily of a socio-economic nature, strongly supported dissident sentiments, and so on. The West was waiting for the growth of the socio-economic and socio-political crisis in the Soviet Union as conditions for the victorious conclusion of the Cold War. And such a crisis was growing.
In the 1960s, the dependence of military strategy on the successes of domestic, primarily socio-economic policies, increased sharply, especially after the statement of the Soviet party-state leadership about its course towards achieving rapid social and economic superiority over capitalism, specifically the USSR over the United States, without achieving Universal renunciation of war. But the authors of the “Military Strategy” did not connect the military strategy with social policy, did not see the requirements of the strategy for specific types of policy in the interests of realizing the tasks assigned to it. Although this problem was posed before the military strategy on the eve of the twentieth century, Colonel E.I. Martynov. But military theoreticians did not follow the logic of the development of domestic strategic thought and did not seek to take into account its achievements by politics.
At present, it makes sense to conduct a comparative analysis of the “Strategy” of Svechin and the “Military Strategy” of 1962. They share 36 years. In the first analysis of the First World War, in the second – World War II. The level of analysis is different and the contribution to the analysis of trends is different. Accordingly, a different contribution to the development of military strategy as a science and mass strategic thinking.
Comparative analysis is important for the preparation and publication of a new fundamental work on a strategy that is already oriented toward the twenty-first century. The need to create such a work has long been felt. A strategy that meets the conditions of the present and the requirements of the future can be developed, first of all, on the basis of an analysis of its practical and theoretical historical experience.
The history of the 90-year existence of the “Strategy” AA. Svechin instructive from the standpoint of the relation to it not only in the past but in the present.
On the anniversary of this important for the intellectual development of labor did not respond, even those who are now “sitting” on the theory of strategy for service-official status, and, in fact, not available in the basic training and interpretation of the strategic guidelines. On this occasion Svechin wrote, “is illusory unity of doctrine, based on the unity of strategic thinking.”
Strategy requires continuous hard work of self-development of strategic thinking, not only on the principle of professional employment, but also on the principle of civic duty.
The strategy is now in demand all kinds of social activities. But, unfortunately, not feeling should concern the development of the strategy as a science and strategic thinking in those people, which largely depends on the quality of overcoming the contemporary socio-political and economic crises.
In military affairs, the transition from strategy as a practical matter to the preparation, organization and management of the military struggle without preliminary theoretical preparation to the creation of the science of military strategy and the preparation of strategic activity on its basis takes more than ten centuries. In a measured, unhurried, peaceful life, the strategy was not needed. But the twentieth century has inflated its pace. Acceleration of the pace of life with simultaneous strengthening within the social and inter-social struggle objectively led in the twentieth century to move on to strategic methods of organization and management in all important areas of public life. The development of strategy as a science and strategic thinking of Russian citizens is currently lagging far behind the needs of social development. And this should alarm, in the first place, those who are engaged in a strategy for service or vocation.
The strategy in the twentieth century, especially in its second half, quickly and widely withdrew from the sphere of its origin and development – from the military sphere – and spread to all areas of public life and its organization as a unified system.
In fact, before our eyes, there was a “strategic” social life. However, social scientists, including economists, did not focus on this fact. At the same time, the economic markets have long been guided not by an invisible hand, but by a hand armed with strategy, network and vertical, which our reformers of the economy did not notice.
Today it is obvious that when the Soviet planned economic and economic system stalled, a rapid transition to a mixed, centralized and networked, strategic management was required. Otherwise, the social and economic collapse of the society was inevitable, and in the conditions of the Cold War – the defeat and geopolitical dismemberment of the country. This, unfortunately, happened. The political and military leadership of the country had neither a strategy of preemption and exit from the crisis, nor a strategy for conducting and completing the Cold War.
“Strategy” A.A. The candle should occupy an honorable and at the same time an active place in the arsenal of modern strategic thought. We must pay tribute to our predecessors. Take the position of the “Strategy” about when to begin to form strategic thinking. Without developed strategic thinking, at the present time, no area of public life can count on the successful development. Strategic thinking is necessary, first of all, to that stratum of the population of the country, which is usually called the elite. It is important strategic thinking not only the leaders, but also the performers. Strategic thinking unites the people into a single whole. Solving the problems of the XXI century requires a strategically minded people, not to mention the elite.
The strategy turned out to be an area that interests a growing number of people as citizens and as specialists in specific activities. The strategy depends on the country’s development and its security, successes or failures in any sphere or field of human activity. From strategy, ultimately, the fate of the country, victory or defeat in a possible war depends.
Unfortunately, the ideas about the strategy, its development as science clearly lag behind the needs of practice: the current practice often requires science not to help in the development of thinking, but instructions for decision-making, which is not the task of science. Science is not a servant of practice, but its orienteer and insurer from mistakes. Science and practice are increasingly interconnected and at the same time are increasingly relatively independent of each other.
“Strategy” A.A. The candle, and after 90 years, remains an excellent source for the development of creative strategic thinking. It is worthy of being in the intellectual arsenal of everyone who understands the importance and necessity of a strategic approach to any serious matter.