Bernard Brodie (military strategist)

From Wikiquote
(Redirected from Bernard Brodie)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bernard Brodie (May 20, 1910November 24, 1978) was an American military strategist well known for establishing the basics of nuclear strategy. Known as "the American Clausewitz," and "the original nuclear strategist," he was an initial architect of nuclear deterrence strategy and tried to ascertain the role and value of nuclear weapons after their creation.


  • There is no other science where judgements are tested in blood and answered in the servitude of the defeated, where the acknowledged authority is the leader who has won or who instills confidence that he can win.
    • As quoted in "Military air power : the CADRE digest of air power opinions and thoughts", compiled by Charles M. Westenhoff
  • We will be making a sufficient but necessary contribution if we simply jar the prevalent complacency on the doctrine of shoot-from-the-hip-and-empty-the-magazine.
    • Remarking on the prevalent 1950's strategy of massive retaliation , colloquially know as the 'Sunday Punch'. (Cited from the RAND document, Must We shoot From the Hip?)
  • It seems to me that the technique of gaming does at least two things, both of which are extremely important. One is that it tends to make a reality out of the potential and also the intentions nominally ascribed to the enemy. I have had the privilege of studying over the years a number of so-called "strategic studies," and I have often been amazed at the degree to which they are permeated by what one can only call "wishful thinking." There will often be on the first page a list of stated assumptions or postulates which will say something like the following: "(1) The enemy is very intelligent; (2) He has the initiative." When you turn the pages, however, the enemy has ceased to be intelligent, and he has also ceased to have initiative. War gaming does not let you get away with that.
    • Strategy as an Art and a Science[1], 1959
  • Soldiers usually are close students of tactics, but rarely are they students of strategy and practically never of war.
    • As quoted in "Military air power : the CADRE digest of air power opinions and thoughts", compiled by Charles M. Westenhoff
  • In wars throughout history, events have generally proved the pre-hostilities calculations of both sides, victor as well as loser, to have been seriously wrong.
    • As quoted in "Military air power : the CADRE digest of air power opinions and thoughts", compiled by Charles M. Westenhoff
  • Yet the only empirical data we have about how people conduct war and behave under its stresses is our experience with it in the past, however much we have to make adjustments for subsequent changes in conditions.
    • 1976

Strategy in the Missile Age


Pdf of the original document [2]

  • Necessity, which frequently exists only in the mind, is less often the mother of invention than of obstinacy, and the obstinacy of those three years exacted from France a penalty which continued to exert its effects over the years, especially in World War II, and which cannot be fully summed up even now.
    • Pg. 18
  • Instances of grave tactical blunders are certainly not lacking in the history of war, but it is characteristic of tactical errors that tend to be self-exposing, if not in relation to some theoretical ideal then at least in relation to the best the enemy can do. In the past, it has usually been possible for strong nations to recover from them, even if at a heavy cost in blood and possibly strategic position. Strategic errors may or may not expose themselves in some obvious fashion during the course of a war, or even afterwards, and they are therefore much less likely to damage the reputations of those responsible for them.
    • Pg. 17
  • Clausewitz to be sure, had gone out of his way to point out that armies even when commanded by Napoleon, had rarely defeated opposing armies of as much as twice their size-thus indicating a certain boundary on the influence not only of morale but also of skill in generalship. And when greatly superior forces were defeated by lesser ones, Clausewitz hinted, it was usually because of as much owing to gross incompetence on one side as to exceptional competence on the other. Let us acknowledge the genius of blunder as well as the genius of correct action! The former appeared at least as often as the latter and has had at least as much influence on history.
    • Pg. 42
  • Military doctrine is universally, and has been since the time of Napoleon, imbued with the "Spirit of the Offensive." There are some very good reasons for this, which we shall review elsewhere. As with many other ideas which have a sound basis in reason, constant and fervent reiteration has created distortions, like the attitude, for example, which regards a healthy respect for enemy capabilities as defenseminded and hence ignoble.
    • Pg. 43

Quotes About Brodie

  • Brodie wasn't inhibited or shocked by matter publicists in and out of RAND flaunted as the most advanced, most modern of developments. After all, he wasn't ashamed to talk to his colleagues about his psychoanalysis. He was too snugly burrowed in his liberal arts to enjoy the gyrations of simulation. His instruments of research were antiquated: no computers, no interdisciplinary teams, just his noggin, the library, table-talk, and the occasional colloquy.
    • "The Worlds of Herman Kahn: The Intuitive Science of Thermonuclear War" (2005), Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi
  • His circle included the most prominent strategists of the period: Bernard Brodie, Albert Wohlstetter, and Thomas Schelling, among others. Virtually every substantative argument Kahn made about deterrence could be found in pages written by these men. OTW (On Thermonuclear War) was not a grotesque sideshow.
    • "The Worlds of Herman Kahn: The Intuitive Science of Thermonuclear War" (2005), Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi