Strategic narrative must not only be persuasive in rational terms

[…] in addressing a strategic audience, […] a “strategic narrative” is all-important. This is a public explanation of why one is at war at all, and how the military operations are devised to serve the strategy that will lead to the desired political outcome. Without such a narrative, no government can command the support of its people, nor, indeed, ensure effective planning by its armed forces – to say nothing of gaining the sympathy of “the strategic audience” beyond its own frontiers. The narrative must not only be persuasive in rational terms. It also needs drama to appeal to the emotions. Above all, it needs an ethical foundation. Not only one’s own people, but the wider “strategic audience” must believe that one is fighting a “good” war. The genius of Winston Churchill in 1940 was to devise a strategic narrative that not only inspired his own people, but enlisted the support of the United States: indeed, most of British military operations in the early years of the war were planned with an eye on that strategic audience. The great shortcoming of Hitler’s strategy was his failure to create a strategic narrative that appealed to anyone apart from his own people – and a rapidly decreasing number of them. […]