Past Events

Experts discuss how the U.S. can “Win Without War”

On May 27, IWP alumnus and Trustee Michael C. Maibach moderated a virtual panel discussion with IWP professors Dr. John Lenczowski, Dr. Frank Marlo, and Dr. David Glancy in which they discussed “winning without war” and how future leaders can achieve this concept.

About the Panelists

Dr. John Lenczowski served in the State Department in the Bureau of European Affairs and was also special advisor to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs from 1981 to 1983. From 1983 to 1987, he was the Director of European and Soviet Affairs for the National Security Council. He then founded The Institute of World Politics in 1990 and is its current president.

Dr. Frank Marlo is the current Dean of Academics at IWP. He served as Assistant of Counterproliferation Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy and was a professor for Strategic Studies in the Marine Corps Command and Staff College.

Dr. David Glancy is a professor of Strategy and Statecraft at IWP. He formerly worked with Booz Allen Hamilton on education technology issues with the National Intelligence University and taught with the College of International Security Affairs. Additionally, Dr. Glancy held positions at both the Department of State, where he served as a Senior Advisor for Political-Military Affairs, and the Department of Defense, where he was a policy analyst and advisor with the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

“Winning Without War”: Educating Diplomats, Warriors, and Spies

Mr. Michael Maibach, the event’s moderator, opened the discussion by asking the panelists to offer more details about the challenges America faces and what it means to win without war.

Dr. Lenczowski responded by saying that this concept is not new, considering it is mentioned in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. However, the U.S. has not and currently does not take this concept seriously because of its “materialistic” foreign policy culture that largely focuses on instruments of hard power and neglects instruments of soft power. Dr. Lenczowski explained the importance of soft power because it employs “integrated strategy” that enables the U.S. to protect its interests without conflict. He finished addressing this question by emphasizing the importance of mastering the instruments of statecraft in both hard and soft power and applying the lessons the U.S. has learned through its history, explicitly noting the Cold War.

Dr. Marlo built off Dr. Lenczowski’s remarks by emphasizing the importance of having a strategy to win without war because it is what U.S. adversaries are trying to do. Dr. Marlo described the approach that U.S. adversaries are using as hybrid warfare, in which they commit actions that are purposefully below the U.S. threshold to react.

Dr. Glancy made the point that U.S. policy makers and strategists often only see in black or white: the U.S. can only be at peace or at war. However, there is actually a large grey area of competition conflict where disputes in economic power and ideological differences occur. Dr. Glancy believes that the U.S. has not recently been a major player in competition conflict because of its dependence on the military and its lackluster strategic approach to conflict.

Mr. Maibach then asked how America can win without war and what steps it needs to take in order to step up its game.

Dr. Lenczowski answered this question by stressing that instruments of soft power and hard power are equally important. If elements of military power, like acquiring arms and training, are neglected while the U.S. is developing its soft power capabilities, it can signal weakness to their adversaries. Elaborating on this point, Dr. Lenczowski believes that the U.S. should send signals of strength through military presence, but also through a vibrant economy while holding on to their moral, political, and ideological strengths. Lastly, he believes the U.S. should concentrate its efforts to develop neglected instruments of statecraft like counterintelligence and diplomatic capabilities.

Dr. Glancy briefly responded by mentioning a report he had read in which a Chinese diplomat said, “The side that would win is the side that has the most friends.” While he was hesitant to agree with this statement, he used it to show the audience that diplomacy needs to be the strength of the U.S. because of its global appearance. If the U.S. does not work on its diplomatic capabilities, it will atrophy tremendously.

Asking the audience to envision what the future of the global system is going to look like, Dr. Marlo stated, “What we are seeing right now is arguably one of the most sustained attacks in decades on the basic functioning on the rules that we understand and take for granted on how the international system works.” The examples of attacks that Dr. Marlo referenced are the subversion of international organizations, the reorganization of the global economic system, and the attacks on our general rules-based order.

The last question that Mr. Maibach asked the panel was “What do future leaders need to know and to do successfully to counter some of the challenges we have discussed?”

Dr. Lenczowski said that one of the biggest lessons he has learned during his time in government was to understand the intentions and tools of U.S. adversaries. He gave an example from his own career, stating, “When I came into government in the Reagan State Department in 1981, the U.S. intelligence community was not collecting any intelligence on Soviet propaganda, disinformation, and active measures. It’s amazing to me that a large part of the Cold War was fought on that battlefield, and we weren’t paying any attention to it.” Dr. Lenczowski concluded with some advice for future leaders: know your enemies, understand the realities of the global strategic environment, and systematically study each instrument of statecraft.

Both Dr. Marlo and Dr. Glancy agreed with Dr. Lenczowski and spoke further about his main points. Dr. Marlo noted the importance of playing the strategic offensive, implementing integrated strategy, engaging in moral reasoning, and applying political virtue in every decision made. Dr. Glancy identified that having a strategic approach allows for well-thought-out decisions versus decisions made on the fly. He concluded his remarks by stressing the importance of leadership in terms of statecraft in all aspects of government.

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