Twenty years ago, the Directors of the United States Strategic Institute (USSI) announced that it was ceasing publication of its quarterly journal Strategic Review. USSI was formed in 1972, and it's then Chairman Dr. Arthur G.B. Metcalf proposed to publish a journal "to encourage military professionals and others skilled in the military art to express their views on those strategic concepts which they believe impact our security." For the next 28 years, Strategic Review published thousands of articles, editorials, and book reviews that informed its readers, including Presidents, Secretaries of Defense, and our nation's military leaders, about crucial U.S. national security policy issues fundamental approaches to understanding global affairs.
USSI’s original directors included retired Lt. Gen. Ira Eaker, retired Admiral John McCain, Jr, and retired Marine Lt. Gen. Victor Krulak, Strategic Review's first editor was retired Major Gen. Thomas Lane. Later editors included Walter Hahn, Mackubin Thomas Owens, and Benjamin Schemmer. The list of authors who contributed to the journal include a who's who of strategic thinkers: retired Army Col. Trevor Dupuy, John Erickson, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Ray Cline, Joseph D. Douglass, Angelo Codevilla, Patrick Cronin, Frank Gaffney, retired Gen. Andrew Goodpaster, Colin Gray, retired Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, James Holmes, Toshi Yoshihara, Fred Ikle, Jeffrey Record, James Webb, Keith Payne, John Lehman, retired Air Force Gen. T. Ross Milton, Paul Nitze, Ralph Peters, Richard Pipes, Richard Perle, Eugene Rostow, Edward Rowny, retired Col. Harry Summers, Albert Wohlstetter, and so many others. Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger contributed an article, and so, too, did Reagan National Security Adviser Richard Allen, Reagan UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, Alexander Haig, and a number of respected U.S. Senators, including John McCain, Malcolm Wallop, Pete Domenici, Jake Garn, Barry Goldwater, Gary Hart, Pete Wilson, Henry "Scoop" Jackson, and Congressmen Jack Kemp, Dick Armey, and Les Aspin.
More important than the names noted above were the topics written about: lessons from the Vietnam War, the dangers of detente, arms control, the Soviet nuclear build-up, the future of NATO, counterinsurgency doctrines, force structure, U.S.-Latin America relations, the First Gulf War, Arab-Israeli relations, missile defense, the rise of China as a strategic threat, the U.S.-Japan alliance, war in the Balkans, space strategy, anti-satellite weapons, and so much more. Contributors to the journal examined the works of Mackinder, Mahan, Clausewitz, Jomini, Sun Tzu, and other great strategic thinkers. Strategic Review included retrospective and forward-looking articles that approached world events from a grand strategic perspective and a more focused, narrow viewpoint.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Strategic Review excerpted writings from Soviet authors under the heading “The Soviet Strategic View” to provide insight into Soviet strategic thinking. After the Cold War ended, the journal also published shorter pieces under the heading “Perspectives on Policy and Strategy.”
In its later years, USSI partnered with Boston University's Center for International Relations that continued to publish Strategic Review.
I first heard about Strategic Review as an undergraduate at the University of Scranton, where my Geopolitics professor Bernard Williams repeatedly extolled the virtues of the journal. I subscribed to Strategic Review in 1981, and between 1986 and 2001, I wrote several articles and book reviews for the journal. The last issue of Strategic Review included my review of Robert Kaufman’s biography of Sen. Henry M. Jackson.
As the United States and its Western allies (including Japan, Australia, South Korea, and India) wage a new Cold War with the People’s Republic of China, we miss the wisdom, insight, and prudent analyses of Strategic Review. Perhaps some retired officers and a generous benefactor or two will follow the example of Arthur Metcalf, Ira Eaker, Victor Krulak and others who joined together at another time when U.S. national security was at risk to provide warnings and policy advice that helped the United States emerge victorious in the first Cold War.
Francis P. Sempa is the author of Geopolitics: From the Cold War to the 21stCentury, America’s Global Role: Essays and Reviews on National Security, Geopolitics and War, and Somewhere in France, Somewhere in Germany: A Combat Soldier’s Journey through the Second World War. He has written lengthy introductions to two of Mahan’s books, and has written on historical and foreign policy topics for The Diplomat, the University Bookman, Joint Force Quarterly, the Asian Review of Books, the New York Journal of Books, the Claremont Review of Books, American Diplomacy, the Washington Times, and other publications. He is an attorney, an adjunct professor of political science at Wilkes University, and a contributing editor to American Diplomacy.