Lucien Poirier’s « Comprehensive Strategy »

In Strategie thérorique II, a compilation of articles written in the 1970s, General Lucien Poirier introduces the concept of « Comprehensive strategy » (in French Stratégie intégrale).

Lucien Poirier's Comprehensive strategy

Political Project and Strategy

To begin with, General Poirier questions the very nature of strategy. He starts from politics, « science and art of governing organized societies » which incarnates its ideology through a political project. This project translates ideology into action.

In order to carry out his project, the politics has two usual fields of action: the economy (everything that physical existence requires) and the cultural (knowledge and ideas). The third area is extraordinary : physical violence. The use of physical force will happen if there is no freedom of action in the economic and cultural fields left. It has to face an unacceptable competing project and the cost / benefit ratio has to appear acceptable.

Strategy exists as soon as there is conflict. Conflict is deffined as opposition of political projects. Therefore it is permanent, not only in time of war. General Poirier chooses to name “competitive trade” the more or less peaceful conflictuality which arises from the opposition of the different political projects.

Lucien Poirier and his Comprehensive Strategy

To sum up, even during peacetime, socio-political actors combine military, economic and cultural strategies to accomplish their political project, while countering the opposing project. This is the “comprehensive strategy”.

Finally, let us compare the « Comprehensive Strategy » of Lucien Poirier to General Beaufre’s “Total Strategy”. « Total Strategy » is a kind of strategy that unites military, economic, cultural and diplomatic fields. But it only applies in war, whereas the “integral strategy” is implemented in wartime and in peacetime.

« Theory and practice of the maneuver of all forces of any kind, current or potential, resulting from national activity, it [the integral strategy] aims to accomplish all the ends defined by general policy « .

Lucien Poirier, Stratégie théorique ii


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