Edward Luttwak

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Edward N. Luttwak
Edward Luttwak.jpg
Born (1942-11-04) 4 November 1942 (age 77)
Alma materLondon School of Economics and Political Science
Johns Hopkins University
Known forCoup d'État: A Practical Handbook (1968)
Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace (1987)

Edward Nicolae Luttwak (born 4 November 1942) is a Romanian-American political scientist known for his works on grand strategy, geoeconomics, military history, and international relations. He is best known for being the author of Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook.

Early life and education[edit]

Luttwak was born into a Jewish family in Arad, Romania, and raised in Italy and England.[1] After elementary school in Palermo, Sicily, he attended Carmel College and Quintin Grammar School in England, and served briefly in the British Army. He then studied analytical economics at the London School of Economics where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in 1964.[2]

After working for the British, French, and Israeli militaries, he moved to the United States in 1972 for graduate studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS where he graduated with a PhD in International Relations in 1975. The title of his dissertation was Force and Diplomacy in Roman Strategies of Imperial Security.[3][4]


Luttwak was an instructor in economics at the University of Bath, England.[5] He held posts at the Georgetown University, and SAIS before becoming a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.[6][7]

Luttwak has been noted for his innovative policy ideas, suggesting for example that major powers' attempts to quell regional wars actually make conflicts more protracted.[8] His book Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook has been reprinted numerous times, and translated into 18 languages. His book Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace is used as a textbook in war colleges and universities and has been translated into several languages.[1][9]

In 1976 he published The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century AD to the Third which generated controversy among professional historians who saw Luttwak as an outsider and non-specialist in the field. However, the book is recognized as seminal because it raised basic questions about the Roman army and its defense of the Roman frontier. Although many professional historians argued against his views on Roman strategy, some at book length, his work undoubtedly increased interest in the study of Roman frontiers and strategy. Since the 1980s, he has published articles on the Byzantine Empire and his book, The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire, was published in late 2009.[1]

He provides consulting services to international corporations and government agencies including various branches of the U.S. government and the U.S. military.[10] He has served as a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, the United States Department of State, the United States Navy, United States Army, United States Air Force, and several NATO defense ministries. Working for OSD/Net Assessment, he co-developed the current maneuver-warfare concept, working for the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), he introduced the "operational level of war" concept into U.S. Army doctrine, wrote the first manual for the Joint Special Operations Agency, and co-developed the Rapid-Deployment Force concept (later U.S. Central Command) for the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.

He served on the editorial boards of Géopolitique (France), the Journal of Strategic Studies, The European Journal of International Affairs, and the Washington Quarterly. He speaks English, French, Hebrew, Italian, and Spanish.[11]

In 2004, Luttwak was awarded an honorary doctorate degree (LLD) from the University of Bath. He also received honorary degrees from the university of Arad and of Bucarest [12]

He is a member of the Italy-USA Foundation. He received the America Award from the Italy-USA Foundation in 2011.

He is chairman of the board of Aircraft Purchase Fleet Limited (APFL), an aviation lessor, and the head of a conservation ranch in the Amazon.



Luttwak's book Turbo-Capitalism: Winners And Losers In The Global Economy (1998) predicted the populist reaction according to Richard Rorty and many others. Also, his The Grand Strategy of the Soviet Union (1983) emphasized its internal fragility in the face of resurgent national identities that Sovietologists considered folkloric and nothing more; it also disputed in great detail the CIA's estimate of the Soviet economy as grossly inflated. In his 2002 book Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Richard A. Posner said Luttwak "writes well and with authority (that is, with an air of great confidence) and knows a lot—he is a serious historian and defense analyst. But writing as a public intellectual, he repeatedly ventures predictions that events falsify. In 1983, he pronounced the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan a success. He also thought it likely that the Soviet Union would launch a limited war against China, especially if the West increased its military power (as it did in the 1980s, under President Ronald Reagan). Years later, and indeed just a few months before the Berlin Wall came down, Luttwak was worrying that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika would augment the military power of the Soviet Union. Instead, those policies precipitated the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union."

Besides also citing Luttwak's prediction, in response to a question, of the impoverishment of all but a small minority of Americans "soon enough", Posner wrote that Luttwak predicted, shortly before the first Persian Gulf War, that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would evacuate Kuwait "after a week or two of bombing (the bombing continued for six weeks without inducing him to do so) and warned that the use of ground forces 'could make Desert Storm a bloody, grinding combat with thousands of (U.S.) casualties.' The ground fighting lasted only four days, rather than the minimum of two weeks that Luttwak predicted, and U.S. casualties were minimal. Writing a month into the bombing, Luttwak was no longer predicting heavy casualties but he still opposed a ground campaign. He thought it would lead inevitably to a military occupation of Iraq from which we would be unable to disengage without disastrous foreign policy consequences."[13]

Luttwak made a casualties prediction in a Reuters article on August 23, 1990, in which he was quoted by reporter Jim Wolf as saying, "Don't think that your precision weapons and your gadgets and your gizmos and your stealth fighters are going to make it possible to reconquer Kuwait without many thousands of casualties".

In a 2003 essay in The Next American Century: Essays in Honor of Richard G. Lugar (Rowman & Littlefield), Kenneth Adelman, a former director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, criticized such "fear–mongering" and added, "As it happened, our 'gizmos' worked wonders".[14]

Luttwak predicted in a 2016 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that the Trump administration would pursue a foreign policy "unlikely to deviate from standard conservative norms", withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, avoiding involvement in Syria and Libya, eschewing trade wars, and modestly reducing spending — in short, "changes at the margin."[15]


Edward Luttwak at the Italian Parliament in 2011, with Secretary General of the Italy-USA Foundation, Corrado Maria Daclon

Writing in 2007 for the National Review, former George W. Bush's speechwriter David Frum said Luttwak "is a very genuinely interesting writer. His book on the grand strategy of the Roman Empire was terrific, and his Coup d'État is that astounding thing: a great work of political science that is also a hilarious satire. Part of the secret of his success is his tone of total confidence. He makes startling claims in a tone that says, 'If only you knew my super-secret sources.'" Frum was writing on the occasion of having just seen a column by Luttwak in the UK magazine, Prospect, titled "The Middle of Nowhere", in which Luttwak "magisterially and sardonically attacks a whole series of intellectual errors that allegedly dominate expert opinion on the Middle East".[16]

Published works[edit]

Several books among those listed below have also been published in foreign language editions, in Arabic, Chinese (both Beijing simplified and Taipei traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Indonesian (Bahasa), Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (and Brazilian Portuguese) Romanian, Russian, Spanish (Spain, also in Argentina and Venezuela), Swedish, and Turkish.


  • Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook (London, Allen Lane, 1968; Revised Edition: Cambridge, MA, 1979; London, 1979; Sydney, 1979) ISBN 978-0713900675
  • A Dictionary of Modern War (London, Allen Lane, 1971; revised edition in 1991 with Stuart L. Koehl; new edition in 1998) ISBN 978-0713901306
  • The Strategic Balance, 1972 (New York, Library Press, 1972) ISBN 978-0912050331
  • The Political Uses of Sea Power (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974) ISBN 978-0801816598
  • The US–USSR Nuclear Weapons Balance (Beverly Hills, Sage Publications, 1974) ISBN 978-0803900967
  • The Israeli Army: 1948-1973 (with Daniel Horowitz) (New York, HarperCollins and London, Allen Lane, 1975) ISBN 978-0713902297
  • The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century AD to the Third (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976) ISBN 978-0801818639
  • Strategic Power: Military Capabilities and Political Utility (California, 1976) ISBN 0-8039-0659-5
  • Sea Power in the Mediterranean: Political Utility and Military Constraints (California, 1979) ISBN 0-8191-6010-5
  • Strategy and Politics: Collected Essays (New Brunswick, Transaction Publishers, 1980), ISBN 978-0878553464
  • The Grand Strategy of the Soviet Union (New York, St. Martin's Press, 1983) ISBN 978-0312342609
  • The Pentagon and the Art of War: The Question of Military Reform (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1985) ISBN 978-0671524326
  • Strategy and History: Collected Essays, Volume Two (New Brunswick, Transaction Publishers, 1985) ISBN 978-0887380655
  • On the Meaning of Victory: Essays on Strategy (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1986), ISBN 978-0671610890
  • Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1987) ISBN 978-0674839953
  • The Endangered American Dream: How To Stop the United States from Being a Third World Country and How To Win the Geo-Economic Struggle for Industrial Supremacy (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1993) ISBN 978-0067186930
  • Turbo-Capitalism: Winners and Losers in the Global Economy (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998), ISBN 978-0297818847
  • Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace, Revised and Enlarged Edition (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2002) ISBN 978-0-674-00703-1
  • The Middle of Nowhere: Why the Middle East Is Not Important (London, Atlantic Books, 2008) ISBN 978-1843548188
  • The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2009) ISBN 978-0-674-03519-5
  • The Virtual American Empire: War, Faith, And Power (New Brunswick and London, Transaction Publishers, 2009) ISBN 978-1412810401
  • The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2012) ISBN 978-0-674-06642-7

In Japanese only:

  • "China 4.0" (Tokyo, 2016) ISBN 978-4166610631
  • "Japan 4.0" (Tokyo, 2018) ISBN 978-4166611829
  • "Japan 4.0" in Mongolian only (Cyrillic) (Ulaan Baatar, 2019) ISBN 978-9919-9504-0-8
  • Rejuvenating Japan: a national strategy ルトワックの日本改造論/エドワード・ルトワック/著 奥山真司/訳 ... (Tokyo: Asuka Shinsha, 2019) ISBN 978-4-86410-728-0 [in Japanese only, with Dr. Okuyama, Masashi].

In Italian only:

  • Che cos'è davvero la democrazia (What really is democracy) with Susanna Creperio Verratti (Milan, Arnoldo Mondadori, 1995) ISBN 978-8804408697
  • Il fantasma della povertà: una nuova politica per difendere il benessere dei cittadini (The ghost of poverty: a new policy to defend the wellbeing of citizens) with Carlo Pelanda and Giulio Tremonti (Milan, Arnoldo Mondadori, 1995) ISBN 978-8804400660
  • Dove va l'Italia? Intervista a Edward Luttwak (Where is Italy going? Interview with Edward Luttwak) with Gianni Perrelli (Newton Compton, 1997) ISBN 978-8881837267
  • Il libro delle libertà. Il cittadino e lo stato: regole, diritti e doveri in una democrazia (The book of liberties. The citizen and the state: rules, rights and duties in a democracy) with Susanna Creperio Verratti (Arnoldo Mondadori, 2000) ISBN 978-8804408703
  • I nuovi condottieri. Vincere nel XXI secolo (The new leaders. Winning in the 21st century) with Arduino Paniccia (Padua, Marsilio, 2000) ISBN 978-8831775106

As contributor:

  • Vietnam: Four American Perspectives edited by Patrick J. Hearden with The Impact of Vietnam on Strategic Thinking in the United States (Purdue University Press, 1990)[17] ISBN 978-1557530028
  • The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, 1991 edited by Grethe B. Peterson with Strategy: A New Era?[18] (University of Utah, 1991) ISBN 978-0874803501
  • Feeding Mars: Logistics in Western Warfare from the Middle Ages to the Present edited by John A. Lynn with Logistics and the Aristocratic Idea of War (Boulder, Westview Press, 1994)
  • Voluntary Simplicity: Responding to Consumer Culture edited by Daniel Doherty and Amitai Etzioni with Consuming For Love (Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003) ISBN 978-0742520660

Preface, foreword:

  • The Parameters Of War: Military History from the Journal of the U.S. Army War College edited by Lloyd J. Matthews and Dale E. Brown (Washington, Pergamon-Brassey's, 1987) ISBN 978-0080355474
  • Strategic Air Power in Desert Storm by John Andreas Olsen (London, Routledge, 2003) ISBN 978-0714651934
  • Free Trade Doesn't Work by Ian Fletcher (U.S. Business & Industry Council, 2010; revised edition in 2011) ISBN 978-0578079677
  • La Repubblica dei mandarini. Viaggio nell'Italia della burocrazia, delle tasse e delle leggi inutili (The Republic of mandarins. Travel in the Italy of bureaucracy, taxes and unnecessary laws) by Paolo Bracalini (Padua, Marsilio, 2014) ISBN 978-8831716758

Selected book reviews[edit]

Luttwak has written book reviews for publications such as The American Spectator, Commentary Magazine, London Review of Books, The New Republic, and The New York Times.

Selected articles[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Meaney, Thomas (September 9, 2015). "The Machiavelli of Maryland". The Guardian. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  2. ^ The Johns Hopkins University (1975). "The Johns Hopkins University 1975 Commencement Program". Johns Hopkins University.
  3. ^ Rozen, Laura (June 5, 2008). "The Operator: The Double Life of a Military Strategist". The Forward. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  4. ^ The Johns Hopkins University (1975). "The Johns Hopkins University 1975 Commencement Program". Johns Hopkins University.
  5. ^ Luttwak, Edward (November–December 1973). "The Political Application of Naval Force: A Precis". Naval War College Review. 26 (3): 38–40. JSTOR 44641436.
  6. ^ Professional Profile: Edward Luttwak Archived December 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Idcitalia.com. Accessed March 11, 2012.
  7. ^ "Edward Luttwak – Foreign Policy".
  8. ^ Luttwak, Edward (July–August 1999). "Give War a Chance". Foreign Affairs. 78 (4): 36–44. doi:10.2307/20049362. JSTOR 20049362. S2CID 150572796.
  9. ^ "Strategy — Edward N. Luttwak | Harvard University Press". www.hup.harvard.edu. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  10. ^ Professional Profile: Edward Luttwak Archived December 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Idcitalia.com. Accessed March 11, 2012.
  11. ^ "Edward N. Luttwak | Institute of Governmental Studies - UC Berkeley". igs.berkeley.edu. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  12. ^ "The names of our honorary graduates and which degrees were conferred upon them". www.bath.ac.uk. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  13. ^ Posner, Richard A. (June 30, 2009). Public Intellectuals. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674042278 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ Lugar, Richard (October 1, 2018). The Next American Century: Essays in Honor of Richard G. Lugar. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780742527881 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ Edward N. Luttwak, "Suffering From Trumphobia? Get Over It," Wall Street Journal, 10 March 2016, https://www.wsj.com/articles/suffering-from-trumphobia-get-over-it-1457565216
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ McGovern, George; Westmoreland, William; Luttwak, Edward; McCormick, Thomas; Hearden, Patrick (November 15, 1990). "Vietnam, Four American Perspectives: Lectures". Purdue University Press Books: 112.
  18. ^ "Lecture Library - The Tanner Lectures on Human Values - The University of Utah". tannerlectures.utah.edu. Retrieved February 25, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Machiavelli of Maryland by Thomas Meaney, a portrait in The Guardian, December 9, 2015.
  • "What the Byzantines Can Teach Us about Our National Security” by Ishmael Jones, American Thinker, March 6, 2010.
  • Miles Ignotus, wrote in Harper’s January 1976 later that the U.S. with Israel's help must prepare to seize Saudi Arabia's oilfields. Miles Ignotus, Latin for “unknown soldier,” turned out to be the known civilian and Pentagon consultant Edward Luttwak. Luttwak urged a “revolution” in warfare doctrine toward “fast, light forces to penetrate the enemy’s vital centers” with Saudi Arabia a test case. He opposed the 2003 Iraq War giving testimony to that effect before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.

External links[edit]