Around these parts, where Proceedings is published, ex scientia tridents—from knowledge seapower—is not an idle expression. Ever since the Naval Academy was founded, naval leaders have well understood the crucial importance of knowledge. Much of this pursuit of knowledge was oriented to technical subjects on which navies were largely dependent in fielding capable men of war to dominate the seas and defeat or deter rival powers.
But today, China withstanding, there are no enemy navies to defeat. As far as we know, al Qaeda and other extremist groups have neither plans nor ambitions to possess conventional military forces. This enemy is pursuing the classic strategy of Sun Tzu: outflanking the strengths of its opponents and attacking the heart of their social and political systems. We can win by knowing far more about the enemy and how to defeat it or by praying that these Jihadist extremists, rather like hula hoops and leisure suits, simply disappear.