Being released Oct 26, 2021

Zero-Sum Victory: What We’re Getting Wrong About War

General Stanley A. McChrystal called Zero-Sum Victory “The most thoughtful analysis yet of America’s recent conflicts – and future challenges.”

In Zero-Sum Victory, retired US Army colonel Christopher D. Kolenda identifies three interrelated problems that have emerged from the government’s insistence on zero-sum victory. First, the US government has no organized way to measure successful outcomes other than a decisive military victory, and thus, selects strategies that overestimate the possibility of such an outcome. Second, the United States is slow to recognize and modify or abandon losing strategies; in both cases, US officials believe their strategies are working, even as the situation deteriorates. Third, once the United States decides to withdraw, bargaining asymmetries and disconnects in strategy undermine the prospects for a successful transition or negotiated outcome.

Relying on historic examples and personal experience, Kolenda draws thought-provoking and actionable conclusions about the utility of American military power in the contemporary world―insights that serve as a starting point for future scholarship as well as for important national security reforms.

Zero Sum Victory