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Edward Nicolae Luttwak (born 1942) is an Americanmarker military strategist and historian who has published works on military strategy, history and international relations.


Luttwak was born into a Jewish family in Aradmarker, Romaniamarker, raised in Italymarker and Englandmarker. He attended the London School of Economicsmarker and Johns Hopkins University, where he received a doctorate. His first academic post, before moving to the United States, was at the University of Bathmarker. In 2008, he became a Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.marker.

He has served as a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, the United States Department of Statemarker, the United States Navy, United States Army, United States Air Force, and several NATO defense ministries. He was a member of the National Security Study Group of the United States Department of Defensemarker, and an associate of the Japanese Finance Ministry's Institute of Fiscal and Monetary Policy. With three other partners, he established and operated a self-sufficient forest-conservation ranch in the southern Amazon basin.

Luttwak has been a frequent lecturer and consultant, and is known for his unorthodox policy ideas, suggesting for example that major powers' attempts to quell regional wars actually make conflicts more protracted. His book Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook is perhaps his best-known work; it has been reprinted numerous times, and translated into 14 languages. His "Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace" is widely used as a textbook on the subject.

The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century AD to the Third is controversial among professional historians. Luttwak is seen as an outsider and non-specialist in the field. However, his book has raised questions about the Roman army and its defense of the Roman frontier. Luttwak asked "How did the Romans defend the frontier?", a question that he argued had been lost in the professional discourse that focused on demographics, economics and sociology. Although many professional historians reject his views on Roman strategy, his 1976 book has increased interest in the study of the Roman frontiers. Since the 1980s he has published articles on Byzantium and his book, "The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire," was published in late 2009 and received generally positive reviews. (For a summary of his thesis and its criticisms, see Defence-in-depth .)

Luttwak, during his childhood, spent a few years in Italymarker, traveling between Palermomarker, in Sicily, and Milanmarker. He speaks Italian and is frequently cited by Italian media on political subjects. He has also co-authored two books in Italian with Susanna Creperio Verratti, (a political philosopher and journalist): Che cos’è davvero la democrazia ("What Democracy really Is"), 1996 and Il libro delle Libertà ("The Book of Liberties"), 2000.

He served on the editorial boards of Geopolitique (France), the Journal of Strategic Studies, and the Washington Quarterly. He speaks English, French, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish and other languages.

Intelligence operative

In addition to his persona as a "public intellectual," Luttwak is also an independent intelligence operative who is involved in clandestine activities that include "field operations, extraditions, arrests, interrogations (never, he insists, using physical violence), military consulting and counterterrorism training for different agencies of the U.S., foreign governments and private interests," he told Laura Rozen of the weekly Forward newspaper.

Obama opinion

On May 12, 2008, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Luttwak which claimed that U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, who has identified himself as a Christian, was instead Muslim by birth because his father's family was of that religion. Luttwak argued that should Obama be elected, he would further damage American standing with the Islamic world, as he would be considered an "apostate".

Many readers of the New York Times website chastised Luttwak for "spreading ignorance and bigotry" about Islam. Some respondents made the argument that, according to Islamic tradition, one has to embrace Islam as an adult, before rejecting it, in order to be considered an apostate. Additionally, it has been argued that since Obama's father had abandoned his family, Islamic law dictated that his mother's religion, Christianity, was controlling on any offspring.

On June 1, 2008, the public editor of the Times, Clark Hoyt, wrote that he had interviewed five Muslim scholars who all argued that Luttwak's article was misleading, as it held a "rigid, simplistic view of Islam that failed to take into account its many strains and the subtleties of its religious law, which is separate from the secular laws in almost all Islamic nations."



  1. The Operator: The Double Life of a Military Strategist -"
  5. The Public Editor - Entitled to Their Opinions, Yes. But Their Facts? - Op-Ed -

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