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Cultivating National Will

An Introduction

Lawrence E. Key, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF
1996, 42 pages
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Cost: $0, AU Press Code: MP-5

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This compelling study by Lt Col Lawrence E. Key examines how national will plays a decisive role during any application of US military power and not just the employment of forces to fight America’s wars. Because of the decisive role national will plays, leaders need to understand what it is and----beyond its definition----the ways in which they can articulate and cultivate it. To gain this understanding, leaders must look at various means by which the American public expresses its collective will; the most important means being public opinion. However, the author argues that only mature collective opinion can represent national will. This nation’s leaders need to understand how this maturation process works; they also need to understand how the media report events because this reporting can have an impact on how opinion evolves. Finally, leaders need to understand how to cultivate public opinion, and this paper presents several guidelines to aid them in this endeavor. Colonel Key illustrates his thesis by discussing the failure of the national leadership during the Somalian military operation to fully understand the nature of national will and how it could have been cultivated. One can only hope that future leaders will have a better understanding of national will as a vital component of national power.

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