war: a continuation of policy by other means

A deaf ear to Clausewitz and how not to win a war. He died in 1831, yet we still haven’t grasped the lessons in the post WWII age: Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran? ……

In distinguishing between the defensive and the offensive, Clausewitz maintained that while the defensive is the stronger form of war because it can be maintained with fewer forces, the offensive alone has the positive object, and therefore the potentially decisive role. That the defensive is inherently stronger is abundantly borne out by history: Napoleon’s and Hitler’s invasions of Russia, for example. Clausewitz also says that is is the defender, not the aggressor, who actually unleashes war. In a passage curiously applicable to the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, or even the Six Day War, he writes:

…it is not until there is resistance that there is War. A conqueror is always a lover of peace, as Bonaparte always asserted of himself; he would like to make his entry into our State unopposed;in order to prevent this, we must choose war.”

—Every war is the product of deliberate, calculated decision. No war is ever conducted without political purpose. Men do not fight because they are of a particular culture or sex, but because they are the instruments of reasoned and deliberate policy. If you want to understand war, look at politics.
The Enlightenment belief that war was a rational human activity has been superseded by the twentieth-century prejudice that war is guided by the inhuman and the insane. It is not hard to understand why modern theorists want to deny the deliberate character of modern warfare. Unlike the revolutionary wars of the past, modern warfare has nothing positive about it.
Instead of fighting for the liberation of nations from the ancien regime, warfare in the twentieth century has put millions into the field in the interests of Great Power rivalry and the domination of weaker nations.—Read More:http://www.clausewitz.com/readings/CaleReview.htm

What gives these and many other Clausewitzian principles of war and generalship a timeless validity is that their starting point is human nature. Clausewitz’s power lies in his insight into how human beings really behave in danger,uncertainty, and conflict and under the crushing weight of responsibility. His other great strength lies in an awareness that no element of war and policy, no problem, exists in isolation, but only as part of a whole situation. This, together with his awareness of the relationship between ends and means and of the importance of the right choice among alternatives, would do credit to an economist.

It is not however, Clausewitz’s detailed discussions of warfare itself that have exerted the most influence on later generations. The major themes of On War lie,in his conception of the role of war in human affairs, and second, in his philosophizing about the inner nature of war. But Clausewitz’s philosophy of war has been garbled into dogma, much in the same manner that Keynes’s economic theories have been twisted and perverted beyond recognition; with regrettable results.

—“Abbas: “Lieberman and the government of which he is a member know very well that there is 100 percent security cooperation between us and the Israeli security forces,””.—Read More:http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/diplomania/abbas-responds-to-lieberman-letter-israel-s-government-is-destroying-any-chance-for-peace.premium-1.460812

War for Clausewitz was no meaningless episode of violence, nor was it absolutely distinct and separate from peace. War, on the contrary,: “belongs… to the province of social life. It is a conflict of great interests which is settled by bloodshed, and only in that it is different from others. It would be better… to liken it to business competition, which is also a conflict of human interests and activities; and it is still more like State policy, which again…may be looked upon as a kind of business competition on a great scale.”

This simple proposition is Clausewitz’s greatest and most illuminating insight. In the words of his most quoted aphorism, “War is only a continuation of policy by other means.” Clausewitz returns again and again to this theme of the continuity of international relations, from peace via war to peace again, speaking of a diplomacy that ( in war) employs battles instead of notes. It follows that the conduct of war ought to be constantly governed by political considerations.

—He concludes that Graham-type ignorance is the bane of US foreign policy:
But frankly, you know what it is – I’ve listened to you very carefully – the contribution of the fundamentalist madness from the United States into the Israelis is probably one of the greatest obstacles to peace in the region.
But Graham didn’t quite get it, and insistently kept asking Higgins “why the people of Gaza” kept “firing at Israels”. Higgins dealt a low blow:
You’re onto the Sarah Palin madness now.
Graham took offence, of course, and went on a rant against how the President – and Europeans more generally – are anti-Semitic Hamas supporters. Higgins reacted to the rant by elaborating on the previous ‘Palin’ jab:
Both of you have the same tactic – the tactic is to get a large crowd, whip them up, try and discover its greatest fear, work on that and feed it back, and you get a frenzy. (…) You have one of the most gifted presidents (…) you regard someone that has been a professor at Harvard as handicapped but don’t find anything wrong at all with this tea party ignorance that has been brought all around the united states which is regularly insulting people who have been democratically elected.
Read More:http://www.newstatesman.com/print/188565 image:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/14/world



(see link at end)…The Western coalition has lost momentum, to the momentary advantage of the Jihadis. Leaders and personnel not yet under direct military threat are safe for the time being. Western forces won’t be carrying out any major operations for the foreseeable future….

Nor should they. Clausewitz is adamant in his insistence that pushing on past the culminating point is military folly at its most egregious.

‘…to overstep this point, is more than simply a useless expenditure of power, yielding no further result, it is a destructive step which causes reaction; and this reaction is, according to all general experience, productive of most disproportionate effects.’

The downfall of Athens didn’t occur due to enemy operations, but because of a grandiose campaign against Syracuse, the wealthiest and most powerful of Greek colonies, dreamed up by the city’s resident wild man, Alcibiades. The Syracuse campaign was carried on well past the limits of sanity, much less common sense, resulting in the complete annihilation of the Athenian army, and setting in motion the tailspin that ended only in the city’s defeat and occupation.

The current state of affairs can’t, in any reasonable sense, be called ‘losing.’ We need to keep in mind that the culminating point is a product of success.

It’s a circumstance that occurs only at the end of a victorious campaign…Read More:http://www.americanthinker.com/2006/09/clausewitz_on_terror.html

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