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.”
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.
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.
(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