Indeed, in contrast to early predictions, the evolution of policy with the knowledge of the potential of nuclear warfare has had a restraining effect on war overall. This simply explains the means being used. b. This creates a stable underpinning for all subsequent clarifying analysis. Yet defining a war by the means used fails to provide a clear, consistently applicable basis for critical analysis. Clausewitz proposes late in his work the possibility of a war circumscribed by a limited aim, that is, one whose object is less than the total overthrow of the enemy. From Limited War to Limited Victory: Clausewitz and Allied Strategy in Afghanistan. It is also a blatant manifestation of the current conceptual problem Americans have in regard to defining all wars. Carl Philipp Gottfried (or Gottlieb) von Clausewitz ( / ˈklaʊzəvɪts /; 1 June 1780 – 16 November 1831) was a Prussian general and military theorist who stressed the "moral" (meaning, in modern terms, psychological) and political aspects of war. Shoddy thinking lays a foundation for defeat. In Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 the United States pursued regime change and thus unlimited political objectives. COPYRIGHT © 2019 WAR ON THE ROCKS. Examining a war based upon the political objective sought provides an anchor for analyzing any war. Since On War was posthumously published in 1832, many conflicts have taken place beyond its pages.Equally the international system has changed character several times, states have infused and diffused, and politics has become generally more … The scrutiny has led to assertions that the protracted and bloody stalemate of the First World War was largely because of the decision by the then leaders to stubbornly rely on the theories of Clausewitz. As strategist Edward Luttwak has pointed out, many of these same figures view the term itself with suspicion. As the stated U.S. political objective seems to be the destruction of the de facto ISIL state, it would be more accurate to define the American political objective as an unlimited one. But the point that he is making about the inner tendency of war also applied to wars that were con-strained by more limited aims, or which He criticized examinations of American wars as being too “victory centric,” faulted them for using a “victory-tinted lens,” and insisted that searching for a reason for not winning a war “treats victory as the norm and military frustration as an aberration, an attitude that distorts our understanding of conflict and its unpredictable results.” Instead, the focus should be upon cutting one’s losses to avoid a protracted conflict. In Vietnam, the United States fought for a limited political objective, but the North Vietnamese pursued an unlimited political objective against South Vietnam. All previous interpretations of Clausewitz's concept of war have treated it as something that must be understood in connection with the three interactions to the extreme, and consequently with his concept of the absolute. A Because “[w]e live in an age of unwinnable wars.” In the author’s defense, he insists that his work will help the U.S. reverse its “military fortunes and start winning again,” but the task of military and political leaders is not to lose wars more efficiently. 1 of Clausewitz’s magnum opus in which he ponders the revolution in military affairs made possible by the “nation at arms” during the French Revolution. One of the more influential and famous uses of the term “total war” occurs in Clausewitz’s On War, where he uses it in a theoretical sense as an unobtainable “ideal type.” I deal with this in detail in the current issue of Infinity Journal. The political objective sought explains the war, not the means employed in an effort to achieve it. A 2010 book noted: The term limited war implies regular military operations by one nation-state against the regular military force of another nation-state and excludes irregular operations by terrorist organisations against state or by other non-state actors like warlords against a state or against other warlords. This is despite the fact that the Truman administration changed the political objective to an unlimited one on September 9, 1950 (and back to a limited political objective in May 1951). Why does this matter? Korea was responsible for a concept geared to an east-west confrontation and dependent on the limitation of objectives in order to have any realistic hope of limiting means. War, as Carl von Clausewitz wrote in On War, is a political tool, and when nations go to war they do so to either overthrow the enemy regime, or for something less than this. New York. This idea was later criticized by maritime strategist Julian Corbett, who believed that the theory, though genius, was deeply flawed. Destroying communism on the battlefield in one epic confrontation was not an option. h�bbd``b`Z$�A��`�$�O�$�A�8�D؁���=�e$��3012��!�3.�` �3 endstream endobj startxref 0 %%EOF 76 0 obj <>stream The Best and The Brightest. Successful strategy requires constant evaluation and intellectual humility. Bad limited war theory has helped rob the United States and other Western nations of the awareness that wars should be waged decisively. Why? He classifies all of these as limited wars. War is a trial of moral and physical forces by means of the latter. 446-467. The given definitions of limited war generally imply that the level of means used by the combatants determines whether or not a conflict is a limited war. It is a blood sport. 1 Vol. It's fast and free! Clausewitz did not deny the existence of limited war or, indeed, of ‘small wars’ as they are now known. He does all this without clearly defining limited war. Clausewitz was a professional soldier who was involved in numerous military campaigns, but he is famous primarily as a military theorist interested in the examination of war. 1964. In May 1951, when asked during the Senate hearings on Korea how he would describe this struggle he remarked: “I would characterize it as a limited war which I hope will remain limited.” Since then, “limited war” has become a descriptor of choice for every American conflict. Refusing to pursue victory can produce an endless war. The revision would aim to bring out the two kinds of war more clearly: first, war that aimed to "overthrow the enemy;" and second, war that aimed "merely to occupy some of his frontier districts." In the Gulf War, the United States pursued a limited objective, but wavered on this at the end with calls for regime change. Putin, Clausewitz, and Ukraine. tion of limited war. Further reading: Korea: The Limited War. 'Real war' is limited by policy: leaders will try to keep a war on track, to achieve its purpose. This error also robs the discussion of any firm ground for critical analysis. ‘Limited and absolute war’ considers the limiting factors on the scope of war. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Third, writers on limited war, as well as the experience of the Cold War itself, helped teach many in modern liberal states that victory should not be pursued because its achievement was actually bad. ‘Absolute war’ was the logical end of all wars, but one that was constrained by political considerations and the advantages of a defensive posture. The Wise Men. Clausewitz, On War. hޜWkk[9�+�����R�c�-�ei�v!��mrqLc;��n��w�H��_5r��fF�*>)|Z;�P:HA�8#���(�����[�0Iz�Ɉ7o���ð�Њ�.��~�=n�����_� ��S^���D%��Er�?�����͟��q�\.�߻���y�p��>Bv��q�� Indeed, one could argue that he is firmly aligned with current as well as past U.S. strategic and analytical thought. Through an examination of Clausewitzian thought about popular war, limited war and the culminating point of victory, this article shows the enduring value of Clausewitzian h�b```e``Rg`f`�e`@ & �8��������I�7J�P``�Z��q��ni�j�JTY �g�}$����$�(� $��_�r`�a The means applied to reach those objectives certainly help to determine the nature of the war being fought — as does the political objective of the opponent — but defining a war based upon the means used (or not) lacks universality because it is not concrete. War of course involves a contest of physical force. Unfortunately, this type of conceptual weakness is typical in the theoretical and historical literature. Naval War College’s program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Create your citations, reference lists and bibliographies automatically using the APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard referencing styles. His most recent book is Clausewitz: His Life and Work. 53 0 obj <> endobj 66 0 obj <>/Filter/FlateDecode/ID[<29A79E386753669E7C52E060FC3B2B83><952695C799384EE1B9000207AB1B239A>]/Index[53 24]/Info 52 0 R/Length 72/Prev 832551/Root 54 0 R/Size 77/Type/XRef/W[1 2 1]>>stream Dutch political scientist Rob de Wijk insists that when fighting “to be successful, liberal democracies must use force decisively.” This seems a statement of the obvious, but it is no longer so obvious to many American political leaders, journalists, and academics. Consistently, its leaders don’t know how to set clear political goals, don’t understand how to conceptualize the wars they launch in pursuit of often fuzzy political objectives, and don’t value victory — or tell the people what this means. Save Time and Improve Your Marks with Cite This For Me 10,587 students joined last month! It is his theory that can sharpen our understanding of war as a human affair, which is invested with violence, uncertainty, and political disputes. A better but still problematic example appeared in a 2015 issue of The National Interest, and another in a 2013 Breaking Defense article. If leaders cannot clearly define what they want, how can the military hope to deliver it? But once new governments were formed, the United States fought to preserve these and thus its political objectives became limited in these respective nations. It clearly contains material … 35, No. As noted above, “limited war” is often defined in relation to the term “total war” and its various dysfunctional brethren such as “general war” and “major war.” As I wrote recently at The Strategy Bridge, when writers use the term “total war,” their definitions are inevitably dominated by discussions of the means used by the combatants. Indeed, though Ignatius’ discussion of limited war leaves much to be desired, he makes the interesting argument that one of the problems with fighting limited wars is that they don’t resolve problems, which is certainly a conversation worth having. Ignatius is hardly alone in his approach. On War, vol. Clausewitz uses this philosophy as his primary model for exploring war, in stark contrast to Jomini, who leverages an enlightenment adhered. Carl von Clausewitz, in full Carl Philipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz, (born June 1, 1780, Burg, near Magdeburg, Prussia [Germany]—died Nov. 16, 1831, Breslau, Silesia [now Wrocław, Pol. In addition to the various concepts behind the war, Clausewitz theories of war have come under increased scrutiny with regards to their influence on World War I. He wrote a careful, systematic, philosophical examination of war in all its aspects. %PDF-1.3 %���� Why does how we define limited war matter? Clausewitz did not deny the exis-tence of limited war or, indeed, of ‘small wars’ as they are now known. ))v�%U׊H� Also, your enemy is trying to win. But, as he later on explains, that concept cannot exist in practice as it will always be limited by human and environmental factors. This is most often because one of the parties to the war does not have the capability of completely annihilatingtheir enemy. He did not live to see the book appear in print but its influence was profound in Prussia and then in the unified German nation state during the course of the 19th century. Ironically, these aspects of war and conflict that today’s world undergoes, can render Clausewitz more relevant than ever. This is merely another variation of a definition based upon means with the addition of the opponent’s doctrinal warfighting methods. In the American military tradition, the misleading term 'limited war' (a term neither coined nor used by Clausewitz, though it is usually attributed to him) is associated with the constraints placed on war-making during the Cold War by the ever-present fear that localized con- flicts might escalate to war between the superpowers, likely leading to an 'all-out' nuclear exchange incinerating the planet. Clausewitz considered that the French Revolution had removed many of the constraints that had kept war separate from the rest of society. War according to Clausewitz is complicated. The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not represent the views of the U.S. Navy, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government. A limited war is one in which the belligerents do not expend all of the resources at their disposal, whether human, industrial, agricultural, military, natural, technological, or otherwise in a specific conflict. c. 'Real war' is limited If the war is not important enough to win, is it important enough to even fight? For Clausewitz the ‘absolute war’ was the theoretical, unbound manifestation of war, with a tendency towards unlimited violence in order to achieve one’s objectives. Clausewitz concludes that actual war, ruled by frictions, uncertainties and the consciousness of danger, resembles nothing so much as a game of chance, an insight that introduces his discussion of “Genius in War”; that is, the intellectual and moral Such blind throwing of the “limited war” blanket over any conflict, especially if it is not “big” (whatever that means), is a flawed method of attempting to analyze, understand, and fight these wars. Fortunately, the political leaders who fought against the Nazis understood the necessity of victory. Most interpreters of Napoleonic warfare were inclined to see it as the epitome of the military art, in which principles and practices dimly anticipated in earlier times had at last been fully realized. In other words, we should learn to lose at a lower cost. Contemporary Security Policy: Vol. Alex Deep. In Book One of On War, Clausewitz introduces the concept of war as “merely the continuation of policy by other means.” This most famous of Clausewitz’s dictums introduces a critical perspective of war as both a tool of grand strategy that is dominated by … . And if sufficient means for getting the job done are not provided merely because the war has illogically been branded “limited,” how can one win? The inherent tendency of war is to be limited. New York. The first was the improbability of success; the eeeond an excessive price to pay for it. In the first kind, the goal is total destruction of an enemy. Korea became the archetype “limited war” in books such as the well-known 1964 work by journalist David Rees. Here, Corbett used the term “unlimited war” to describe a conflict waged to overthrow the enemy government, and “limited war” for a war fought for something less. The definitions haven’t improved with the passing decades. ‘Limited and absolute war’ considers the limiting factors on the scope of war. Waging war in this manner is either an expression of ignorance or an example of dishonesty — intentional or not — on the part of political leaders for short term political purposes that have long term effects on U.S. public opinion and the men and women who are being sent to fight wars their leaders don’t call wars and have no interest in winning. Russia has applied limited war as a means by which to achieve its political goals since the early 1990s. Putin, Clausewitz, and Ukraine Alex Deep Russia has applied limited war as a means by which to achieve its political goals since the early 1990s. ����� |F^� �Z endstream endobj 54 0 obj <> endobj 55 0 obj <>/ProcSet 75 0 R/XObject<>>>/Rotate 0/Type/Page>> endobj 56 0 obj <>stream This chapter discusses the similarities and the difference between Clausewitz's concept of absolute war and modern total war. Second, the problem of not understanding the nature of the war is directly related to how we currently define — or more accurately — fail to define limited war. Carl von Clausewitz. He is the author or editor of numerous books and articles on strategic subjects and is currently writing a book on limited war. In many respects, the new wave is a reaction to a Cold War vision of Clausewitz. . The refusal to define or value victory in warfare, as well as the refusal to seek it, is a political problem that affects the ability of the military to wage the conflict effectively and deliver victory. 3, pp. When that is not possible, the second type is limited war. Random House. It was only partially completed by the time of his death, but just how close to completion it was is a matter of considerable scholarly dispute. ��6:�S|�.���Y�z-�Jl).�4�)�G�P��t���%�y�E�ul��8�2���d!���{K�Ѿޑ\YJ+ɕZ��5�5/�؇�F*a���I�;�Q�/�G�}�Lu����P�6qtc(�N��mx�\1�m��Ǯ,���]��T!W]�_5D��������RV�Q�.g���m���#3�*�y ե�@[�#Z�$ǎ��DI\�87��8�Rt �-��An�-�im�} �TI$��֡�~�����z�y9�� !_peO�pvY�Ԅ-�zi["�zK�Z�B��[[.���]�cå���������������dϏ'U��0*�:Ũ�FU4����v�w�2kĝ0�n�p4���[$�+wG�Ⱥ�jsU�Y���[Z�7��"�A��Ķ�����8�)��VtyNk,]� �~X�9�����Հ=�wγ�eȉ7L +�m2c݇l�r����Z�>����ƾ�b��Z� Y���?��0v�u�����+�S�`�hm�2���F�#�R�&'�aX^�W#� P�#��1��h���������mth>4�~^�!�F9�y��-j�(u�C�ڝ"AUC�J�"A��f4��3�6$�����z��N�&�m���=�$��u�>~���z��v��=��')/��. However, in practical experience, Clausewitz’s own concept of a limited war became the new paradigm and arguably the refocussed logic to restricting warfare in the nuclear age. To brand these conflicts as “limited wars” is simplistic. War, as Carl von Clausewitz wrote in On War, is a political tool, and when nations go to war they do so to either overthrow the enemy regime, or for something less than this. Since the time of the Korean War, U.S. political leaders have too often sacrificed the lives of American men and women in wars without having a clear idea of what they mean by victory, and sometimes without a desire to even achieve it. ]), Prussian general and military thinker, whose work Vom Kriege (1832; On War) has become one of the most respected classics on military strategy. Moreover, if we don’t understand what we mean by “limited war,” we don’t understand what we mean when we describe any war. Their job is to win wars. Donald Stoker is Professor of Strategy and Policy for the U.S. The term probably reentered the modern lexicon thanks to an innocent remark by then Secretary of Defense George Marshall. For all its faults, Harry Summers's On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War (Novato, CA: Presidio, [1982] 1995) uses Clausewitz to expose some of the difficulties in the theory of limited war. Clausewitz, On War (1831) Book II—On the Theory of War Context: (1780-1831) Prussian major general who first encountered war as 12-year old lance corporal going to be a staff officer with political/military responsibilities at the very centre of the Prussian state. Winning (or losing) a war matters, particularly to the people who live directly with the results. For example, in a 2014 article, journalist David Ignatius described what the United States began doing in Iraq in June 2014 as a limited war. The British maritime theorist Sir Julian Corbett expanded upon Clausewitz’s foundation in Some Principles of Maritime Strategy. Image: California State Military History Museum, Signing up for this newsletter means you agree to our data policy, veteran of more than two decades in the U.S. foreign service. Put simply, limited wars were fought because total war was no longer conceivable in the shadow of possible nuclear annihilation. Dueling With Clausewitz: Games of Preemption, Wars of Attrition, and Deconstructing a Classic Analogy for Understanding the Fundamental Nature of the First World War Carl von Clausewitz, “What is War?” On War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), 75–89; excerpt reprinted in US Army Command and General Staff College, H100 Book of Readings (Fort Leavenworth, KS: USACGSC, … St. Martins. Limited war by its nature is the opposite of absolute war, and absolute war is a theory that fails as a construct. David Halberstam. B���(�l�q�^�J�x���0'����t���ϗ�7B|���f���)a;޾�^��*q��xXb���lq�X���7��zs�ԯ��ޅG�?w�������7����m������� �w:�e^&�e�DpA���*�"A�ͣ5a�9އ . * Carl von Clausewitz in On War teaches that war is a powerful extension of politics by other means, emphasizing balance of power strategies. It was the political motive behind the war which determined the appropriate intensity, from limited to absolute: One can easily find other recent examples from academics  journalists, and policymakers. theoretical distinction. We find another example in an article by a veteran of more than two decades in the U.S. foreign service. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The concept of absolute war was a theoretical construct developed by the Prussian military theorist General Carl von Clausewitz in his famous but unfinished philosophical exploration of war, Vom Kriege (in English, On War, 1832). All of this demonstrates a Western world intellectually at sea in a strategic sense. Clausewitz states that "...it follows that he who uses force unsparingly, without reference to bloodshed involved, must obtain a superiority if his adversary uses less vigour in [the] application [of force]". The result was his principal work, On War, the West's premier work on the philosophy of war. Clausewitz, nevertheless, makes a last stand. The result is that “victory” — both in battle and in war itself — has generally disappeared from the statements of analysts and policymakers. Clausewitz asserted that war exists on a spectrum of intensity that ranged from “wars of limited object” to “absolute” or “total” war. These help determine how the war is fought, but not what the war is about — the political aim — and this is what matters most because it is from here that all the other elements contributing to the war’s nature derive their value. Save your All of the following are true of 'real war', according to Clausewitz, except … Select one: a. In his classic 1957 work, the best-known theorist of limited war, political scientist Robert Osgood, defined this kind of conflict in terms of the objective sought and (among other things) by the fact that the combatants “do not demand the utmost military effort of which the belligerents are capable.” This description is nebulous at best and fails to offer a firm and usable explanation of “effort,” or what some would term the means used. Until 1991 the theory of limited war was shaped by the experience of two critical conflicts — Korea and Vietnam. One of the critical problems with much of the writing on strategic subjects is a failure to define the terms being used in a clear and universally applicable manner. CLAUSEWITZ AND THE THEORY OF LIMITED WAR Clausewitz’s theoretical writing was based on the idea that understanding the nature of war required understanding the interaction between non-quantifiable moral factors and a physical environment characterized by uncertainty and violence.1Clausewitz argued that, in theory, both the political aims and military means to achieve them … Clausewitz’s concepts of grammar and logic have stood the test of time. His most notable work, Vom Kriege ( On War ), was unfinished at his death. `�b���䓂 D�� �@� CLAUSEWITZ AND THE THEORY OF LIMITED WAR Clausewitz’s theoretical writing was based on the idea that understanding the nature of war required understanding the interaction between non-quantifiable moral factors and a physical environment characterized by uncertainty and violence.1 Clausewitz argued that, in theory, (2014). Abstract. He also offers a list of 59 conflicts that occurred — or almost did — during this same period and breaks down all of these into three types: conventional wars, unconventional wars, and deterred wars. But the point that he is making about the inner tendency of war also applied to wars that were constrained by more limited aims, or which, in the case of small wars, were fought by peoples’ militia. First, all of the wars in which the United States has been involved since the Japanese surrender in 1945 have been branded limited wars — regardless of whether or not the term accurately depicts the nature of the conflict. Carl von Clausewitz and his theory of war are not an exception. A recent example of the devaluing of victory in Western intellectual circles is Dominic Tierney’s The Right Way to Lose a War. This strategic error undermined the intervention and made success difficult or impossible. The military theoristCarl von Clausewitz(1780-1831) wrote about two kinds of war. These political leaders don’t often phrase things this way, but that is the reality of the result of their decisions. This work largely concerns itself with learning to lose wars better. The relevance of past wisdom to our modern affairs has always been debatable. The fuzziness of our approach to defining limited war can be seen even in classic texts on the subject. Among the common features of recent studies on Clausewitz, there is a tendency to balance the primacy of politics in war, expressed in the famous dictum of Book 1, chapter 1 of On War: ‘war is nothing but a continuation of politics by other means’. • As of 10 Jul 1827, Clausewitz regarded the first six books "merely as a rather formless mass that must be thoroughly reworked once more." Clausewitz said that there were two thinge which, in practice, could take the place of the impossibility of further resistance ae motives for making pezca. As soon as they tell me “surgical,” I head for the bunker. In Korea and Vietnam the spectre of the nuclear genie forced a new kind of warfare to the forefront– limited war. Therefore, war in its most natural manner would involve each state continually reciprocating each other'… 1 Summary America's limited war theory, which provided the intellectual justification and guide for our involvement in Vietnam, suffered from all the flaws which Clausewitz had seen in such abstract approaches to war 130 years earlier. He gave no clear definition of limited war and seems to believe that the most recent Iraq war is limited because the United States is using very little of its military means. Again, we turn to John Garnett: “In limited war ‘winning’ is an inappropriate and dangerous goal, and a state which finds itself close to it should immediately begin to practise restraint.” Former U.S. Secretary of State and retired general Colin Powell once noted: As soon as they tell me it [war] is limited, it means that they do not care whether you achieve a result or not. David Rees. This essay discusses the two groups or types of war (absolute and limited) and the category subsets of those two groups that Carl von Clausewitz first discussed in his treatise On War. Such thinking has helped undermine the U.S. and Western ability to clearly identify the political objective or objectives for which it is fighting any war (the ends), create intelligent strategy for achieving this (the ways), and harnessing national power — especially military power (the means) — sufficient to achieve the desired end. 1969. Only Western liberal democracies in the post-World War II era go to war without the expectation of victory. Dr. Jim Helis, Chairman, Department of National Security and Strategy, leads a discussion about Carl von Clausewitz in Bliss Hall Sept. 6. ‘Absolute war’ was the logical end of all wars, but one that was constrained by political considerations and the advantages of a defensive posture. Clausewitz lived in a transitional period when warfare was rapidly changing from ‘limited war’ (restricted to armies and in geography) to ‘total war’ (involving entire societies and many countries). The political objective sought explains the war, not the means employed in an effort to achieve it. The Napoleonic period removed many of the political and social conditions of limited war. In 1981, John Garnett, one of the founders of modern strategic studies, wrote: “Only conflicts which contain the potentiality for becoming total can be described as limited.” Diplomat Robert McClintock wrote in 1967: “Limited war is a conflict short of general war to achieve specific political objectives, using limited forces and limited force.” Both of these typical definitions explain limited war in relation to other types of conflict (“total war” and “general war”) that also lack clear, generally agreed upon definitions. In undermining the ancien regime and introducing the concept of the “nation in arms,” itprepared the way for a popular nationalism far less congenial to the limitation of war than the pragmatic Realpolitikof the eighteenth ce… It does not in any way describe what the United States hopes to achieve, and the political objective being sought is the keystone for what is being done — or at least it should be. Some authors have carried the mistake beyond American wars and tried to brand almost every conflict “limited.” Seymour Deitchman, in his 1964 Limited War and American Defense Policy, provides a list of 32 wars fought between 1945 and 1962 that include such different conflicts as the Chinese Civil War (1927 to 1949), the Philippine Hukbalahap Rebellion (1946 to 1954), and the 1962 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. To purposefully fight a war one must — at a minimum — know why one is fighting, what they hope to achieve, understand the enemy, know what victory looks like, and chart a sensible path for getting there. Too often works about limited war (which are all rooted in Cold War publications and concepts, Bernard Brodie being a key early convert) cloud rather than clarify our understanding of conflicts. In the last analysis it is at moral, not physical strength that all military action is directed … Moral factors, then, are the ultimate determinants in war. 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