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Thread: War without Clausewitz: Assumptions about Warfare

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Default War without Clausewitz: Assumptions about Warfare

    Military theory, particularly in the West, seems dominated by Clausewitzian' principles and framework. But as the globe becomes more interconnected socially, economically, politically, and technologically, the marketplace of military thought also becomes more dense. Aside from modern Western military tradition, there is also Russian (more or less known to the West), Chinese (lesser known to the West), as well as various African, Arab, Persian, and Indian sub-continent ideas and histories about warfare. I don't think military theory is a static scientific exclamation, which seems to be the preference of Clausewitz theorists and political realists. Instead, I view military doctrinal paradigms as animated ideologies shaped by their circumstances, culture, and experiences. U.S. military theory faced a reckoning which exploded into open, bitter debate during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as the U.S. struggled to contend with active insurgencies. Because of American assumptions about warfare, its doctrines, organization, training, and equipment were not suited for the conflicts it experienced in the first decade of this century. America adapted - introducing MRAPs, building SFAT brigades, etc - but it took time.

    What are some of the assumptions of military ideologies in the U.S., Russia, and China?

    What are some historical assumptions that were proven false?

    What are some current assumptions that will be challenged in the next 10-25 years?
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Colin Gray wrote something along the lines that strategy cannot escape culture, which implies strategy is not only shaped by the strategic culture of nations (nation-states or non-state nations), it is limited by cultural norms. The questions are interesting and are worth responding to, but at a later date. It does seem when the U.S. conducts a net assessment relative to an adversary the net assessment is largely a math problem to determine what side has the balance of military power. Seldom do you see discussions on the balance of will power between opponents, or how their strategic cultures provide advantages and disadvantages when juxtaposed against a future conflict scenario. Reminds of an alleged Einstein quote, "not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

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