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Old 08-08-2006   #1
SWJED
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Default Clausewitz and World War IV

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Eighteen threads, many very small, a few large, have been merged into one, Just found a 2010 thread Applying Clausewitz to Insurgency and merged that in. October 2015 three threads merged in; one thread remains outside - as it is in a Members Only forum(ends).


Armed Forces Journal commentary - Clausewitz and World War IV by MG Robert Scales, US Army (ret.).

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The essence of every profession is expressed in the writings of its unifying theorists: Freud for psychology, Adam Smith on economics, Justice Marshall on law, and — depending on one's preferences — Marx or Jefferson on governance. War is no exception. The 19th-century Prussian writer Carl von Clausewitz is regarded as a prophet whose views on the character and nature of war have held up best over the past two centuries.

Periodically, changes in the culture, technology, economics or demographics induce movements to revise the classic masters. After the Great Depression, Keynes amended Smith, behavioralists supplanted Freud, Marshall gave way to Oliver Holmes, who eventually surrendered to the revisionist doctrines of Hugo Black and Earl Warren. The profession of arms, perhaps more than any other profession, has been — is "blessed" the right word? — by intellectual revisionists more frequently perhaps because armed conflict is the most complex, changeable and unpredictable of all human endeavors. And history has shown, tragically, that failure to amend theories of conflict in time has had catastrophic consequences for the human race.

Changes in theories of war come most often during periods of historical discontinuity. Events after 9/11 clearly show that we are in such a period now. Unfortunately, contemporary revisionists to the classical master have not been well treated in today's practical laboratory of real war. In the moment before Sept. 11, 2001, the great hope was that technology would permit the creation of new theories of war. This view, influenced by the historical successes of the U.S. in exploiting technology, has been carried to extremes by some proponents of "effects-based and net-centric operations." These true believers visualized that sensors, computers and telecommunications networks would "lift the fog of war." They postulated that victory would be assured when admirals and generals could sit on some lofty perch and use networks to see, sense and kill anything that moved about the battlefield. Actions of the enemy in Iraq have made these techno-warriors about as credible today as stockbrokers after the Great Depression.

Theory abhors a vacuum as much as nature, so newer revisionists have popped up in profusion to fill the void left by the collapse of technocentric theories of war. One philosophy proposes to build a new theory of war around organizational and bureaucratic efficiency. Build two armies, so the proponents argue, one to fight and the other to administer, and the new age of more flexible and adaptive military action will begin. Another group of theorists seeks to twist the facts of history into a pattern that brings us to a fourth generation of warfare, one that makes all Clausewitzian theories of state-on-state warfare obsolete. Thus Western states are threatened by an amorphous, globally based insurgent movement. The inconvenience of Middle Eastern states collapsing and reforming in the midst of a state-dependent terrorist environment makes this fourth generationalist assault on the master difficult to sustain, if not actually embarrassing.

To be generous, each of these revisions contains some elements of truth. But none satisfies sufficiently to give confidence that Clausewitz can be amended, much less discarded. To be sure, networks and sensors are useful, even against terrorists, particularly in ground warfare at the tactical level. Armies should be reorganized to fight irregular wars more efficiently. And the influence of the state in irregular war must be revised to accommodate the realities of nonstate threats or, perhaps more accurately, not-yet-state threats; Osama bin Laden's first desire is for his own caliphate, or even emirate. But at the end of the day — and in light of the bitter experiences of recent years — it's clear that none of these rudimentary attempts at revision possesses the intellectual heft or durability to challenge the tenets of the classic master of conflict theory...
Follow the link for much more. Hat Tip to John at the OPFOR Blog.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-30-2015 at 09:05 AM. Reason: Update note
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Old 08-08-2006   #2
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Default Errr....

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In the moment before Sept. 11, 2001, the great hope was that technology would permit the creation of new theories of war. This view, influenced by the historical successes of the U.S. in exploiting technology, has been carried to extremes by some proponents of "effects-based and net-centric operations." These true believers visualized that sensors, computers and telecommunications networks would "lift the fog of war." They postulated that victory would be assured when admirals and generals could sit on some lofty perch and use networks to see, sense and kill anything that moved about the battlefield.
I'm pretty sure that Art Cebrowski never put it that way and that he was primarily ( and sensibly) concerned with systemically maximizing a comparative advantage in high tech possessed by the United States. Nothing wrong with that and a major reason why no state desires to go toe to toe with the United States in a conventional war. At no point that I'm aware of did Cebrowski ever say that network-centric warfare would be a blank check for American omnipotence or shag shadowy terror cells out of a civilian populace.

Every theorist has disciples who are so enamored of the strengths of their cherished ideas that they develop blind spots.
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Old 08-09-2006   #3
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Default Clausewitz as an Oracle

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n the moment before Sept. 11, 2001, the great hope was that technology would permit the creation of new theories of war.
And in 1992 MG Scales leaned that way himself as we wrote Certain Victory--against the recommendations of some of us--and later in writing Yellow Smoke. I remember reading passages that praised "just in time logistics" as the way ofthe future and declarations that "reach back capablities would mean that intelligence and other administrative functions" could best be done from the rear.

As for Clausewitz et al, classical studies are great and everyone here knows that I believe in studying history as measure of reality. But Clausewitz was not Moses and as far as I know he didn't speak to a burning bush. General Scales sees anything related to EBO as heresy; he has his points in that debate but so do EBO proponents.

At the tactical level, effects can and do work if the interoperative system of assessment and intelligence work closely, especially in a COIN environment where non-lethal is often the means of choice.

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Old 08-10-2006   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tc2642
Theory abhors a vacuum as much as nature, so newer revisionists have popped up in profusion to fill the void left by the collapse of technocentric theories of war. One philosophy proposes to build a new theory of war around organizational and bureaucratic efficiency. Build two armies, so the proponents argue, one to fight and the other to administer, and the new age of more flexible and adaptive military action will begin. Another group of theorists seeks to twist the facts of history into a pattern that brings us to a fourth generation of warfare, one that makes all Clausewitzian theories of state-on-state warfare obsolete.
I am rather perplexed by this, Clausewitz, never said that 'State on State Warfare' was the be and end all of war theory, neither is 4GW diametrically opposed to Clausewitzian theory, in fact I believe the two theories are rather complementary to each other. Anyone who reads, 'Unrestricted warfare', will see how a state can conduct 4GW against another state.
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Old 08-11-2006   #5
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Tc I have read "Unrestricted Warfare" and concur with your line of thought as far as you expressed it. 4GW can be used to supplement conventional strategies, or used in place of them. I think both the U.S. and USSR employed elements of 4GW against one another, but they were always ready to ramp it up to mutual assured destruction, so in effect the MAD strategy as strange as it sounds had a moderating effect. I think this is where the non-state and state actor employing 4GW differ.

The State actor has centers of gravity that are vulnerable to conventional military attacks, especially by a superior hostile military force. This means State actors will “normally” employ 4GW with a measure of restraint, because they likely do not want to escalate the conflict to the point that they are on the receiving end of conventional military strikes against their security forces and economic infrastructure. Libya was a perfect example of a State employing 4GW that crossed the threshold and was severely punished.

Iran is using 4GW against Israel via a number of surrogate groups. Personally I think Israel is pursuing the wrong strategy to counter it, although there are very few, if any, good options. Maybe the best option is to punish the State sponsoring these attacks? Iran is playing an incredibly dangerous game of brinkmanship with their activities directed against Israel and the U.S., and thumbing their noses at the West with their alleged nuclear program. I won’t discount the complex problems associated with attacking Iran, but allowing a State to play 4GW at an increasingly dangerous level without any response may be more dangerous.

A State actor employing 4GW is worrisome, but they seem to have some constraints, even the extreme ones like Iran. Non State actors on the other hand will employ 4GW tactics/strategy to the extremes possible because they do not have centers of gravity that are vulnerable to conventional military attacks, thus their risk assessment does not persuade them to only push so far then stop. This was validated today with their latest plot uncovered for non-state actors to employ 4GW to murder up to thousands of civilians by blowing up a number of commercial airliners. If a State committed an attack (a crime) like this there would be a very, very severe price to pay, but a non State organization executes an attack like this secure that we can only escalate the conflict so much, and if we escalate carelessly we’ll play into their hands. If we don’t respond we’ll play into their hands. These people won’t hesitate to use WMD against our citizens, and since conventional war fighting theories do not apply against this type of enemy, I would hope MG Scales would be open to additional methods to frame and address the problems we’re facing, which EBO is only an attempt at. It is a far from perfect attempt at doing so, but it does have some merits that should be pursued. None of us can afford the luxury of being myopic in our use of strategies. Very loosely paraphrasing Bruce Lee’s philosophy, he stated that “the usefulness of a cup is its emptiness, so empty your mind of the traditional dogma, so you can learn”. Maybe the paraphrase isn’t even close, but you get my point .

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Old 08-12-2006   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore
None of us can afford the luxury of being myopic in our use of strategies. Very loosely paraphrasing Bruce Lee’s philosophy, he stated that “the usefulness of a cup is its emptiness, so empty your mind of the traditional dogma, so you can learn”. Maybe the paraphrase isn’t even close, but you get my point .
Definitley, I always think that there is a divide between "traditional" camps of thought, usually defined along Clausewitzian lines, and the "non traditional", with the likes of 4GW, netwar, etc. What seems to have happened is that Clausewitizians have seen works like "The Transformation of War" and seeing Creveld's misinterpretation of the "Remarkable Trinity" seem to associate all 4GW theorists as falling into the same trap, and on the other side of the coin, the 4GW theorists seem (in some instances) to have viewed Clausewitz in a far too dogmatic fashion and seemingly state centric (again some Clausewitzians may also be guilty of this fault)
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Old 09-10-2006   #7
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Default Clausewitz in Wonderland

9 September Real Clear Politics commentary - Clausewitz in Wonderland by Tony Corn.

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"Amateurs talk about strategy, professionals talk about logistics." In the five years since the 9/11 events, the old military adage has undergone a "transformation" of its own: Amateurs, to be sure, continue to talk about strategy, but real professionals increasingly talk about -- anthropology.

In Iraq as in Afghanistan, real professionals have learned the hard way that -- to put it in a nutshell -- the injunction "Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself" matters more than the bookish "Know Thy Clausewitz" taught in war colleges. Know thy enemy: At the tactical and operational levels at least, it is anthropology, not Clausewitzology, that will shed light on the grammar and logic of tribal warfare and provide the conceptual weapons necessary to return fire. Know thyself: It is only through anthropological "distanciation" that the U.S. military (and its various "tribes": Army, Navy, etc.) will become aware of its own cultural quirks -- including a monomaniacal obsession with Clausewitz -- and adapt its military culture to the new enemy.1

The first major flaw of U.S. military culture is of course "technologism" -- this uniquely American contribution to the phenomenon known to anthropologists as "animism." Infatuation with technology has led in the recent past to rhetorical self-intoxication about Network-Centric Warfare and the concomitant neglect of Culture-Centric Warfare. The second structural flaw is a Huntingtonian doctrine of civil-military relations ideally suited for the Cold War but which, given its outdated conception of "professionalism," has outlived its usefulness and is today a major impediment to the necessary constant dialogue between the military and civilians.2

Last but not least, the third major flaw is "strategism." At its "best," strategism is synonymous with "strategy for strategy's sake," i.e., a self-referential discourse more interested in theory-building (or is it hair-splitting?) than policy-making. Strategism would be innocuous enough were it not for the fact that, in the media and academia, "realism" today is fast becoming synonymous with "absence of memory, will, and imagination": in that context, the self-referentiality of the strategic discourse does not exactly improve the quality of the public debate. At its worst, strategism confuses education with indoctrination, and scholarship with scholasticism; in its most extreme form, it comes close to being an "intellectual terrorism" in the name of Clausewitz...
Much more at the link - the above was only the intro...
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Old 09-10-2006   #8
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Interesting read but I sense some deep hatred toward clausewitz. I wonder why.

Some points:
-He largely ignores Clausewitz's "war is continuation of policy with different means" dictum. Which can be translated into "if you don't have clearly defined long term political goals military actions don't matter". and I think this is main problem in Iraq as golas of "making Iraq democratic" and such are not defined what exactly that means and can mean anything or nothing.
-The article gives the impression that US military is like medrassah where only Clausewitz is taught. while I don't have any first hand experience with such institutions I seriusly doubt this is the case.
-author argues for abandoning Clausewitz. I disagree. He is still relevant though it's necessary to define works that are relevant as well. If you identify guerilla/insurgency/LIC as "next thing" then Mao, Che, Lawrence etc are relevant but Clausewitz should not be ignored. Specially military-policy relations which are extremly important in such conflicts
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Old 09-10-2006   #9
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A lot of post-Vietnam American military thought is informed by the ideas of Clausewitz.

American officers first turned seriously to Clausewitz in an attempt to understand the failure of American policy in Vietnam. Christopher Bassford illustrates this point with the example of the official 1981 Army War College Study on American policy towards Vietnam, On Strategy, authored by Colonel Harry G. Summers. Using Clausewitz’s concept of “the trinity of army, government and people” to demonstrate that the United States had violated Clausewitz’s logic and became involved in Vietnam “without first being clear what (was) intended to be achieved by that war and how (it was to be) conducted.”

On Strategy is an example of the fruit of the armed services’ consideration of On War in the years after Vietnam. As early as 1976, Admiral Stansfield Turner introduced the book to the curriculum of the Naval War College. The Air War College and Army War College followed suit in 1978 and 1981 respectively. As America’s military leaders examined Clausewitz’s theories, his words soon found their way from the seminar rooms of war colleges to the maneuver areas of combat training centers.

At the same time that American war colleges were examining Clausewitz, the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), under the leadership of General Donn Starry, was at work developing a doctrine that would allow American forces in Europe, along with their NATO allies, to deal with the threat of the second and third echelon forces of the Warsaw Pact in the event of a conflict against the Soviet Union in Western Europe. The existing doctrine of active defense made no provision for dealing with the battlefield in depth and oriented on terrain rather than enemy forces. General Starry turned his lower ranking “action officers” at the TRADOC installations of Forts Monroe and Leavenworth to develop a doctrine “where the orientation is on the enemy, the action is fluid, and independent action and maneuver could lead to the collapse of the enemy.”

The resulting “AirLand Battle Doctrine”, enunciated in FM 100-5, Operations, contained several of Clausewitz’s concepts. According to Romjue, “Clausewitz's idea that ‘when we speak of destroying the enemy's forces . . . nothing obliges us to limit this idea to physical forces: the moral element must also be considered’" informed AirLand Battle’s offensive tenant of maneuvering strength against weakness through “initiative, depth, agility, and synchronization.” Likewise, the defensive concepts of protecting oneself through a “shield of blows” is included in FM-1005, as well as Clausewitzian notions of friction and military action (i.e. war) being the continuation of policy by other means. FM 3-0 retains much this flavor IMO.

So, even if they haven't read On War, a lot of American officers are exposed to Clausewitz through doctrine.

The idea of professionals talking "anthropology" has some merit, but I am unsure of the level of anthropology we can teach to our leaders and troops. Lawrence spent much of his pre-war adulthood on the Arabian penninsula, and was the right man in the right place for the uprising. His success had little to do with officer PME.
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Old 09-10-2006   #10
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Default The Prussian gets a bad rap

Wow. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

I have a soft spot in my heart for old Carl, dialectic approach and all. At one level, he provides a thorough taxonomy. At another, I find his truisms to be generally true. More like the Encyclopedia Britannica than <pick your favorite scholar/pundit with an axe to grind>. And he wrote as excellent historical analysis, not trying to displace Nostradamus or Jean Dixon.

Clausewitz's shortcomings stem less from him than from our own reckless application of his subtle nuances into steadfast bumper-sticker principles. Since he presents the pros and cons of just about all conflict, it is painfully easy to grab a sound bite from him saying whatever you want. And I'm not even one of those "read him in the original German and split hairs about translation" geeks.

Indictments in Tony Corn's commentary re expecting a clean, over-simplified, technological fix to all problems are viable. Symptomatic of American culture today. We've had it too good for too long, and are getting weak. We do, however, have a generation of young warriors who have seen the ugly side of things. I pray that, as they rise in rank, they will apply well the cold hard truths they have learned.

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Old 09-10-2006   #11
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Default A very interesting read

Thanks for posting this. I think I am going to assign it as required reading for my 3rd year theory students.

Aktarian, you noted that

Quote:
He largely ignores Clausewitz's "war is continuation of policy with different means" dictum. Which can be translated into "if you don't have clearly defined long term political goals military actions don't matter". and I think this is main problem in Iraq as golas of "making Iraq democratic" and such are not defined what exactly that means and can mean anything or nothing.
I'm not so sure that he ignored it so much as tried to reformulate it. Certainly that dictum can be interpreted as a requirement for a clear engineering plan for goals. It also should be interpreted that way when it comes to planning specific operations such as OIF.

I think what Corn is trying to do is to look at the next level or two above operational planning - i.e. geo-political strategy. As such, I think it is probably a very useful conceptual exercise to avoid black box conceptual thinking. If we treat "war as a continuation of policy" and "policy as a continuation of war", both "by other means", then it may be possible to set up and train for multiple operational situations. By way of example, if we can train people to recognize when to shift from conventional to COIN, that increases operational flexibility.

CR6, you ended your post with what I think is a really interesting observation.

Quote:
The idea of professionals talking "anthropology" has some merit, but I am unsure of the level of anthropology we can teach to our leaders and troops. Lawrence spent much of his pre-war adulthood on the Arabian penninsula, and was the right man in the right place for the uprising. His success had little to do with officer PME.
Certainly Lawrence got his "training" by doing - and that included his anthropology (he had no formal training in it). Holding him up as an example of what can be done with appropriate cultural knowledge is a good idea. Using him as an example of what an Anthropologist could do to help out in operations is, I'm afraid, a mistake.

Let me expand on this a bit. I am an Anthropologist and I have taught courses in the history and theory of Anthropology. There are certainly some good examples of Anthropologists working well with the military - Ruth Benedict's analysis of Japanese culture, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, that became the US occupation plan for Japan at the end of WWII is an example. I think more germain examples would be The Nuer by E.E. Evans-Pritchard or Montaignard Tribal Groups of the Republic of Vietnam, US Army Special Warfare School, Fort Bragg (2nd Ed. 1965). One little known, and rarely mentioned, fact is that during WWII, over 60% of people with Ph.D.'s in Anthropology in the US were working either for the military or for the State department. There are an aweful lot of really good works produced from 1939-1946 or so that deal with using Anthropology in a political military situation.

If we come into the recent present, however, we find a very different story. In 1968, Project Camelot blew up in the news and led to a reaction against using Anthropology within the military. At the 1968 meeting of the American Anthropology Association, a new code of ethics was created (see Handbook on Ethical Issues in Anthropology Chapter 1 - http://www.aaanet.org/committees/ethics/ch1.htm - for some of the history on this). Probably the most import effect of this debate was to influence an entire generation of Anthropologists away from anything to do with the military. Indeed, I have been at conferences where I have been told by a senior professor with a completely straight face, that the military are "a bunch of fascists who are even worse than their capitalist exploiting bosses". The message is quite clear - don't have anything to do with the military and don't have anything to do with businesses. The Corn article talks about Clausewitz being the "scripture" of the military - for Anthropology, the "scriptures" became Marx, Gramsci, and Foucault.

What I am trying to get at here is that, as an institution, Anthropology in North America is pretty strongly opposed to the military. There are very few Anthropologists who are willing to work for the military - it's professional suicide. This situation is slowly changing, but it is going to be difficult to find Anthropologists who are willing or able to work with the military (I exclude myself from this generalization since I am already unpopular for working in the area of business (Organizational Culture) and I'm too interested in military history for most of my colleagues).

All of this is a round about way at trying to answer CR6's uncertainty about "... I am unsure of the level of anthropology we can teach to our leaders and troops". I am quite certain that enough Anthropologists can be found to work with the military on training to give a pretty good structural grounding in the theories and methods in order to conduct analyses. What will probably be missing, at least for the present, is the area specialists who can flesh those structures out into operation information such as that which shows up in Montaignard Tribal Groups of the Republic of Vietnam. And, in all honesty, that is probably exactly the type of analyses that are needed.

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Old 09-11-2006   #12
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Default Bit long but...

Having read through this article it does appear that the writer has not even taken any time to read through Clausewitz (why bother if you think he is redundant?). In terms of theory far from being redundant I would state that he is very much relevant to today’s and future wars. There are a number of inconsistencies in this text, I doubt Clausewitz would have disagreed with ‘know thy enemy and know thyself’, but this does not suggest that Clausewitz is dogmatic, his work was meant as a tool for learning not the end in itself.

He also made very clear in his work that each age war would have its own characteristics particular to that age, that theory should be there to show how things are not how they should be.

Quote:
Like the aging Marxists with a Karl of their own, the Clausewitzians today are more interested in exonerating their idol from the evil perpetrated in his name than in demonstrating what good he could bring to the current challenges facing the military. It may well be that Marx and Clausewitz were indeed mostly "misread" by most people most of the time, but if the risks of "misreading" are statistically greater than the chances of getting it right, what's the point of making it required reading in the first place?
Yeah, why bother reading something if it is too difficult to understand first time around, this from my point of view is lazy thinking, the ideas and concepts are complex but by rereading certain parts over and reading “On War” in it’s entirety you can avoid misreading it.

Quote:
A decade ago already, U.S. Army War College professor Steven Metz remarked: "Like adoration for some family elder, the veneration heaped on Clausewitz seems to grow even as his power to explain the world declines. He remains an icon at all U.S. war colleges (figuratively and literally) while his writings are bent, twisted, and stretched to explain everything from guerilla insurgency (Summers) through nuclear strategy (Cimbala) to counternarcotrafficking (Sharpe). On War is treated like holy script from which quotations are plucked to legitimize all sorts of policies and programs. But enough! It is time to hold a wake so that strategists can pay their respects to Clausewitz and move on, leaving him to rest among thehistorians."7
I refer to, http://www.clausewitz.com/CWZHOME/METZSLAM.htm,

Quote:
Does the obsession with Clausewitz really matter that much? You bet it does. As the military-educational complex (150 institutions, of which the Naval War College is the crown jewel) takes in interagency education, the danger is that "strategism" and "Clausewitzology" will spread to other agencies and may aggravate already dysfunctional civil-military relations at the working level. The Iraqi precedent, in that respect, does not bode well.
I don’t like this term strategism, strategy in the simplest terms is using battles to achive the political objective of the war that is being fought. Not strategy for the sake of strategy, who would fight a battle for the sake of it?

Quote:
But the successor generations should have logically benefited from the "lessons learned" in Vietnam as well as the growing literature on counterinsurgency. Yet instead of being exposed to the policy-relevant Clausewitzian realism of Osgood's Limited War Revisited (1979), the new generation of officers was force-fed with the Clausewitzian "surrealism" of Summers's On Strategy (1981) -- the true beginning of strategy for strategy's sake in America.
So he has more of a problem with Clausewitz being taught in a ‘surrealist’ way than the policy relevant realism of Clausewitz? Hold on, I thought Clausewitz should be confined to the dustbin of history? Not taught from a different perspective

Not really sure about the military educational establishment so will pass without comment.

Quote:
Yet, while the Osamas of this world were issuing fatwas against "Jews and Crusaders" and defining their own struggle in terms of "Fourth-Generation Warfare," our Clausewitzian Ayatollahs were too busy turning Vom Kriege in a military Quran and issuing fatwas against the theoreticians of 4GW, Netwar, and other postmodern "heresies." If that attitude does not qualify as "dereliction of duty," what does?
I would again state, that from my point of view as a Clausewitzian and someone who belives that Fourth Generational war is with us that the two are not mutually inconceivable together, that they can be conflated.

Quote:
‘if the Clausewitzian text is indeed so filled with fog and friction, if On War is so hard to teach from that even most educators can't teach it properly, then surely thought should be given to retiring Clausewitz, or the educators -- or both.
I would disagree, may have taken a bit of time but I now have a better understanding of Clausewitz and a broader conception of his ideas and some of the more nuanced points of his work

Quote:
If, as Gray rightly points out, "strategy is -- or should be, the bridge that connects military power with policy," what kind of a bridge is On War, which devotes 600 pages to military power and next to nothing to policy?
Clausewitz was a soldier, not a politician, thefore why should he write anything about policy, that’s left up to the government.

Quote:
Why such an irrational "resistance" (in the Freudian sense) on the part of military educators? After all, it does not take an Einstein to realize that, from Alexander the Great to Napoleon, the greatest generals for 20 centuries had one thing in common: They have never read Clausewitz. And conversely, in the bloodiest century known to man, the greatest admirers of Clausewitz also have had one thing in common: They may have won a battle here and there, but they have all invariably lost all their wars.
Hm, Lenin, Mao, Lawerence?


Quote:
As of this writing (August 2006), it is too early to tell whether Baghdad will be America's Battle of Algiers -- or Battle of Jena. But it is not too early to call for a Renaissance in Strategic Education -- for military and civilians alike. In diplomacy as in academe and in the media, there is unquestionably a need for greater strategic literacy, and the military can play a constructive role; but by the same token, the military will have to free itself from the Clausewitzian straitjacket if it ever wants to make a significant contribution to grand strategy.
http://www.clausewitz.com/CWZHOME/Keegan/KEEGWHOL.htm

I will try and make a go of going through the rest, but those are my thoughts so far

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Old 10-20-2006   #13
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Cool Reply from Clausewitz.com

Chris Bassford, who is on the faculty at the National War College and is editor of The Clausewitz Homepage, has posted a somewhat disdainful reply to Tony Corn at http://www.clausewitz.com/CWZHOME/OnCornyIdeas.htm. I've got to admit, it is hard to understand why a writer like Corn, who is apparently trying to influence the strategic debate, would launch so many snide ad hominem attacks on people who might otherwise be influenced--which does not include old Carl, of course. I wonder if Tony knows the guy reached room temperature 175 years ago.
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Old 10-20-2006   #14
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Default Thanks for the link...

Here is an excerpt from Dr. Bassford's reply A Response to Tony Corn's "Clausewitz in Wonderland" at the The Clausewitz Homepage:

Quote:
... Nor is Clausewitz responsible for the smothering political correctness that makes it virtually impossible even to discuss things like the strategic history of Islam. Personally, I am still recovering from the high-pitched institutional whining that ensued when I made remarks on that subject virtually identical to Corn's a few weeks ago at one of the nation's premier institutions for strategic education. And almost every PME effort to discuss the "anthropology" of Islam that I have experienced has immediately degenerated into an utterly irrelevant analysis of the finer points of Koranic theology. Corn makes some (seemingly) favorable allusions to the potential value to strategists of understanding modern evolutionary theory (i.e., to Richard Dawkins and his memes). Great stuff! But mention evolutionary theory to a US-government audience and you'll spend the next hour debating the Book of Genesis with folks on the right side of the room; a week later you'll be reading articles by lefties in the Washington Post accusing you of advocating new eugenics laws banning reproduction by racial minorities.

The errors Corn describes originate in American cultural attitudes that certainly do not derive from Clausewitz. Iindeed, it is those cultural attitudes that drive the frequently ludicrous manner in which Clausewitz's ideas are used and taught. Those attitudes will not magically disappear once every copy of On War has been safely burned. If anthropology becomes the new strategic rage, then educators who may be "men of one book" (or even "men of one set of Cliffs notes") will be subjecting students to equally misleading doctrinal discourses on Margaret Mead. (I'm not joking here: Read John Keegan's anthropological absurdities in his A History of Warfare, which are every bit as asinine as his comments on Clausewitz.)

There are a great many ideas in Corn's article that, however disjointed, are worthy of discussion. Rather than respond with my own theory-of-everything, let me focus briefly on Corn's very positive comments on thinking inside the US Marine Corps. Though I am evidently one of the "Clausewitzian petits maitres" Corn finds so objectionable, I know something at least about USMC doctrine, since I wrote small pieces of the current MCDP 1, Warfighting, and virtually all of MCDP 1-1, Strategy and MCDP 1-2, Campaigning (not to mention the Aviation Operations and Reconnaissance manuals…). The MCDPs did not spring full-blown from the pen of any academic, but emerged from an energetic debate within the Corps' leadership. They are, in fact, supremely eclectic works drawing on a vast array of ideas and influences. But only a poseur who had never even looked at the famous Warfighting manual's table of contents (for which I bear no responsibility whatsoever—its primary author, John Schmitt, is a self-professed "Sun Tzu guy") could write that they are "largely exempt from the Clausewitz regimen." Just look at the chapter and section titles: "Nature of War," "Theory of War," "Friction," etc., etc. Or scan the source documentation...
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Old 10-20-2006   #15
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I have some problems with Tony Corn's article. The first problem I have is he gives Clauswitzian Theory too much credit for driving U.S. military strategy and doctrine. The U.S. Army has traditionally been driven by Jominian theory as opposed to Clauswitzian. Jomini can be summed up as telling somebody how to fight, and Clauswitz can be summed up explaining the why. The real misunderstanding of Clauswitz is that his work is assumed to be purely a work for military people. Many sections of his work ought to be read by political leaders because I feel he does an outstanding job of explaining the political leadership aspects of startegic decision making. That is why I believe that Clauswitz is more relevant than ever. Furthermore, Clauswitz defined his success as theorist based on timelessness and universiality. Both of which apply. I would argue that 4GW is not a theory. It has merely taking Maoist theory and added the concept of mass media to it. Maybe I can meet corn, since I am supposedly going to work in DC for 6 months from january to june on COIN issues.
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Old 10-20-2006   #16
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I agree, jimbo. Old Carl was writing more of an overarching theory than a simple prescriptive study. Clausewitz also never finished "On War," which is something the detractors tend to overlook.
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Old 10-20-2006   #17
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Default Clausewitz' theories are great, but not dogma

I believe the biggest problem that most have with Clausewitz is that his book (as if he wrote only one) is selectively read, anecdotally quoted, and rarely thought about in a critical manner. One of the basic problems with Clausewitz is that he died before he actually finished ON WAR. He had the draft, realized he needed to adjust it in light of his thinking about the influence of politics on war, and only had time to finish the first chapter before passing on.

So, are there inconsistencies in ON WAR? Certainly, which is one of the reasons it needs to be critically read and not mindlessly quoted. Having said that an officer can only be better off if he were to read the first book and thought deeply about “real” war, the fog of war, friction, the relationship of politics on war – he’s the only one that has truly tried to get to the nature of war regardless of its type. (Hmmmm...things that seem to have been ignored against the context of the so-called revolution in military affairs and the self-appointed gurus of transformation who focused on "capabilities-based" planning instead of on the real world threat.)

But, keep this in mind, Clausewitz clearly argues that any theory of war had to account for the fact that the majority of wars are limited in nature, and not the total "ideal" wars about which he had been writing. Clausewitz did not create the concept of “unlimited war” except as an ideal that could NEVER be achieved. Critically reading the first chapter of the book is key. So, although he didn’t write about insurgencies per se, his thinking on limited war and the need to align strategic goals (policy) with means still applies.

A pretty good book for understanding not just Clausewitz’ themes, but also how his writings, in particular ON WAR, were put together is READING CLAUSEWITZ by Beatrice Heuser.

However, what’s just as bad as criticizing Clausewitz without critically reading ON WAR is to accept what he says as dogma. He’s great food for thought and has a lot of application still today, but there are other strategic theorists out there that should be read in order to have a deeper understanding of the nature of war and so that you can modify your “lessons learned” to the situation at hand.
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Old 10-01-2008   #18
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Cool Clausewitz in Wonderland

hi,

To much commentary on Anthropology for me not to jump in
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Old 10-01-2008   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GlenWard View Post
hi,

To much commentary on Anthropology for me not to jump in
Please introduce yourself here before you take the leap.
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Old 10-01-2008   #20
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Default New Clausewitz book

I'd highly recommend reading Jon Sumida's new book Decoding Clausewitz (Univ. of Kansas Press, 2008). It provides a new, and I believe useful, look at On War. Sumida makes a couple of propositions that put On War into a new light. The first is that the ordering of the "Clausewitz notes" has been mis-interpreted and that On War was substantially complete upon Clausewitz's death (not just Book I as many claim). The second is that Clausewitz was not trying to produce a "theory of a phenomenon", or to explain war, but rather to describe a "theory of practice", to describe a framework for examining and learning about war. In this light Book II, with its description of the process of critical analysis as a means to learn from history, is really the focus of the book.
Fully agree with it or not, I believe this is a good approach for members of this forum to consider. It especially comes to my mind as I track the current multiple SWJ discussion threads on various aspects of Maneuver Warfare, John Boyd and the OODA loop. What comes out is that the value isn't really in what a doctrine or theory says is, but rather the thinking and discourse it promotes. More thinking and discourse means better educated practitioners (whether they be military or civilian).

Last edited by PhilR; 10-01-2008 at 12:42 PM. Reason: spelling
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