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Clausewitz lived in a time where battles were fought in columns and lines, with soldiers using muskets and

solid-shot cannon; when states were the exclusive actors in war; when technological change occurred over decades, if not centuries. What relevance could his work therefore have for the strategic problems of the 21st century?

Introduction Clausewitz was not a cookbook writer. He was not looking for hard and fast rules for conducting war, which he eschews. Indeed, Clausewitzian theories elaborated at different periods of time are in close conjunction with the prevalent political, strategic, and military context, which is completely consonant with Clausewitzs original conception of his own work1: Theory should be study, not doctrine [] It is an analytical investigation leading to a close acquaintance with the subject; applied to experience in our case, to military history it leads to thorough familiarity with it. The closer it comes to that goal, the more it proceeds from the objective form of a science to a subjective form of a skill, the more effective it will prove in areas where the nature of the case admits no arbiter but talent.2 Theory is meant to educate the mind of the future commander, or, more accurately, to guide him in his self-education, not to accompany him to the battlefield.3 If the absurd difference between theory and practice4 is to be ended, then the correspondence between theory and practice implies the correspondence between the military commander and military thinker. Therefore, self-education is important and

Durieux, B. (2009). Clausewitz and the Two Temptations of Modern Strategic Thinking. In S. Hew, & H.

Andreas (Eds.), Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (pp. 251- 265). New York: Oxford University Press Inc.

Carl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. and ed. Michael Howard and Peter Parat (Princeton, NJ, 1976), II,

2, p. 141.
3 4

Ibid. II, 2, p.141. Ibid. II, 2, p.142.

useful to the military thinker too. He must not be bounded by a single theory of war but with the means to develop his own ideas (objective knowledge of war), fuelled by his talent (subjective capacity and application). The phenomena of war are more diverse than ever: from terrorism to inter-state war, from information war to riots in rural areas, from air strikes to intifada. Loose networks of limited wars have replaced the expectation of a nuclear apocalypse that characterized the Cold War. The differences and contradictions between the various conclusions and corresponding analyses regarding a strategic situation are but a reflection of the variety of military conflicts and the diversity of perspectives from which these conflicts are observed. These perspectives depend on time, culture, and political context. This phenomenon has been analyzed through the concept of strategic culture, that is a distinctive and lasting set of beliefs, values and habits regarding the threat and use of force, which have their roots in such fundamental influences as the geographical setting, history and political culture.5 States (e.g. Americans, Europeans, Chinese, Iranians, Indians etc.) tend to have different perspectives on strategic problems, and the reason for these divergences probably goes beyond the defense of short-term interests. The extremely

heterogeneous situation of the phenomena of war is analyzed from very different lenses of different strategic cultures, and hence makes states theories of war difficult to critique. Moreover, it is difficult to validate the doctrines that reflect these different theories by the use of examples of operational success or failure. Therefore, the need for a theory-of-theories of war remains valid. An overarching theory of war will take into account the influence of the interaction between the thinker and his object and can form the framework required to analyze the strategic debate.6 Clausewitz thus continues to remain relevant to analyze strategic problems of the 21st century as he had developed a theory about the theory of war.

5 6

Ken, B., & R., T. (1999). Strategic Cultures in the Asia-Pacific Region. London. Durieux, B. (2009). Clausewitz and the Two Temptations of Modern Strategic Thinking. In S. Hew, & H.

Andreas (Eds.), Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (pp. 251- 265). New York: Oxford University Press Inc.

Research Approach Clausewitz recognized that Napoleon had overreached himself and the theoretical significance that a consistent, single military strategy could have different historical outcomes7. In his own realization evident in his note of 1827 that any theory of war had to accommodate two sorts of war: war to overthrow the enemy; and war that is the basis of negotiation with him. Four fundamental contrasts are emphasized between the early and later Clausewitz because they remain central to contemporary debates about his work:8


The primacy of military force versus the primacy of politics. Existential warfare, or rather warfare related to ones own identity, which


engaged Clausewitz most strongly in his early years, as against the instrumental view of war that prevails in his later work. The pursuit of military success through unlimited violence embodying the


principle of destruction, versus the primacy of limited war and the limitation of violence in war, which loomed increasingly large in Clausewitzs later years.


The primacy of defense as the stronger form of war, versus the promise of

decisive results that was embodied in the seizure of offensive initiative. It is not the intent or purpose of this paper to summarize Clausewitzs works, given its scope, or to challenge the assertions of specific anti-Clausewitz writers such as Martin van Crevald, John Keegan or even Alvin and Heidi Toffler. The paper will instead

The same principles and strategies that were the decisive foundation of Napoleons initial successes at

Jena and Auerstedt proved inadequate in the special situation of the Russian campaign and eventually contributed to his final defeat at Waterloo.

Clausewitz or Sun Tzu Paradigms of warfare for the 21st century written by: Andreas Herberg-Rothe,

13-Dec-06. WorldSecurityNetwork.com - WorldSecurityNetwork.com. http://www.worldsecuritynetwork.com/printArticle3.cfm?article_id=13757

highlight the seeming unbounded-ness of war (or armed conflict) and violence in the twenty-first century, and propose a strategy of containment of war and violence. This will relate later Clausewitzs concepts of war and politics to our current reality. At the outset, I will provide an analysis of Clausewitzs concept of the nature of war. Additionally, given the research questions implication that Clausewitz should be marooned due to his lack of regard for non-state actors and that his writings were in a time of slow technological change, I will also demonstrate that Clausewitz was wellaware of the influence of non-state actors and their ability to wage war; and his thoughts has continued relevance in our time of rapid technological changes.

The Nature of War For Clausewitz, war was likened to a chameleon, allowing for changes to its appearance, but suggesting that its underlying nature remains unchanged. The character of war has certainly changed or morphed since his time. His critics argue that some changes can alter wars very nature, and the nature of war today is radically different from the nature of war then, the age of Napoleon. In other words, the changes are more fundamental than can simply be accounted by shifting characteristics. The most recent English translation of the text, by Michael Howard and Peter Parat, renders its opening sentence thus: War is more than a true chameleon that slightly adapts its characteristics to the given case. As a total phenomenon its dominant tendencies always make war a remarkable trinity. 9 Clearly, a chameleon remains a chameleon whatever color it adopts for the time being. The crucial two words in the translation are more than, which imply that the circumstances of war can cause war to change more than its characteristics: War in other words is not like a chameleon. However, this translation did not capture the nuance of Clausewitzs original 10 : Der Krieg ist also nicht nu rein wahres Chamleon, weil er in jedem konkreten Fall seine Natur etwas ndert, sondern er ist auch seinem Gesamterscheinungen nach, in

9 On War, I, 1, 28, P.89. 10 Hew, S., & Andreas, H.-R. (2009). Introduction. In S. Hew, & H.-R. Andreas (Eds.), Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (pp. 1-13). New York: Oxford University Press Inc.

Beziehung auf die in ihm herrschenden Tendenzen, eine wunderliche Dreifaltigkeit. 11 The implication here is that war may indeed be a chameleon, in that it changes its nature slightly in each individual case (its character), but not its nature in general, which is made up of the trinity (addressed later). The translation thus reads: War is not only a true chameleon, because it changes its nature slightly in each concrete case, but it also, in it is overall appearance, in relation to its inherent tendencies, a wondrous trinity. The Primacy of Policy and the Trinity War is an instrument of policy. 12 It is simply a continuation of political intercourse, with the addition of other means.

Clausewtizs aphorism on the

relationship between war and policy was now being dismissed not because war had no utility but because it is being waged for reasons that are not political14 or policy-driven. Critics argue that Clausewitz no longer have a place in the current strategic and security studies debates, where war was no longer the province of armed forces but also of nonstate actors. The question was whether strategy, traditionally-defined, continues to be the best way of looking at what was, revealingly, no longer even called war, but armed conflict.

11 Vom Kriege, ed. Werner Hahlweg (19th edn, Bonn, 1980), 1, 1, 28, pp. 212-213.
12 13

On War, VIII, 6B, p.610. Ibid. p. 605. The phrase with the addition of other means is deliberately used by Howard and Paret as

they wanted to make it clear that war in itself does not suspend political intercourse or change it into something entirely different. Essentially, the intercourse continues, irrespective of the means it employs. The main lines along which military events progress, and to which they are restricted, are political lines that continues throughout war into the subsequent peace. It could not be otherwise. Political relations between peoples and between their governments do not stop when diplomatic notes are no longer exchanged.

The German word Politik covers both policy and politics. Clausewitz did mean different things at

different points. Sometimes the context suggests that he has foreign policy in mind, at others he highlights the social upheaval of the French Revolution and its consequence for warfare.

Clausewitz understood a community as having its own political and social identity, even if it lacked statehood.15 Such an interpretation is consonant with Clausewitzs own interest in wars before 1648, where he specifically linked the weaknesses of states to exceptional manifestations in the art of war.16 In his review of the history of war, he described the semibarbarous Tartars, the republics of antiquity, the feudal lords and trading cities of the Middle Ages, eighteenth-century kings and the rulers and peoples of the nineteenth-century as all conducting war in their own particular way, using different methods and pursuing different aims.17 Despite this variability, Clausewitz stresses that war is all these cases remains a continuation of their policy by other means. In doing so, however, he suppresses the difference between the policies of states and the intentions of other communities which wage war. Therefore, it makes sense to supplement the primacy of policy as a general category with the affiliation of belligerents to a warring community. If the communities are states, we can speak of politics in the modern sense; if they are ethnic, religious, or other communities, the value systems and goals of those communities (their cultures) are the more important factors. Based on this, we could replace Clausewitzs meaning of state with the notion of it being that of the intentions, aims or values of the warring community, thus remaining much more faithful to his understanding of what a state embodies. Otherwise, we would implicitly express a modern understanding of Clausewitzs concept of state. Clausewitzs concepts of war (including armed conflict) and violence continue to be relevant so long as they are motivated by interests and policy and not hate, rage, boredom, the need for personal meaning and bonding.


Antulio Echevarria, War, Politics and the RMA: The Legacy of Clausewitz, Joint Force Quarterly, 10

(winter 1995-6), 76-80.

16 17

On War, VIII, 3B, p.589 Ibid. p. 586.

Die Wunderliche Dreifaltigkeit (The Wondrous18 Trinity) Clausewitz describes the trinity as composed of19:


Primordial violence, hatred, and enmity, which are regarded as a blind

natural force;


The play of chance and probability, within which the creative spirit is free

to roam; and


Its element of subordination, as an instrument of policy, which makes it

subject to pure reason. Read in tandem20 with Clausewitzs metaphor of wars appearance from case to case as a chameleon, the trinity addresses the underlying forces that drive those changes. His message was that the relationship among these three elements was inherently unstable and shifting. To quote, the taskis to keep our theory [of war] floating among these three tendencies21, and not try to set, or to count on any fixed relationship among them.


Hew, S., & Andreas, H.-R. (2009). Primacy of Policy and Trinity in Clausewitzs Thought. In S. Hew, &

H.-R. Andreas (Eds.), Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (pp. 74-90). New York: Oxford University Press Inc. No modern translator is prepared to render wunderliche in the military context as wonderful or wonderous. Howard and Paret in 1976 used remarkable, which was a throwaway word of no particular significance. This was changed to paradoxical in the 1984 edition, but this word seems to have no relationship to wunderliche and carries inappropriately negative connotations.
19 20 21

On War, I, 1, 28. Ibid. Clausewitzs description of the trinity followed after the metaphor of war as a chameleon. Ibid.

Clausewitz and a New Containment22 The Removal of the Inhibitions on War and a New Containment The twenty-first century appeared for a time an age defined by economics and, to a great extent, peace. These expectations quickly disappeared with the massacres and genocides in Africa, return of war to Europe, the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with their continuing, violent consequences and the Arab Springs. A struggle against a new totalitarianism of an Islamic type appears to have started, in which war and violence is commonly perceived as having an unavoidable role, and perceived to be becoming more unbounded than ever before. Spatially, the terrorist are potentially ever present. Temporally, there seems no end-in-sight to their attacks. We face new types of threats such as the development of atomic bombs by problematic states like Iran and North Korea and the possession of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists. The emergence of China as a potential superpower and perhaps great powers, like India, may lead to a fresh arms dynamic, with the possibility of a nuclear dimension. Violence seems to be going out of rational control, an image that the media has not hesitated to portray. There is a grave portent of mankind confronting a coming anarchy of unknown dimensions. Hence, a new strategy of containment is needed23. There is no longer one exclusive actor to be contained. A strategy for military containment of China similar to that used against the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s, will likely provoke all kinds of crises and even conflict, which such a strategy intends to avoid. Therefore, a different concept of containment is needed, one that is not perceived as a threat by China. The second difference is that current developments in the strategic environment display fundamentally conflicting tendencies.24 A strategy designed to counter only one

George Kennan formulated his original vision of containment more than sixty years ago. Although

altered in its application by various administrations in the United States, it has in practice been incorporated within the concept and politics of common security, which in turn has itself been the essential complement to purely military containment.
23 24

In comparison to the Cold War. Between globalization on the one hand, and local struggles for identity and regional advantages and

interests on the other; between high-tech wars and combat with knives and machetes or attacks by suicide bombers between symmetrical and asymmetrical warfare; between wars over the world order,

of these conflicting tendencies may be problematic with respect to the others. Therefore, there is a need to strike a balance between competing possibilities. The third difference is that the traditional containment was perceived mainly as military deterrence of the Soviet Union. The new containment must combine traditional, military containment on one side and a range of opportunities for cooperation on the other. That is necessary with respect not only to China, but even to political Islam, in order to reduce the appeal of militant Islamic movements to millions of Muslim youths. In response to this unbounded-ness on war and violence, a conception for their containment is needed to provide a sustained and continual limitation through the fencing in and encircling of the same forces. 25 The guiding perspective is that of a peaceful, or rather a pacified, global society. This perspective cannot be equated with peace since in order to reach this goal, non-peaceful, violent and even military means must in some cases be employed. Clausewitzs Concept of Politics The defeat of Napoleon was the turning point of Clausewitzs theory, where he faced the problem of dealing with strategies of limited war within the same conceptual framework as those leading to total defeat of the enemy. He realized that there are very different and even contrasting kinds of war and strategy. The conflicting tendencies in war, especially between limited and unlimited war 26 compelled Clausewitz to conclude
with the re-politicization and re-ideologization, between imperial-hegemonic dominance of the only superpower and the formation of new regional power centers; between international organized crime and the institutionalization of regional and global communities; and between increasing violations of international law and human rights on one side and their expansion on the other.

Andreas, H.-R. (2009). Clausewitz and a New Containment. In S. Hew, & H.-R. Andreas (Eds.),

Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (pp. 283-307). New York: Oxford University Press Inc.

Clausewitz discussed unlimited and limited war in terms that supported his conception of the defense

as the stronger form of war. The central issue in both cases of war was the will of the combatants. Unlimited war occurred when the attacker was determined to destroy the political independence of the defender through battle if necessary, and the defender no less determined to preserve its political independence. Equivalence in the strength of will did not, however, mean the outcome would be determined by the balance of military forces and the fortunes of war. Even catastrophic military defeat at the hands of a militarily superior attacker, Clausewitz believed, would not produce a decision if the

that the unifying general principle was politics.27 However, which kind of politics could serve to contain war and violence in the twenty-first century? Clausewitzs notions of limited warfare have their foundations in the last parts of book VIII. They find some reflection in book I, chapter 2: 'Be that as it may, we must always consider that with the conclusion of peace the purpose of the war has been achieved'; and further on: 'Since war is not an act of senseless passion but is controlled by its political object, the value of this object must determine the sacrifices to be made for it in magnitude and also in duration. 28 In book VIII, he stated: 'In this way the belligerent is again driven to adopt a middle course. He would act on the principle of using no greater force, and setting himself no greater military aim, than would be sufficient for the achievement of his political purpose. To turn this principle into practice, he must renounce the need for absolute success in each given case.' 29 It is a natural step to evolve from his strategy of limited warfare to one of the limitations of war and violence as the overarching purpose of political action in the twenty-first century. This perspective is still based on Clausewitz's statement that war is a continuation of politics by other means, while trying to actualize his concept of politics. Clausewitz describes war on the one hand as a continuation of politics, but on the other side as waged with other than political means. This implicit tension is the basis of the explicit contrast between the first and the third tendencies of Clausewitzs trinity. 30
defender had the will to preserve what remained of his regular military forces by retreat even to the point of abandonment of all national territory, and to resort to armed popular support against the invader in spite of its potential to promote anarchy. Limited war meant a situation in which the attacker's objectives did not involve the destruction of the political independence of the defender, and the defender's stake in the outcome was thus not one of survival. (Sumida, 2009)

Andreas Herberg-Rothe had elaborated this interpretation in Andreas Herberg-Rothe, Das


Clausewitz. Politische Theorie des Krieges im WIderstreit (Munich, 2001), 79-145, and in the English edition of the same book, Clausewitzs Puzzle (Oxford, 2007). We can find this conclusion in the trinity; within the note of 1827, in which Clausewitz mentioned both aspects as guiding principles for reworking the whole text; in book I, chapter 2; and in most parts of book VIII of On War,
28 29 30

On War, I, 2, pp. 91-2. Ibid. VIII, 3B, p. 585. It can be demonstrated that, due to systematic reasons but also with the respect to historical

experience, trying to suspend this tension for the sake of the primacy of one of the two sides always leads


Furthermore, one could argue that globalization and the ubiquity of information technologies have created a worldwide political space from which no one can escape, however much his actions might be derived, in their immediate motivation, from private interests or from the cultural practices of ethnic or tribal communities.31 Hence, the role of politics is intensified and reaction time within all three tendencies of Clausewitzs trinity is reduced.

Containing War and Violence in World Society The concept of containment is associated with the insight that we cannot expect in the foreseeable future to see fully non-violent societies or a non-violent world society. In addition, the aspiration to a world without conflicts as such fails to recognize that in the course of history conflicts and conflict solutions have frequently been necessary for human development. The main task confronting politics and social forces in the twentyfirst century is the radical limitation, even diminishing of violence and war, so that nonviolent structures can be sustained and the mechanisms of the 'world of societies' 32 can come to fruition. The overall political perspective on which the concept of the containing of war and violence in world society rests therefore consists of the following elements, the 'pentagon of containing war and violence'33:


The ability to deter and discourage any opponent from fighting a large-

scale war and to conduct precise military action as a last resort;

to a primacy of the military means, of warfare and violence; see Beatrice Heuser, Reading Clausewitz (London, 2002).

Antulio, E. I. (2003). Globalization and the Clausewitzian Nature of War. The European Legacy, 8/3, pp.


Ernst Otto Czempiel, Weltpolitik im Umbruch. Die Pax Americana, der Terrorisinus und die Zukunft der

interuationalen Bezh.'hungen (Munchen, 2002). 33 Andreas, H.-R. (2009). Clausewitz and a New Containment. In S. Hew, & H.-R. Andreas (Eds.), Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (pp. 283-307). New York: Oxford University Press Inc.



The possibility of using military force in order to limit and contain

particularly excessive, large-scale violence which has the potential to destroy societies;


The willingness to counter phenomena which help to cause violence, such

as poverty and oppression, especially in the economic sphere, and also the recognition of a pluralism of cultures and styles of life in world society;


The motivation to develop a culture of civil conflict management (concepts

which can be summed up in the 'civilizational hexagon', global governance, and democratic peace), based on the observation that the reduction of our action to military means has proved counterproductive and in the end will exceed our military capabilities; and


Restricting the possession and proliferation of weapons of mass

destruction, their delivery systems, as well as of small arms, because the proliferation of both is inherently destructive to social order.

Antulio Echevarria writes that 'the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Terrorism also includes an essential, but rather ambitious goal of diminishing the conditions that terrorists typically exploit, such as poverty, social and political disenfranchisement, and long-standing political, religious, and ethnic grievances; reducing these conditions requires, among other things, fostering political, social, and economic development, good governance, the rule of law, and consistent participation in the "war of ideas" Further important tasks include preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and of small arms.34 Normative criteria are required for the containment of war and violence in world society. Such criteria combine politicalmoral considerations with aspects relevant to every state's interest in self-preservation. It requires political actors to recognize the

Antulio, E. (2009). Clausewitz and the Nature of the War on Terror. In S. Hew, & H.-R. Andreas (Eds.),

Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (pp. 196-218). New York: Oxford University Press Inc.


advantages of self-limitation as part of their own enlightened self-interest. In anthropological terms, we can see the roots of the political in the openness and indeterminacy of the human power to act. In historical terms, we can follow Aristotle in seeing these roots in the way we are forced to limit ourselves once we become aware of the contingency of human actions. It follows from this that one of the decisive questions for future development is that of the possible self-interest of the United States, or regional powers, making conflict subject to legal norms, in civil conflict management, and binding military power into alliance systems. President Obamas Pivot to Asia necessitated the development of a military strategy for the potential, if highly improbable, conflict with China. Seeking a decisive victory or traditional military containment are not viable strategies in current and projected realities, as they probably only serve to escalate the situation. Also, the United States must select ways that minimize the probability of escalation to nuclear conflict simply because it does not understand Chinas nuclear release process and there is no winner in a major nuclear exchange. The logic leads to the concept of Offshore Control 35 . Operationally, it uses currently available means and restricted ways to deny China the use of the sea in a strategy of economic strangulation to exhaust China to the point it seeks war termination. Penetration into China is forbidden to reduce the possibility of escalation and to make war termination easier. Offshore Control seeks to allow the Chinese Communist Part to end the conflict in the same way China ended its conflicts with India, the UN (in Korea), the Soviet Union and the Vietnamese. It allows China to declare it taught the enemy a lesson and thus end the conflict. The progressive limitation of war and violence indefinitely can be an end to itself in the realization of a basically peaceful global policy. The enduring and progressive containment of war and violence is therefore necessary for self-preservation of states, even their survival, and for the civility of individual societies and world society.


Hammes, T. (2012, Spring). Offshore Control: A Proposed Strategy. Infinity Journal, 2(2), pp. 10-14.


Conclusion Clausewitz, in his note of 1827, recognized the need to rework the whole of On War according to his new insight, the distinction between limited war and war whose aim is to overthrow the enemy and render him powerless. However, he was not always clear in his thoughts especially in his early writings and even up to 1827. For example, there is a lack of clarity on the discourse at the beginning of book I, chapter 1, of the three interactions that push war to the extreme, despite the fact that these sections were presumably written after the note of 1827. It can be said that for the purpose of analyzing and studying warfare, both the early and later Clausewitz is of great importance and value. However, for political and military action of our time, perhaps only the later Clausewitz needs serve as an important basis. As Clausewitz himself emphasized at the end of his discussion of the trinity, 'at any rate, the preliminary concept of war casts a first ray of light on the basic structure of theory, and enables us to make an initial differentiation and identification of its major components.36 Thinking about contemporary and future warfare with, and sometimes beyond, Clausewitz can still be the best way to begin.


Ibid. I, 1, 28, p. 89.


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