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An Essay On The Relevence Of Clausewitz’ Theory On Understanding Contemporary Wars

1046 words - 5 pages


The widespread recognition of Clausewitz’s relevance in understanding contemporary warfare can largely be credited with the modern, post cold-war translation by Howard and Paret. In understanding the text in its true context rather than with a cold-war fascination has allowed the contemporary student of war greater insight to understanding the ‘art of war’. Though the writings of Clausewitz remain more often quoted in isolation rather than read in complete, the astute student will understand Clausewitz’s fundamental intent for his script being to guide the military commander through his/her ...view middle of the document...

Contemporary examples highlight the importance for military commanders at all levels maintaining a very accurate understanding of the political objective and ensuring their tactical actions are equally consistent. Writers Hew Strachan and Andreas Herberg-Rothe highlight the applicability of Clausewitz in the 21st century by exploring the war on terror through the prism of ‘On War’ theorem. Though written with a degree of influence from the Napoleonic age with focus on state-on-state conflicts, the degree of relevance in examining war with non-state actors remains very apt. Clausewitz acknowledged that policy is continually evolving and adapting to the changing environment, and purports so too, must the military means also adapt accordingly to meet these same aspired conditions that depict success. The coalition wars in the Middle East over the course of the last decade have exposed examples of where the military effort and the political objective have not been aligned. These examples include vague and arguably inappropriate policy for the military war effort to achieve, and occasions where the military effort has not operated in accordance with a nested political intent. In almost all occasions, though not necessarily always seen from the stovepipe perspective, is quickly highlighted in a broader perspective when exposed under the tension of war and associated friction. It is noted that in its simplest form, the political objectives and the military objectives are the same, however, more often than not their differences must be bridged through the adoption of a reflective military strategy that will support the achievement of the political endstate. The statesman’s role in ensuring this correlation remains intact has obvious relevance in today’s conflicts as it did at the time of Clausewitz’s writing.

In addressing the second characteristic, the ‘trinity’ of war, it is important to address the link between these two key items, that being the statesman. While the statesman remains responsible for articulating the state’s policy from which the soldier will undertake action to achieve, he is also responsible for the dynamic alignment of the military and harnessing the support of the people to which makes up the third component of the trinity....


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