Posted by seydlitz89 on January 27th, 2009 (All posts by seydlitz89)
Time constraints as usual are not allowing me to participate like I would wish to in this fascinating discussion.
Just a few comments, a bit disjointed perhaps, but here goes:
First, the “tactical nature” of victory. Fighting is the means for tactics and military victory is the end, whereas military victory is the means for strategy whose end is the return to peace with the political purpose attained (Book 2, ch 2). Of course either side could forestall peace for whatever reason, seeing the continuation of (relatively low-level) hostilities as more advantageous than concluding peace. This brings up potentially other problems as referred to in Section 3, Ch 1, Book 1. In any case, a four-star general who says that he didn’t plan for “Phase IV” operations should be busted to private and expected to clean latrines for the duration. You would only have to do this once, and the effect on strategic thought and its interaction with planning would be only beneficial.
Second, “Politics, moreover is the womb in which war developes – where its outlines already exist in their hidden rudimentary form, like the characteristics of living creatures in their embryos.” Book 2, ch 3. Once again war must be seen as a theoretical whole, as a complete social phenomenon subordinate to politics and thus drawing its “nature” from the poltical conditions / relations present at the specific time. Herbert Rosinski in his classic, The German Army (1966 Edition), claimed this as Clausewitz’s most important contribution, “Clausewitz grasped the idea of war as a coherent, continuous whole, directed to the complete overthrow of the enemy’s power of resistance. This brilliant inspiration transformed his investigation from the naive brilliance of his earlier studies into the philosophical profundity of his mature work . . . but he never lost sight of the fact that the indispensible conditions for it [complete overthrow] might again some day no longer exist and that military theory must therefore envisage other, less rational forms of warfare . . . [developing] an infinately wider and more elastic theory, capable of embracing every conceivable form of war or strategy.” (pp 110-111). In other words Clausewitz’s general theory of war.
Third, while I agree with Lexington Green’s comment as to the primary aim of Clausewitz’s theory to be in training of military commanders, the project required for this is much more extensive. Training would have to begin at the level of the junior officer since their judgement in just as necessary in tactical situations as for the commander in strategic ones. Also staff officers are necessary for modern armies to function and (this was evident even in Clausewitz’s time) the training of staff officers in strategic theory is necessary for various obvious reasons (war planning duties being one). Also theory being necessarily reflective, due to its close relationship with military history, properly written military history (critical analysis) is absolutely necessary for the career development of military commanders (Book 2, Ch 5). I would add that Clausewitz’s approach to critical analysis is mirrored and expanded upon in Max Weber’s methodology for the social sciences. (See The Essential Weber, pp 359-403).