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  • Clausewitz, On War, Book 1: Clausewitz and Herman Kahn

    Posted by Cheryl Rofer on 13th January 2009 (All posts by )

    Herman Kahn consciously followed Clausewitz’s lead in choosing the title On Thermonuclear War.

    However, whereas Clausewitz was trying to develop a general theory of war from his and others’ experiences, Kahn was trying to develop a theory of a war of a kind that had never been fought.

    In Chapter 8 of Book 1, Clausewitz telescopes war down to “a single short blow” to show that this is not possible. Nuclear war moves closer to this idealization. Kahn’s analysis is that even a nuclear war does not consist of a single short blow. There can be warnings and exchanges.

    Kahn was analyzing the standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union. There was 30 minutes warning of a strike by one on the other. Kahn died before India and Pakistan achieved approximate nuclear parity in 1998. Their warning times come much closer to Clausewitz’s “single short blow.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Clausewitz Roundtable | 11 Comments »