Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Forget Clausewitz?

Over at Opinion Journal, Robert Kaplan reviews Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias, by Richard H. Shultz Jr. and Andrea J. Dew. Kaplan writes:

Forget Karl von Clausewitz's dictum that war is a last resort and circumscribed by the methodical actions and requirements of a state and its army. Forget Hugo Grotius's notion that war should be circumscribed by a law of nations. As the authors remind us, paraphrasing the anthropologist Harry Turney-High: "Tribal and clan chieftains did not employ war as a cold-blooded and calculated policy instrument. . . . Rather, it was fought for a host of social-psychological purposes and desires, which included . . . honor, glory, revenge, vengeance, and vendetta." With such motives, torture and beheadings become part of the normal ritual of war.
Interesting. John Keegan wrote much the same thing back in 1993 in A History of Warfare. A nice summary of Keegan's argument can be found in this essay. Rest assured that the defenders of Clausewitz will be out in full force and fury, as they were for Keegan.


Atlas said...

What do you think? What do the others think? Dont just tease me with others arguments, jump into the fray!

Besides, Im curious, since I dont know which side to take.

Thank you.

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