Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Clausewitz Gone Wild!

Till 911 time, perhaps the ultimate state on state violence visionary was none other than the late great General Karl von Clausewitz. His book pubbed after his death (by his wife Maria - must have been quite a guy!) is the essential Vom Kriege.

Xlated into English as "On War" this ancient tome codifies all the power, hot desires and abilities of the state into one aim - decisively defeating an enemy state and her forces in war.

Even just the cool caveats about state on state warfare would take an entire book to do it right, (inexplicably neglected by Best Defense) there are a few things to consider.

Almost from the start - generals or field marshalls that dissed von Clausewitz and failed to heed the mojo also rued the day:

Instant follow up is critical!

Every instinct will cry out to the commanders for pause, rest - refreshment.

"Once the great victory is gained, the next question is not about rest, not about taking breath, not about considering, not about reorganising, etc., etc., but only of pursuit of fresh blows wherever necessary, of the capture of the enemy's capital, of the attack of the armies of his allies, or of whatever else appears to be a rallying point for the enemy. "

General Bragg choose not to pursue the Union after handing them their assets in Chickamauga - he later led a slow leisurely siege of Union at Chattaboogie which only served to lengthen the war until Union busted out and fought non stop to Atlanta - where General Sherman debut'd the concept of Total War licking Georgia's peach clean till she begged him to hit South Cackalacky who had started the entire sorry mess to begin with.

Combined Assault

"When the disproportion of Power is so great that no limitation of our own object can ensure us safety from catastrophe - forces will, or should, be concentrated in one desperate blow."

General Clausewitz's own kindred sons - the 3rd Reich's Wehrmacht did exactly that in the desperate Ardennes Offensive - and suffered a complete defeat that practically threw open the door to western Deutschland for Allied armies.

Clausewitz in the new millennium?

Since 911, state on state violence and von Clausewitz are considered possibly passe' - no nation state will prob ever fight a real war(?) - most likely - proxy wars like Hiz'B'Allah against Little Satan or intolerant insurgents will be the complete target set.

Yet as Great Satan preps the battlefield and fights the last war - the counter insurgency wars - von Clausewitz himself makes a killer case for checking 44's new improved AFPAK with Vom Kriege.

Fog of War:

"The great uncertainty of all data in war is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight, which in addition not infrequently — like the effect of a fog or moonshine — gives to things exaggerated dimensions and unnatural appearance"

Certainly makes the 'exit date uncertain' an inclusion in any combat endeavors.


"Annihilate the enemy’s center of gravity, the hub of all power and movement, on which everything depends … the point against which all our energies should be directed.”

The AF part may include seizing all those pop pop poppy fields. Destroyed or hooked up like a strategic resource would certainly be a theatre wide game changer - starving certain elements of cash, bling, prestige and refuge.

The PAK fact is, that much firepower sweetly snuggled up almost in weapons range of Land of the Pure sends an militarized signal of commitment.

Clausewitz and AFPAK can also be rosetta stoned into the theoretical:

"December 1, the White House (in a fact sheet accompanying the president’s address) said that “this region is the heart of the global violent extremism pursued by Al Qaeda” (emphasis added).

"Is the Afghanistan/Pakistan region really the “hub of all power and movement on which everything depends”?

"Or, is the true center of gravity the hopelessness in the populations of repressive regimes in the Middle East and South Asia, which drives young men to violence and Islamic extremism?

Pic - "Vom Kriege!"


mauryk2 said...

Excellent. Posting on Facebook

Robert Pearson said...

Are you sure you're not K. v. C.'s great-great-great grand daughter or somethin'? First time I came by here that was my thought. Love it!