Clausewitz may help us understand why forever wars take forever

David Betz has written an article in Military Strategy Magazine titled In Search of a Point: The Blob at War on the importance of Clausewitz in modern war theory:

[Consider] that the greatest military power in the world today has not won a war in seventy-five years. So accustomed now is the world to this fact that it seems unremarkable when statesmen and commanders regularly voice the most astonishing garbage. ‘There is no military solution’, they say while deploying military force somewhere to do something, with a fig leaf of ‘whole of government’ other means—almost always badly-organised, ill-conceived, and under-skilled, though surprisingly often well-funded.
In other words, the situation is that we frequently use military force as a tool of policy; the complication is that we have policy desires that are often strategically ridiculous, usually because they are props in domestic political theatre more than anything else, and/or hubristic and not actually achievable by military force. We have lost track of what war is for, and that is the case because (crazy as it sounds) we have lost track of what war is. Hence, the contemporary relevance of Clausewitz because for all of his faults he had a distinct view on that point.

The whole article is a delightful read. Betz delivers an eloquent and scathing critique of the theoretical understanding of war expressed by figures like Jim Mattis.

Bonus points for getting the sentence “provides a little more lubricant before administering the suppository” into a peer reviewed article.




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