The Philosophy of War

If you enter military service with a commission, you will be hard-pressed not to confront Carl von Clausewitz, the great Napoleonic era military strategic thinker and some would say philosopher of war.

Carl von Clausewitz-
Col.lithograph after the painting by Wilhelm Wach (c. 1820).

Is he passé or still relevant in the high-tech battlefield of 2022?

Clausewitz’s conceptualization of war is based on a philosophical dialectic between the nature of war (Wesen) and changing forms of war (Formen). In that sense, he will always be the conceptual lens through which we see ourselves as a society. and culture when it decides to wage war.

The tools and methods used to wage war change with the times, but students of Clausewitz are skeptical about supposed changes in what we believe to be war’s enduring nature. According to the Prussian, war’s nature does not change – only its character. The way we use these words today can seem to render such a distinction meaningless, but careful attention to semantics can reveal real problems in how we think about war, society, and the future.

War’s nature is violent, interactive, and fundamentally political. Absent any of these elements, what you’re talking about is not war but something else.

Since war is a political act that takes place in and among societies, its specific character will be shaped by those politics and those societies – by what Clausewitz called the “spirit of the age.” War’s conduct is undoubtedly influenced by technology, law, ethics, culture, methods of social, political, and military organization, and other factors that change across time and place.

For Clausewitzians, the character of a specific war is defined by the variable relationship between the three elements of the trinity: passion and primordial violence, chance and uncertainty, and purpose (or the controlling hand of policy).

War is always a subset of politics, of human society.

 

A Look Back at Gothic Serpent

(WaPo Article) Claudio brought it up (below) but the story was larger and the article referenced here discusses CIA operations and my dear friend, John Spinelli, (Deputy Chief of Station) who was gravely wounded. CIA was going to let him die but General Garrison intervened, had an aircraft re-routed, and had John Medivac’d. The article by Vernon Loeb was well written and I recommend it. Garrett Jones (Chief of Station) was not wounded but suffered all the same.

(Business Insider – h/t Claudio)

The battle in Mogadishu, Somalia — popularized by the movie “Black Hawk Down” — was so fierce that it resulted in two Medal of Honors and dozens of lesser awards.

Now the US Army has upgraded 58 of those awards to the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor under fire, and two others to the Distinguished Flying Cross, which recognizes heroism in aerial combat.

Task Force Ranger was the best the US military had to offer. A few hundred strong, the task force comprised Delta Force’s C Squadron, Bravo Company from the 3rd Ranger Battalion, small elements of Air Commandos, a four-man reconnaissance and sniper team from SEAL Team 6, and helicopters from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, also known as the “Night Stalkers.”

Operation Gothic Serpent, their mission in Somalia, was a US-led effort to stop the civil war in the East African country by capturing warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid, a key player in the conflict, and his lieutenants.

Even if you’ve seen the film, I suggest that you read the referenced article.

28 COMMENTS

  1. It’s such a sad state of affairs all you can do laugh about it! Greatest masterpieces of our time! Thanks for the laughs LL. Hope you’re feeling better.

  2. Ah, the Crusades. One of the most lied-about series of wars ever

    4 centuries of Muslim oppression. Churches destroyed, parishioners enslaved or killed, towns that had been in existence since before Christ walked this earth laid waste.

    And everyone bitches and moans about Christian atrocities, like the Sack of Jerusalem, forgetting all the awful things the towelies did to anyone in their grasp.

    Then there’s the Reconquista. I was in a history class and some brainless idiot asked why the Spanish were being so mean to the peaceful Muslims. She and a lot of people couldn’t understand the meaning of the word “Reconquista.” That’s the point in time that I realized US education for the masses was just designed to create dumbmasses. Sometime around 7th or 8th grade.

    As to SloJo and the Crackhead? As much as I don’t want a French Revolution, dammit, they need to meet Madame Guillotine, along with many more of their friends. Or recreate a couple Goya paintings.

    • They couldn’t tell the truth about Muslims…it would be…Islamophobic. Yet it’s cool to brand retired soldiers and police officers as domestic terrorists.

  3. just watched af1 jet off to atlantic city for a quick ice cream for potus, lol. saw my first drone on flight tracker, lost it over mocksville, nc. a crap ton of .mil flights going every which way and a conair flight bringing illegals from oklahoma to raleigh durham. have fun nc….i met/worked with a sergeant from blackhawk down. good guy, but ptsd’d to the gills. shaking like a leaf 24/7, couldn’t eat. felt for the guy, it was tragic. also had a run in w/ then maj steele. he was a total jerk. i was on an inspection team in bosnia, deadlined his unit. i tried to help him fix it but he told me to ef off. my boss, the theatre commander, was not amused. seems he was a screw up in every command he had. …the truckers are holding firm from what i can glean. sic semper tyrannis.

    • Breaking News – The Russians are breaking camp from winter exercises and are heading home to regular garrisons. That will depress Brandon and the weapons makers. I’m sure that Camela will take the credit and get ready for her Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony.

    • It seems to me that the question is, what does Putin need in addition to Ukraine staying out of NATO? He annexed Crimea and obviously wants to annex eastern Ukraine, which is mostly Russian-speaking and largely pro-Russia, as well. My guess–and it is purely a guess–is that this is what is now being negotiated. How much of Ukraine will the Western powers be willing to sever from that country, perhaps by plebiscite, over the heated objections of Ukraine’s government?

      From your referenced article.

      I agree with the author. The Donbas is Russian-speaking (like Crimea) and overwhelmingly want to be part of Russia. For Russia, the territorial gain would be symbolic. For Europe, it would be a democratic vote by the region. Brandon has diverted attention away from Afghanistan and away from the economic misery at home.

      • it just dawned on me. i always follow the money. forgot that this time. what if it was soros et al wagging the dog/s? he likely made another crap ton of cash on the wild stock markets. laughing all the way to the brink of thermonuclear war.

  4. Putin is pulling some troops back…making Our Premier PoopyPants soil his Depends and look like the Wag The Dog fool he is for egging on a country to go to war. The Dem’s are displaying their asinine amateur hour idiocy.

    • Yeah, nothing new there. Brandon just had a press conference, read from his teleprompter for 11 minutes, took no questions, and called a lid for the day. Time for warm milk and stewed prunes.

  5. Thanks for information on Somalia. A lot of the background I had not seen before.

    I remember seeing a visual representation that compared the number of Moslem attacks on Christian areas to the number of Christian attacks on Moslem held areas from the time of Mohamed on. It was pretty obvious from that who the true aggressors were. It was pretty telling.

    In a lot of areas Clausewitz is still spot on. Has certainly passed the test of time, that is for sure.

    • Napolean said that God is on the side of the big battalions.

      Little Billy Clownton should have sent bigger battalions to that one.

  6. Ah, you’re a dangerous beast, LL.Substance and Accidents as applied to conflict or, for that matter, anything else.

    I go with Thomas and Aristotle, predicatbly.

    What’s your take on Panzer Leader?

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