Sunday, July 29, 2012

On War, Part 3

Consequences for Theory [Clausewitz’ Trinity]

War is more that a true chameleon that slightly adapts its characteristics to the given case. As a total phenomenon its dominant tendencies always make war a paradoxical trinity—composed of [i] primordial violence, hatred, and enmity, which are to be regarded as a blind natural force; [ii] of the play of chance and probability within which the creative spirit is free to roam; and [iii] of its element of subordination, as an instrument of policy, which makes it subject to reason alone. (Book One, Chapter One, § 28, p. 89).

The first of these three aspects mainly concern the people; the second the commander and his army; the third the government. The passions that are to be kindled in war must already be inherent in the people; the scope which the play of courage and talent will enjoy in the realm of probability and chance depends on the particular character of the commander and the army; but the political aims are the business of the government alone.

These three tendencies are like three different codes of law, deep-rooted in their subject and yet variable in their relationship to one another. (Book One, Chapter One, § 28, p. 89).

COMMENT: Clausewitz’ Trinity of War

• People—violence, passion

• Commander and Army—chance

• Government—establishes policies for war and ensures subordination to policy