Saturday, August 25, 2012

On War Part VII: On Physical Effort and Intelligence in War

1.5 Book One, Chapter 5: On Physical Effort in War

Among the many factors in war that cannot be measured, physical effort is the most important. Unless it is wasted, physical effort is a coefficient of all forces, and its exact limit cannot be determined… it takes a powerful mind to drive his army to the limit. (Book One, Chapter Five, p. 115)

Our reason for dealing with physical effort here is that like danger it is one of the great sources of friction in war. Because its limits are uncertain, it resembles one of those substances whose elasticity makes the degree of its friction exceedingly hard to gauge. (Book One, Chapter Five, p. 115)

No one can count on sympathy if he accepts an insult or mistreatment because he claims to be physically handicapped. But if he manages to defend or revenge himself, a reference to his handicap will be to his advantage. In the same way, a general and an army cannot remove the stain of defeat by explaining the dangers, hardships, and exertions that were endured; but to depict them adds immensely to the credit of a victory. (Book One, Chapter Five, pp. 115-116)

1.6 Book One, Chapter 6: Intelligence in War

By “intelligence” we mean every sort of information about the enemy and his country—the basis, in short, of our own plans and operations. (Book One, Chapter Six, p. 117)

Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain. We one can reasonably ask of an officer is that he should possess a standard of judgment, which he can gain only from knowledge of men and affairs and from common sense. He should be guided by the laws of probability… In short, most intelligence is false, and the effect of fear is to multiply lies and inaccuracies. As a rule most men would rather believe bad news than good, and rather tend to exaggerate the bad news. The dangers that are reported may soon, like waves, subside; but like waves they keep recurring, without apparent reason. The commander must trust his judgment and stand like a rock on which the waves break in vain. It is not an easy thing to do. If he does not have buoyant disposition, if experience of war has not trained him and matured his judgment, he had better make it a rule to suppress his personal convictions, and give his hopes and not his fears the benefit of the doubt. Only thus can he preserve the proper balance. (Book One, Chapter Six, p. 117)

GIV COMMENT:  Interestingly, the above remains just as valid today as when it was written. For example, during Operation Desert Storm, General Schwarzkopf stated that ambiguous intelligence reports full of caveats was the norm; which were actually more harmful than helpful. Another point is that we have so much information coming in that the Commander may be overwhelmed by minutiae and detail, and have difficulty in sorting out meaningful information.

This difficulty of accurate recognition constitutes on of the most serious sources of friction in war, by making things appear entirely different from what one had expected. (Book One, Chapter Six, p. 117)

[S]elf reliance is his best defense against the pressures of the moment. Was has a way of masking the stage with scenery crudely daubed with fearsome apparitions. Once this is cleared away, and the horizon becomes unobstructed, developments will confirm his earlier convictions—this is one of the great chasm between planning and execution. (Book One, Chapter Six, p. 117)

GIV COMMENT: which is why planning needs to be detailed in preparation but flexible in execution—which is easier said that done.  As previously noted in a prior posting, Marshal of the Soviet Union Vasili I. Chuikov observed in his book “The Battle for Stalingrad”:   “But for success in battle beautifully drawn maps count for very little.  A good strategic or operational plan needs to be implemented in good time, needs good tactics and the flexible handling of armies.  But when a decision is taken late, it will inevitably be carried out in haste.  In such cases, there will as a rule be a lack of organization and co-ordination.”  This is the reality of war:  maps and calculations count for very little.

Sunday, August 19, 2012



GIVEN: That deterrence fails and China initiates hostilities against another Asian state.

GOAL: Restore regional stability and protect political/economic interests of the United States.


  - Maintain forces within the region capable of dealing with potential for aggression by China. Forces in Korea and Japan are sufficient
      -- Recurring exercises with other nations in the area will ensure smooth combined operations in combat situation

  - Once hostilities begin, US forces first establish a cordon sanitaire around the area of hostilities, sealing it off from further expansion
     -- Prevent escalation of hostilities; of prime importance, nuclear weapons must not be used
     -- Punitive strikes may be initiated in order to prevent Chinese from achieving goals, though these could lead to escalation

- Diplomatic - Seek UN sponsored resolution to the crisis or offer good offices to mediate dispute; the objective is to end hostilities quickly

- Political - Stress that we do not seek China's destabilization but a return to the status quo ante
     -- US will not tolerate aggression to settle disputes/stress that grievances can be addressed within the context of UN
     -- Support Vietnam and other South East Asian efforts against Chinese pressure
- Military - Logistical support and provide military equipment to Vietnam and other SE Asian nations akin Lend-Lease Act

- Economic - Threaten the use of sanctions or actually seek to impose sanctions against China to cease hostilities; withdraw MFN status from China

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: We must recognize that China because of its size, population, economy, and military power vis-a-vis its neighbors will be the greatest regional power in Asia. It is in our national interest to recognize and accept this. We should not overreact to, or feel threatened by, China's increasing political interests in the region. International relations theory recognizes that as powers begin to grow, their interests expand.

In war with Chinese aggression, our interests dictate that our goal is to seek a return to the status quo ante. Ultimately, our 'vital' interests in Asia are economic in nature as our physical security is not threatened directly. It is in our national interest to have a stable Asia to promote economic activity and trade. Our policy should reflect this goal.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

On War, Part VI: On Danger in War

1.4 Book One, Chapter 4: On Danger in War

GIV Comment:  For those who believe that war can be fought without battle... You are wrong.  War is ultimately a contest of arms, which is settled in battle. The best description of battle is provided by Clausewitz:

Let us accompany a novice to the battlefield. As we approach the rumble of guns grows louder and alternated with the whir of cannonballs, which begin to attract his attention. Shots begin to strike close around us. We hurry up the slope where the commanding general is stationed with his large staff. Here cannonballs and bursting shells are frequent, and life begins to seem more serious that the young man had imagined. Suddenly someone you know is wounded; then a shell falls among the staff. You notice that some of the officers act a little oddly; you yourself are not as steady and collected as you were: even the bravest can become slightly distracted. Now we enter the battle raging before us, still almost like a spectacle, and join the nearest divisional commander. Shot is falling like hail, and the thunder of our own guns adds to the din. Forward to the brigadier, a soldier of acknowledged bravery, but his is careful to take cover behind a rise, a house of a clump of trees. A noise is heard that is a certain indication of increasing danger—the rattling of grapeshot on roofs and on the ground. Cannonballs tear past, whizzing in all direction, and musketballs begin to whistle around us. A little further we reach the firing line, where the infantry endures the hammering for hours with incredible steadfastness. The air is filled with hissing bullets that sound like a sharp crack if they pass close to one’s head. For a final shock, the sight of men being killed and mutilated moves pounding hearts to awe and pity. (Book One, Chapter Four, p. 113.)

The novice cannot pass through these layers of increasing intensity of danger without sensing that here ideas are governed by other factors, that the light of reason is refracted in a manner quite different from that which is normal in academic speculation. (Book One, Chapter Four, p. 113.)

Here again we recognize that ordinary qualities are not enough; and the greater the area of responsibility, the truer this assertion becomes. (Book One, Chapter Four, p. 114.)

Danger is part of the friction of war. Without an accurate conception of danger we cannot understand war. (Book One, Chapter Four, p. 114)

GIV Comment:  Marshal of the Soviet Union Boris Shaposhnikov, Chief of the General Staff, captured the essence of war and what must be done:

"[A] war must begin with the defeat of the strongest and most dangerous enemy, and it must no be diverted by successes over a weak one by leaving the stronger to hang over one’s neck... It must be not forgotten that for the resolution of a war, it is important to have not only military successes, but also obtain political success, that is, win a victory over a politically important enemy ... Otherwise, only after an extended period accompanied even by military successes, will we be forced to return to the same fight against the main enemy against which we initially were only on the defensive."  David M. Glantz, The Military Strategy of the Soviet Union:  A History, (Portland, OR:  Frank Cass, 1992), p. 42.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

On War, Part V: On Military Genius

1.3 Book One, Chapter 3:  On Military Genius

GIV COMMENT: This is an important chapter from a practical point of view and is not dependent on historical analysis or setting. Genius does not have any special meaning other than an ordinary meaning, “in which “genius” refers to a very highly developed mental aptitude for a particular occupation. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 100.)

[I]t is precisely the essence of military genius that it does not consist in a single appropriate gift—courage, for example—while the other qualities of mind or temperament are wanting or are not suite to war. Genius consists in a harmonious combination of elements, in which one or the other ability may predominate, but none may be conflict with the rest.

[T]he terms refers to a special cast of mental or moral powers which can rarely occur in an army when a society has to employ its abilities in many different areas. The smaller the ranges of activities of a nation and the more the military factor dominate, the greater will be the incidence of military genius. This, however, is true only of its distribution, not of its quality. The latter depends on the general intellectual development of a given society. In any primitive, warlike race, the warrior spirit is far more common that among civilized peoples. It is possessed by almost every warrior: but in civilized societies only necessity will stimulate it in the people as a whole, since they lack the natural disposition for it. On the other hand, we will never find a savage who is truly a great commander, and very rarely one who would be considered a military genius, since this requires a degree of intellectual powers beyond anything that a primitive people can develop. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 100.)

Possession of military genius coincides with the higher degrees of civilization: the most highly developed societies produce the most brilliant soldiers, as the Romans and the French have shown us.

COMMENT: In accord with the Platonic virtues of courage, temperance, wisdom and justice. Clausewitz suggests that the most evenly balance produces military genius.

Examining the qualities of Military genius:

War is the realm of danger; therefore courage is the first quality of a warrior. [GIV COMMENT:  As Plato reminds us, a lion can lead an army of rabbits; but an army of lions cannot be led by a rabbitt.  The Republic]

Courage is of two kinds: courage in the face of personal danger, and courage to accept responsibility… [Clausewitz only discusses the first]

Courage in the face of personal danger is also of two kinds. It may be indifference to danger, which could be due to the individual’s constitution, or to his holding life cheap, or to habit… Alternatively, courage may result from such positive motives as ambition, patriotism, or enthusiasm of any kind…

These two kinds of courage act in different ways. The first is the more dependable; having become second nature, it will never fail. The other will often achieve more… The highest kind of courage is a compound of both.

War is the real of physical exertion and suffering. These will destroy us unless we can make ourselves indifferent to them and for this birth or training must provide us with a certain strength of body and soul… it is exactly these qualities that primitive and semicivilized peoples usually possess.

If we pursue the demands that war makes on those who practice it, we come to the region dominated by the powers of intellect. War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for…

War is the realm of chance. No other human activity gives it greater scope: no other has such incessant and varied dealings with this intruder. Chance makes everything more uncertain and interferes with the whole course of events. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 101.)

If the mind is to emerge unscathed from this relentless struggle with the unforeseen, two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead. The first of these qualities is described by the French term, coup d’oeil; the second is determination. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 102.)

GIV COMMENT: In this regard, Sidney Hook’s comment is apropos at this juncture: “One of the most conspicuous expressions of political insight is the sense of timing. Without it, great intelligence can be ineffective. Coupled with strong will, it can carry a mediocre mind to the heights.”  The Hero in History, 1943.

The aspect of war that has always attracted the greatest attention is the engagement. Because time and space are important elements of the engagement… the idea of a rapid and accurate decision was first based on an evaluation of time and space…

Coup d’oeil therefore refers not alone to the physical but, more commonly to the inward eye… the concept merely refers to the quick recognition of a truth that the mind would ordinarily miss or would perceive only after long study and reflection. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 102.)

GIV COMMENT: This is the O[bservation] O[rientation] part of Colonel John Boyd’s OODA Loop decision-making matrix

[Determination] Intelligence alone is not courage; we often see that the most intelligent people are irresolute. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 102.)

COMMENT: Interesting to read Clausewitz’s observation along side Neitzsche’s: “Courageous, untroubled, mocking, violent—that is what wisdom wants us to be: wisdom is a woman and loves only a warrior. […]

Since in the rush of event a man is governed by feelings rather than by thought, the intellect needs to arouse the quality of courage, which then supports and sustains it in action… [T]he role of determination is to limit the agonies of doubt and the perils of hesitation when the motives for action are inadequate. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 102-103.)

Determination, which dispels doubt, is a quality that can be aroused only by the intellect, and by a specific case of mind at that… it is engendered only by a metal act; the mind tells man that boldness is required, and thus gives direction to his will. [men of low intelligence cannot possess military genius because] They may act without hesitation in a crisis, but if they do, they act without reflection; and a man who acts without reflection cannot, of course, be torn by doubt. [Kornilov—heart of a lion with brains of a sheep] From time to time action of this type may even be appropriate; but… it is the average result that indicates the existence of military genius. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 103.)

[D]etermination proceeds from a special type of mind, from a strong rather than a brilliant one. We can give further proof of this interpretation by pointing to the many examples of men who show great determination as junior offices, but lose it as they rise in rank. Conscious of the need to be decisive, they also recognize the risks entailed by a wrong decision; since they are unfamiliar with the problems now facing them, their mind loses their former incisiveness. The more used they had been to instant action, the more their timidity increases as they realize the dangers of the vacillation that ensnares them.

[a related subject to coup d’oeil and determination]: “presence of mind.” This must play a great role in war, the domain of the unexpected, since it is nothing but an increased capacity of dealing with the unexpected. [Determination] Intelligence alone is not courage; we often see that the most intelligent people are irresolute. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 103.)

The expression “presence of mind” precisely conveys the speed and immediacy of the help provided by the intellect.

A quick retort shows wit; resourcefulness in sudden danger calls, above all, for steady nerve.

Four elements make up the climate of war: danger, exertion, uncertainty, and chance. [then discusses the interplay of psychological forces at play]

To begin with, clear thought demands that we keep one point in mind: of the weight, the burden, the resistance—call it what you like—that challenges the psychological strength of the soldier, only a small part is the direct result of the enemy’s activity, his resistance, or his operations.

A second way in which the enemy’s resistance directly affects the commander is the loss that is cause by prolonged resistance and the influence this exerts on his sense of responsibility.

So long as a unit fights cheerfully, with spirit and élan, great strength of will is rarely needed; but once conditions become difficult, as they must when much is at stake, things no longer run like a well-oiled machine. The machine itself begins to resist, and the commander needs tremendous will-power to overcome this resistance. [Determination] Intelligence alone is not courage; we often see that the most intelligent people are irresolute. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 104.)

Of all the passions that inspire man in battle, none, we have to admit, is so powerful and so constant as the longing for honor and renown… It is primarily this spirit of endeavor on the part of commanders at all levels, this inventiveness, energy, and competitive enthusiasm, which vitalizes an army and make it victorious.

Staunchness indicates the will’s resistance to a single blow; endurance refers to prolonged resistance.

Strength of mind or of character -- “[T]he ability to keep one’s head at times of exceptional stress and violent emotion. Could strength of intellect alone account for such a faculty? We doubt it. [Determination] Intelligence alone is not courage; we often see that the most intelligent people are irresolute. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 105.)

We repeat again: strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one’s balance in spite of them. Even with the violence of emotion, judgment and principle must still functions like a ship’s compass, which records the slightest variations however rough the sea. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 107.)

We say a man has strength of character, or simply has character, if he sticks to his own convictions, whether these derive from his own opinions or someone else’s, whether they represent principles, attitudes, sudden insights, or any other mental force. Such firmness cannot show itself, of course, if a man keeps changing his mind… Obviously a man whose opinions are constantly changing, even though this is in response to his own reflections, would not be called a man of character. The term is applied only to men whose views are stable and constant. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 107.)

Action can never be based on anything firmer than instinct, a sensing of the truth. Nowhere, in consequence, are differences of opinion so acute as in war, and fresh opinions never cease to batter at one’s convictions. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 108.)

Often there is a gap between principles and actual events that cannot always be bridged by a succession of logical deductions…. Frequently nothing short of an imperative principle will suffice, which is not par of the immediate thought-process, but dominates it: that principle is in all doubtful case to stick to one’s first opinion and to refuse to change it unless forced to do so by a clear conviction. (Id., p. 108.)

Strength of character can degenerate into obstinacy.

Obstinacy is not an intellectual defect; it comes from reluctance to admit that one is wrong… Obstinacy is a fault of temperament. Stubbornness and intolerance of contradiction result from a special kind of egotism, which elevates above everything else the pleasure of its autonomous intellect, to which others must bow. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 108.)

We would therefore argue that strength of character turns to obstinacy as soon as a man resists another point of view not from superior insight or attachment to some higher principle, but because he objects instinctively. (Book One, Chapter Three, pp. 108-109.)

Appropriate talent is needed at all levels if distinguished service is to be performed. But history and posterity reserve the name of “genius” for those who have excelled in the highest positions—as commanders-in-chief—since here the demands for intellectual and moral powers are vastly greater. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 111.)

[A] commander-in-chief must also be a statesman, but he must not cease to be a general. On the one hand, he is aware of the entire political situation; on the other, he knows exactly how much he can achieve with the means at his disposal. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 112.)

Circumstances vary so enormously in war, and are so indefinable, that a vast array of factors has to be appreciated—mostly in the light of probabilities alone… What this task requires in the way of higher intellectual gifts is a sense of unity and a power of judgment raised to a marvelous pitch of vision, which easily grasps and dismisses a thousand remote possibilities which an ordinary mind would labor to identify and wear itself out in so doing. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 112.)

Truth in itself is rarely sufficient to make men act. Hence the step is always long from cognition to volition, from knowledge to ability. The most powerful springs of action in men lie in his emotions. He derives his most vigorous support… from that blend of brains and temperament which we have learned to recognize in the qualities of determination, firmness, staunchness, and strength of character.

If we then ask what sort of mind is likeliest to display the qualities of military genius, experience and observation will both tell us that it is the inquiring rather than the creative mind, the comprehensive rather than the specialized approach, the calm rather than the excitable head to which in war we would choose to entrust the fate of our brothers and children, and the safety and honor of our country. (Book One, Chapter Three, p. 112.)

L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace.  General George S. Patton 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

On War, Part IV: Purpose and Means in War

1.2 Book One, Chapter 2: Purpose and Means in War

[P]ure concept of war… the political purpose of war had no connection with war itself; for if war is an act of violence meant to force the enemy to do our will its aim would have always and solely to be to overcome the enemy and disarm him. That aim is derived from the theoretical concept of war… (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 90).

[T]hree broad objectives , which between them cover everything: the armed forces, the country, and the enemy’s will...

The fighting forces must be destroyed: that is, they must be put in such a conditions that can no longer carry on the fight. Whenever we use the phrase “destruction of the enemy’s forces” this alone is what we mean.

The country must be occupied; otherwise the enemy could raise fresh military forces.

[S]o long as the enemy’s will has not been broken: in other words, so long as the enemy government and its allies have not been driven to ask for peace, or the population made to submit. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 90).

Be that as it may, we must always consider that with the conclusion of peace the purpose of the war has been achieved and its business is at an end. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 90-91).

Since of the three objectives named, it is the fighting forces that assure the safety of the country, the natural sequence would be to destroy them first, and then subdue the country. Having achieved these two goals and exploiting our own position of strength, we can bring the enemy to the peace table. As a rule, destroying the enemy’s forces tends to be a gradual process, as does the ensuing subjugation of the country.

But the aim of disarming the enemy (the object of war in the abstract, the ultimate means of accomplishing the war’s political purpose, which should incorporate all the rest) is in fact not always encountered in reality, and need not be fully achieved as a condition of peace. On no account should theory raid it to the level of a law. May treaties have been concluded before on of the antagonists could be called powerless—even before the balance of power had been seriously altered. What is more, a review of actual case shows a whole category of wars in which the very idea of defeating the enemy is unreal: those in which the enemy is substantially the stronger power. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 91).

COMMENT: One example of this is the Vietnam War or even the war in Afghanistan [in 2012]; in which the US is the far stronger power. Obviously, the Vietnamese did not disarm the US and the Afghans will not disarm the US—unless we speak of disarming metaphorically thus losing precision and meaning.

[Theoretical object of war is sometimes inappropriate to actual conflict] If war were what pure theory postulates, a war between states of markedly unequal strength would be absurd, and so impossible. At most, material disparity could not go beyond the amount that moral factors could replace; and social conditions being what they are in Europe today, moral forces would not go far. [I wonder what Islamic fanatics would think of that]. But wars have in fact been fought between states of very unequal strength, for actual war is often far removed from the pure concept postulated by theory. Inability to carry on the struggle can, in practice, be replaced by two other grounds for making peace: the first is the improbability of victory; the second is its unacceptable cost. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 91).

Not every war need be fought until one side collapses. When the motives and tensions of war are slight we can imagine that the very faintest prospect of defeat might be enough to cause one side to yield. If from the very start the other side feels that this is probable, it will obviously concentrate on bringing about this probability rather than take the long way round and totally defeat the enemy. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 91).

Since war is not an act of senseless passion but is controlled by its political object, the value of this object must determine the sacrifices to be made of it in magnitude and also in duration. Once the expenditure of effort exceeds the value of the political object, the object must be renounced and peace must follow. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 92).

[T]he original political objects can greatly alter during the course of the war and may finally change entirely since they are influenced by events and their probable consequences.

The questions now arises how can success be made more likely. One way, of course, is to choose objectives that will incidentally bring about the enemy’s collapse—the destruction of his armed forces and the conquest of his territory; but neither is quite what it would be if our real object were the total defeat of the enemy… If we wish to gain total victory, then the destruction of his armed forces is the most appropriate action and the occupation of his territory only a consequence… If on the other hand we do not aim at destroying the opposing army, and if we are convinced that the enemy does not seek a brutal decision, but rather is an advantage in itself; and should this advantage be enough to make the enemy fear for the final outcome, it can be considered as a short cut on the road to peace.

But there is another way. It is possible to increase the likelihood of success without defeating the enemy’s forces. I refer to operations that heave direct political repercussions, that are designed in the first place to disrupt the opposing alliance, or to paralyze it, that gain us new allies, favorably affect the political scene, etc. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 92).

The second question is how to influence the enemy’s expenditure of effort; in other words, how to make the war more costly to him.

The enemy’s expenditure of effort consists in the wastage of his forces—our destruction of them; and in his loss of territory—our conquest. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 93).

[I]n practice, when strong motives are not present, the slightest nuances often decide between the different uses of force. (id.)

In addition, there are three other methods directly aimed at increasing the enemy’s expenditure of effort. The first of these is invasion, that is the seizure of enemy territory; not with the object of retaining it but in order to exact financial contributions, or even to lay it to waste. The immediate object here is neither to conquer the enemy country nor to destroy its army, but simply to cause general damage. The second method is to give priority to operations that will increase the enemy’s suffering… The third, and far the most important method, judging from the frequency of its use, is to wear down the enemy… Wearing down the enemy in a conflict means using the duration of the war to bring about a gradual exhaustion of his physical and moral resistance.

[GIV COMMENT: Can we separate physical and moral resistance. Should we? Clearly this is what is at play in today [2012] in Afghanistan and to a lesser degree in Pakistan]

If we intend to hold out longer that our opponent we must be content with the smallest possible objects, for obviously a major object requires more effort than a minor one. The minimum object is pure self-defense; in other words, fighting without a positive purpose… But resistance is a form of action, aimed at destroying enough of the enemy’s power to force him to renounce his intentions. Every single act of our resistance is directed to that act alone, and that is what makes our policy negative. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 93)… What is lacks in immediate effectiveness it must make up for in its use of time, that is by prolonging the war. Thus the negative aim, which lies at the heart of pure resistance, is also the natural formula for outlasting the enemy, for wearing him down. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 93-94).

Here lies the origin of the distinction that dominates the whole of war: the difference between attack and defense… that from the negative purpose derive all the advantages, all the more effective forms, of fighting, and that in it is expressed the dynamic relationship between the magnitude and the likelihood of success.

If a negative aim—that is, the use of every means available for pure resistance—gives an advantage in war, the advantage need only be enough to balance any superiority the opponent may possess: in the end his political object will not seem worth the effort it costs.

We can now see that in war many roads lead to success, and that they do not all involve the opponent’s outright defeat. They range from the destruction of the enemy’s forces, the conquest of his territory, to a temporary occupation or invasion, to projects with an immediate political purpose, and finally to passively awaiting the enemy’s attacks… One further kind of action, of shortcuts to the goal, needs mention: one could call them arguments ad hominem. In there a field of human affairs where personal relations do not count, where the sparks they strike do not leap across all practical considerations? The personalities of statesmen and soldiers are such important factors that in war above all it is vital not to underrate them. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 94)

[means of war] There is only one: combat… it is inherent in the very concept of war that everything that occurs must originally derive from combat.

Everything that occurs in war results from the existence of armed forces: but whenever armed forces, that is armed individuals, are used, the idea of combat must be present.

Combat in war is not a contest between individuals. It is a whole made up of many parts, and in that whole two elements may be distinguished, one determined by the subject, the other by the objective… Moreover, combat itself is made an element of war by its very purpose, by its objective.

COMMENT: Review Soviet laws of armed conflict.

The whole of military activity must therefore relate directly or indirectly to the engagement. The end for which a soldier is recruited, clothed, armed, and trained, the whole object of his sleeping, eating, drinking, and marching is simply that he should fight at the right place and the right time.

[T]he destruction of the enemy is not the only means of attaining the political object, when there are other objectives for which the war is waged. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 95)

There is only one means in war: combat. But the multiplicity of forms that combat assumes leas us in as many different directions as are created by the multiplicity of aims, so that our analysis does not seem to have made any progress. But that is not so: the fact that only one means exists constitutes a strand that runs through the entire web of military activity and really holds it together. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 96)

[the importance of destruction of the enemy’s forces relative to other purposes] In any given case the answer will depend on circumstances…

Combat is the only effective force in war; its aim is to destroy the enemy’s forces as a means to a further end. That holds good even if no actual fighting occurs, because the outcome rests on the assumption that if it cam to fighting, the enemy would be destroyed. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 97)

COMMENT: The Soviets recognized this principle in their correlation of forces analysis.

[W]e can only say destruction of the enemy is more effective if we can assume that all other conditions are equal… Greater effectiveness relates not to the means but to the end; we are simply comparing the effect of different outcomes.

When we speak of destroying the enemy’s forces we must emphasize that nothing obliges us to limit this idea to physical forces: the moral element must also be considered… The advantage that the destruction of the enemy possesses over all other means is balanced by its cost and danger; and it is only in order to avoid these risks that other policies are employed.

That the method of destruction cannot fail to be expensive is understandable; other thing being equal, the more intent we are on destroying the enemy’s forces, the greater our own efforts must be.

The danger of this method is that the greater the success we seek, the greater will be the damage if we fail. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 97)

COMMENT: Operation Desert Storm – failure to destroy the Iraqi Republican Guard allowed Saddam to put down the Shiite rebellion in the South; and caused the Kurds to be displaced. As a result, we were stuck in Northern Iraq from 1991 to 2003; 12 years of phony war – like 1939-1940. This is significant for future war.

If he were to seek the decision through a major battle, his choice would force us against our will to do likewise… Two objectives, neither of which is part of the other, are mutually exclusive: one force cannot simultaneously be used for both.

The effort to destroy the enemy’s forces has a positive purpose and leads to positive results, whose final aim is the enemy’s collapse. Preserving our own forces has a negative purpose; it frustrated the enemy’s intentions—that is, it amounts to pure resistance, whose ultimate aim can only be to prolong the war until the enemy is exhausted.

The policy with a positive purpose calls the act of destruction into being; the policy with a negative purpose waits for it.

[A] policy of waiting must never become passive endurance, that any action involved in it may just as well seek the destruction of the opposing forces as any other objective. It would be a fundamental error to imagine that a negative aim implies a preference for a bloodless decision over the destruction of the enemy. A preponderantly negative effort may of course lead to such a choice, but always at the risk that if is not the appropriate course: that depends on factors that are determined not by us but by the opponent. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 98)

The one certain effect a preponderantly negative policy will have is to retard the decision: in other words, action is transposed into waiting for the decisive moment. This usually means that action is postponed in time and space to the extent that space is relevant and the circumstances permit. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 98-99.)

COMMENT: Crucially, Clausewitz comments that while there are many different roads to lead to a goal, “to the attainment of the political object, fighting is the only possible means. Everything is governed by a supreme law, the decision by force of arms… To sum up: of all the possible aims in war, the destruction of the enemy’s armed forces always appears as the highest. (Book One, Chapter 2, p. 99.) This is the second point of Mao Zedong’s dictum: “The first law of war is to protect ourselves and then destroy the enemy.”

These conclusions concerning the nature of war and the function of its purposes and means; the manner in which war in practice deviates in varying degrees from its basic, rigorous concept, as to a supreme law; all these points must be kept in mind in our subsequent analyses if we are to perceive the real connection between all aspects of war, and the same true significance of each; and if we wish to avoid constantly falling into the wildest inconsistencies with reality and even with our own arguments. (Book One, Chapter Two, p. 99)