This paper shall seek to establish the extent to which Clausewitz explains the changing nature of warfare after 1798. This paper is being carried out because of its relevance in the current age of warfare, in relation to the changing rules and nature of this activity. …
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Clausewitz’s main claim in his book ‘On War’ published in 1831 revolves around the fact that in order to understand warfare, it must be considered as a social phenomenon. War comes from deliberate circumstances and these circumstances make wars easier to understand. This statement was considered in the light of two conceptions of war at that time, first, that war is capable of linear solutions, and secondly, that war is basically chaotic and cannot be rationally evaluated (Gat, 1989). This view of war led to the perception that it is merely an offshoot of politics, mixed is with violence. This perception hid a more complex phenomenon. First and foremost, war has changed over time. Since social organizations have changed over the years, the nature of parties competing has also changed. Secondly, in seeking a better understanding of what is happening in conflicts, there is no longer a need to consider the military events in a political setting. Third, there is a normative element in the formula. Clausewitz was of the belief that force was more acceptable when it was considered as a tool for state policy. Considering the suffering caused by war, this was the justifiable reason utilized in the use of violence; however a normative failure would not negate the analytical process. (Clausewitz, eds, Howard and Paret, 1979, p. 586). In order to establish a practical understanding of war, there was a need to evaluate the relationship between military activities and the political climate of these events. On the outset, there was a direct linear link between the scale of the goal sought and the extent of force required to fulfill it. In a conflict which was carried out to conquer an opponent who aimed to totally conquer and annex a country, one is almost always certain to expect significant efforts to defeat the aggressor. On the other hand, where a smaller objective was sought, a smaller consequent action would be seen. Clausewitz was of the understanding that events on the battlefield and in the political arena are very much related to each other. A battlefield victory might prevent other nations from being embroiled in any conflict, it may also convince them of the fact that a victor has become a threat to them (Szabo, 2008). A victory may also convince a nation that its competitor is weak and that it needs to improve its objectives. The consideration of a country deciding to intervene or step away from a conflict would
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