The Case for Targeting Leadership in War
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI DEPT OF OPERATIONS
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American policy makers resist targeting individual leaders in war. This paper examines the case for targeting leadership in support of wartime strategy. Clausewitzs writings on center of gravity and the paradoxical trinity provide the theoretical foundation for striking at the leader of a centrally controlled state, like that of a totalitarian regime. Using the paradigm of a conflict with a totalitarian state, this paper assesses the strategic utility in targeting individual leaders, and addresses common objections to this stratagem, including the following legal and moral reservations, fear of retaliation, the danger of creating a martyr, undermining war termination, and the possibility that the successor will be worse. This paper concludes that targeting individual leaders is strategically compelling, legally and morally justified, and potentially very effective in hastening war termination, given the appropriate circumstances.
- Administration and Management
- Humanities and History
- Unconventional Warfare