Clausewitz and the Gulf War: The Political-Military Dynamics in Balance
NATIONAL WAR COLL WASHINGTON DC
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Carl von Clausewitz was the first military theorist to recognize and articulate in his writings the nature of war as a political instrument of government policy. In his words, war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, carried on with other means. Clausewitz 87 Thus, when whole communities go to war -- whole peoples and especially civilized peoples -- the reason always lies in some political situation, and the occasion is always due to some political object. Clausewitz 86-7 That political object, the reason for going to war, will thus determine the military objective to be reached and the amount of effort it requires. Clausewitz 81 He cautioned against allowing war to take over national policy, saying that policy is the guiding intelligence and war only the instrument, not vice versa. Clausewitz 607 Thus, the military point of view must be subordinate to the political. Within this context, the purpose of this paper is to examine the Gulf War from a political-military perspective to identify any Clausewitz fingerprints on the U.S. decision-making process leading to war, the stated political and military objectives, the political-military dynamics during the crisis, and when and how the United States ended the war.
- Government and Political Science
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics