Irregular Enemies and the Essence of Strategy: Can the American Way of War Adapt?
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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Can the traditional American way of war adapt so as to be effective against irregular enemies To address this question constructively, the author is obliged to explore and explain the nature and relations among three elements fundamental to the problem. Those elements are strategy, irregular enemies, and the American way of war. Carl von Clausewitz offered his theory of war in terms of a remarkable trinity composed of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity...the play of chance and probability...and subordination, as an instrument of policy, which makes it subject to reason alone. He defined his task as a need to develop a theory that maintains a balance between these three tendencies, like an object suspended between three magnets. Just as Clausewitz sought to explain war, and wars, as the product of inherently unstable relations among passion, chance, and reason, so this monograph has at its core the unstable interactions among irregular enemies, strategy, and the American way of war. Unlike Clausewitz, however, the authors purpose is not to develop or improve on general theory. Instead, the intention is to try to answer the very question with which this summary began. To that end, strategic theory is deployed here pragmatically, as an aid to soldiers and officials who face challenges of a most pressing and serious character. This inquiry defines and explains the essence of strategy. Next, it identifies what is distinctive about irregular enemies and the kinds of warfare they wage. Then the analysis proceeds to outline the fairly long-enduring traditional American way of war, and considers critically the fit between the many separate elements of that way and the requirements of sound practice in the conduct of warfare against irregulars. It concludes with a three-point argument which binds together the otherwise somewhat disparate topics and material.
- Humanities and History
- Unconventional Warfare