Clausewitz's Trinity: Dead or Alive?
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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Prussian Carl von Clausewitzs meta-theoretical concept known as the Trinity has the potential to serve as an analytical vehicle to understand war in both a historical and contemporary context. An inherent historical misconception, however, restrains the Trinity from reaching its full potential. One of the three elements, policy, refers directly to the form of government represented by the nation state. Thus, critics argue, the Trinitys only relevance exists in state on state warfare. Clausewitz possessed a highly sophisticated mind and it seems unlikely to many that he meant to constrain his theory to the nation-state model of governance. In fact, many scholars have argued for the relevance of his theory in non-state situations. Nevertheless, he lacked the ability to articulate his thoughts in a contemporarily acceptable way, leaving his theory open for criticism, particularly by specialists in irregular or guerilla war. This monograph contemporizes Clausewitzs Trinity by replacing policy with the more general concept of ideology, thus demonstrating a clear means to establish the Trinitys relevance for twenty-first century warfare. To illustrate the argument, one case study each from the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries illustrates the role of ideologys in each conflict, and shows how this term can replace policy in the traditional Clausewitzian trinity, broadening the theorists own ideological view of nationalism and state policy to the more general concept of ideology and its various applications that serve essentially the same role as policy in practice.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics