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Counter-Punch - Time and Clausewitz's Trinity


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Carl von Clausewitz spoke of a "paradoxical trinity" of the will, intellect and chance. As the baseline theory for western warfare, this trinity has become the ground out of which all other theory flows, making all other arguments contingent on these three fundamentals. But what if another element existed, just as fundamental? What if this element so permeated war and life itself that it were unescapable? Would this shake the foundation of everything we understand about war? That fourth, fundamental element of combat is time. Time increases danger, creates friction, and drives decisions. Across the centuries, time has ruled the battlefield. But time is not merely relegated to unit combat; the same holds true for individual combat. The sport of boxing acts as an effective lens to study time and combat as war shares many similarities to this sport. An understanding of time in these terms has strategic implications to modern combat, including globalization, information operations, cyberwar, and counter-insurgency. The side that effectively uses time to its advantage is more likely to succeed in the cauldron of combat than its enemy. Time is omnipresent. Time is unforgivable. Time is unescapable. Time is the fourth fundamental of war.



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