Clausewitz Applicability to Non-State Actors Essays

1374 Words Mar 29th, 2008 6 Pages
Clausewitz’s theories on war are still relevant today with the revisualization of non-state actors on the world scene. The purpose of this essay is to expand on the applicability of these theories in today’s modern warfare where non-state actors play a larger, more global role. The study of theory, especially translated theory, requires an open mind to determine its applicability to various and ever-changing situations. In the case of Clausewitz, many strategists do not view his theories as relevant to today’s wars involving a Nation State vs. non-state actors. This is not true. The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College teaches that the commander’s intent is the most important part of proper execution. Strategists need to look …show more content…
War is often thought of as involving one state against another but most wars throughout time have been fought between competing factions within a single state. Examples of this include Civil Wars or Wars of Revolution within a Nation State where a group organizes itself, forms a military or insurgent force and attempts to overthrow or separate from the primary Nation State. Clausewitz briefly refers to non-state actors or as he called them, “people in arms” in his book On War. He saw this as a new phenomenon of warfare that steamed from the French Revolution under Napoleon. Recognizing that Clausewitz was aware of non-state actors, his definition of war can be reviewed in the context of the time it was written. Clausewitz’s definitions of war are suitable to both State and non-state actors. He defines war as: 1) an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will; 2) a clash between major interests, which are resolved by bloodshed - that is the only way in which it differs from other conflicts; and 3) fighting, for fighting is the only principle in the manifold activities generally designated as war. A Nation State raises a military to deter aggression or to become the implementing force of aggression against its enemies. Similarly, non-state actors create militias or guerrilla bands to inflict their will on others. This act is as much a demonstration of political or military strategy as that of a
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