Enduring Lessons of War Termination: A Look Into the Russo-Japanese War

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War termination and the decision of when to negotiate peace are rarely effectively planned before a war. The Russo-Japanese War is one of a few historical exceptions. The Russo-Japanese War provides three enduring lessons about war termination in a conflict fought for limited aims. First, the most effective war termination plans are created before the war. Second, continued military and political pressure can effectively improve your position to negotiate peace. Third, common interests and compromise are required for durable peace.
Clausewitz’s thoughts on war termination effectively summarize the situation for the Japanese and Russian Empires preceding peace negotiations, “Inability to carry on the struggle can, in practice, be
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As a result, their effective plans and execution provide us with valuable insight.
The most effective war termination is developed in conjunction with mutually supporting military and political goals before the onset of war. Identifying the desired end-state allows for an effective overall strategy and assists in the timing of critical decisions. The Japanese answered three critical war termination questions before determining to go to war: How far to go militarily, what to demand politically, and how to maintain peace? Militarily they couldn’t win an unlimited war outright, but believed a draw or situation slightly favorable to the Japanese was possible in a limited war, (Koda, 23). Political demands were made clear in diplomatic negotiations leading up to the war that were refused by the Tsar and other Russian hard-liners. Japan planned to maintain peace through alliances, (British and American), and by recognizing common interests with the Russian Empire in the Far East. These answers outlined the actions required by the Japanese Empire to effectively plan the termination of the war.
Years ahead of the war, the Japanese leadership identified that they could not militarily defeat the Russian Empire, but believed a series of quick victories would help force the Russian Empire to negotiate a favorable end to the conflict. This belief helped craft a plan to win key military…