Category:Fundamentals of War

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Fundamentals of War

War Conflict carried on by force of arms between states or between parties. A state or period of armed hostility. Prussian military strategist, Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) advanced the doctrine of war as an extension of politics with different means. He also said the purpose of war is a better peace.

  1. Friction of war Inevitable mistakes or complications of war.
  2. Clean war Military conflict with minimal casualties and collateral damage, using high-tech approach including smart bombs dropped from high altitudes, unmanned drones for reconnaissance and firing of missiles, night-patrol goggles and insertion of special forces for quick missions, became the objective of US policy in 1990s.

Conceptions of war Nature of war.

  1. Classical view War is an act of violence intended to compel the opponent to fulfil the victor’s will. War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce.
  2. Modern view War is a form of international relations in which organized violence is used in addition to other instruments of policy.
  3. Marxist-Leninist doctrine War is a projection of the class struggle in the international arena. According to Marxist-Leninist reasoning, war is a consequence of private property, which divides man into classes. As long as the capitalist class exists and possesses military means, the “objective conditions” for peace do not exist, making some for of war inevitable. True peace can only come with the demise of capitalism. However, Gorbachev advances a fundamental change in ideology. Acknowledging that the Party Congress in 1956 saw war no longer inevitable in the nuclear age, he insists that the advent of nuclear weapons has created a new kind of interest apart from class interests. This new interest, humankind interest, transcends class struggle because it involves saving mankind from total destruction.
  4. Pacifist view War is unnecessary as an instrument of policy.
  5. Conflict resolution view War is an event, rather than an instrument of state.

Theory of War

Theory of war Analysis of the causes of war and the development of policies and procedures by means of which its incidence might be lessened:

  1. Clausewitzian theory of war (War is politics theory) War is an act of force to compel and adversary to do our will. Physical force is the means; to impose our will on the enemy is the object. Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars whose theories have stood the test of time, refuted the illusion that war was someone else’s fault and emphasized that blaming the military for war was absurd. War was a political act with politics defined as “the intercourse of peoples and their government.” The Clausewitzian approach that was never popular in the US because it refuted the comfortable Upton illusion that war is somebody else’s fault.
  2. War and politics theory Theory that war and politics are fundamentally different things was put forward by Emory Upton (1839-81), a American Civil War hero and one of the three military theorists who shaped the way Americans look at war.
  3. Geometric patterns theory Theory put forward by Antoine Henri Jomini (1779-1869), a veteran of the Napoleonic war who held that war could be best understood in terms of geometric angles and algebraic formulas. This became popular in the American Civil War and during the Vietnam War with the quantified and computerized machinations of Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara.
  4. Theory of total war Put forward by General Erich Ludendorff that politics should serve the conduct of war, for which the entire physical and moral forces of the state should be mobilized, because, according to him, peace was merely an interval between wars. (Der Totale Krieg (1935); English translation, The Nation at War (1936)
  5. Fascist theory of value of struggle According to fascists, war alone brings all human energies up to their highest tension and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it.

Power transition theory Theory that argues that international war is more likely to happen when one country catches up with and overtakes another than when one country as a preponderance of power.

Lateral pressure Tendency toward foreign expansion and international rivalry that occurs when countries experience rapid economic and population growth.

Ethics of War

Just war War which can be justified by its practitioners:

  1. Greek justification One against the barbarians, or one in which the Greeks were successful.
  2. Roman justification War was just when it was approved by the collegium fetialium, a corporation of special priests (fetiales).
  3. St. Thomas Aquinas justification One fought for a just cause, and by permissible means.

Unjustified war

End justifies the means Direct and indiscriminate attacks on civilians can ultimately end wars sooner and thus spare lives.

Civilian immunity Principle that civilians should be immune from direct attack.

War fever Stirring up patriotic fervor in the population by the government in support of going to war.

As Winston Churchill put it: “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.”

Rules of Warfare

Laws of War Portions of international law dealing with the inception, conduct and termination of war.

Rules of warfare Principles and practices set forth in international law to government the conduct of nations engaged in hostilities. The rules of warfare initially took the form of customary law, but since the middle of 19th cent. they have been based on major multilateral international conventions.

  1. Open city City declared to be unfortified or undefended and hence under international law exempt from enemy bombardment.

Law of Humanity Convention which forbids unwarranted cruelty or other actions affronting public morality but not covered by either customary or treaty law.

Self-defense Protection of sovereignty if an armed attack occurs which is recognized under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.

Declaration of Paris 1856 Limited sea warfare by abolishing privateering and specifying that a blockade has to be effective to be legally binding.

Geneva Convention 1864 (revised, 1906) Provides for humane treatment of the wounded in battle.

Hague Convention 1899 Coded the accepted conventions of land warfare. Revised in 1907 to define the rights and duties of belligerents and of neutral states and persons, and proclaimed rules governing such new weapons as dumdum bullets, poisonous gas and the use of balloons for bombing.

  1. Article 23 Forbids a warring party “to kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered.”

Geneva Convention 1929 Provided for decent treatment for prisoners of war and the sick and wounded. Revised in 1949 to include civilians.

London Protocol 1936 Limited the use of submarines against merchant ships.

Types of War

Hostility (Hostile action) Overt acts of warfare.

Fog of war Confusion of battle in which extreme conditions of ambiguity, inadequate communications, bad weather, anxiety, danger, stark fear, destruction and death reign.

Conflict Synonym for war.

  1. High-intensity conflict Sustained armed hostilities between organized forces involving frequent combat encounters in which both sides employ a wide variety of weapons and weapons systems in combined arms operations.
  2. Low-intensity conflict Sporadic or limited armed hostilities between military forces which may or may not be conventionally organized, in which there may be prolonged lulls between combat encounters.

Levels of conflict intensity

  1. Major war High-intensity conflict between two or more great powers and with the possible involvement of their key allies and with significant national interests of the antagonistic powers at stake.
  2. Significant local war High-intensity conflict in which a great power seeks to protect some aspect of its vital national interests, or in which conflict arises among important regional states, with vital national interests at risk.
  3. Small war
    1. Great power in a relatively low-intensity conflict in which there is no significant risk to vital national interests
    2. Important regional state in a relatively low-intensity conflict in which there is no significant risk to vital interests.
    3. Civil war or prolonged insurgency in a regional state.
    4. Hostilities between minor regional states.
  4. Minor hostilities Low-intensity conflict which may include:
    1. Limited military expeditions or excursions by major powers or important regional states.
    2. Low-intensity insurgencies.

Bushfire war Counter-insurgency campaigns or small-scale pre-emptive actions which are usually carried out with minimum force, which flare up and then die down again quickly.

ENS wars Pentagonese for ethnic, nationalist and separatist conflicts.

  1. Liberation wars Wars fought by an indigenous people against oppressors in their land.
  2. Third Circle CIA term for the scores of communist parties, both legal and underground, that were at work in all countries through which wars of national liberation were fought.

International war Wars between states in the same community of nations.

Imperial war War between states in different communities of nations of very different stages of development. For example Italy in 20th cent.

Bismarckian warfare (3rd generation warfare) Large-scale wars fought by large-scale armies, which require national systems of military conscription, a significant population base, and enormous military budgets.

  1. Great-power wars First and Second World Wars.

4th generation warfare (4GW) Age of great power warfare has been replaced by a world in which great powers must live and compete with non-state actors who possess considerable military capabilities.

Central war War between superpowers whether nuclear weapons are used or not.

General war Central war that develops into an all-weapon conflict about survival.

Regional wars (Neighborhood wars) Wars that take place within a small part of the world, but whose contenders are drawn from further afield.

Interventionism Self-justifying reasoning for the actions of a large power in the life of a small country which involves the invasion of the small country’s territory.

Punitive action Operation designed to spread fear especially by killing innocent bystanders. Often used against an area harboring guerrillas, e.g. My Lai massacre.

Reconnaissance in force (Search and clear; Search and sweep; Sweeping operation) Military euphemism from the Vietnam War of the practice of searching an area and destroying presumed enemies within it.

Harassment and interdiction (H and I) Random firing, especially at night, to deter enemies from action.

Pacification (AmE) Euphemism from Vietnam War for bombing, defoliation and the forcible evacuation of native populations.

Border incidents Staged confrontations on a border, often of small proportions, designed to heighten tension between two countries.

Conventional war Term used for any non-nuclear armed conflict.

Catalytic war War brought about by a third party.

Accidental war Unintended armed conflict touched off by incidents caused by human error or by electronic or mechanical failure.

Permissive Action Links Procedures that prevent unauthorized firing of nuclear weapons of all by sea-based missiles.

Nuclear war War in which the use of nuclear weapons is part of the defense strategy.

ABC warfare Atomic, biological and chemical warfare.

  1. ABC weapons Used in ABC warfare.

NBC warfare Nuclear, biological and chemical warfare.

  1. Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) Replaced ABC weapons coined as a reason to attack Iraq, 2002.

Limited War Armed conflict fought for objectives less than the total destruction of the enemy and his unconditional surrender. Limited war may be restricted with regard to the level of destructive power used, the number of participants, the territory involved, or the substitution of political considerations for military strategy, individually or in any combination.

Austere war Concept, launched in 1983, of winning nuclear engagements fought by client states of the superpowers and as such both geographically distant from these powers and considered to be, despite the use to tactical nuclear weapons, absolutely controllable.

Austere cantonment Military installation set up by a superpower in a client state, prepositioned there for the purpose of waging a possible war.

Preventative war Military strategy that calls for an attack by a nation that enjoys a temporary advantage in striking power. The doctrine of preventive war calls for a surprise attack that is dedicated to the destruction of an enemy state that is developing a superior force for a crushing attack in the future. The theory assumes that the other side in an arms race is determined to undertake future aggression.

Total war Form of military conflict in which not only the armed forces but also the entire population are involved. The concept of modern total war dates from 1919 after a taste of it in the Zeppelin raids on southern Britain in World War I. The first major manifestation was the Spanish Civil War.

  1. Deep war War that involved every aspect of the societies that fought it, coined by Soviet writer, Ilya Ehrenberg.

Cold war Great-power competition carried on without a great power war. It was the state of international tension wherein political, economic, technological, sociological, psychological, paramilitary and military measures, short of overt armed conflict involving military forces, were employed to achieve national objectives. Specifically it was the superpower competition between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Declared at an end at the Malta Summit 1989.

Arms race Increase in the quantity or quality of the weaponry and military personnel of two or more states, which is both cumulative and recognized as mutually competitive by the parties involved.

Action-reaction cycle Cycle in the arms race in which every initiative by the US has been met with a reaction by the USSR.

War of political systems War between major ideologies, namely between Western individualism and Communist centralism, in which the latter collapsed, 1989-90.

War of cultures (Civilizational wars) Conflict, that took over with the demise of the war of political systems, between the world’s major culture blocs that are based on traditional, cultural and religious identities, built on the religious empires of the ancient past. Devised by Samuel P. Huntington, Harvard political scientist.

  1. Western war Civilizational war.
  2. Eastern Orthodox war Civilizational war.
  3. Latin American war Civilizational war.
  4. Japanese war Civilizational war.
  5. Chinese war Civilizational war.
  6. Islamic war Civilizational war.
  7. African war Civilizational war.

Commonalities Shared interests and values.

Core values Values that encompass commonalities of a culture system, such as rights-based individualism of the West that are antithetical to even moderate Islam.

Casualty aversion Policy of conflict that makes a priority of minimizing casualties, became a political priority for US in post-Vietnam era.

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