Carl Von Clausewitz on War

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That there is often a tension between theory and reality is hardly a novel proposition; despite this, however, it can be extraordinarily difficult to question or to reject theories which seem so intuitively logical and rational. An excellent example, in the context of a war, is the process by which wars are brought to a conclusion.


One school of thought, attributed to Karl Von Clausewitz, approaches war as a series of rational calculations. He rejects the notion that war is initiated, prosecuted, or terminated as a result of emotional whims; quite the contrary he sets forth a detailed framework by which relevant actors either do or ought to consider at each stage. In effect, he establishes a type of cost-benefit analysis attached to a political object. This cost-benefit analysis he has stated thusly:
war is not an act of senseless passion but is controlled by its political object, the value of this object must determine the sacrifices to be made for it in magnitude and duration. Once the expenditure of efforts exceeds the value of the political object, the object must be renounced and peace must follow (Von Clausewitz, 1873).
This short statement contains a number of relevant factors relevant to the conduct and termination of a war. First, the political object must be clearly defined or it may become very challenging to engage in any type of cost-benefit analysis. ...
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