Handgrenade February 2019
Can On War serve as an Anti-war Treatise?
John T. Kuehn
H-WAR and handgrenade readers, the question above IS the handgrenade.
Discussion: The more I read On War, the more I have come to realize that its sometimes dark and penetrating insights on the human condition often lead one to muse “if this be so, why would anyone EVER go to war, especially someone whose very basis of power is threatened by such an action?”
When read through an anti-war, or rather a “hey you, have you really thought about what it is you are about to do?”-lens, I often come away with a feeling that Clausewitz really thinks war, especially wars of choice, are a tenuous gamble, that they really should only be undertaken to defend the state when the state deserves defense.
As Captain Alan Zimm (USN, retired) writes of a specific decision for war in one case:
“…tantamount to the CEO of a bank withdrawing all the company’s core cash reserves to buy a lottery ticket.” (Zimm, from Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions)
So let’s come up with some pro and con supporting discussions. My own entry is that, when one reads this:
The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish by that test the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to it nature. On War, Carl von Clausewitz [Howard and Paret trans.]
One might come away with a very cautious mindset that might reject overt military action in most cases if not altogether..
Vr, John “Peacenik” Kuehn
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas