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  1. #11
    Senior Member giegs's Avatar
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    If you're going to bring it up it's worth mentioning that the concept of total war, as developed by Clauswitz, is never fully realized.

  2. #12
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    Well concerning the end of the Cold War, sure it ended the threat of big massive destruction of the entire globe - which in practice would have been an extension of the type of total war we saw in the World Wars. But total war itself is largely a recent invention as well, starting with the French Revolution. Before then, much of the 18th century was characterised by "cabinet wars", with monarchs fighting relatively smaller wars with their smaller armies of professional soldiers/mercenaries. So after 1945, the basic pattern has been that wars have become smaller("low-intensity conflicts" is one military term used here) and because of such more frequent. The latter study IIRC is only dealing with inter-state wars, intrastate or conflicts between sub-national groups has certainly been on the rise.
    I would definitely agree that total war was a result of modernism, the development of industrialism and democracy as much as the modern political ideologies, particularly the revolutionary ones, all or nothing thinking is modernist.

    The transition to low intensity conflicts I think has been a consequence of a number of things, the US was put in the position of a imperial power before the end of the cold war whether they liked it or not, most of the wars fought since the collapse of communism look conspisciously like the campaigns fought by the UK and France after WW2 before it really hit home that there had been a major change in geo-politics.

    There is also the role played by elites, such as intelligence elites, in respective countries, prospecting for threats to keep themselves in business. There's a lot in the US and Russian political scenes which can be analysed in that way, in the US there was the pressure of increased numbers of graduates seeking work and constituting a potential political constituency, in Russia there was the network of agents left hanging by the sudden collapse of communism.

    Although in the background there have always been powers which fought and sought to deliberately fight limited wars as opposed to total wars, China's entire Maoist and recent strategy has had much more to do with Sun Tsu than Clausewitz's total warfare.

    I do think a global total war is less likely, presently, than it has been. The aftermath of 9/11 actually played out a lot differently than I'd originally thought it would.

  3. #13
    Sniffles
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    Well there was a period when low-intensity conflicts were the norm between the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 to World War I in 1914, fighting the Zulus, later the Boers, or even the Boxers in China to take a few examples involving the British army at least.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Although in the background there have always been powers which fought and sought to deliberately fight limited wars as opposed to total wars, China's entire Maoist and recent strategy has had much more to do with Sun Tsu than Clausewitz's total warfare.
    That's a matter of debate, since Maoist "Peoples' War" strategy is quite indebted to Clausewitz strategtic thinking, as is very much the case with most Marxist-based military strategies.

  4. #14
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    That's a matter of debate, since Maoist "Peoples' War" strategy is quite indebted to Clausewitz strategtic thinking, as is very much the case with most Marxist-based military strategies.
    There are parallels between totalitarian ideology and totalitarian strategy I would say, although I would say that Mao's strategy was pretty gradualist, objective and believed that ultimately victory would require military prowess as opposed to popular or irregular forces. Its all in stark contrast to Che's philosophy which is more classically "revolutionary".

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    There are parallels between totalitarian ideology and totalitarian strategy I would say, although I would say that Mao's strategy was pretty gradualist, objective and believed that ultimately victory would require military prowess as opposed to popular or irregular forces. Its all in stark contrast to Che's philosophy which is more classically "revolutionary".
    A discussion about the contrast between Che's and Mao's theories of guerrilla warfare would certainly make for some interesting discourse.

    Concerning Mao and Clausewitz, this is pretty good summary of one aspect of what I'm referring to:
    Because Vietnam-era American military leaders were not only "ignorant of the military thought of classical China" but also not well grounded in classical Western military philosophy either, it was not apparent to them that while Sun Tzu's Art of War was important to an understanding of Maoist theory, it was not the basis of that theory. Above all, Mao's theories rested on what Clausewitz called the "remarkable trinity" of the people, the government, and the army18 and especially depended on the mobilization of the people. It is critical to understand that Sun Tzu's Art of War, on the other hand, fits into the category of what in the West is known as eighteenth-century military literature.
    Clausewitz: Eastern and Western Approaches to War

    I must admit that although I read this several years ago, the proposition made at the beginning of the article concerning American failures in Vietnam due to its thinking being based on Jominian military logic intrigues me, since comparison and contrast between de Jomini and Clausewitz is common feature of Western military strategic literature. Might have to pull out my copy of Art of War(de Jomini's, not Sun Tzu's).

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Really? But surely the state is more accountable than ever, what about the private individuals with incomes on a par with nation states and the ability to act as those states do if they wish?
    There is no accountability, because if there was, the state would not exist.

    Private individuals that hold power are part of the government. Remember, the government is simply the largest corporation, which also happens to use death threats (fines, jail, murder progression) as a means of enforcing their raids (taxes) and will (political laws).

    It should also be noted that the USA was founded on common law, not political law.

    So, almost every current law is illegitimate.

  7. #17
    Sniffles
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    @Lark, here's something that might interest you - a critical examination of one element of Pinker's claims concerning his analysis of An Lushan Revolt.

  8. #18
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Green_Pine View Post
    There is no accountability, because if there was, the state would not exist.

    Private individuals that hold power are part of the government. Remember, the government is simply the largest corporation, which also happens to use death threats (fines, jail, murder progression) as a means of enforcing their raids (taxes) and will (political laws).

    It should also be noted that the USA was founded on common law, not political law.

    So, almost every current law is illegitimate.
    Yeah, those ideas where popular back during the militia fever of the ninties.

    I think its a bunch of BS. If you want to see a lack of accountability then step out of the privileged, prosperous first world and live in some stateless free market utopia like Somalia for a bit.

  9. #19
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    @Lark, here's something that might interest you - a critical examination of one element of Pinker's claims concerning his analysis of An Lushan Revolt.
    Ha! That's hilarious, I think that the issue of historical myopia can operate both ways, the idea of rebalancing the cost in lives and loss in accordance with demographics and logistics is something I'm a little unsure about to be honest.

    At the very least I hate death tolls and head counts in determining atrocity because of the sort of shit that resulted in during the NI troubles since the seventies. Although I would say that things such the holocaust or genocide are not simply terrible because of the body count or means involved but the goal, whether the demographic hit is small or large is of little matter.

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