“Amateurs talk about strategy, professionals talk about logistics.” In the five years since the 9/11 events, the old military adage has undergone a “transformation” of its own: Amateurs, to be sure, continue to talk about strategy, but real professionals increasingly talk about — anthropology.

In Iraq as in Afghanistan, real professionals have learned the hard way that — to put it in a nutshell — the injunction “Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself” matters more than the bookish “Know Thy Clausewitz” taught in war colleges. Know thy enemy: At the tactical and operational levels at least, it is anthropology, not Clausewitzology, that will shed light on the grammar and logic of tribal warfare and provide the conceptual weapons necessary to return fire. Know thyself: It is only through anthropological “distanciation” that the U.S. military (and its various “tribes”: Army, Navy, etc.) will become aware of its own cultural quirks — including a monomaniacal obsession with Clausewitz — and adapt its military culture to the new enemy.1

The first major flaw of U.S. military culture is of course “technologism” — this uniquely American contribution to the phenomenon known to anthropologists as “animism.” Infatuation with technology has led in the recent past to rhetorical self-intoxication about Network-Centric Warfare and the concomitant neglect of Culture-Centric Warfare. The second structural flaw is a Huntingtonian doctrine of civil-military relations ideally suited for the Cold War but which, given its outdated conception of “professionalism,” has outlived its usefulness and is today a major impediment to the necessary constant dialogue between the military and civilians.2

Last but not least, the third major flaw is “strategism.” At its “best,” strategism is synonymous with “strategy for strategy’s sake,” i.e., a self-referential discourse more interested in theory-building (or is it hair-splitting?) than policy-making. Strategism would be innocuous enough were it not for the fact that, in the media and academia, “realism” today is fast becoming synonymous with “absence of memory, will, and imagination”: in that context, the self-referentiality of the strategic discourse does not exactly improve the quality of the public debate. At its worst, strategism confuses education with indoctrination, and scholarship with scholasticism; in its most extreme form, it comes close to being an “intellectual terrorism” in the name of Clausewitz.


Clausewitz in Londonistan

That infatuation with Clausewitz can lead to hair-raising absurdities about the gwot is never better illustrated than by the recent remark of Anglo-American Clausewitzian veteran Colin Gray on the global jihad: “It is but axiomatic to maintain that an irregular belligerent wins by not losing. Somewhat in defiance of that axiom, I will argue that time is not on the side of the catastrophic, post-modern terrorist. The war-hardened multinational cadre of veterans of the Afghan struggle is diminishing rapidly. It has suffered the natural attrition of age and infirmity, as well as the combat attrition inflicted by an aroused bevy of state enemies…. Those warriors for Islam cannot be replaced by new cohorts with comparable training and group bonding…. Al-Qaeda has now aroused a formidable array of enemies, within and beyond the Islamic realm.”3

Besides the fallacy of equating jihadists with Al Qaeda alone, this static conception of the global jihad in terms of finite “stock” ignores the dynamic created by media, i.e., the cyber-mobilization as the new Levee en Masse. On what planet does the good professor live? From the Balkans to Londonistan, Europe has been, for at least a decade now, the closest thing to a “frontline” in the global jihad. In Colin Gray’s Britain today, 6 percent of the Muslim population (i.e., 100,000 individuals) think that the 7/7 London bombings were “fully justified;” 32 percent of British Muslims (half a million people) believe that “Western society is decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to bring it to an end;” and 40 percent want to see sharia law adopted in the uk.4

In Colin Gray’s Britain, Muslims are barely 2 million, but politicians are already pandering to the Muslim vote and willing to make all sorts of concessions, including on immigration. Caught in a time warp, Gray looks jihad (al Qaeda) and dawa (Hizb-ut-Tahrir) in the eye, and see nothing more than — a bearded version of the ira. Rather than bury their heads in the Clausewitzian sand, strategists would be better inspired to meditate the truly “remarkable trinity” engineered by Arab governments for more than thirty years: natalist policies, anti-Western mass indoctrination, and mass emigration to the West. Isn’t time at least to add a chapter to On War on “demographic warfare?”5

If a Colin Gray — arguably the smartest living Clausewitzian today — can be so blind as to the nature of the challenges facing the West, one can easily guess the damage done by Clausewitzology on less talented minds.


Clausewitz in America: Prussian fantasies, French realities?

Since the end of the Cold War, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (which can apparently walk and chew gum at the same time) has been rethinking both conventional and irregular warfare. For the former, the pla turned to the American Mahan, not the Prussian Clausewitz; for the latter, the pla went back not only to Sun-Tzu, but also to Lawrence, Beaufre, Arquilla, Lind, etc. — anything that can be of use in the conceptual toolbox of “unrestricted warfare” (urw). In America, meanwhile, — and despite a guerilla war engineered by “Netwar” and “Fourth Generation Warfare” insurgents — the military educational establishment has continued to peddle Clausewitz or, to be more precise, an increasingly Jominized version of Clausewitz.

Like the aging Marxists with a Karl of their own, the Clausewitzians today are more interested in exonerating their idol from the evil perpetrated in his name than in demonstrating what good he could bring to the current challenges facing the military. It may well be that Marx and Clausewitz were indeed mostly “misread” by most people most of the time, but if the risks of “misreading” are statistically greater than the chances of getting it right, what’s the point of making it required reading in the first place? With its unresolved tensions between its theologia speculativa and theologia positiva parts, On War, to be sure, is ideally suited for endless, medieval-like scholastic disputatio. But while Clausewitz-Centered Chatter (ccc) can be entertaining (how many ayatollahs can dance on a Schwerpunkt?), there are undeniable opportunity costs for an officer corps already “too busy to learn.”6

A decade ago already, U.S. Army War College professor Steven Metz remarked: “Like adoration for some family elder, the veneration heaped on Clausewitz seems to grow even as his power to explain the world declines. He remains an icon at all U.S. war colleges (figuratively and literally) while his writings are bent, twisted, and stretched to explain everything from guerilla insurgency (Summers) through nuclear strategy (Cimbala) to counternarcotrafficking (Sharpe). On War is treated like holy script from which quotations are plucked to legitimize all sorts of policies and programs. But enough! It is time to hold a wake so that strategists can pay their respects to Clausewitz and move on, leaving him to rest among the historians.”7

In the past two years, to be sure, the steepest learning curve within the U.S. government has been in dod, not the State Department or the cia. But this “transformation” in military education has taken place largely outside formal channels. Today still, such is the institutional weight of the Clausewitzian petits maitres that the former commander of the U.S. Army War College — one of the smartest proponents of Culture-Centric Warfare — feels compelled to perform the ritual bow to the master in order to get the institution to accept the principle of a radical revamping of professional military education (pme).8

Does the obsession with Clausewitz really matter that much? You bet it does. As the military-educational complex (150 institutions, of which the Naval War College is the crown jewel) takes in interagency education, the danger is that “strategism” and “Clausewitzology” will spread to other agencies and may aggravate already dysfunctional civil-military relations at the working level. The Iraqi precedent, in that respect, does not bode well.

For those who naively thought that the current Iraqi predicament could safely be blamed on three dozen “neocon chickenhawks,” Thomas Ricks’s recent book will be a revelation: Failure was not the least preordained, and the military, as much as the civilians, has its share of responsibility. Talking about a military fiasco would be excessive, because it is not the U.S. military that made the two most fateful decisions (disbanding the Iraqi army in 2003; taking four months to form a government in 2006). But the fact remains, “well into 2005, the American military … didn’t imagine or prepare for the possibility that former regime members had their own ‘day-after’ plans to fight on even if they lost the conventional battle. It didn’t imagine that Iraq would become a magnet for international jihadists, so it failed to seal the borders. It didn’t imagine the Sunni tribal militias would react with such violence to the American presence, so it failed to take the pre-emptive economic and political steps to address their grievances. And it failed to understand that there were elements within the Shiite community that would use force to try to establish a theocratic system.”9

Like McMaster’s Dereliction of Duty on Vietnam (a book hugely popular with mid-level officers), Ricks’s Fiasco on Iraq is at times too harsh on the military brass, and tends to misdiagnose a problem which, more than ever, is not so much moral as intellectual.10

The generation of Maxwell Taylor graduated from West Point at a time, the early 1920s, when the “lessons learned” could not but focus on a conventional war (World War 1), and their first-hand experience of war was shaped by another conventional war (World War 11). Thus, the Taylor generation never had existential nor intellectual exposure to irregular warfare (there was little theoretical work on the subject), and by the 1960s, neither did they have much incentive to learn from the experience of foreign powers (uk and France) which, unlike America, were after all colonial powers. But the successor generations should have logically benefited from the “lessons learned” in Vietnam as well as the growing literature on counterinsurgency. Yet instead of being exposed to the policy-relevant Clausewitzian realism of Osgood’s Limited War Revisited (1979), the new generation of officers was force-fed with the Clausewitzian “surrealism” of Summers’s On Strategy (1981) — the true beginning of strategy for strategy’s sake in America.

By 1999, the reasons for not using Clausewitz as a textbook had become apparent even to the Clausewitzian die-hards — who nevertheless concluded, in surrealistic fashion: “Because much of the existing literature on Clausewitz explains his significance within an obsolete context, few educators are able to forcefully demonstrate his relevance in the post-Cold War world…. It is difficult to pin any blame on educators, however, when the existing version of On War is so difficult to reach and to teach from.”11

Difficult to pin any blame? Not so fast. Chronologically and logically, the first blame would appear to fall on the educators’ shoulders: isn’t it a failure to learn on the part of military educators which later led to a failure to anticipate on the part of military planners and to a failure to adapt (quickly enough) on the part of military commanders on the ground?12 Isn’t it the educators who drew the wrong lessons from Vietnam and came up with the surrealistic Weinberger Doctrine; who dubbed “Operations Other than War” (ootw) anything that did not resemble a Clausewitzian “decisive battle;” who, having reduced “war” to “battle,” “battle” to “combat,” and “combat” to “targeting and shooting,” dismissed post-combat planning as postwar planning best left to civilians.

Since the proverbial military-industrial complex can always be counted on to push for a technocentric approach to war, isn’t it the duty of the military-educational complex to make sure soldiers never lose sight of the anthropocentric approach? And once it becomes clear, as in the early 1990s, that U.S. is peerless in conventional warfare, isn’t the duty of educators to anticipate that the enemy will have no choice but to choose an asymmetrical approach — as in “irregular warfare?” Yet, while the Osamas of this world were issuing fatwas against “Jews and Crusaders” and defining their own struggle in terms of “Fourth-Generation Warfare,” our Clausewitzian Ayatollahs were too busy turning Vom Kriege in a military Quran and issuing fatwas against the theoreticians of 4gw, Netwar, and other postmodern “heresies.” If that attitude does not qualify as “dereliction of duty,” what does?

For the neutral observer, then, the problem with the “neocon chickenhawks” is not so much that they lacked an understanding of irregular warfare13 as that they seriously underestimated the sterilizing effect, on the American military mind and over a generation, of three dozen Clausewitzian cicadas for whom counterinsurgency was synonymous with “derisive battle.” A contrario, the intellectual agility since the end of the Cold War of a Marine Corps largely exempt from the Clausewitz regimen (from General Krulak to General Mattis) would tend to prove that the problem is not with the officer corps itself, but with the (largely civilian) Clausewitzian educators. If the Clausewitzian text is indeed so filled with fog and friction, if On War is so hard to teach from that even most educators can’t teach it properly, then surely thought should be given to retiring Clausewitz, or the educators — or both.

The “cognitive dissonance” among Clausewitizians consists in maintaining the most dogmatic approach concerning Clausewitz as the True North, while deploring — like Gray — that “American military power has been as awesome tactically as it has rarely been impressive operationally or strategically…. the German armed forces in both world wars suffered from the same malady” (as if the two were somehow unrelated). If, as Gray rightly points out, “strategy is — or should be, the bridge that connects military power with policy,” what kind of a bridge is On War, which devotes 600 pages to military power and next to nothing to policy? Between the “strategy for strategy’s sake” of the Clausewitzians, and the “tacticisation of strategy” of Network-Centric Warriors, genuine strategic thinking seems to be forever elusive — missing in action as much as in reflection.

Why such an irrational “resistance” (in the Freudian sense) on the part of military educators? After all, it does not take an Einstein to realize that, from Alexander the Great to Napoleon, the greatest generals for 20 centuries had one thing in common: They have never read Clausewitz. And conversely, in the bloodiest century known to man, the greatest admirers of Clausewitz also have had one thing in common: They may have won a battle here and there, but they have all invariably lost all their wars. One suspects that the Prussian Party is in fact not so much interested in meditating Clausewitz (their endless exegeses of Clausewitz in the past 30 years has yielded no new insight beyond the interpretations of a Raymond Aron and a Carl Schmitt) as such, as in maintaining a “Prussian folklore” in the U.S. military. One can understand their hostilite de principe to the idea of teaching irregular warfare: from Marshall Bugeaud to General Beaufre, from Marshall Gallieni to Marshall Lyautey, from Colonel Trinquier to Lieutenant Galula, the majority of the leading theoreticians on the subject happen to be, not Prussian but — horresco referens — French. And as is well-known by anyone who gets his military history from Hollywood rather than Harvard, the French, since 1918 at least, have proven utterly incapable of fighting.14

Ironically, and Prussian fantasies notwithstanding, what the post-Gulf War American Army has come to resemble is the post-World War i French Army: In both cases, victory breeds complacency, and this in turn can lead to a solid but unimaginative army capable of holding its own against an equally solid but unimaginative opponent — but is not necessarily a match for an innovative military, be it in the form of the German “blitzkrieg” yesterday or Chinese “unrestricted warfare” tomorrow. No wonder that a particularly bold usmc colonel felt compelled recently to argue that the “Shock and Awe” doctrine could prove to be America’s twenty-first-century Maginot Line.15

As of this writing (August 2006), it is too early to tell whether Baghdad will be America’s Battle of Algiers — or Battle of Jena. But it is not too early to call for a Renaissance in Strategic Education — for military and civilians alike. In diplomacy as in academe and in the media, there is unquestionably a need for greater strategic literacy, and the military can play a constructive role; but by the same token, the military will have to free itself from the Clausewitzian straitjacket if it ever wants to make a significant contribution to grand strategy.


The Revolution in Guerrilla Affairs

Unlike his disciples today, Clausewitz was an attentive observer of the revolution in military affairs of his day. It so happens that this rma was in conventional warfare (the Carnot-Bonaparte revolution), whereas that of today is in irregular warfare (Netwar, 4gw). Clausewitz, to be sure, was no stranger to irregular warfare; in fact, On War was initially meant as the first part of a triptych on conventional warfare, irregular warfare and tactics. But the fact remains that in the 10 volumes of his complete works, the least developed (quantitatively and qualitatively) topic remains irregular warfare. Every thinker, to be sure, is a product of his time and, as Raymond Aron observed long ago, it should not come as a surprise that Clausewitz could only conceive of guerrilla warfare in the form of the traditional (defensive) “guerre populaire” and not the twenty-century (offensive) “guerre revolutionnaire.” Be that as it may, it is not until the turn of the twentieth century that the conceptualization of irregular warfare will take a new turn, through the combined effects of the anthropologization of military theory (Calwell, Lawrence) and the militarization of revolutionary ideology (Lenin, Trotsky).16 Meanwhile, in the field of the conventional warfare, the traditional Clausewitzian emphasis on “annihilation” and “decisive battle” will find itself challenged by Delbruck and Corbett, while Liddell Hart will bring the debate on an altogether different plane: that of Grand Strategy.

If Mao Zedong marks a major turning point in the history of irregular warfare, it is because he blends the Western and Eastern traditions and offers the most comprehensive theory and practice of Guerrilla — leading General Beaufre to refer to Mao’s Long March in terms of “Grande Guerrilla.” Yet, in one fundamental aspect, Mao continues to view irregular warfare the same way as Clausewitz: Irregular warfare is merely a “support activity” for conventional warfare; there is no substitute for a conventional, “decisive battle” in the third phase of Mao’s people’s war.

If there is a real “Revolution in Guerrilla Affairs,” then, it is not to be found in Mao’s Long March, but in the French-Algerian War (1954-1962). By 1962, the Algerian fln forces are reduced to 10,000 men, while the French regular forces include more than 100,000 Algerian volunteers. But through the clever use of media (in particular Nasser’s “Voice of the Arabs,” the al-Jazeera of the time) and high-visibility fora provided by nascent international organizations (the un, the Arab League, etc.), the Algerian fln, while thoroughly defeated militarily, will be able to level the playing field and — the asymmetry of political wills being what it is17 — to prevail politically, in a way totally unanticipated by Mao.

Fast forward to 1989. The year of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, William Lind and his iconoclastic “band of brothers” come up with a new theory: Fourth-Generation Warfare. Initially eclipsed by other postmodern discourses (Toffler, Keegan, and especially Van Creveld), “Fourth-Generation Warfare” will enter the lexicon of the mainstream media only after the 9/11 events.

And the first criticism that 4gw will have to confront is that it is based on shaky history. While the point is well-taken, it is worth noting that this is not the first time in military circles that good theory rests on lousy history. In his time, 1957, Samuel Huntington’s historical account of the relation between the Soldier and the State was at best fuzzy history; yet Huntington admirably succeeded in devising a much-needed normative theory of civil-military relations in democratic countries valid for the whole Cold War (whether the U.S. military should continue today to treat it as gospel is another question). Similarly, the historical foundations of 4gw theory are awkward at best: The “generational” periodization cannot fail to make any serious historian cringe, and a more rigorous genealogy should probably have followed the rough “revolution in guerrilla affairs” model outlined above. At the very least, the proponents of 4gw would have been better inspired to argue that, in the second half of the twentieth century, a new form of warfare became dominant due to a host of endogenous and exogenous factors: the increasing militarization of ideologies (Marxism yesterday and Islamism today), the constraints brought by weapons of mass destruction, the opportunities offered by the new weapons of mass communication, etc.

Be it as it may: As Lawrence Freedman, the dean of British strategic studies, pointed out recently, “the fact that 4gw is based on poor history, and does scant justice to the forms both regular and irregular warfare can take, is not in itself a reason for neglecting its prescriptive aspects.”18 4gw theory, which presents itself as a work in progress rather than a closed system, remains one of the most useful approaches to understand the grammar and logic of the current global jihad. And the Clausewitzian drill sergeants are all the less justified in dismissing 4gw in that, unlike other postmodern theoreticians, the 4gw warriors do not exhibit an a priori hostility toward Clausewitz.


“Virtual States” and “Nonlinear Wars”

There is, to be sure, room for improvement. Thus, due to the Clausewitzian, state-on-state, force-on-force, dogmatism prevailing in military circles in the 1980s, the theoreticians of 4gw were initially inclined to put the emphasis on the opposite: the importance of transnational, nonstate actors at the strategic level, of dispersion rather than concentration of forces at the operational level, etc. Today, by contrast, it would be more useful to focus on the concept of “Deep Coalition” between state and nonstate actors put forward by other postmodern defense intellectuals (Alvin Toffler).

One clear shortcoming of 4gw theory is the axiom of a “crisis of legitimacy” of the state. For one thing, the “post-Westphalian” rhetoric so common since the end of the Cold War rests on an idealized vision of the Westphalian order, during which sovereignty was in fact never as total as some would assume; conversely, of the 150 states that have emerged since 1945, the majority have never been real states but “quasi-states.” Too much emphasis on “terrorism” as a product of the “crisis of legitimacy” of the state is wrong not just factually but heuristically as well, in that it leads analysts to overlook the importance of terrorism as a “force multiplier” for the (actual or potential rogue) state. Simply put, the axiom of a “legitimacy crisis” is an impediment to an analysis of the various modalities of “war by proxy”.19 Similarly, too much emphasis on “dispersion” can lead one to overlook the fact that “swarming” campaigns — like the recent “cartoon jihad” — are driven by “deep coalitions” of states, ios, and ngos.

Last but not least, one could certainly take the 4gw warriors to task regarding their editorial strategies: Having denounced the Western lumpen-intelligentsia for what it is (a Fifth Column), some 4gw theoreticians, blinded by anti-Bush passions, end up publishing their diatribes in the columns of the same lumpen-intelligentsia. True, William Lind on Antiwar.com is not nearly as bad as Jane Fonda on Hanoi TV, but given the iq differential, this “objective complicity” (as Marxists used to say) still is “worse than a crime — a mistake.” Just like it is time for Clausewitzians to realize that ours is the age of the “Three-Block War” (Krulak), and that Santa Clausewitz won’t be coming to town, it is time for 4gw warriors to grow up and accept the fact that — to update Donald Rumsfeld — “you go to war with the SecDef you have.”

It is time to “bring the state back in,” lest the 4gw and Netwar discourses end up being afflicted with the same disease as Network-Centric Warfare: namely, the “tacticisation of strategy.” But the return of the state will not be synonymous with a return to Clausewitz. For one thing, the “state” is not the transparent, self-evident, ahistorical concept that some strategists all too often assume. In the days of Clausewitz, at any rate, the State was close to Fichte’s “Geschlossene Handelstaat;” today, it is closer to Rosecrance’s “Virtual State.” For another, as the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review puts it, the Long War will have to be waged across the proverbial dime spectrum, now renamed dimefil (diplomacy, information, military, economic, financial, intelligence, law enforcement). Old Carl may have had a few interesting things to say about counterinsurgency (coin), but he never ventured beyond the military dimension (in short, and to put it in modern parlance: it’s coin and dime, stupid).

The bottom line: because wars are now waged along the dimefil spectrum, the nonlinearity of war has increased exponentially. In his time, to be sure, Clausewitz had the intuition that — to put it simplistically – “fog and friction” combined to produce nonlinearity, but this idea was never fully developed (the “chameleon” imagery in On War does not quite make a chaos theory). Today, the main driver of nonlinearity is not military friction, but media contagion. The overarching metaphor is not so much mechanics as epidemiology. The new buzzword is not kinetics, but “memetics.” The main problem in the field out there is “mass disruption and mass contagion,” while the relevance of the Clausewitzian “fog and friction” is confined primarily to, well — the Beltway’s interagency “turf wars.”20

Clausewitz will never deliver the grammar and logic of Global Jihad. Can the Prussian’s masterpiece at least increase the “situational awareness” regarding the current challenges? Let’s do a quick tour d’horizon to see a contrario why, in and of itself, “Knowing Thy Clausewitz” will never provide the Big Picture necessary to devise a Grand Strategy.


“Deep Coalitions” and “Soft Balancing”: The Shiite crescent and the SCO

In 12 month’s time since the June 2005 presidential elections, Iran has managed to eclipse Iraq and Afghanistan as problem No. 1, thanks to the combination of nuclear ambition and genocidal proclamations. In what way can Clausewitz bring any light to the question “Iran: to bomb or not to bomb?” The Prussian, to be sure, can help us remember that Iran is not a unitary actor but — so to speak — a trinitarian one (government, military, people). Beyond that, nothing; yet, it may well be that, in order to avoid the alternative between appeasement and atomization, the U.S. will have to devise a policy whose success will rest, not just on a good grasp of Iranian civil-military relations, but of the correlation of forces within the Iranian military itself, between the regular army and the Revolutionary Guards, i.e., between those for whom “war is but the continuation of politics by other means” (in the conventional sense) and those for whom “war is the continuation of martyrdom by other means.” But what do we know about the “tribal politics” of the Iranian military, and the possible incentives for defection, rebellion, subversion? Over the years, an unbalanced curriculum in terms of education (fixation on “decisive battle” and “swift victory”) has had long-term implications in terms of organization (marginalization of the Foreign Area Officer program in terms of funding and promotion).

Because it deals essentially with tactical and operational, not strategic matters, neither does On War have anything to tell us on the increasingly salient subject of interstate rivalries in the Muslim world. To the extent that both Saudi Arabia and Iran can be described as “virtual caliphates” (in the sense of “virtual state” mentioned above), the post-1979 cold war of sorts between these two caliphates (reminiscent of the Soviet-Chinese rivalry) has a logic, and an autonomy, of its own (which, incidentally, would exist in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian conflict) — as did, a generation ago, the older cold war between pan-Arabist Egypt and pan-Islamist Saudi Arabia (which would have existed as well in the absence of a Cold War between the U.S. and the ussr).21

Just as On War has little policy relevance for Muslim civil-military relations and interstate competition, so it sheds no light on another increasingly salient question: the “deep coalition” between Muslim state and nonstate actors. Though the Shiites represent only 15 percent of the Muslim world, the emerging Shiite Crescent has a formidable potential for nuisance in the region (due to both the sheer number of countries with Shiite minorities, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, and the fact that Shiite territories tend to be where the oilfields are). What is the nature of the relation between the Shiite center (Iran) and the periphery (from Iraq to Pakistan)? What is the relative weight of religious (Shiite) vs. ethnic (Persian) factors in the “deep coalition” between the Iranian State and nonstate actors (Hamas, Hezbollah)? Under what conditions could Shiites and Sunnis overcome their differences and come up with a joint grand strategy against the West? These are difficult questions, but one thing is sure: not only On War won’t give you the right answers, it won’t even lead you to ask the right questions.

A small consolation: when it comes to identifying the “operational code” of deep coalitions, neither “game theory” nor “structural realism” is likely to shed any light either. Forget about “rational choice” theories: In the non-Western world in general, and in the Middle East in particular, state actors have a long record of self-delusion, miscalculation and defection.22 Rather than “structural realism,” it is a “cultural realism” approach which will make intelligible the constantly shifting evolution between cooperation and confrontation, whether among nonstate actors (Hezbollah and al Qaeda, e.g.) or state actors (Saudi Arabia and Iran).

“Soft Balancing” is another missing chapter in Clausewitz’s On War. International relations scholars have spent the better part of the 1990s wondering why the lone remaining superpower was not being “balanced” — as required by realist theory — by would-be regional hegemons. Look no further now: Since the summer of 2005, “balancing” is happening big time, led by China and Russia. What could still be loosely described in the 1990s as an amorphous “Sino-Islamic Axis” (Huntington) has taken, a decade later, a more institutionalized form to the point where some Western observers describe the China/Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco) over Central Asia as an emerging “nato of the East.”

From a traditional realist point of view, there was in fact nothing preordained in Russia’s “bandwagoning” behavior vis-à-vis the Sino-Islamic Axis (the laws of geopolitical physics being what they are, a seemingly never-ending enlargement of nato to the East simply led Russia to toy with the idea of turning the sco into an Eastern nato). Yet, Russia is not yet “lost”: It belongs to the West, and traditional realists can plausibly argue that a little self-restraint on the part of the U.S. should be enough to get Russia back into the Western fold. While Russia’s dangerous liaison with the sco can be interpreted as tactical “soft balancing,”23 the same can no longer be said of China. China’s growing global activism, from Latin America to Sub-Saharan Africa, from the Middle East to Central Asia, is bringing anything but stability in its wake, and China’s recent development of second-strike capabilities, along with the construction of giant bunkers accommodating 200,000 people, cast doubt on the “softness” of its balancing act.

As a result of the emergence of the sco, the focus of nato activities is likely to be less on a further enlargement to the East than, on one hand, “engaging” counter-balancing global partners (Australia, Japan, etc.) and on the other, “deepening” the political dialogue within the North Atlantic Council (to include now energy security issues). In the long term, and given the gradual subversion of the un by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (see below), it is not impossible to imagine nato transforming itself into a un of Democracies. nato, sco, oic: This triangle is likely to define the new geopolitical environment at the highest level for the near future. But where is the chapter in Clausewitz on “Alliance Politics?24


The “Permanent Campaign” and the “Long War”

Since the Algerian War, the role of media in conflicts has increased exponentially. The 1960s was the Age of the Image, of “pseudo-events,” of celebrities known for their “well-knownness,” and both Castro and Arafat (two media inventions) quickly discovered how to exploit these new opportunities. In the 1970s, Khomeini used small media as force multipliers for a big revolution, while in the 1980s (intifada) and the 1990s (Balkans), the mediasphere became for the first time the main “battlespace.” With the advent of 100 Muslim satellite televisions channels since the mid-1990s, some analysts have wondered about the relevance of Clausewitz in the Age of al-Jazeera, while others have discerned the emergence of a new, non-Clausewitzian strategic trinity.25

Within the various usg foreign affairs agencies, though, there is still great reluctance to view strategic communication as something that should be “present at the takeoff, not just the crash-landing,” of foreign policy. In the counter-terrorism community, similarly, there is a tendency to treat terrorism as a suspension of communication (when it is in fact the continuation of communication by other means), and thus to fail to realize that counter-communication should be at the core, not the periphery, of counter-terrorism. The 2006 qdr asserts that the Long War will ultimately be won through “strategic communication.” The problem? When it comes to strategic communications, amateurs talk about “messages,” professionals talk about “narratives” — and there are way too many amateurs in strategic communication today.

In domestic politics, since the advent of the so-called “Permanent Campaign” in the late 1970s, political communication has become a job where there is “no place for amateurs.” The “ballot-box warriors” are by now fully aware of the importance of narratives. But there is today, in terms of sheer sophistication, a 30-year time lag between political communication at home and strategic communication abroad.

It is time to realize that, while foreign policy is not a popularity contest, “world leadership” is not a divine right either. Since the withering away of the Soviet threat, the U.S. has been de facto engaged on the world stage in a “permanent campaign” of sorts where there is — or should be — no place for amateurs either (in the Clinton era, the White House understood the importance of stagecraft, though more often than not as a substitute for, rather than a complement to, statecraft). This “permanent campaign” imperative was true during the peaceful 1990s; it is all the more true now in the context of a Long War in which, over time, memories of 9/11 abroad will inevitably begin to fade and the U.S. will inevitably begin to appear (“politics is perception” abroad too) as the “greatest threat to world peace.” It is not too late to develop the same sophisticated understanding of strategic communication as that of General Marshall (as secretary of state) and General Eisenhower (as president) in the early days of the Cold War.26

In the ongoing battle for hearts and minds, public diplomacy and information operations will continue to go nowhere fast so long as they stay on “message” instead of moving on to “narrative.” From John Arquilla to Lawrence Freedman, the best strategists have — unsuccessfully so far — tried to draw attention to this fundamental rule of strategic communication: “Opinions are shaped not so much by the information received but the constructs through which that information is interpreted and understood” (Freedman). Yet, the State Department and dod remain stuck in the tactical level of messages (“early alert and rapid response”) and have yet to tackle the strategic question of narratives. In the context of the gwot, it is hard to overstate the importance of narratives, be they personal or collectives, prospective or retrospective, at the micro-, meso-, or macro-levels.

At the micro-level. As two defense intellectuals recently pointed out, “a grand counterterrorism strategy would benefit from a comprehensive consideration of the stories terrorists tell: understanding the narratives which influence the genesis, growth, maturation and transformation of terrorist organizations will enable us to better fashion a strategy for undermining the efficacy of those narratives so as to deter, disrupt and defeat terrorist groups.”27

At the meso-level. It is time to bring genuine scholarship back in the meta-narrative of twentieth-century Middle East history. Since the Arab Revolt of 1916, the history of the region has been first and foremost the history of three successive rivalries. A first rivalry between the reactionary Saudis and the progressive Hashemites (1916-1925) for the control of the Holy Sites (and of the Oily Land, as it turned out later). A second rivalry between pan-Arabist Egypt and pan-Islamist Saudi Arabia (1945-1979) for leadership in the Arab world. A third rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran (1979-today) for the leadership of the re-Islamization of the global umma.

In short, from the point of view of Muslim history, the twentieth century has been as much a “Saudi Century” as Western history has been an “American Century.” Will the twenty-first century be an “Iranian Century”? If it gave up its nuclear fantasies, it certainly could. At any rate, analysts would do well to focus on the impact of the renewed Saudi-Iranian rivalry on the region, and once and for all see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for what it once was (a sideshow but a useful alibi to maintain a “state of emergency”) and what it is fast becoming today (a probing ground to test the determination of the West).

At the macro level. The most effective retrospective meta-narratives rise to the national (or even global) level and acquire the status of “collective memories” — which, more often than not, have little to do with scholarly history. If there is one grand narrative that needs to be thoroughly deconstructed, it is that of “Western imperialism vs. Muslim victimization.” For nearly a thousand years, 711 until 1683, it was Islam which was on the offensive, and the West on the defensive, with a few sporadic counteroffensives (aka the Crusades). And it is thanks to the continuous pressure of Russia on the Ottoman empire from 1699 on that Western Europe became free to safely turn its back on the Muslim question and develop an Atlantic Civilization (Russia is the unacknowledged enabler in the Plato-to-nato narrative).28 So much for Western Imperialism, then.

Beside the message vs. narrative issue at the level of information operations, the main challenge of strategic communication in the context of the Long War is to bring a proper balance between short-term information operations and long-term education operations. Despite its pitiful budget, the State Department has traditionally been good at “Edu Ops,” and the Pentagon could learn a thing or two from State (just like State could learn from dod about Info Ops). Every year, 2,000 foreign officers graduate from the various U.S. military institutions. At very little cost, there could be ten times more, while the International Military Education and Training (imet) program could achieve a better balance between sheer training and genuine education.29 Then again: where is the chapter in Clausewitz on the strategic importance of “Defense Diplomacy?”


“Petrodollar Warfare”: EU-SCO-OPEC

Need, Greed, and Creed: this “remarkable trinity” owes nothing to Clausewitz, yet has always governed the political economy of warfare in most of the world most of the time. War seems to have been the continuation of economics (as much as of politics) by other means for the better part of the past 2,000 years. At the other end of the spectrum, a traditional neglect of the economic dimension also leads Clausewitzians to forget that U.S. hegemony today rests as much on its monetary “command of the common currency” as on its military “command of the commons.”30

When discussed at all, the economic dimension of the gwot is usually confined to: a) the role of hawala, the complex informal financial networks, in terrorism financing; b) the costs of the Iraq campaign and/or the rising costs of oil for U.S. taxpayers/consumers.31 In short, the discussion of the economic dimension remains at best at the operational level and rarely reaches the strategic level. Yet, if the gwot promises to be a Long War, it’s not just simply because it will take 30 years to educate (as in: de-Salafization) a new generation of Muslims; it’s also because, with a quadrupling of oil prices in four years, oil-producing countries have little incentive to see an end to the gwot — provided that they can redirect the jihad from the “near” to the “far” enemy. In the Saudi-Iranian rivalry, theo-political competition is balanced by geo-economic cooperation. Here again, the grammar and logic of the Long War, and the strategies and tactics of the Oily Alliance, won’t be found in Clausewitz.

Last but not least, beyond — and analytically distinct from — the oil weapon proper, is the euro weapon. America’s greatest vulnerability would be exposed were the sco and/or opec countries, gradually and in a coordinated fashion, shift their reserve currencies from dollar to euros. A mere theoretical possibility? Not exactly. At a very slow pace, the train has in fact already left the station. Since the introduction of the euro in 1999, various countries have quietly begun to shift their reserve currencies and, at regular intervals, Russia, China, and various opec countries (the latter, for instance, in retaliation for the cancelled Dubai Ports deal) have threatened to continue to do so.

But while this monetary soft balancing does constitute a “threat” for the U.S., it sounds more like a “promise” for the eu. Back in the 1990s, eu elites “sold” to eu public opinion the idea of a European Monetary Union with the argument that the euro would quickly become the rival of the dollar as reserve currency, and that, in turn, would level the transatlantic playing field in such a way as to make unpopular structural reforms in Europe unnecessary. Today, in the wake of the failed eu constitutional deal in 2005, the domestic legitimacy of eu elites is at an all time low, and these same elites are anxious to see foreign countries — any country — transfer their reserve currencies in euro. The 64-million dollar question becomes: what political price would eu elites be willing to pay to have, say, Russia — the world’s second largest oil exporter — shift a significant part of its reserve currency: a greater institutionalization of the eu-Russia security dialogue, as the Russians have hinted in the past; a quiet acquiescence to an energetic Finlandization which, all things considered, would still be a lesser evil compared to the current energetic dhimmitude of Europe vis-à-vis the Middle East? It’s too early to tell, but one thing should already be clear: There is no chapter on the grammar and logic of petrodollar warfare in Clausewitz, either.


“Lawfare”: Clausewitz or Carl Schmitt?

Is war really the continuation of Politik (policy and/or politics) by other means? Maybe — maybe not. Whether the statement is meant to be descriptive, prescriptive or predictive, its validity, ultimately, rests on the definition of both War and Politik. After 600 pages of On War, you do get a sense of Clausewitz’s definition of War — but you still know next to nothing about the “concept of the political” from which he operates. The Prussian spends the whole first chapter trying to capture the philosophical “essence” of war, but takes Politik as if it was a self-evident notion. Whose Politik are we taking about? Aristotle? Machiavelli? Hobbes? Montesquieu? Fichte? Hegel? And if the latter, what are the relations between the Hegelian political struggle for recognition and the Clausewitzian military struggle for annihilation? These questions are not as academic as they first seem.

For the past two years, the Pentagon has been grappling with the concept of Lawfare — the strategic use of law to overcome the enemy — at the national and international level. Conceptualizing “Lawfare” is possibly the most difficult challenge confronting not just the military today (loac), but the whole foreign policy establishment (why, even the very diplomatic Council on Foreign Relations saw fit to brainstorm on this “latest of asymmetries”). Ironically, even though dod is at the forefront of the conceptual struggle, the 2006 National Military Strategic Plan-War on Terror (nmsp-wot)’s very definition of Islamist “extremists” and “moderates” (and its call to empower the latter), may in fact aggravate lawfare. The bottom line: If we ever want to develop a workable conception of Lawfare, we will have to trade one Carl (Clausewitz) for another (Schmitt).32

Like Clausewitz, Carl Schmitt is a dangerous mind — only more so. Paradoxical as it may sound, the one-time jurist of the Third Reich is today an icon among the Western leftover left and its jihadist allies, who know that they will find in Schmitt, rather than Marx, the precision-guided weapons they need against liberalism. At his best, Schmitt remains to this day the most cogent critique of liberalism as a “political theology.” And while the leftover left may hold it against him that he provided the best philosophical basis for a distinction between authoritarianism and totalitarianism, they are forever grateful to Schmitt for having put forward a proto-theory of Lawfare.

To put it simply (simplistically even): First, against Kelsen’s legalistic fairly tales, Schmitt argues that law is nothing but the continuation of politics by other means. Second, with his “Dictatorship,” “Concept of the Political,” and “Theory of the Partisan,” Schmitt turns Clausewitz on his head to remind us that there are times when politics reaches such a degree of intensity that the only realistic definition is that “politics is the continuation of war by other means.”33

At his worst, Schmitt is not just an anti-Semitic Nazi fellow-traveler (obviously a plus from the jihadist standpoint); he is also the founding father of a Geojuriprudens based on race/faith, which served Nazism well yesterday and would need only minor adjustments to serve jihadism equally well tomorrow. Be it as it may, in times of “epochal war” — and the Long War certainly fits the description – Carl Schmitt may well be what the Greeks called a pharmakon: i.e., both a poison and its remedy. Nothing is more urgent today than a confrontation between Schmitt and Clausewitz, if only because Schmitt’s two “remarkable trinities” (Law/Politics/War and State/Movement/People) are more policy relevant than Clausewitz’s. It is Schmitt, rather than Clausewitz, who will help you understand the current subversion, through international lawfare, of the un system by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (oic) under the guise of “dialogue of civilization,” “tolerance,” “global governance,” and other niceties. For military lawyers who want to become genuine “warrior-lawyers”34, Schmitt remains the best point of departure for the elaboration of counter-Lawfare.

Last but not least: in an age when there is much psychobabble in the West about “identity politics,” Schmitt also offers the most coherent articulation between identity and enmity. In that respect, it is to be hoped that, in the spirit of “jointness,” the National War College and the Middle East Studies Association will sponsor a comprehensive, multi-volume study on: “The Social Construction of Enmity/Identity: The Representation of ‘Jews and Crusaders’ in the State-sponsored Schools, Mosques and Media of the 57 Countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.” That way, we will know once and for all if the global jihad is primarily the unfortunate symptom of a Sartrian, existential mal de vivre in the face of globalization, or if it is primarily a concerted, state-sponsored first phase for an assault on Western Civilization.


Soldier, Statesman, Scholar: The lost battles of Clausewitz

Clausewitz may not be the “Madhi of the masses” derided by Liddell Hart, but he has certainly become the Madhi of a military lumpen intelligentsia for whom the fine art of asking the right questions has been made irrelevant since the master has already provided all the right answers. Once and for all, then: On War is a mere draft, which Clausewitz never intended to publish, and which he himself characterized as a work “that only deserves to be called a shapeless mass of ideas … being liable to endless misinterpretations.”35 No need to be more Catholic than the pope, then. But as military historians know, counterfactual history can at times shed light on some seemingly intractable problems, so let’s walk briefly in Clausewitz’s footsteps and review his existential battles.

Clausewitz the philosopher initially wants to be the Montesquieu of war. But Clausewitz the patriot, who like all Prussians of his generation is under the spell of Fichte (Schmitt got that right), would no doubt prefer to write a military treatise that would nicely complement Fichte’s work on politics (Machiavelli), economics (The Closed Commercial State), and sociocultural history (Addresses to the German Nation). Hence the tension in Clausewitz’s writings between the descriptive and the prescriptive. Did I mention there is also an “epochal war” going on, and that an ambivalent fascination for Napoleon, the “God of War,” does not facilitate scholarly serenity?

With the restoration of the peace after 1815, with the withering away of both Fichte and Napoleon from the scene, with also a certain disenchantment with Restoration domestic politics, Clausewitz the patriot gradually gives way to Clausewitz the philosopher. His goal now? To be the Machiavelli of his time, i.e., a thinker as expert on war as on diplomacy, on statecraft as on strategy. He can’t go on accumulating notes on war and having next to nothing to say about foreign policy, all the while professing that “war is but the continuation of Politik by other means.” Time to walk the walk, not just talk the talk: He will apply for an ambassadorship at the Court of Saint-James.

One can only marvel at the political naiveté of Clausewitz here: The man has no experience in diplomacy whatsoever, has no “decisive battle” attached to his name, is not from high birth, has betrayed his king once by defecting to Russia — yet asked for the most important, the most coveted, ambassadorship of his time. A real intellectual, then. Needless to say, his candidacy will be torpedoed after a protracted battle. Had he read attentively his beloved Machiavelli (or Gracian, or Saint-Simon, for that matter), Clausewitz would have understood that Politik in general, and “court politics” in particular, is but the continuation of war by other means (of the “indirect approach” variety); and that in order to get to see Politik-as-policy from up close, you need already have a good understanding of Politik-as-politics. This is the dialectical question that Clausewitz — who has no political savvy — will never fully grasp, existentially or intellectually.

Yet, one cannot but wonder what a British and a diplomatic experience of this kind would have done for Clausewitz. His stay in England would have been as much an eye-opener for him as the discovery of America was to his contemporary Tocqueville. And instead of retaining his youthful (by then: immature) fascination for Napoleonic battles, he would have been reminded by Nelson’s heirs of the strategic importance of “seapower” (yet another missing chapter) and, above all, he would have learned first-hand from Wellington himself — a soldier-statesman if ever there was one — the meaning of “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” In short, an experience at the Court of Saint James would have made Clausewitz more Tocquevillian and less Fichtean, more Corbettian and less Ludendorfian — and that in turn could have made a world of difference in the history of Europe in the twentieth century.

Clausewitz is so acutely aware of the need to remedy his deficiencies in the diplomatic department that, for five years, he keeps hoping for an ambassadorship (London first, then any ambassadorship) — and will suffer a stroke when he finally realizes it ain’t gonna happen. He will remain in Berlin, where his stay will not be totally fruitless: Over the years, as his philosophical acumen develops, Clausewitz the philosopher will gradually realize that Hegel (not Fichte) is as much the “god of philosophy” as Napoleon is the “god of war.” But here is his second tragedy: Clausewitz has a first-rate intellectual mind — and a third rate philosophical education. Had he lived 50 years earlier, his meager philosophical baggage would have been enough for him to be celebrated by his contemporaries as a philosophe — a Prussian Guibert. But by the 1820s, the Kant-Fichte-Hegel Revolution in Philosophical Affairs has turned philosophy into a professional activity in which there is no longer room for talented amateurs a la Montesquieu-Voltaire-Rousseau (if you have any doubt, just read Hegel’s Logik). And a “shapeless mass of ideas” is the last thing you want to publish when you aspire to public recognition as a philosopher, especially at a time when one of the central philosophical questions of the day is that of Darstellung (which the words “presentation” or “composition” do not begin to translate).

The melancholy of Clausewitz’s last years is that of man who never had the opportunity to fight the military battle he longed for, who has lost his various political battles, and who suspects he is unlikely to win his philosophical battle. By 1827 he has fully realized the need for a major rewrite of On War, but he will only have time to review the first chapter before dying of cholera in 1831 (the same year as Hegel). And so it is that, to this day, Clausewitz’s On War looks at times like Machiavelli, at times like Montesquieu, at times like Fichte, at times like Hegel — “liable to endless misinterpretations” indeed.

End of story. Rather than pontificate about an “unchanging nature” of war, our Clausewitzian drill sergeants would be well-inspired to meditate the rapidly changing philosophical terrain on which Clausewitz was venturing.


Beyond Clausewitz and 4GW

If ours is the age of the “strategic corporal” (Krulak), ncos and junior officers will need a different kind of “situational awareness” than in the past — and that, in itself, will call for a radical transformation of professional military education (pme). Of all the social sciences, anthropology is the one that can offer the most useful insights (psychology, by contrast, can only lead to a “babble for hearts and minds.”) That said, the “strategic corporal” will have to keep in mind that, just as a military officer can be brilliant at the tactical or operational level and less than stellar at the strategic level (or vice versa), area studies specialists can offer invaluable expertise at the tribal and regional levels, yet display a total lack of judgment at the global level.36 At the interagency working level, and for the foreseeable future, “know thyself, know thy enemy” will continue to be more important than “know thy Clausewitz.” So will “know thy Trotsky” (institutional infiltration), “know thy Gramsci” (cultural hegemony), and “know thy Schmitt” (intra and international lawfare) — for this is the remarkable trinity on which the “operational code” of the Fifth Column is based today.

At the level of the new “viceroys” (combatant commanders), it will take more than Clausewitz to develop “situational awareness” across the dime-fil spectrum. If anything, Clausewitz is more a hindrance than help when it comes to realizing the magnitude of the challenge presented by the global jihad as epochal war: demographic warfare, petrodollar warfare, multilevel lawfare.37

Clausewitz will always remain stimulating reading, but less than ever can he deliver actionable insight. Clausewitz should be not so much retired as kicked upstairs, and made the topic of a yearlong seminar at the doctoral level — once, that is, the future (interagency) National Security University establishes a much-needed doctoral program. At the end of the day, though, military educators will have to remember that the name of the interagency game is not strategy but statecraft.

As for Fourth-Generation Warfare, chances are it will continue to offer precious insights. If it wants to avoid a “tacticisation of strategy,” though, it will have to bring the state back in and distinguish between premodern, modern, and postmodern states while looking at sovereignty for what it is: an “organized hypocrisy.”38 Rather than retire the concept of 4gw altogether, though, it should be given a fuller meaning, one that goes beyond the operational conduct of war and identify the epochal causes of the conflict in the perspective of the historical longue duree. To put it simply: 4gw theoreticians will have take into account that, if the global jihad can be called Fourth-Generation Warfare, it is first and foremost because it is the fourth wave of an age-old human comedy known as the “Revolution of the Saints”: Puritans, Jacobins, Bolsheviks, jihadists.39

A theo-political Revolution of the Saints, against the backdrop of an energetic Great Game, in the context of an informational Global Village. It is going to be a “long, hard slog” indeed …


1On the importance of an anthropological approach to strategy, see Ken Booth, Strategy and Ethnocentrism (Holmes and Meier, 1979); Robert E. Harkavy and Stephanie G. Neuman, Warfare in the Third World (Palgrave, 2001); more recently, Mary Habeck, Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror (Yale University Press, 2006); Richard L. Taylor, Tribal Alliances: Ways, Means, and Ends to Successful Strategy (Carlisle Papers, 2005); and Richard H. Schultz and Andrea Dew, Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat (Columbia University, 2006). At the regional level, the best introduction to Middle East exceptionalism remains Barry Rubin, The Tragedy of the Middle East (Cambridge University Press, 2002). On the ethnography of U.S. military culture, see Carl Builder, The Masks of War: American Military Styles in Strategy and Analysis (rand, 1989); Brigadier Nigel N.F. Aylwin-Foster, “Changing the Army for Counterinsurgency Operations,” Military Review (November-December 2005); Robert M. Cassidy, Counterinsurgency and the Global War on Terror: Military Cultures and Irregular Warfare (Praeger, 2006); and Colin S. Gray, Irregular Enemies and the Essence of Strategy: Can the American Way of War Adapt? (Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2006).

2Vice Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski, “Network-Centric Warfare: Its Origin and Future,” Proceedings (January 1998); Milan Vego, “Network-Centric is Not Decisive,” Proceedings (June 2003); Gen. Robert H. Scales Jr., “Culture-Centric Warfare,” Proceedings (October 2004). On technologism, see Williamson Murray, “Clausewitz Out, Computer In: Military Culture and Technological Hubris,” National Interest (Summer 1997). On professionalism, see Don Snyder, ed., The Future of the Army Profession (McGraw-Hill, 2005); Suzanne C. Nielsen “Civil-Military Relations and Military Effectiveness,” Public Administration and Management 10:2 (2005); and Gray, Irregular Enemies.

3Colin S. Gray, Another Bloody Century: Future Warfare (Cassell, 2005), 241.

4Audrey Kurth Cronin, “Cyber-Mobilization: The New Levée en Masse,” Parameters (Summer 2006). As Cassidy points out: “The longevity and resilience of Al Qaeda are not predicated on the total quantity of terrorists that it may have trained in the past but more simply on its capacity to continue to recruit, mobilize and inspire both actual and potential fighters, supporters, and sympathizers.” Counterinsurgency, 5. The use of the internet goes of course beyond mere mobilization: see Gabriel Weimann, Terror on the Internet: The New Arena, the New Challenges (United States Institute of Peace, 2006). On the European front of the jihad, see Evan F. Kohlman, Al Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network (Berg, 2004); Melanie Philips, Londonistan (Encounter Books, 2006); Anthony King, “One in four Muslims sympathizes with motives of terrorists,” Daily Telegraph (July 23, 2005). Patrick Hennessy and Melissa Kite, “Poll Reveals 40 percent Muslims want sharia law in uk,” Daily Telegraph (February 19, 2006).

5On the relations between dawa and jihad, see Zeyno Baran, Hizb ut-Tahrir: Islam’s Political Insurgency (Nixon Center, December 2004). On demographic engineering in general, see Onn Winckler, Arab Political Demography: Population Growth and Natalist Policies (Sussex Academic Press, 2005); Milica Bookman, The Demographic Struggle for Power (Frank Cass, 1997); David Kyle and Rey Koslowski, eds., Global Human Smuggling: Comparative Perspectives (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001); Mark Krikorian, “Keeping Terror Out: Immigration Policy and Asymmetric Warfare,” National Interest (Spring 2004); Myron Weiner and Michael Teitelbaum, Political Demography, Demographic Engineering (Berghahn Books, 2001); Bat Ye’or, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005); Lawrence Freedman, Population Change and European Security (Brassey’s, 1992); On anti-Western indoctrination in schools, mosques, and media, see the various reports by Freedom House and Memri (www.memri.org.)

6Gen. Robert H. Scales, “Too Busy to Learn,” military.com (January 23, 2006). In what other profession does one find people so obsessed with the “nature” or the “essence” of their craft? Diplomats or dentists never talk about the “nature” of diplomacy, the “essence” of dentistry, etc. Philosophically speaking, the Clausewitzians manage to combine the worst features of neo-Platonism with the worst of Aristotleian Scholasticism.

7Steven Metz, “A Wake for Clausewitz: Toward a Philosophy of 21st-Century Warfare,” Parameters (Winter 1994-95).

8Gen. Robert H. Scales, “Clausewitz and World War iv,” Armed Forces Journal (July 2006).

9Richard H. Schultz Jr. and Andrea J. Drew, “Counterinsurgency, By the Book,” New York Times (August 7, 2006).

10H.R. McMaster, Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam (HarperCollins, 1998); Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (Penguin Press, 2006).

11Christopher Bassford, “On War 2000: A Research Proposal” (August 1999), www.clausewitz.com/cwzhome/Complex/Proposax.htm. While Michael Handel’s idea of emphasizing the complementarity between the Prussian Clausewitz and the Chinese Sun-Tzu is an elegant cop-out (Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought, [Frank Cass, 1992, 1996, 2001], Christopher Bassford’s project of rewriting On War for the twenty-first century reminds one of Jorge Luis Borges’s famous short story about Pierre Menard, this fictitious character who boldly set out to rewrite — coincidence? — Don Quixote.

12To use Eliot Cohen and John Gooch’s useful distinction, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War (Free Press, 1990).

13Max Boot’s The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power (Basic Books) was published in 2002.

14Raymond Aron, Penser la Guerre — Clausewitz, two volumes (Gallimard, 1976), partially — and poorly — translated as Clausewitz, Philosopher of War (Simon and Schuster, 1986). Carl Schmitt, The Theory of the Partisan — A Commentary/Remark on the Concept of the Political (1962); “Clausewitz als politischer Denker. Bemerkungen und Hinweise,” in G. Dill, ed., Clausewitz in Perspektive (Ullstein Materialen, 1980). On France’s “strange defeat,” it is worth noting that, given the demographic differential, the 100,000 French soldiers killed in 1940 would be the equivalent today of 600,000 U.S. soldiers killed in action — in a six-week period. The less-than-optimal performance of the French military was also due to the fact that the French political class, for the previous four years, had been as polarized as, well — America’s today.

15Michael Dana, Shock and Awe: America’s 21st Century Maginot Line (Naval War College, 2003).

16C.E. Caldwell, Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice (University of Nebraska Press, 1996 [1896]), and T.E. Lawrence, “The 27 Articles,” Arab Bulletin (August 20, 1917), and “The Evolution of a Revolt,” Army Quarterly (October 1920); Jacob W. Kipp, “Lenin and Clausewitz: the Militarization of Marxism, 1914-1921,” in Willard C. Frank Jr., ed., Soviet Military Doctrine From Lenin to Gorbachev, 1915-1991, (Greenwood Press, 1992), and Harold Walter Nelson, Leon Trotsky and the Art of Insurrection, 1905-1917 (Taylor and Francis, 1988).

17General Andre Beaufre, La Guerre Revolutionnaire (Fayard, 1974). In spite of usmc Colonel Thomas X. Hammes’s assertion in his otherwise stimulating The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century (Zenith Press, 2004), Mao’s vision of guerrilla as mere “support” makes him a poor candidate for the title of founding father of 4gw. On the question of staying power, Gil Merom, How Democracies Lose Small Wars: State, Society and the Failure of France in Algeria, Israel in Lebanon, and the United States in Vietnam (Cambridge University Press, 2003); Ivan Arreguin-Toft, How the Weak Win Wars: A Theory of Asymmetric Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

18Lawrence Freedman, The Transformation in Strategic Affairs, The Adelphi Papers: 45:379 (International Institute of Strategic Studies, 2006).

19Stephen Krasner, “Westphalia and All That,” in Judith Goldstein and Robert Keohane, eds., Ideas and Foreign Policy: Beliefs, Institutions and Political Change (Cornell University Press, 1993). Robert H. Jackson et al, Quasi-States: Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World (Cambridge University Press, 1993). Daniel Byman, Deadly Connections: States that Sponsor Terrorism (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

20Richard N. Rosecrance, The Rise of the Virtual State: Wealth and Power in the Coming Century (Basic Books, 1999). Alan D. Beyerchen, “Clausewitz, Nonlinearity and the Unpredictability of War,” International Security 17:3 (Winter 1992).

21On the Shia revival, see Vali R. Nasr, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future (W.W. Norton, 2006). On Iran’s “deep coalitions,” see Ilan Berman, Tehran Rising: Iran’s Challenge to the United States (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), and Husayn Agha, Ahmad S. Khalidi, Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation (Pinter Publishers, 1995).

22usjfcom, Iraqi Perspectives Report (April 2006) on Saddam’s miscalculations; Ambassador Richard B. Parker, The Politics of Miscalculation in the Middle East (Indiana University Press, 1993); Avi Kober, Coalition Defection: The Dissolution of Arab Anti-Israeli Coalitions in War and Peace (Praeger, 2002).

23On “balancing” see Stephen M. Walt’s Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy (W.W. Norton 2005), which is stronger on analysis than on policy recommendations. To a certain extent, Russia’s relation to Iran is bound to remain independent of the future evolution of the sco. See Brenda Shaffer, Partners in Need: The Strategic Relationship of Russia and Iran (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001).

24Glenn H. Snyder, Alliance Politics (Cornell University Press, 1997).

25Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image (1962); Anthony Depalma, The Man Who Invented Fidel: Castro, Cuba, and Herbert L. Matthews of the New York Times (Public Affairs, 2006); Barry Rubin, Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography (Oxford University Press, 2003); Annabelle Sreberny-Mohammadi, Small Media, Big Revolution: Communication, Culture, and the Iranian Revolution (University of Minnesota Press, 1994). For two exemplary “deconstructions” of the first and second intifadas, see Jim Lederman, Battle Lines: The American Media and the Intifada (Westview, 1993) and Stephanie Gutmann, The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Struggle for Media Supremacy (Encounter Books, 2005). On the Balkans, the list is just too long, but see in particular Philip Hammond and Edward S. Herman’s iconoclastic Degraded Capability: The Media and the Kosovo Crisis (Pluto Press, 2000). Robin Brown, “Clausewitz in the Age of Al-Jazeera: Rethinking the Military-Media Relationship” (2002); Ralph Peters, “The New Strategic Trinity,” Parameters (Winter 1998).

26Dennis W. Johnson, No Place for Amateurs: How Political Consultants are Reshaping American Democracy (Routledge, 2001); Norman Ornstein, The Permanent Campaign and Its Future (aei Press, 2000). Military officers will enjoy Robert V. Friedenberg, Communication Consultants in Political Campaigns: Ballot Box Warriors (Praeger, 1997). On America’s image abroad, see Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes, America Against the World: How We Are Different and Why We Are Disliked (Times Books, 2006). On the public diplomacy of the Marshall Plan, see ww.sellingdemocracy.org; on Eisenhower and psyop, see Kenneth Osgood, Total Cold War: Eisenhower’s Secret Propaganda at Home and Abroad (University of Kansas Press, 2006).

27The best theoretical statement on the politics of collective memory is Gerritt W. Gong, “The Beginning of History: Remembering and Forgetting as Strategic Issues,” Washington Quarterly (Spring 2001). See also Evan Cornog, The Power and the Story (Penguin, 2004) and Karen S. Johnson-Cartee, News Narratives and News Framing: Constructing Political Reality (Rowman and Littlefield, 2004); Ralph Peters, “The Counterrevolution in Military Affairs,” Weekly Standard (February 6, 2006); Dietrich Jung, “Turkey and the Arab World: Historical Narratives and New Political Realities,” Mediterranean Politics 10:1 (March 2005); Jacob Lassner, The Middle East Remembered: Forged Identities, Competing Narratives, Contested Places (University of Michigan Press, 2000); Madawi al-Rasheed, Counter-Narratives: History, Contemporary Society, and Politics in Saudi Arabia and Yemen (Palgrave, 2004).

28William Casebeer and James Russell, “Storytelling and Terrorism: Towards a Comprehensive Counter-Narrative Strategy,” Strategic Insights 4:3, (March 2005). On rivalries, see Joshua Teitelbaum, The Rise and Fall of the Hashemite Kingdom of the Hijaz (New York University Press, 2001); Malcolm H. Kerr, The Arab Cold War: Gamal Abd al-Nasir and His Rivals, 1958-1970 (Oxford University Press, 1971); Alan R. Taylor, The Arab Balance of Power (Syracuse University Press, 1982); John L. Esposito, ed., The Iranian Revolution: Its Global Impact (Florida International University Press, 1990); Henner Furtig and Anoushiravan Ehteshami, Iran’s Rivalry With Saudi Arabia Between the Gulf Wars (Ithaca Press, 2002). See also Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History (Yale University Press, 2006).

29Tony Corn, “From Info Ops to Edu Ops: Strategic Communication in the Age of the Long War,” U.S. Naval War College (March 2006).

30Cynthia J. Arnson and I. William Zartman, Rethinking the Economics of War: The Intersection of Need, Creed, and Greed (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005). David E. Spiro, The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets (Cornell University Press, 1999); Barry Posen, “Command of the Commons: The Military Foundation of U.S. Hegemony,” International Security 28:1 (Summer 2003).

31Robert Looney, “Hawala: The Terrorist’s Informal Financial Mechanism,” Middle East Policy 10 (Spring 2003); Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz, The Economic Costs of the Iraq War: An Appraisal Three Years After the Beginning of the Conflict, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (January 2006).

32On the multi-faceted nature of lawfare, see Jeremy Rabkin, “Lawfare — The International Court of Justice Rules in Favor of Terrorism,” Wall Street Journal (July 17, 2004); Paul Marshall, Radical Islam’s Rules: The Worldwide Spread of Extreme Shari’a Law (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005); On the oic in the un, see Henrik Bering, “The u.n. Plays with Lego: The anti-Denmark campaign continues,” Weekly Standard (April 3, 2006); David Littman, “Islamism Growing Stronger at the United Nations,” Middle East Quarterly (September 1999) and “Farewell to the United Nations?” (July 28, 2006). On Lawfare in a U.S. context, see Peter Berkowitz, “U.S. Military: 8 Elite Law Schools,” Weekly Standard (March 20, 2006); Debbie Schlussel, “Who’s Really Behind the aclu Lawsuit?” FrontPageMagazine.com (January 20, 2006). Davida E. Kellogg, “International Law and Terrorism,” Military Review (September 2005). Philip Carter, “Legal Combat,” Slate.com (April 4, 2005). For the distinction between “moderates” and “extremists”, see Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, The National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism (NMSP-WOT) (February 2006).

33A point already raised by Lenin, of course, but never developed philosophically. The best general introduction to Carl Schmitt is Jan-Werner Muller, A Dangerous Mind: Carl Schmitt in Post-War European Thought (Yale University Press, 2003). On Schmitt’s “international relations” theory and its possible relevance for the gwot, see the special issue of Leiden Journal of International Law 19 (2006) (www.ljil.leidenuniv.nl). The confrontation between Schmitt and his contemporary Kojève (whose “End of History” thesis was given a new lease on life by Francis Fukuyama) would make for an interesting discussion. For a recent, and more enlightened, defense of liberal authoritarianism, see Fareed Zakaria, The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (Norton, 2003).

34Geoffrey S. Corn, “Developing Warrior Lawyers: Why It’s Time to Create a Joint Services Law of War Academy,” Military Review (May-June 2006).

35Quoted in Peter Paret, Clausewitz and the State (Princeton University Press, 1985), 381.

36See for instance Olivier Roy and Mariam Abou Zahab, Islamist Networks: The Afghan-Pakistan Connection (Columbia University Press, 2004), and Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah (Columbia University Press, 2005).

37On the combatant commanders’ diplomatic role, see Derek S. Reveron, ed., America’s Viceroys: The Military and U.S. Foreign Policy (Palgrave MacMillan, 2004). On the concept of epochal war, see Philip Bobbitt, The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History (Knopf, 2002).

38On “bringing the State back in,” two books that nicely complement each other: on the three kind of states, see Robert Cooper, The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century (Atlantic Books, 2003); on Sovereignty, see Stephen Krasner, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton University Press, 1999). A former adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Cooper is now adviser to the eu’s foreign affairs representative, Javier Solana; Krasner is the director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department.

39For a more psychological and less historical approach to the conduct/cause distinction, see Michael J. Mazarr, “Extremism, Terror, and the Future of Conflict,” Policy Review, web special (March 2006). For a comparative study of the Puritan, Jacobin, and Bolshevik Revolutions, see Michael Walzer, The Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics (Harvard University Press, 1982). For the similarities between the Russian and Iranian revolutions, see Tim McDaniel, Autocracy, Modernization, and Revolution in Russia and Iran (Princeton University Press, 1993).

overlay image