Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Friction and Fog of War

One fun moment at Carlisle Barracks last month was having my photo taken with the bust of Clausewitz.
Also notable was the number of times the great war theorist's name was evoked, including an acknowledgment that the mention was as much because it's simply de rigeur to do so as the fact that Clausewitz was a good fit with the discussion.  His insight into the differences between war in theory/on paper/as planned and the reality of war are relevant still, perhaps more so than in some time.  One condition for applying conceptually (and operationally) insightful thinkers such as Clausewitz to current conditions is that we must expand the battlespace conceptually and geospatially.  Conceptually, we're living in what some call a new medievalism (not without dissent) with "marked by multiple and overlapping sovereignties and identities."  However, whether a traditional sovereign state, a multinational corporation, a tribal hierarchy, a terrorist organization or a suicide bomber, the rational actor assumption that underlies Clausewitz's (and most such, except for those who don't) theories applies across the board.  Geospatially, the battlespace is defined in practically every way imaginable -- from the varied and difficult terrain of Afghanistan to drone "pilots" in Arizona to space-based assets to cyberspace.  To summarize, what I'm introducing is a look at the friction and fog of war as discussed by Clausewitz but applied as indicative of neo-medievalism in the Afghan zone of conflict.  Put another way, I seek to provide a Clausewitzian analysis of the Afghan theater though the prism of the great Hedley Bull's concept of neo-medievalism, proposing that neo-medievalism is a primary source of the Clausewitizian frictions clouding both the conduct and analysis of the war effort.  This will comprise my entries over the next few days.

1 comment:

  1. I did stray a bit from what I set out to do. What I wound up doing was more of a dialectic between Clausewitz and Neo-Medievalism.