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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. 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 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 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.

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 at least, have proven utterly incapable of fighting.

Development of doctrine

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. 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.

Unlike his disciples today, Clausewitz was an attentive observer of the revolution in military affairs of his day. 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.

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. By , the Algerian FLN forces are reduced to 10, men, while the French regular forces include more than , 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.

Fast forward to 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. And the first criticism that 4GW will have to confront is that it is based on shaky history.

Willard C. Frank, Jr. Papers, | Special Collections and University Archives

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, , 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.

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. 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.

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 s, 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 states that have emerged since , the majority have never been real states but "quasi-states.

Simply put, the axiom of a "legitimacy crisis" is an impediment to an analysis of the various modalities of "war by proxy". 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. 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. 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. 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. Clausewitz will never deliver the grammar and logic of Global Jihad.

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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. In 12 month's time since the June presidential elections, Iran has managed to eclipse Iraq and Afghanistan as problem No.

In what way can Clausewitz bring any light to the question "Iran: to bomb or not to bomb? Beyond that, nothing; yet, it may well be that, in order to avoid the alternative between appeasement and atomization , the U. 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 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.

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.

How Did Cold War Battle Tactics Work?

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.

Defining doctrine

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.

International relations scholars have spent the better part of the s 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 , "balancing" is happening big time, led by China and Russia. 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. 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 , 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. But where is the chapter in Clausewitz on "Alliance Politics? Since the Algerian War, the role of media in conflicts has increased exponentially. The s 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 s, Khomeini used small media as force multipliers for a big revolution, while in the s intifada and the s Balkans , the mediasphere became for the first time the main "battlespace.

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.

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 s, political communication has become a job where there is "no place for amateurs. But there is today, in terms of sheer sophistication, a 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. 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.

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.

At the meso-level.

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It is time to bring genuine scholarship back in the meta-narrative of twentieth-century Middle East history. Since the Arab Revolt of , 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 for the control of the Holy Sites and of the Oily Land, as it turned out later. A third rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran 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. 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.