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Masters of War

Masters of War

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Highlights

  • any war conducted in a rational, instrumental manner requires the meticulous correlation of ends and means; the identification of a strategic and/or operational center of gravity and the recognition that, while success on the battlefield should be exploited to the fullest, every offensive reaches a culminating point of victory after which further action could become counterproductive. (Location 193)
  • conflicts. First, we must remember that the great military success enjoyed by the United States and its allies in the Gulf War as well as in Kosovo was not equally matched by political success. Ultimately, war is about ‘compelling the enemy to do our will’, that is, achieving our political objectives in order to translate a military victory into a political environment better than that which existed before the resort to force. From this point of view, both the Gulf War and the war in Kosovo produced only mixed success in the long run and in some ways even proved counter-productive. (Location 252)
  • As Clausewitz says,‘…action [in war] is no mathematical construction, but has to operate in the dark, or at best in the twilight’ (Clausewitz, On War, p. 545). Perhaps some of the darkness has been lifted, which means that war is now fought more in the twilight than in darkness, but war is still not fought in ‘broad daylight’. As soon as one side endeavors to lift the darkness, his opponent works just as hard to increase it through secrecy, deception, or any other available countermeasures. As a result, darkness and twilight, with an occasional ray of sunshine, will perpetually constitute the environment of war. (Location 304)
  • Technology is only a means in war, which cannot produce complete victory and success by itself. (Location 309)
  • Ultimately, the logic and rational direction of war are universal and there is no such thing as an exclusively ‘Western’ or ‘Eastern’ approach to politics and strategy; there is only an effective or ineffective, rational, or non-rational manifestation of politics or strategy. (Location 405)
  • Machiavelli’s work is also important because it illustrates the similarities, conceptual unity, and universality of strategic thought. (Location 420)
  • As explained in the text below, for example, Sun Tzu greatly values deception and surprise while Clausewitz regards them as largely impracticable; but a comparison of Clausewitz and Jomini on the same issue shows that both believe surprise is difficult to achieve and that deception is almost always a waste of time and resources. This indicates that Clausewitz’s opinion on these matters is not so much idiosyncratic as a reflection of the general experience at the turn of the nineteenth century, when tremendous growth in the size of military formations had not yet been supported by corresponding improvements in mobility or communications. As a result, the effectiveness of deception and surprise was reduced for a time; but subsequent technological advances soon fundamentally altered the specific circumstances that had caused Clausewitz and Jomini to form negative opinions of surprise and deception. (Location 427)
  • Clausewitz believed, perhaps correctly for his own time, that the most profound changes in war were political and social, not material: (Location 457)
  • Clearly the tremendous effects of the French Revolution abroad were caused not so much by new military methods and concepts as by radical changes in policies and administration, by the new character of government, altered conditions of the French people, and the like. (Clausewitz, On War, p. 609) (Location 461)
  • Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things that are decisive. (Location 467)
  • The staggering complexity of military conflicts has also made it impossible to avoid numerous internal contradictions—whether real or apparent—in formulating a general theory of war. The works of Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, and Jomini are certainly not devoid of such internal contradictions, tensions, and inconsistencies, the identification of which shows that the paradoxical nature of war defies complete understanding or ‘final’ codification. In many ways, the contradictions within each of these works are more interesting than the contradictions between them. The strategist’s objective is not necessarily to resolve or eliminate every anomaly, but rather to understand why wrestling with these questions can bring better insight into the nature of war. (See Appendix A.) Sun Tzu, for example, relies (Location 472)
    • Note: His s interesting as an analytic frame
  • As Clausewitz recognizes, the art of command is to make choices in the midst of ambiguity. (Location 493)
  • Intelligence may be reliable on the strategic level but not on the operational; surprise may be readily achieved on the tactical level but not on the strategic; and defense may be stronger on the tactical and operational levels but not necessarily on the strategic. (Location 501)

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title: Masters of War longtitle: Masters of War author: Michael I. Handel url: , source: kindle last_highlight: 2020-04-06 type: books tags:

Masters of War

rw-book-cover

Metadata

Highlights

  • any war conducted in a rational, instrumental manner requires the meticulous correlation of ends and means; the identification of a strategic and/or operational center of gravity and the recognition that, while success on the battlefield should be exploited to the fullest, every offensive reaches a culminating point of victory after which further action could become counterproductive. (Location 193)
  • conflicts. First, we must remember that the great military success enjoyed by the United States and its allies in the Gulf War as well as in Kosovo was not equally matched by political success. Ultimately, war is about ‘compelling the enemy to do our will’, that is, achieving our political objectives in order to translate a military victory into a political environment better than that which existed before the resort to force. From this point of view, both the Gulf War and the war in Kosovo produced only mixed success in the long run and in some ways even proved counter-productive. (Location 252)
  • As Clausewitz says,‘…action [in war] is no mathematical construction, but has to operate in the dark, or at best in the twilight’ (Clausewitz, On War, p. 545). Perhaps some of the darkness has been lifted, which means that war is now fought more in the twilight than in darkness, but war is still not fought in ‘broad daylight’. As soon as one side endeavors to lift the darkness, his opponent works just as hard to increase it through secrecy, deception, or any other available countermeasures. As a result, darkness and twilight, with an occasional ray of sunshine, will perpetually constitute the environment of war. (Location 304)
  • Technology is only a means in war, which cannot produce complete victory and success by itself. (Location 309)
  • Ultimately, the logic and rational direction of war are universal and there is no such thing as an exclusively ‘Western’ or ‘Eastern’ approach to politics and strategy; there is only an effective or ineffective, rational, or non-rational manifestation of politics or strategy. (Location 405)
  • Machiavelli’s work is also important because it illustrates the similarities, conceptual unity, and universality of strategic thought. (Location 420)
  • As explained in the text below, for example, Sun Tzu greatly values deception and surprise while Clausewitz regards them as largely impracticable; but a comparison of Clausewitz and Jomini on the same issue shows that both believe surprise is difficult to achieve and that deception is almost always a waste of time and resources. This indicates that Clausewitz’s opinion on these matters is not so much idiosyncratic as a reflection of the general experience at the turn of the nineteenth century, when tremendous growth in the size of military formations had not yet been supported by corresponding improvements in mobility or communications. As a result, the effectiveness of deception and surprise was reduced for a time; but subsequent technological advances soon fundamentally altered the specific circumstances that had caused Clausewitz and Jomini to form negative opinions of surprise and deception. (Location 427)
  • Clausewitz believed, perhaps correctly for his own time, that the most profound changes in war were political and social, not material: (Location 457)
  • Clearly the tremendous effects of the French Revolution abroad were caused not so much by new military methods and concepts as by radical changes in policies and administration, by the new character of government, altered conditions of the French people, and the like. (Clausewitz, On War, p. 609) (Location 461)
  • Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things that are decisive. (Location 467)
  • The staggering complexity of military conflicts has also made it impossible to avoid numerous internal contradictions—whether real or apparent—in formulating a general theory of war. The works of Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, and Jomini are certainly not devoid of such internal contradictions, tensions, and inconsistencies, the identification of which shows that the paradoxical nature of war defies complete understanding or ‘final’ codification. In many ways, the contradictions within each of these works are more interesting than the contradictions between them. The strategist’s objective is not necessarily to resolve or eliminate every anomaly, but rather to understand why wrestling with these questions can bring better insight into the nature of war. (See Appendix A.) Sun Tzu, for example, relies (Location 472)
    • Note: His s interesting as an analytic frame
  • As Clausewitz recognizes, the art of command is to make choices in the midst of ambiguity. (Location 493)
  • Intelligence may be reliable on the strategic level but not on the operational; surprise may be readily achieved on the tactical level but not on the strategic; and defense may be stronger on the tactical and operational levels but not necessarily on the strategic. (Location 501)