Christopher Daase

Book coverProf. Dr. Christopher Daase is Chair of International Organisation Cluster of Excellence "Normative Orders," Goethe‐University Frankfurt. This is a paper presented at the conference "Clauswitz in the 21st Century," Oxford University, 21-23 March 2005. An edited version can be found in Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Hew Strachan and Andreas Herberg-Rothe (Oxford University Press, September 2007), pp.182-195. ISBN: 0199232024. His book with James Davis, Clausewitz on Small War (Oxford University Press, 2015) is available now. 216 pages, ISBNs 0198737130, 978-0198737131. See reviews by Artemis Photiadou for LSE Review of Books; Simon Tyler for E-International Relations; Sibylle Scheipers for Small Wars & Insurgencies (includes a reply by the editors).

1. Introduction

It has become fashionable to negate the relevance of Clausewitz and his thinking for understanding today’s wars and militarized conflicts. The changing nature of war, it is said, renders his concepts and ideas obsolete and turns his philosophy of war into a dangerously outdated ideology. Martin van Creveld argues, that, given the fact that low-intensity conflict is the dominant form of war today, Clausewitz’ thoughts are no longer valid or simply wrong (van Creveld 1991: ix). Prominent strategists like Edward Luttwak (1995: 114) and Steven Metz (1994/95) have supported this view. Similarly, Mary Kaldor has used Clausewitz to define what she calls “old wars” and to differentiate them from “new wars” in which sub-state actors are the predominant force. A non-Clausewitzian understanding of war is needed, she argues, to comprehend recent changes in the use of political violence (Kaldor 1999: Chapter 2). This creed is also the starting point of much of the literature on civil war economies. David Keen thus argues in a distinctly anti-Clausewitzian mode, that war is no longer politics, but economics by other means (Keen 1998:11). Finally, John Keegan questions not only Clausewitz timeliness, but his entire pertinence. In his view, Clausewitz’ thinking was mistaken from the very beginning and has poisoned not only military but political thinking more broadly (Keegan 1993).

Many of these allegations can be attributed to intellectual ignorance. It is well known that Clausewitz is more often cited than read. He simply stands, especially in the English-speaking world (see Bassford 1994), for a particular image of war which has consolidated through continued misinterpretations of his writings despite a number of attempts to correct such errors (Gat 1989; Howard 1983; Paret 1976; 1992). But even authors, who defend Clausewitz, most recently Klaus-Jürgen Gantzel (2006) and Stuart Kinross (2004), do so by attacking the critics rather than by pointing out Clausewitz’ analytical strengths. A more compelling strategy would be to demonstrate that the new forms of warfare underscore Clausewitz’ contemporary relevance and that his ideas about “Small Wars” allow a more sophisticated approach to political violence than provided by his critics. Doing so, however, demands to go beyond his famous book On War and study the more arcane manuscripts – correspondence, lectures, memoranda – most of which have not been translated into English.

My argument is that Carl von Clausewitz was one of the first theorists of wars of national liberation. In his “Lectures on Small War”, given at the Berliner Kriegsschule in 1811/12, he analyzed guerrilla warfare by studying the rebellion in the Vendée 1793-1796, the Tyrolean uprising of 1809 and, most prominently, the Spanish insurrection from 1808 onward. In his famous “Bekenntnisdenkschrift”, or memorandum of confession of 1812, in which he insists on “a Spanish civil war in Germany” (Clausewitz 1966: 729), Clausewitz outlined a comprehensive guerrilla strategy against Napoleonic France and supported his view with theoretical reflections about the nature of defence and offence. In his opus magnum On War, first published posthumously in 1832, Clausewitz included a concise chapter on “The People in Arms” in the sixth book on defence, in which he deals with practical as well as theoretical aspects of popular uprising and guerrilla warfare. It is safe to say then, that biographically and intellectually “People’s War” was at the very beginning of Clausewitz’ career.

The eminent military historian Werner Hahlweg wrote in 1986: “Clausewitz describes the nature of guerrilla war with words that are in some aspects still applicable today” (Hahlweg 1986: 131). As a political scientist, I am inclined to go beyond this cautious assessment and make the following three arguments: First, Clausewitz provides the means for a superior conceptualization of political violence that allows describing historical and recent changes of war, including the emergence of guerrilla warfare and terrorism. Second, he offers theoretical insights into the dynamics of defence and offence which help to explain why certain actors apply certain strategies and tactics. Third, Clausewitz allows reflecting on the effects of war on both actors and structures and helps to explain why big states often loose small wars.

2. Clausewitz and the Conceptualization of Political Violence

Most concepts in political and military affairs are contested; some even say “essentially contested” (Gallie 1956, Dalby 1997). What exactly “war” is and what constitutes “guerrilla”, what defines “militarized disputes” and what determines “terrorism” has remained difficult to decide. Positivist scholars of war in particular have become frustrated by the inability of the scientific community to agree on the meaning of key terms like “war” and “peace”, “violence” and “conflict”, rendering strategies for cumulative knowledge elusive (Starr/Siverson 1998). Post-positivists scholars, on the other hand, are less astonished about this fact, pointing to normative and political disagreement out of which conceptual disputes arise (Fierke 2002). Decision-makers and politicians, in turn, have used the conceptual discord as licence to apply political terms as they fit their own interests, further undermining semantic precision and erasing institutional distinctions such as between “war” and “crime” or “guerrilla” and “terrorism”.1 The notorious sentence that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is indicative for the problems contested concepts pose politically.

Two principal strategies have been proposed to deal with the problem of contestability: deconstruction and reconstruction. Where meaning is essentially contestable and attempts to reach common ground remain doomed, deconstructivists like William Connolly argue for the analysis of social practices determining social meaning and political contexts in turn (Connolly 1981). On the other hand, reconstructivists, such as Felix Oppenheim, insist on the need to reach working definitions by historical and logical concept analysis in order to create a basis for the scientific study of social and political reality that is independent from language and discourse (Oppenheim 1981).

Clausewitz’ definitions and conceptual strategies have much to offer to both approaches. First, his idea of war as an “extended duel” (Clausewitz 1980: 191) and as “a continuation of policy by other means” (Clausewitz 1980: 210), is in fact a distinction of social spheres and an allocation of political roles. By reclaiming war as a political instrument belonging to the state, he re-invents the very concept of war which he saw disappearing in nationalist upheavals, but which was re-institutionalized by the Congress of Vienna (Paret 1992, Herberg-Rothe 2001). Deconstructing Clausewitz’ concept of war and relating it to the concept of policy (or politics, depending on how the word Politik is translated from German), allows the identification of social practices of political change and stability as well as strategies of legitimation and delegitimation of collective violence (Jabri 1996).2

Second, Clausewitz tripartite conceptualization of war provides an excellent basis for the reconstruction of “war” and the creation of a comparative typology of political violence. It helps to understand concepts not as being defined by one, or some, essential descriptors, but rather as being constituted by similarities building a family resemblance. Different forms of political violence can thus be compared with respect to specific properties and can be grouped together as “war”, “guerrilla” or “terrorism” even if no single defining feature of them exists (Davis 2005).

Clausewitz’ definition of war, some scholars have pointed out (Aron 1980: 80; Münkler 2003), has a certain similarity to what Max Weber later called “ideal type” (Weber 1949[1904]). However, Weber has given little guidance how to accentuate aspects of a phenomenon in order to create an ideal type. He also stressed that the ideal type is not “true” in any sense and “even less fitted to serve as a schema under which a real situation or action is to be subsumed as one instance” (Weber 1949: 93). Clausewitz, on the other hand, was very precise about the defining features of the phenomenon he was interested in. In addition, he was willing to go beyond individualized comparison and generalize over cases. Thus, Clausewitz’ concept of war is probably better understood as “prototype” or “radial concept” (Lakoff 1987), since it implies a schema of political violence in the Kantian sense (Kant 1956 [1787]: 137-191).

A conceptual schema is a mediating representation that links a concept with an image. Clausewitz provides such a schema by defining war as an “extended duel” (Clausewitz 1980: 191). Through this metaphor he reduces the social complexity of war to a violent contest between two collective actors. He further determines the purpose of this contest as “to compel our enemy to do our will” (Clausewitz 1980: 191). In order to further specify this social function of war, Clausewitz goes beyond a simplistic means-ends relationship. By categorically distinguishing war and policy and subsuming the former under the latter, he offers a tripartite stipulation of war as the application of violent means (Mittel) to realize military aims (Ziele) to achieve political goals (Zwecke). If we add the two actors from the initial situation, we arrive at five elements that constitute the conceptual schema of war which Clausewitz had in mind: The attacker, the defender, violent means, military aims, and political ends. With this schema, diverse forms of political violence can be described and compared without the need to draw strict conceptual boundaries or to identify conceptual cores.

Reconstructed in such a way, Clausewitz’ understanding of war is the application of armed forces (means) by a state (the attacker) to destroy the enemy army (aim) to compel another state (the defender) to follow the attacker’s will (end). While this concept captures the traditional notion of interstate war as conceived in Clausewitz’ time and even today, it also allows identifying less typical kinds of war. By changing one or more elements in the schema, new forms of political violence are envisaged and we move away from the concept of war as used in ordinary language. Clausewitz’ notion of ‘small war’ in his 1811/12 lectures is a good example. He describes states applying small scale organized violence against military targets in order to exhaust the enemy and to compel him to change his policy (see Clausewitz 1966: xxx). However, Clausewitz does not yet conceive of small wars as independent from big wars. He regards them as a specific form of military operation by small units to reconnoitre the enemy’s positions and harass his lines of communication. Thus, Clausewitz talks at length about terrain – e.g. measures to be taken while crossing mountains, woods, rivers or quagmires – and the use of light weapons. While recognizing the defensive strength of small wars, he does not see them as decisive for victory. Thus, in his lectures, Clausewitz remains faithful to the 18th century tradition of the petite guerre which considered small wars to be an auxiliary resource of big wars (Heuser 2005: 37-45).

In the “Bekenntnisdenkschrift”, however, Clausewitz changes his view. Facing the overwhelming military power of the Napoleonic forces in Prussia, he sees small wars in a much more revolutionary way. No longer is the state, represented by a hesitant king and a reactionary bureaucracy, the driving force of war, but the nation. Drawing on various narratives of popular uprisings in the Vendée, Tyrol, and most prominently in Spain, Clausewitz comes to regard the spontaneous mobilization of the masses as a crucial element in war. So, his second definition of small war would be the application of organized and unorganized violence by non-state actors against military forces to harass and exhaust the enemy’s army in order to change his policy. Small war has now gained a rather distinct form in Clausewitz’ thinking as ‘people’s war’ or Landsturm.

It is evident that this conceptual tool can also be used to describe and compare more recent forms of political violence. Terrorism e.g. can be seen as a situation in which a non-state actor uses organized violence against civilian targets (means) in order to spread fear and terror among the public (aim) to compel a state government (actor B) to change its policy. This capture today’s ordinary language notion of terrorism and adequately describes, e.g., Al Qaeda’s strategy. Again, by changing one ore more elements of the schema, we arrive at new forms of terrorism that are different from ‘pure terrorism’ as currently perceived, but still ‘terrorism enough’ to allow concepts like ‘religious terrorism’, ‘state terrorism’ and other ‘terrorisms’ with adjectives (see Collier 1997).

Although key concepts in the study of war defy definition in terms of essential characteristics whose meaning is independent of time and space, the claim of radical post-positivists that “anything goes” cannot be sustained. Furthermore, political defeatism regarding the distinctiveness of particular forms of violence and their ethical levelling is unwarranted. Rather, a rediscovery of Clausewitz’ means/aims/ends distinction provides a schema for mapping out the changing historical and geographical landscape of political violence and helps to maintain conceptual and normative differences.

3. Defence, Offence, and the Strategy of Small War

Aside from conceptual clarity, Clausewitz provides critical insights into the dynamics of war. In particular, he offers a sophisticated conception of the dialectics of defence and offence that is crucial for understanding unconventional warfare then and now. Indeed, Clausewitz’ discussion of defence and offence goes far beyond the current debate in International Relations on the same topic where neo-realist scholars like Robert Jervis (1978) and Steven Van Evera (1999) discuss whether factors favouring the offence may be considered causes of war (see Brown et al. 2004). As most realist accounts, offence-defence theory suffers from state-centrism and a lack of precision with regard to its explanatory variables. By opening up the debate to include non-state actors and by incorporating Clausewitz’ ideas, this literature would gain in theoretical depth and policy relevance.

First, however, we need to correct the popular misconception that Clausewitz favoured the offensive use of force. Through Basil Liddell Hart’s interpretation in particular it has become common sense to regard Clausewitz as the Mahdi of the masses who preferred a direct strategic approach and the concentration of force to crush the enemy’s army in a decisive battle (Liddell Hart 1991 [1954]). But in his early writings and the Sixth Book in On War, he takes an opposite view: there he favours an indirect approach and praises the strengths of the defence. Clausewitz even goes further, arguing that, philosophically speaking, “war begins only with defence” (Clausewitz 1980: 644). While the invader would always prefer to conquer a territory without confrontation, it is the defender who starts the fighting when he resists the appropriation by force. The defence, Clausewitz argues, is the stronger form of war, because it concentrates on the negative end to hold a position. The offence, on the other hand, is the weaker form of war, because it requires additional means to realize its positive end: to conquer (Clausewitz 1980: 615). It thus depends on the relative strength of the opponents which form of war is more appropriate for them.

The defence is never absolute, however. Passive defence, as Clausewitz sees it, is contradictory to the very concept of war (Clausewitz 1980: 615). Rather, defence means awaiting and averting the enemy in order to realise the moment for retaliation (Clausewitz 1980: 649). Clausewitz takes the notion of “active defence” from his friend and patron Scharnhorst and develops it into a coherent doctrine by identifying different layers of defence. For this, Clausewitz utilizes his innovative interpretation of the tactics-strategy distinction. Traditionally, tactics had been defined as any troop action within the range of enemy fire, whereas strategy was understood as all military activity beyond this range (Paret 1978: 78-97). Clausewitz goes beyond the empiricist definition by linking the tactics-strategy distinction to his schema of means, aims, and ends of war: “Thus, tactics is the teaching of the use of the armed forces in combat, strategy the teaching of the use of combat for the aim of war” (Clausewitz 1966 [1811]: 646; 1980: 271).3 Politics, we might add, entails the teaching of the use of war for the ends of policy.

Consequently, Clausewitz determines three levels of defence: tactical, strategic, and political defence (Clausewitz 1966 [1812]: 742). Political defence means that a nation struggles for its liberation or very existence, not for its extension or expansion. Strategic defence is the protection of national territory as opposed to the guarding of foreign land. Tactical defence finally is the awaiting of an enemy attack, as opposed to taking the initiative and striking first. Clausewitz stresses that strategic defence does not necessarily imply tactical defence. Quite to the contrary: “Within the theatre of war which we have decided to defend, we can attack the enemy where and how it pleases us. There we have all the means to completely destroy the enemy army, just as in any offence. Indeed, in our own theatre of war, this is much easier for us than for our enemy” (Clausewitz 1966 [1812]: 745). The idea of “active defence” is the classical calculus of guerrilla warfare and aims not at crushing the enemy’s army, but at destroying it through exhaustion. To quote Clausewitz once more: “Thus, the enemy corps will have to overcome a situation of the most difficult defence and will daily loose power in this most unhappy of all wars” (Clausewitz 1966 [1812]: 731).

What Clausewitz helps to understand is the political and military difference between big wars among states and small wars between states and (more or less) non-state actors. The strategic aim in big wars is the abolition of the enemy through the destruction of his army (Clausewitz 1980: 952); the tactical means are combat and ultimately the decisive battle. In symmetrical wars, Clausewitz argues, it is important not to get lost in tactical skirmishes, but to seek the strategic decision. Therefore, conventional big wars tend to be waged tactically in the defence, strategically in the offence. In unconventional small wars, this relationship is reversed. Since the non-state actor is militarily week, he cannot directly assault the enemy forces, but must resort to small scale attacks against detachments, logistical outposts and lines of communication, as Clausewitz describes so meticulously in his lectures. In this sense, small wars are waged strategically in the defence, but tactically in the offence.

Clausewitz proposed such a small war for the national liberation of Prussia from Napoleonic forces in 1812. Prussia would be too weak to meet the French in open battle, he argues. The alternative, however, should neither be surrender nor an unholy alliance with France, but the strongest possible defence through a “Spanish civil war in Germany” (Clausewitz 1966 [1812]: 729) in order to mobilise formerly unused resources. These ideas were clearly too revolutionary for the Prussian King, Friedrich Wilhelm III, who opted for the alliance with Napoleon instead. As a consequence, Clausewitz left Prussia and joined the Tsarist army to witness the strategic defence bearing fruit. Clausewitz later described the Russian campaign in detail and drew the theoretical conclusion that an attacking force loses momentum over time. At the “point of culmination”, when Napoleon took Moscow without resistance, the superiority of the offensive forces dwindled away and the defensive force gained the advantage (Clausewitz 1980: 879; 980). Although Prussia lacked the strategic depth of Russia, Clausewitz was convinced that unconventional forces and civil unrest would have been just as effective to frustrate the imperial army, if not to destroy it completely.

The crucial element, it seems, is time which works against the offensive force while it does not affect – or does so to a lesser extent – the defender. Small wars, waged by a population on its own territory, can be sustained for a long time. States, on the other hand, waging a counterinsurgency campaign are more restrained. Without tactical results, they lose strategic power. Thus, for offensive and defensive forces in small wars, different criteria for success apply. Henry Kissinger summarised this Clausewitzian insight, when he reflected the U.S. experience in Vietnam by declaring that “the guerrilla wins if it does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win” (Kissinger 1969: 214).

Given the three levels of offence and defence, Kissinger’s dictum might even be radicalised. Guerrilla forces can lose small wars strategically and yet be successful politically. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) army and leadership were encircled and defeated by Israeli forces in Beirut in 1983. But instead of being the end of the PLO, this defeat led to its resurrection through the first Intifada. A similar pattern of ‘successful failure’ can be identified in the cases of the African National Congress (ANC) and the South-West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO). Both organisations were never strategically successful, but emerged as political winners nevertheless (Burns 1994). To understand this paradox, small wars have to be understood not only as conflicts waged by the weaker, usually non-state, actor tactically in the offensive and strategically in the defensive. They are also waged politically in the offensive since they are struggles for political legitimacy and recognition. A strategic defeat, therefore, might convince others – be they members of national societies or the international community - to recognize the legitimate demands of the defeated, thus turning the strategic defeat into a political victory (Daase 1999: 224-228).

For a regular army waging a big war, General Douglas MacArthur’s maxim might apply that “in war there is no substitute for victory.” For an irregular army or a population waging a small war, the substitute for victory in war is success in politics.

4. Agent, Structure, and the Theory of Small War

This brings me to my last point on agents, structures and the practice of small wars. What I want to argue in this part is that Clausewitz provides all necessary ingredience for a theory on small wars. Whether he in fact intended to write a second volume of On War about guerrilla warfare, as Hahlweg once suggested, is questionable, however. By the early 1830ies the world had been thoroughly restored through the Congress of Vienna and the state-centric concept of war had been re-institutionalized domestically and internationally. Not surprisingly then, Clausewitz takes a more cautious stance on “people’s war” in On War, not for opportunistic reasons, but rather as a statesman of a recently liberated nation who is interested in the consolidation of internal and external political structures.

In Clausewitz’ thinking on small wars, we thus can identify three phases with slightly different emphases on various aspects of guerrilla warfare. Without doubt, the “Bekenntnisdenkschrift” is the most emphatic and also the most innovative piece, but taken together, they provide important insights into both, the practice and theory of small wars.

Even the possibilities and limitations of terror are considered. Clausewitz expects, quite correctly, that the enemy state will try to demoralize the rebels by applying inhumane treatment and executions. In this situation, Clausewitz argues, the insurgents must “repay atrocity with atrocity, violence with violence” (733). “It will be a simple matter for us to outdo the enemy and lead him back into the boundaries of self-control and humanity.” Clausewitz sees the spiral of brutality and terror, but – out of naïveté or political calculus – he insists on the ability to control this dynamic.

His own insights could have led him to a more sceptical view. For states, fighting small wars strategically and tactically in the offence are forced to increase pressure constantly. In this process, they undermine their own state institutions and norms and rules of the international system (Daase 1999). Non-state actors in turn, fighting strategically in the defence but tactically in the offence have no incentive to wage war according to any rules. Thus, in small wars, there is nothing to keep actors and structures from deteriorating.

This, by the way, could also be the situation in the so-called “global war on terror” which in fact is a small war writ large: Clausewitz has argued that “war begins only with defence”. Where no resistance exists, military violence is dispensable. Michael Howard has taken this further by stating: “There is not war without resistance, but without resistance, and the possibility of resistance, there is no international order” (Howard 1991: 166).

Currently, there are two trends in international politics that tend to render resistance obsolete. Firstly, terrorism, that holds every man and every women and every child hostage by randomly selecting civilian targets in order to demonstrate the impossibility of defence and resistance. Secondly the drive towards supremacy, based on defensive invulnerability and offensive superiority, that signals to friends and foes alike that dissidence is unacceptable and resistance futile.

These trends, I would argue, are inversely linked. One is the reaction to the other, based on the assumption that making the enemy defenceless would mean winning the war. What happens instead is that both sides resort to what Clausewitz calls “pure self-defence; in other words, fighting without a positive purpose.” Both, terrorism and the war on terror can be seen as approaching “pure self-defence”, a situation in which considerations of justice, law, and human dignity have no role to play. As long as resistance and the possibility of defence is not restored, unconventional warfare will undermine domestic and international institutions.

5. Conclusion

I hope it has become clear that not despite the emergence of small wars and terrorism, but because of the changing forms of war, Clausewitz and his thinking is relevant today. He provides a superior conceptualization of political violence, theoretical insights into the dialectic of defence and offence and offers elements for the theory of unconventional warfare and asymmetrical conflict. May be it is time to translate the manuscripts I mentioned, in order to convince more people of the continuous relevance of Clausewitz today.


Bremer, Stuart A. 2000: Who Fights Whom, When, Where, and Why?, in: Vasquez, John A. (ed.): What Do We Know About War?, Lanham, CO, 23-36.

Clausewitz, Carl von 1966: Schriften, Aufsätze, Studien, Briefe, Band 1, ed. by Werner Hahlweg, Göttingen.

Clausewitz, Carl von 1976: On War, Princeton, N.J.

Clausewitz, Carl von 1980: Vom Kriege (hrsg. von Werner Hahlweg), Bonn.

Collier, David/Levitsky, Steven 1997: Democracy with Adjectives: Conceptual Innovation in Comparative Research, in: World Politics 49: 3, 430-451.

Connolly, William E. 1981: The Terms of Political Discourse, Oxford.

Daase, Christopher 1999: Kleine Kriege - Große Wirkung. Wie unkonventionelle Kriegführung die internationalen Beziehungen verändert, Baden-Baden.

Hahlweg, Werner 1968: Lehrmeister des Kleinen Krieges. Von Clausewitz bis Mao Tse-Tung und (Che) Guevara, Darmstadt.

Hahlweg, Werner 1976: Theoretische Grundlagen der modernen Guerilla und des Terrorismus, in: Tophoven, Rolf (Hrsg.): Politik durch Gewalt, Bonn,

Hahlweg, Werner 1977: Moderner Guerillakrieg und Terrorismus. Probleme und Aspekte ihrer theoretischen Grundlagen als Widerspiegelung der Praxis, in: Funke, Manfred (Hrsg.): Terrorismus, Bonn, 118-139.

Jabri, Vivienne 1996: Discourses on Violence. Conflict Analysis Reconsidered, Manchaster.

Kaldor, Mary 1999: New and Old Wars. Organized Violence in a Global Era, Cambridge.

Keegan, John 1995: Die Kultur des Krieges, Berlin.

Keen, David 1996: The Economic Function of Violence in Civil Wars, Adelphi Papers 303.

Kinross, Stuart 2004: Clausewitz and Low-Intensity Conflict, in: Journal of Strategic Studies 27: 1, 35-58.

Lakoff, George 1987: Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind, Chicago.

Oppenheim, Felix E. 1981: Political Concepts: A Reconstruction, Oxford.

Starr, Harvey/Siverson, Randolph M. 1998: Cumulation, Evaluation and the Research Process: Investigating the Diffusion of Conflict, in: Journal of Peace Research 35: 2, 231-237.

Sullivan, Michael P./Siverson, Randolph M. 1981: Theories of War: Problems and Prospects, in: Hopmann, P.

Terrence/Zinnes, Dina A./Singer, J. David (ed.): Cumulation in International Relations Research, Denver, CO, 9-37.

van Creveld, Martin 1991: The Transformation of War, New York, N.Y.

van Creveld, Martin 2002: The Transformation of War Revisited, in: Small Wars and Insurgencies 13: 2, 3-15.

Zinnes, Dina A. 1976: The Problem of Cumulation, in: Rosenau, James N. (ed.): In Search of Global Patterns, New York, N.Y., 161-173.

Familienähnlichkeiten politischer Gewalt

Akteur A Mittel Ziel Zweck Akteur B Beispiel Begriff
Staat militärische Gewalt gegen Kombattanten und militärische Einrichtungen Niederwerfung des Gegners Wandel der Politik/ Wandel des Regimes Staat Iran-Irak-Krieg 1980-88 Krieg (zwischenstaatlicher Krieg/konventioneller Krieg)
Staat gezielte manifeste Gewalt gegen politische/mil. Führer Ausschaltung der politischen oder militärischen Führung Wandel der Politik/ Wandel des Regimes Staat oder nicht-staatlicher Akteur US-Abschus von Admiral Yamamotos
Flugzeug im 2. WK
Staat gezielte manifeste Gewalt gegen Zivilisten Verbreitung von Angst und Schrecken Erhaltung der Machtbasis des Regimes Gesellschaft Jacobinische Schreckensherrschaft „la terreur“, Staatsterrorismus
Staat gezielte manifeste Gewalt gegen Zivilisten          
Staat gezielte manifeste Gewalt gegen Zivilisten Verbreitung von Angst und Schrecken Wandel der Politik/ Wandel des Regimes Staat Bombardierung städtischer Zentren Terror (z.B. Bombenterror)
staatlicher Akteur
gezielte manifeste Gewalt gegen Zivilisten Verbreitung von Angst und Schrecken Wandel der Politik/ Wandel des Regimes Staat 11. September 2001 Terrorismus
staatlicher Akteur
gezielte manifeste Gewalt gegen Zivilsten Verbreitung von Angst und Schrecken Vorbereitung auf die Endzeit Gesellschaft Giftgas-Anschlag auf die Tokioter U-Bahn religiöser Terrorismus
staatlicher Akteur
gezielte manifeste Gewalt gegen hochrangige Zivilisten symbolische Provokation der Macht Wandel der Politik/ Wandel des Regimes Staat RAF Attentat
staatlicher Akteur
gezielte manifeste Gewalt gegen Zivilisten          
staatlicher Akteur
gezielte Gewalt gegen hohe Zivilisten und Militärs Ausschaltung der Regierung und des Militärs Wandel der Politik/ Wandel des Regimes Staat   Coup d’état
staatlicher Akteur
militärische Gewalt gegen Kombattanten und militärische Einrichtungen Abnutzung und Ermüdung des Gegners Wandel der Politik/ Wandel des Regimes Staat Vietcong vs USA Guerillakrieg  
staatlicher Akteur
gezielte manifeste Gewalt gegen Zivilisten Verbreitung von Angst und Schrecken ökonomische Bereicherung Staat / Gesellschaft Drogenkrieg in Kolumbien ?
staatlicher Akteur
gezielte manifeste Gewalt gegen Zivilisten Ausschaltung von Rivalen und Ordnungshütern ökonomische Bereicherung Staat / Gesellschaft / Rivalen Italienische Mafia Mafia/organisierte Kriminalität


1. The ‘war on terror’ is in itself a peculiar language game that allows certain strategies, but forestalls others. See Daase 2001/02; 2002.

2. I leave the textual description and historical interpretation of Clausewitz’ writings on Small War to a later project (see last footnote) and concentrate in what follows on their use for our understanding of current conflicts.

3. Clausewitz does not use the words „Zwecke“ (ends) and „Ziele“ (aims) in a terminologically strict way, but interchangeably. In On War he speaks e.g. of some ends being means of some “higher ends” (Clausewitz 1980: 373). I have tried to disentangle these ends by calling the military “Ziele” aims and political “Zwecke” ends. Strategy is thus the utilization of combat for the purpose, or aim, of war.

4. Hosmer 2001; Bell 1972; Hyams 1969.


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