To what extent can we use Clausewitz’s analysis of war to understand warfare today?

You must demonstrate a thorough understanding of the key arguments in Clausewitz’s On War, especially as related to the relationship between war and politics and the ‘trinity’ and apply these to at least one example of contemporary warfare/conflict.

– Choose a contemporary example as a case study. By ‘contemporary’ we will consider anything post-2000, although you will want to justify your selection (ie what characteristics of warfare today does it demonstrate).

– Do some additional readings (academic sources and or reports, newspapers etc) to understand the logics and context of the conflict;

– Use the relevant reading on Clausewitz to develop your reflections and understanding about Clausewitz’s conception of war;

– Construct your commentary following the guidelines below. In your introduction, do not forget to present both Clausewitz and your case study.

Before submitting, read the assignment submission guidelines below:

You need to:

1. Write a comprehensive and structured answer to the above question.
– This entails the following:
a. Answer the question, the whole question, and nothing but the question.
b. Define key terms at the outset.
c. In the introduction, summarise your main argument(s) succinctly and accurately. Then explain why this argument(s) is important. Finally, provide a brief ‘map’ or outline for the reader: This essay will examine 1)… 2)… 3)… and 4)… . Adhere to this outline clearly, throughout the essay, preferably using sub-headings.
d. In the main body of the essay, develop your argument(s) over the course of 3-4 main sections.
e. Apply the theoretical ideas and concepts learned over the course of the module, demonstrating your knowledge of them wherever relevant.
f. Justify your arguments and evidence them wherever possible, either though empirical examples or through references to the literature.

2. Be analytical and critical: demonstrate that you have the ability to analyse and evaluate the existing literature, making sure to always support your opinions with evidence.

3. Reference a minimum of 8 sources (not including On War), four of which should appear on the attached relevant resource lists. You are strongly encouraged to engage with the wider literature (especially for your case study), and to utilise a broad array of sources, including reports, newspaper articles, and so forth. The above is the minimum required number of sources you should actively engage with in your essay.

4. Include references (Harvard style) and a bibliography.

5. Essays should not exceed 2000 words, including footnotes (but excluding bibliography).

Answer & Explanation
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Carl von Clausewitz’s analysis of war remains relevant and insightful to understanding warfare today, despite being written in the 19th century. His seminal work, “On War,” provides a comprehensive analysis of war, covering topics such as strategy, tactics, and the relationship between war and politics. His ideas and theories have influenced military thinking and strategy for centuries.

Clausewitz’s ideas on the nature of war are particularly relevant today. He argued that war is a political act, not simply a military one. He believed that the purpose of war was to achieve political objectives, and that military action should always be

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Step-by-step explanation
subordinate to political goals. This idea remains crucial to understanding modern warfare, where conflicts are often driven by political or ideological factors.

Clausewitz also recognized the importance of understanding the enemy and adapting to changing circumstances. He argued that wars were unpredictable and constantly evolving, and that military leaders needed to be able to adapt their strategies and tactics accordingly. This idea remains relevant today, as conflicts are often marked by rapid changes in technology and tactics, and by the emergence of new threats and challenges.

Finally, Clausewitz’s concept of “total war” is still relevant today. He argued that modern warfare involved the mobilization of an entire society, not just its military forces. This idea remains relevant today, as modern conflicts often involve a range of actors, from military forces to civilian populations and even non-state actors.

In conclusion, while Clausewitz’s analysis of war was written in a different era, many of his ideas and concepts remain relevant and valuable for understanding modern warfare. His emphasis on the political nature of war, the importance of understanding the enemy, and the need to adapt to changing circumstances all provide insights into contemporary conflicts.

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