Clausewitz And Chaos

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The great Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, in his classic On War, introduced the idea of friction in war. Friction was one of the most important ideas that Clausewitz put forward. His application of the term is generally taken to be limited to events on the field of battle. But had Clausewitz lived to the end of the 20th century, he undoubtedly would have broadened his understanding of friction to include the nexus between war and policy making. He would have done so because his most fundamental insight, apart from the significance of friction in war, was his insistence upon the priority of policy over war.

Cimbala applies the concept of friction to a number of 20th century cases of war and policy making. He also applies it to some plausible scenarios for the next century. Although many U.S. military planners and policy makers appear to place their faith in technology as the sine qua non of success in security and defense policy, technology can be self defeating and myopic if political and strategic vision are lacking. For example, the mindless pursuit of information warfare in all its varieties may convince potential U.S. opponents that infowar is a cost effective way of negating U.S. military power. A provocative analysis for scholars, students, military professionals and other policy makers involved with strategy and military policy issues.

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Editorial Reviews

Cimbala (political science, Penn State University) applies the concept of friction to a number of contemporary issues and recent historical events. Among these are irrelevant and inflexible war plans, nuclear crisis management, Desert Storm, small wars and peace operations, deterrence, mass destruction, and information warfare. From this exercise, he produces conclusions concerning the nature of friction, the future application of the concept, and its role in NATO's operation against Yugoslavia. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275969516
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/30/2000
  • Pages: 242
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

STEPHEN J. CIMBALA is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Penn State University (Delaware County) and has contributed to the literature on international security, defense studies, and nuclear arms control for more than twenty years. He serves on the editorial board of various professional journals and as a consultant to the U.S. goverment on arms control. He is the author or editor of 18 earlier Greenwood Press or Praeger Publishers titles, including, most recently, The Past and Future of Nuclear Deterrence.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1
1 Friction in Irrelevant and Inflexible War Plans 23
2 Friction in Nuclear Crisis Management 47
3 Failure Amid Success: Desert Storm and Friction 71
4 Small Wars, Faux Wars, and Peace Operations: Sources of Friction 101
5 Deterrence and Friction 121
6 Mass Destruction and Information Warfare: Friction in Collision 155
7 Conclusion: Friction in War and Military Policy 197
Suggestions for Further Reading 219
Index 221
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