Clausewitz Applicability to Non-State Actors

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Clausewitz’s theories on war are still relevant today with the revisualization of non-state actors on the world scene. The purpose of this essay is to expand on the applicability of these theories in today’s modern warfare where non-state actors play a larger, more global role. The study of theory, especially translated theory, requires an open mind to determine its applicability to various and ever-changing situations. In the case of Clausewitz, many strategists do not view his theories as relevant to today’s wars involving a Nation State vs. non-state actors. This is not true. The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College teaches that the commander’s intent is the most important part of proper execution. Strategists need to look at the intent of Clausewitz and view within the contextual historic period he wrote it, to demonstrate its relevance today. For the purpose of this essay, a Nation States is a sovereign territory that combines a political and geopolitical entity with a cultural or ethnic entity that was arrived at by self-determination. Non-state actors are groups that operate beyond state control and generally include rebel opposition groups (groups with a stated incompatibly with the government, generally concerning the control of government or the control of territory), local militias and warlords. By reviewing Clausewitz’s definitions of war, his theory of “the remarkable trinity” and the historical examples of non-state actors’ involvement with Nation States in war the relevance of Clausewitz will be apparent. Non-state actors have played a part in wars or have been an opposing force since before the time of Clausewitz. The first example of non-state actors’ involvement in a war comes from the Bible. The founding of Israel is rooted in non-state actors, led by Moses, waging an insurgency against Egypt; resulting in the formation of the first Jewish state. Since the rebirth of Israel after World War II the reverse of this has...
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