Tuesday, August 31, 2010

End State of War

I would like to read your thoughts on the two following questions:  These are your opinions of course and do not reflect in any way the opinions of the the Army, National Guard, or US Military.

Do you think that a "peaceful state" is the end state of war?

If so (or if not), is a "victory" in warfare neccessary to achieve this or any end state of war?


  1. Everett Dolman, in "Pure Strategy" asserts that "one can no more achieve final victory than one can win history." (a reference from Bassford, 1994). Also says that the first thing a "military strategist must discard is victory, for strategy is not about winning." What is the problem with this?

  2. I could probably write a dissertation on the topic, but I'll try to be as brief as I can.

    A "peaceful state" is not the end state of war. I define peaceful state as the condition in which a state exists with legitimacy with the actors surrounding it. Germany in 1918 was at the end of war, but it was not in a peaceful state.

    Furthermore, victory is not always needed to achieve a "peaceful state". When an actors' intentions are misguided, or when they do not acknowledge all the information or even when history has not provided the proper context for good decision making, then their efforts may end in failure yet it would be the best outcome for such an actor. Vietnam, for example, ended in a peaceful state for both Vietnam and the United States.

    Finally, the real answer to the question would have to explore the definitions of terms. "Victory" can be claimed by multiple parties with equal amounts of reason. "Peace" can vary with the state and within the state. The intracacies of conflict as it relates to international relations is so complex that one could legitimately argue any position for virtually any conflict tha has ever occured.

    Good day, sir!

  3. Perhaps "victory" and "peace" are myopic terms in the context of strategy. Perhaps at the operational and tactical levels they are more relevative. In the framework of time e.g."the long war" is victory or peace an endstate? Or perphaps it is equilibrium that is being sought? And as long as there are post conflict dictated terms that are neither holistic or congruent with bifurcated governments one can never acheive peace just an "operational pause." Trade embargoes against Vietnam and Cuba being great examples. Israeli and Palestinian Peace process is another good example of our focus on long term gains of a stablizied Middle East while facilitating the negogiations with Islamic terrorist organization i.e. Hamas. Not congruent with our war on terrorism. Perhaps that is Dolman's point. And to answer the original two questions, no and no.

  4. In response to the defining of victory: No tricks. Dolman simply states, after delineating all the disparity between strategists and tacticians, that victory at the tactical level must be achieved - by the tactician. Because in doing so that victory (a win) is nested in the greater end of the strategic aim. His quote regarding a strategist needing to discard victory was an attempt to illustrate the disparity between the two necessary thought regimes. Meaning, the strategist must not take personal the temporary tactical loss or setback, as the larger campaign or national goal is a much more important and meaningful end state. To this, I agree with "Me" (not me), in that all we can really achieve is an operational pause that appears to be peace. Dolman addresses this as reality, versus the idealogical end state of peace. Although peace is often referred to as the desired end state, it is as "Me" points out a pause - a pause which gives the victor time. At the tactical level, a pause might give the opponent time. Time to plan for the next battle. At the national level - it is to plan for the next war. And thus my assertion; We are not a peaceful nation, nor should we be. There is no moral righteousnous in attempting to maintain a peaceful state. There is no strategic aim at establishing peace. We are manipulating boudaries to set limits in order to control and command mediums (Dolman language). This is our preparation and execution for/in war. This is a never ending story. The desire to impose our will for any political measure will never end, and the military will always be a means to extend that will when other options are not feasible. Hence the oft quoted, "War is merely the continuation of policy by other means." (Clausewitz)

  5. Very thoughtful, Major, if not a bit Machevallian (SP?). More to follow later.