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Chapter 3 expands the examination of war’s great theorists and theories to include “small war,” maritime, and airpower theorists like Callwell, Galula, Trinquier, Lawrence, Mahan, Corbett, Douhet, Mitchell, Trenchard, and Slessor. This chapter emphasizes the subordinate relationship between subtheories of war and general theory and asserts that in some cases subtheories are the result of inadequacies in general theory. The chapter examines the human, political, and combat aspects of small wars from both strong and weak perspectives. Additionally, the chapter evaluates maritime and airpower subtheories and defines three tasks for domain theorists: characterize the domain in abstract terms, explain how to control it, and then show how control advances the aims of war. Finally, it synthesizes material from Chapters 2 and 3 by evaluating each theorist for balance relative to war’s twenty dialectics.
The Conclusion reiterates the book’s purpose—to more clearly and faithfully reveal war’s truths to help prevent wars, reduce their damaging effects, and win when there is no other choice. War encompasses humanity, politics, and combat, and its dialectic nature reflects humanity’s duality—peaceful and warlike, good and evil. War theory and strategy are most effective when we value both sides of war’s dialectics, and genius often lies in understanding how and when to move from one extreme to another. War has many forms, but all are related in a continuum where assessments of relative capacity influence force viscosity and posture (attack and defense). Predicting war’s future character is critical to strategy, and this is best done by studying history, trends, current circumstances, and theory. Finally, while thorough, objective analysis confirms the impracticality of permanent peace, the potential for peace increases with the full, truthful knowledge of war and its relationship to humanity provided by sound war theory.
Chapter 2 surveys and analyzes the greatest ideas and theorists in war theory and strategy – including the philosophies of Sun Tzu, Thucydides, Machiavelli, Jomini, Clausewitz, Liddell Hart, and Mao. This chapter makes war theory and its recurring themes more accessible by presenting diverse perspectives spanning all eras of military thought from classical through the twentieth century. Each theorist’s background and main ideas are presented, and their strengths and weaknesses are summarized. As history’s preeminent but also most misunderstood war theorist, special attention is given Clausewitz. Principal themes include war’s fluidity, unpredictability, violence, and reciprocity; concentration and momentum; adaptability, intelligence, and relative capacity; military genius; centers of gravity and decisive points; fog, friction, chance, and policy; guerrilla, asymmetric, and nuclear warfare; and war’s moral and physical dimensions.
Chapter 4 introduces the rules and importance of theory, then derives a Unified War Theory (UWT) that leverages insights from earlier chapters to define key aspects and relationships pertaining to politics, strategy, and combat. The chapter also establishes theory’s relevance to strategy, historical analysis, warfighting, and doctrine, then relates politics, power, influence, and ideology to war, including how autocratic and democratic governance reduces but cannot eliminate the potential for conflict. The chapter defines the nature and character of war, outlines the levels of war and strategy, and explains that cause, capacity, and will to fight comprise the “engine of war.” Additional analysis includes war’s fractal nature, warfighting domains, chance, chaos, and momentum. Next, the chapter presents a “fluidic” metaphor and defines force “viscosity,” a property based on directness, acceleration, restriction, cohesion, and concentration that reconciles war’s regular and irregular forms. The chapter offers a “war-viscosity algorithm” that illustrates the dynamics of viscosity, including how and why war’s forms change, and it concludes by examining the UWT’s value and implications vis-à-vis historical analysis, domain theory, terrorism, nuclear weapons, and ethics.
The Introduction argues that war’s danger, nuances, complexity, and impact on humanity demand further study, despite our seeming reluctance to do so. It contends that war is rife with contradictions which call out for further examination. For example, war evokes humanity’s worst traits, including vengeance, treachery, and hatred, and it has claimed millions of lives, spawned atrocities, and caused massive destruction. Yet, war has also inspired courage, honor, sacrifice, and loyalty, deposed tyrants, led to larger, more peaceful civilizations, and produced remarkable innovations that protect and preserve life. The introduction concludes by recommending that war’s repulsiveness and complexity should inspire, not deter, scholarly attention, for as with any dangerous phenomenon, understanding war’s nature is the best way to gain enough control over it to prevent wars and to diminish their hazards and prevalence.
Chapter 1 examines war’s place in a universal paradigm of order and chaos, balance and imbalance; explores war’s origins and relationship to human nature; and concludes by formally defining war. After relating Aristotle’s “four causes” model (material, formal, efficient, and final) to war as an organizing concept, the chapter articulates war’s alignment within a universal theme of balance and characterizes war as an amalgam of twenty “dialectics,” including order-chaos and creation-destruction. It highlights how political imbalances can spark war and how dialectical disparities undermine war theory and strategy. Next, the chapter marshals multidisciplinary evidence to argue that evolutionary processes have imbued humanity with warlike and peaceful attributes and that war ultimately reflects human choices arising from various motives including Thucydides’s fear, honor, and interest. Finally, the chapter concludes by defining war as the nexus of a new trinity – humanity, politics, and combat – evaluating the boundaries between war and peace, and taking a first look at the question of war’s inevitability as a human activity.
Chapter V applies concepts from preceding chapters to investigate the future character of war and war’s future as a human activity. The chapter begins by exploring the challenge of future forecasting and strategy development, which is compounded by the accumulation of human and environmental effects that invalidate assumptions. The chapter asserts that forecasting may be improved by considering three sets of factors: history and trends, current circumstances, and theory. Next, it explores political, technological, and doctrinal developments that could impact war’s future character, like artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, and provides strategic advice for both high and low capacity groups. The chapter’s latter half uses the history-current circumstances-theory model to assess the feasibility and desirability of ending war forever. Using evidence from archaeology, anthropology, history, trends, and war and peace theories, the chapter concludes that war’s existence is inextricably linked to humanity, i.e., eliminating either eliminates both. It wraps up by offering practical suggestions for minimizing the potential for war.
Many of war's lethal failures are attributable to ignorance caused by a dearth of contemporary, accessible theory to inform warfighting, strategy, and policy. To remedy this problem, Colonel Geoffrey F. Weiss offers an ambitious new survey of war's nature, character, and future in the tradition of Sun Tzu and Clausewitz. He begins by melding philosophical and military concepts to reveal war's origins and to analyze war theory's foundational ideas. Then, leveraging science, philosophy, and the wisdom of war's master theorists, Colonel Weiss presents a genuinely original framework and lexicon that characterizes and clarifies the relationships between humanity, politics, strategy, and combat; explains how and why war changes form; offers a methodology for forecasting future war; and ponders the permanence of war as a human activity. The New Art of War is an indispensable guide for understanding human conflict that will change how we think and communicate about war.
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