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In Conversation With The Great Clausewitz: On Hard-Facts of Warfare & On Libya.

As you might have guessed it, correctly, if I may say so, this week I am presenting a study of Clausewitz’s theories, and their applications to contemporary international relations and warfare, to my local think-tank, I.R.S. Below, I have quoted the few, selected, precious little gems of hard-facts on the nature of wars; for example, how to approach these, to prepare for, and to execute, and if, or when required, to the possible re-examination of the initial policy, or for an exit strategy, and so forth.

These lessons will be discussed within the framework of the present Libyan Conflict, with few contemporary views, from national and international newspapers (from today’s editions and articles).


”The First, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgement that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish by the test that kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature. This is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive”.

This we looked at, when we were discussing, or conversing with, the great Jomini (see ”In Conversation With The Great Jomini” post below). How, the Anglo-French Forces, under the cover of UN-Mandated Humanitarian Operations In Libya, have unwisely, attempted from the start to make the political crisis, calling for a political solution turned into a military crisis with an applied military force/solution. The psychological Anglo-Franco-Euro-centrism played a greater role here without a doubt, namely, the need to ‘dominate’ and ‘punish’ the ‘evil colonel’, and to be seen by the world, to be still ‘world powers’ of relevance and capabilities, all of which, back-fired horribly, as opposite to the initial intended goals to be achieved; psychological, perceptional, political and militarily.

The main article in discussion of this today, that which we will focus on, since there are many of these within the western papers today, it seems, is the fall back to hard-realism, that which has finally caught up with the pied-pipers of the western media and states/actors, who have been encouraging, advocating and rallying behind military-show, for their benefit of audience and stories, and other non-publicly aims.

The article comes from the pen of the much-despised Mr. Con Coughlin of The Daily Telegraph, ”Libya: A Campaign Built On Sands” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8629138/Libya-A-campaign-built-on-sand.html).

Lets have a loo at the few selected quotes;

1. On The Search For An Exit Strategy:

(We have looked at this previously, see, ”The Breaking News On Libya” post.)

”While the Gaddafi clan appears to have lost none of its resolve, the same cannot be said for the Nato member states and Arab nations that originally backed the intervention, but are now desperately seeking an exit route.”

2. On The Divided NATO & The Regime-Change Problem:

(We have also covered extensively, previously, this, please browse over the ”Libya Page”).

”But many other Nato nations, particularly Germany, have been unhappy from the outset at the demands made by the likes of Mr Cameron that Gaddafi’s removal, rather than the protection of Libyan civilians, is the ultimate goal.”

3. Italy Calling Time-Off, A Big-Rift:

(see Libya-Page on Links on this, with articles)

”Now the simmering tensions that have severely hampered the effectiveness of the Nato mission have broken into the open with Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, claiming he was against the operation from the start. “I am against this intervention, which will end in a way that no one knows,” he said.

Mr Berlusconi’s comments are highly significant, as Nato is relying heavily on Italy’s cooperation to maintain its air operations against Libya. Nato’s operational headquarters is in Naples, while most of the combat missions are flown from air bases in southern Italy. Italian officials have already indicated that they do not want a further 90-day extension of Nato’s deadline for military operations, which is due to expire in late September.”

4. On The Ramadhan Crisis:

(I will state here this, as I wrote somewhere else, how both sides are awaiting for the ”Ramadhan Thaw”, however, I believe, knowing Mr. Gaddaffi, he is, unlike, the other sides, will not ‘observe the traditions’ of ‘peaceful month’, and will take advantage handed to him, for a massive offensive, of decapitation, before the peaceful month ends).

”But by far the greatest threat to Nato’s hopes of achieving a decisive breakthrough in the Libyan campaign is the onset of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in three weeks’ time. During Ramadan, Muslims are obliged to observe a rigorous fast during the hours of daylight and to spend much of their spare time in prayer. When the feast falls at the height of an Arabian summer, it not uncommon for most countries to come to a complete standstill.”

5. On the Deteriorating Support From The Arabs:

(see Libya-Page)

”Senior Nato officers are also concerned about the negative impact that continued military action by non-Muslim countries against a Muslim nation will have on Arab support. Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League who was an enthusiastic supporter of military intervention, has since voiced his objections to attempts to remove Gaddafi. The continuation of hostilities during Ramadan will only serve to harden Arab opposition to the war.”

6. On The Reality (and Divided Country):

(see Libya-Page and The South Sudan and The Balkanisation Of Africa)

”But, with time now of the essence, there is suddenly a realisation that, unless there is a dramatic breakthrough in the coming weeks, it is a distinct possibility that the conflict will end with the country divided and Gaddafi still clinging to power, albeit to a fraction of the vast country he governed at the start of the year.”

7. On The Crisis-Issues In Play:

(see Libya-Page)

”The only problem with this dramatic escalation in European support for the rebels is that it is contrary to UN resolutions on Libya, which include an arms embargo that is supposed to apply to all sides. If Europe is prepared to arm the anti-Gaddafi rebels, then what is to stop Gaddafi’s regime receiving arms from its allies in Africa and elsewhere?

Nor is it by any means certain that the rebels have the same objectives as their Western backers. Recent Western intelligence assessments of the rebels have concluded that groups operating in Misurata have a very different agenda from factions operating in Benghazi.”

On The Article’s Closing Statement:

”These tensions broke to the surface when the National Transitional Council suggested it was prepared to open negotiations with Gaddafi to end the fighting. Their comments were quickly rejected by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, who insisted there could be no settlement that allows Gaddafi to remain in power.

But, with the clock ticking, and with no prospect of a decisive breakthrough in sight, Gaddafi’s survival remains a distinct possibility, which was not the outcome Mr Cameron hoped for when he first embarked on his risky gamble in the Libyan desert.”

Well, we have covered much, and another link can be found here at, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8629326/Libya-Nato-will-stop-as-soon-as-Gaddafi-loyalists-and-rebels-begin-direct-negotiations.html


” If the enemy is to be coerced you must put him in a situation that is even more unpleasant than the sacrifice you call on him to make. The hardships of that situation must not of course be merely transient-at least not in appearance. Otherwise the enemy would not give in but but would wait for things to improve”.


”If you want to overcome your enemy you must match your efforts against his power of resistance, which can be expressed as the product of the two inseparable factors, viz. the total means at his disposal and the strength of his will.”

This was lacking from the start, and it was not to be, as the ‘war’ was of different character to that what the Anglo-French Forces and Alliances sought to create to be.


”That the method of destruction cannot fail to be expensive is understandable; other things being equal, the more intent we are on destroying the enemy’s forces, the greater our own efforts must be.

The danger of this method is that the greater the success we seek, the greater will be the damage if we fail”.

This is the fear of what is to be, when, and if, Anglo-French Forces (and ‘rebels’) fail to oust the present Gaddaffi regime. The concern of the new age of state-sponsored terrorism, in reiteration, as he himself, apparently has been quoted to say, he will send ‘martyrs’ to Europe. And also, the commercial losses, etc.


”If a negative aim-that is, the use of every means available for pure resistance-gives an advantage in war, the advantage need only be enough to balance any superiority the opponent may possess: in the end his political object will not seem worth the effort it costs. He must then renounce his policy. It is evident that this method, wearing down the enemy, applies to the great number of cases where weak endeavour to resist the strong”.

What Gaddaffi has done, well, and how the Anglo-French (‘rebels’) Alliances have been forced to rethink the policy.

These are few of the relevant and priceless lessons and insights that the Genius Carl Von Clausewitz presses upon us, to learn and appreciate, in his work, On War.

I will leave the conversation here.

Thanks to our guest speaker, Mr. Clausewitz (for background see wikipedia page at https://encrypted.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CDkQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FCarl_von_Clausewitz&ei=M8waTsqnO8aIhQeq98CcDA&usg=AFQjCNFURnLHWRFErYrk4LcRg-zKKs0GNg)

Have A Good Day.


About s.s.salim: Geopolitical Analyst

Political & Strategy Defence & Security Intelligence & Communications


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