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Who Thinks War is War?


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seven comments


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Let me emphasize: we disagree with this position and there will be more coming.


Thank you for some thought provoking material and the promise of more. I’m sharing this in class today.


Frustrating topic…

War can be war when you can clearly identify and attack the bad guy. Sure, that happens…but it isn’t happening now.

It makes sense to me to base our maneuver on the only clearly identifiable and stationary group- the population.


Yeah as I will get into, most definitions of war by academics start with Clausewitz, and emphasize the people. When viewed like that, total wars of armies against armies where the population like in WWII are rare. But all of the people we cited above love to ignore the politics and focus on the battle, to the study of war’s detriment.


I think population-centric COIN is too ‘artsy’ for many…too abstract from the art of maneuver.

The abstraction requires far too much decentralization (for decision making and risk taking) for many to trust.

I’d wager that many dislike it because pop-centric COIN doesn’t LOOK like war. It calls for more costly and lengthy training for troops and less money for acquisitions. Instead of having Soldiers riding in some new FCS vehicle supported by F22s…we should have Soldiers with more extensive knowledge of culture/language using off the shelf equipment ($9mil for a Super Tacano vs. $150 for an F22)…


I’m not sure I fully understand the sentiment of the “war is war” crowd. Is the statement meant to convey that war is essentially violent and thus death is implyed? Or is the statement that war is violent and because there is violence one should expect innocent lives to be lost? Or, and even darker, is the statement implying that because war is inherently violent civilian casualties are permissible because they are unavoidable? I’m sure it’s more of an array of all three but from the links provided, it appears to be a phrase used to refute ROE.


To be clear, the “war is war” crowd isn’t usually allied on their points. It just happens to be a rhetorical device tons of people use about war. I think your first iteration is what most people mean when they say “war is war.”

As for ROE, it isn’t that they are against ROE—as I have said before every army has ROE—but most people who say war is war tend to loath restrictive ROE that put a priority on properly identifying your target.