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Monday, 12 November 2007

Are limitations on the way war is waged practicable?

By: Ahmad Syah Ejaz Bin Haji Ismail


In the history of mankind civilizations, we had fought countless war. Either it is for the purpose of gaining a new territory or for the purpose of the feudal lord greed’s, the fact that war is very much close to human instinct can’t be denied. War evolved from small scale skirmishes to the grand bloodshed that were fought in numerous ways either it be pitched battles or aerial warfare. The main fact is that mankind had suffered and at the same time gained new knowledge through wars which truly a major thrust factor in mankind evolutions.

Mankind’s historical background in war started by tribe’s war to the war that is fought based on ideologies that cannot be quantified. From the weapons that are made off from Mother Nature (spears and dagger) to the weapons and tools that are moulded to be so deadly for the sake of waging war; designed solely for certain victory. In war, peoples died, and most of them would be the one that fights the battles that occurred and there too would be collateral damaged where innocent civilians that are inadvertently involved in such a battles too suffered the same consequences as by the fighting man.

Same goes by the purpose why mankind fought war, the objective is evolving from time to time. Disagreement that arise from territorial beings to resources and to ideologies and religions, the fact that war will remains to stay in mankind culture is inevitable and prolonged. War will not only be fought among the region or states, but also within the states and peoples that lived in the states. But I will only focus on the war that will be fought among the states in this article.

Definitions of war

The definitions of war that will be covered by this article are the war and battles that is fought in violent way which involved killing the other foe or opponents. War can be fought in many forms; it can be absolute war or total war.

According to Clausewitz, absolute war is impossible which disregards of human morality and mankind positive nature. He would prefer that so much so that mankind want to win certain war, there will be a limit for them to fight war. Mankind will fight war in another perspective which will be called total war.

No doubt that the purpose of waging war is to disarm the enemy and making the enemy to comply with your will. But with the absolute war doctrine and beliefs, such an outcome will only be served if the enemy is completely paralyzed and be brought down by force. Such a tactics can be fought in two ways either it be strength of all available means or strength of all the wills.

In ensuring such a method to work on the enemy ones must have to use an act of uttermost violence in all of ways achieved without compromise in which states fight to war natural extremes. Such an extremities will only be worked if there are no grafted political and moral moderations. Such methods had been used by Genghis Khan when he invaded the west and shrouded the region with the middle ages where knowledge had gone in flames and scholars be burned to death.

The objective and the culture of Genghis Khan Warfare in that kind of military act can be seen as not to gain new grounds, but for the sake of pride, killing and plunder. The only method that was used was sheer violence without compromise. But much had changed since that day of the invasion of Genghis Khan when he entered Baghdad. Mankind had evolved and the political structure too had expanded bringing forwards the power of the collective thinking. But still the war needs to be fought even though it is the last resort of settling disputes.

Total war concept

Carl Von Clausewitz believes that the way war will be fought in the future is what can be symbolized as the total war concept. Total war means that all the ways of waging war using all available means including political and diplomatic and to an extent economic solutions. War is not only be fought by the armed uniformed man on the battle grounds, but also by the workers and scientist that are developing the arms in home factory. Plus the politicians and an army commander that are making decisions which will alter or influenced the war perhaps 10, 000 miles from battle ground.

Before this, mankind only understand the concept of absolute war where the outcome of the war will be determined by the fighting man and army generals on the battle grounds. Neglecting the much important numerous organisation that are standing behind the military power that were responsible in developing weapons, arsenal and to an extent geared up all the food supplies for the soldier on the battle fields.

According to Roger Chickering, total war requires the mobilization not only of the armed forces, but also the whole populations. The most crucial and determinant of the war is the wide spread, indiscriminate, and deliberate inclusion of civilians as legitimate military targets. Such a milieu of fighting total war only occurred after Napoleonic era when mechanized weapons and industrial revolutions start hitting the European country. Especially when weapons factory starting equipping fighting man with musket in mass productions.

Mechanized arms and vehicle became very much important when such things contribute tremendously in shorten the war by promising great success. War is evolving and will not stop to evolve with the mankind knowledge spanning to pseudo new idea and new tactics to win war. The modern warfare nowadays evolutions was started with Genghis Khan in his tactics of waging war. Even though that Genghis Khan is known for his ferocious ways in waging war and will always be remembered especially by the Iraqis and Iranian as brutal conqueror and dictator, his contribution towards the modern warfare doctrine is undeniable.

Absolute war

His tactics of absolute war especially in making the enemy comply with his inquiry is unconventional in his time. One of the tactics that was used in his era is Siege warfare. This was done by blocking the reinforcement or the escape route of the enemy making them lack of food and reinforcement is unconventional at his time. Such a tactics was used by Hitler in his Siege of Leningrad which lasted for 29 months to weaken the Red Army that was forted at the city of Leningrad which eventually make that city succumbed to the Third Reich.

The other famously tactics that was used by Genghis Khan at his time in waging war is the feigned retreat. Such a tactics of diversions is intended to break the enemy formations and to lure small groups of foe into premeditated ambush which will promise big victory. But still the way and the purpose of Genghis Khan in waging war is absolute war which intended to definitely cripple the enemy military ability. When Genghis Khan entered Baghdad and Samarkand, and he wipes out the whole populations disregard whether they be the standing army or civilians. Thus the purpose of him waging such war was not resources or mankind knowledge, but pride and plunder.

Such a brutal tactics of fighting war is fought until Napoleon Bonaparte came and brings a new revolutionary tactics and war strategy where another matters is considered important rather than be the uniformed soldiers.

Perhaps the first revolutionary war commander that brought the concept of total war into publics knowledge is Napoleon Bonaparte. It is not peculiar when such a man who coined the Total War concept (Clausewitz) came from this era by watching how Napoleon wage war in Europe. Napoleon is a visionary military leader which brought a new concept of waging war. He himself developed new relatively few military innovations to fight a war. His placement of artillery into battles and his reorganized the military apparatus to the divisions within the army corps, as the standard all-arms unit have become standards doctrine in virtually all large modern armies.

In his Italian Campaign which he fought in the year 1797, he used the artillery tactics, where he mobilizes it to support his infantry. An in his Egyptian expedition 1798-99 he used a wide propaganda to proclaim the French as the liberators of the people from the Ottoman Empire and praising the precepts of Islam. Such a conduct can be seen as the total war concept where war is not only be fought by the muskets of the soldiers but also by the ink of the stamping machine. During Napoleon era also is the first time where industrial revolution is booming, and musket was being produced in large quantity. Ensuring such a production is high; ones must have a strong economy and enough resources in funding the war that is fought at the frontlines of the battles.

Napoleon doctrine

Armies do not only depends on the gunpowder or the cannonballs, but also the food supplies which is brought to the frontlines of the battles from the heart of French capital, Paris by carts and horses. The reason why Napoleon lost to Russian in Moscow was that Russian was burned to the ground and ravaged in everything by the retreating Russian while Napoleon tactics was to gain the food supplies left by the Russian people of Moscow. The freezing winter of Russian land had brought Napoleon armies to its knees and it was one of the reasons why they lost the Allied Austrian-Hapsburg family. So much so many writings had been done on Napoleon mistakes, but Hitler once again repeat the same when his Wermacht army is left to fight in Stalingrad wearing army uniforms which are issued for summer campaign.


The third phase of evolutions of war came when Industrialization era came into Europe. It was once being tested during the American Civil war where mechanized machine of war became very much important and shape the modern warfare of the present world. War is not only being fought on the frontlines of the battles, but also at the productions line also known as the factory which reside at the heart of the nations. It can be proved when Japanese Empire army lost the World War II even though they had paralyzed the U.S. Pacific fleet. The Japanese Empires do not lose due to their inferiority of military might, but due to the American military productions at home.

That is one of the reason why Eisenhower were very much reluctant to invaded France before the Germans productions machine states is destroyed to the ground completely. And even though numerous bombings had been issued by the Allied during the pre- D-Day, the six months battles of post D-Days is still fought hardly because German war factory was not crippled by the daily bombings of the Allied nations.

The questions which arises is that whether such a way of waging war should be limited or not is not the question at all. The point is that there will always be limitation for mankind to wage war. Proved from the evolutions of warfare, the armoury and arsenal or military capabilities are always limited. The weapons of mankind will always limited and non-lethal enough to fight war. So in this industrial effort in finding the most lethal weapons and arsenal of human warfare, human knowledge and his capabilities will be spanning to an unprecedented new frontier of warfare history.

Purposes in waging war

The objective of human purposes of waging war too is a factor in the limitation of mankind to wage war. Those days, where populations are not important, when Genghis Khan and his armies wage war in Eastern Europe was completely holding on his beliefs of absolute war. What happened on the enemy territory is not so imperative to Genghis Khan Armies. Nowadays, the purpose off waging war is not the annihilation, but for the sake of resources. For you to gain such resources, you need to grasp the land or region intact or at least in pristine order. Waging war is expensive, so mankind will asked themselves, what will they gained by waging war. Such and objective in gaining grounds is a limitation for ones armies to meticulously conduct the warfare.

Same as the evolutions of the modern warfare, strategies used in gaining and ensuring victories in war also contribute very much on how the war is waged. In the evolutions of warfare, nowadays mankinds prefered the war be fought in total war concepts. Leaders that spearhead on the way war is fought in new kind of strategies and skirmishes concepts. When the American Civil war is fought 200 years ago, mankind never venture in the concept of submarine and navy sealed. But the opportunity arises from such war and the very much needed victory for both sides had pressured mankind and his knowledge to find a new solutions and ways to shorten and ensured victory.

In the Great War where humans tends to be more subdued by their own fears, they only ventured into the passive warfare which is creating trenches and relies the outcome of the war on machine guns and artillery bombings. So much so that the war is considered the bloodiest war which mankind said that it will be the last war ever fought, the war is fought for almost five years and would be stopped only by the machine of the British engineering when Winston Churchill as the War Minister at that time suggested the method of using tanks. Once again the concept of total war where factories and workers at home contribute very much on the war effort to produce tanks in great numbers to stop the war and ensured victory.

The Germans had taken the Great War to a new concept of weapons of mass destruction when they used the mustard gas in sealing victory. So much so that the gas used proved to be very effective in killing enemy foe at the other end of the battle front, human realizes that they had gone too far in creating the weapons. So after the victory had been sealed by the allied nations, they convened and decided on such weapons shouldn’t be used anymore in the future as an act of good faith in fighting war. Such decision is concluded via good faith and un-written consensus which nothing can ensure it won’t be used again.

Machines in warfare

Realizing that tanks used very effectively by the British during the Great War which destroyed the morals of the German armies, Hitler again ordered his generals in building and developing such a mechanized tactics and ventured into some kind of a revolutionary warfare strategies called the Blitzkrieg. The effectiveness of waging war tactics by Hitler till this day mould the doctrine of skirmishes of the modern war such as United States combat doctrine and Great Britain’s in tanks divisions and support infantry for the tanks.

The revolutionary way in waging war which evolved in the history of 100 years of mankind warfare will keep on evolving and new concepts of warfare will be introduced. The limitation of the lethal weapons used by mankind is the factor for them in finding ways to subdue the enemy, disarm them and ensure that they will succumb to the victor power. During the Vietnam War when it is the first time conventional soldiers of the United States Navy had to fight a new ways of guerrilla warfare of the North Vietnamese Army. Tactics of hit and run and ambushed of the U.S. troops stationed in Vietnam really crippled the war effort that they don’t know on how to wage war for such a tactics.

Even though such territory had been subdued, it doesn’t promised complete victory and such victory can only be ensured by war of attritions. The usage of air vehicle in Vietnam is used widely after learning from the Malayan Emergency where the British had used the Helicopters in very efficient way in transporting troops and supplying the combatants at the front. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. army only concentrate the war effort on the pitched battles neglecting totally on the political and social issues in Saigon. Such a tactics eventually taken its toll when the President of South Vietnam is assassinated and was replaced by a number of coup de’ etat.

Such political instability had contribute to show that South Vietnam under the auspices of the American government is not stable enough to govern and intended to manipulate and capitalize the peoples of Vietnam as a whole. Even though sheer weaponry and armoury used in the conflicts with deadly consequences, it still didn’t promise victory as had hope by the top military brass. It proved that the modern warfare strategies of waging war should be based on the concept of total war.

Diplomatic strategy in waging war

The concept of deceptions and diplomatic war strategies had been fought since the day of the modern warfare can be traced. For an example during the Japanese Empire military might build up, the Japanese administrations try to be seen as diplomatic and friendly towards the American government instead at the same time their aircraft carrier is stemming for Pearl Harbour. The concept of Diplomatic strategy is fought in ensuring the treatment of the POW’s or certain civilians that resided in particular areas. During the World War II, so much so that the Allies and the Nazis hated each other and embroiled in the bloody battles of the front, but they agree on the treatment of the POW’s captured during the war.

The types of arsenal used in war and warfare strategies also contribute to the outcome of the war. Mankind had tried and will never stop to find new ways of making the arsenal lethal enough to kill the other side of the front. Even though the bombings of Japan during the war is considered lethal and damaging enough to the Japanese industries, the American still used the atomic bombs which was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After seeing the effect of the atomic bomb on Japan, the U.S. top military brass again ventured into some kind of ways in making the weapons more lethal by introducing the nuclear weapons.

The inventions of new gear and new counter measures of saving the fighting armies from the bullets and shrapnel of battle grounds had thrust and pressed the war industry at home to be more efficient and better from the other side of the ideology. What had been experienced during the Cold War where the lethal weapons of nuclear warhead is considered not lethal enough; mankind had developed new kind of counter measures in countering an air attack from the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles of Soviet Union. President Ronald Reagan with his ideas and efforts of the Strategic Defence Initiative or popularly known as the Star Wars agenda had brought the Cold War to a whole new levels where Nuclear Weapons is considered obsolete thus it cannot penetrate the shield developed from the SDI’s. It then brought the Soviet Union to its knees that the Communist coffers couldn’t cope with the expenditure that should be spent on the counter measures projects.

After the Cold War, the analysis that was done by the military administration especially in Pentagon had proved that mankind values of life are precious. Seeing such situations, man powered should be limited especially in the warfare or tactics which is considered negligible for mankind to risk their life such as aerial reconnaissance. So the military administration had put the an un manned air vehicle on air without man in the aircraft. It proved to be very effective and reliable that the reconnaissance that was done in Afghanistan is powered by human capabilities in California. But the limitation occurred when such projects is at the high cost and the question is that either mankind is willing to spent so much money on that kind of military agenda.

American industrial might

Living in the unipolar world of the 21st Century, we cannot shunned the facts of the Americans military might. There is no more balance of power which resided for the past 40 years during the Cold War era. Such situations gives absolute power for the United States to control war and to an extent determined how the war should be fought. The war industry of the U.S. alone conquering more than 50% of the arms supplies of the world. Thanks to the leftover of the Soviet Technologies, the world can still turn for their help in building the military might of a certain nations. But such a venture is limited and inferior. How do you compare the M1 Abram’s tanks of the United States Army with the much obsolete technologies used in building the PT-91M tanks of the Polish war industries?

To an extent the American government had the veto power to veto such a business dealings done by the American war contractor to the Third Words in purchasing arms and war technologies. The Chinese in trying to find ways in making their ICBM missiles more precise and such intentions was seen by the U.S. as a threat to the Chinese Taipei. Sooner or later when the Chinese managed to get such knowledge capabilities, it will brought the warfare strategies to a whole new levels where the Americans will again equipped the Chinese perceptions threat with their nuclear warhead.

United Nations

With the emerging power of Non Governmental Organisation and non state actors such as NGO’s and IGO’s that was supervise by the great superpowers and great human ingenuity, mankind shunned in fighting war and try to seek a new solutions in ending disputes. It creates some sort of an international pressure for the warring states to put a limitation on the tactics in waging war. If certain states ventured into some kind of inhuman methods of waging war, there will be sheer pressures on them from the internationals community through IGO’s and thus economic sanctions will be implemented to put them into stop.

The meddling of third parties power into in human conduct of waging war as had been exemplified in the Balkans is another testament of how International awareness had increases and the power of the media that was played through the non governmental institutions really matters. During the Balkans war, the reason that NATO interfered in such conflict was the international pressured received bye EU to end the genocide which was carried out by the Serbs. Unfortunately such strength of human awareness through media excess does not work in the states of African where there is no personal interest of the great superpower to interfere into the domestic problems of Africa.

But such problems that occurred had been brought up by the attentions of the public through rock concert that was spearheaded not by the leaders of the first world, but through the rockers musician such as Bono and Bob Geldolf. In this 21st Century of interdependent society, the factors which will pressured international community to react in putting a limitation to the way war is fought is not solely put on a shoulder of the first world, but collective awareness through international community. Using mines that was once considered an act of inhuman way in waging war was brought up to the world attentions not by the President of the United States, but by Princess Diana and her foundations after seeing millions of innocent civilians losing their leg in the farm land and the after effect of using such weapons was insurmountable to bear.

Geneva Convention

Mankind too after realizing the bad effect of the unsupervised war had agreed in moulding a convention in overseeing the conduct of the war. Geneva conventions which emphasized so much on the issues of how POW’s and civilians should be treated is a method on how human realize that war should be limited. By having Geneva conventions, the warfare strategy is considered as more civilized thus that mankind realize war is the method in ending disputes which was the last resort apart from diplomatic solutions.

In the middle of the 20th Century, realizing that the world is not enough for everyone, Russian launched a Sputnik satellite to the outer atmosphere. By doing that, the Russian scientist had brought the attention of the world that war can be fought at the new level of the warfare. Space creates and brings new prospects for military generals in doing what can be considered as forward positions. Forward positions doctrine is not only can be implemented on the ground of the earth, but also at outer space.

By having a war in outer space, mankind will ensure that the earth can be inherit to their children thus that there is no limitations to the kind of weapons that can delivered the lethal solutions in ending lives, even though sometimes at the cost of the human’s own future. Space also promise unlimited resources to be used for the mankind in their natural endeavour either it be for survival or strength. By conquering space, mankind will push themselves at the edge of sheer knowledge and opportunity in making the future world as present.

Weapons of mass destruction

Mankind had tried to find many ways in creating a weapon of mass destruction. The purpose of such weapons is to kill and paralyze the enemy without risking the life’s of the own standing army. During the Great War, the usage of the mustard gas proved to be very efficient in killing enemy combatants without much recon the enemy positions. The gas act like a bullet itself killing and disable the enemy that were covered and hiding in their trenches.

In the 21 Century of modern warfare, mankind had tried numerous times using lethal gas in killing enemy with scant amount of biological agents. Anthrax which is in the form of powder cannot be determined with the naked eyes as the arsenal of mass destruction. It has the upper ability in making a surprise attack especially among the civilians and those that are making important decision for the armies on the battlefield. It can be proved when much of the anthrax attack had been delivered to the Congressman and the Senate members via mail and courier. But with the development of the Hazardous Material Team among the responsive emergency unit also known as the HAZMAT, mankind will again try another types of biological agents which is lethal enough in ensuring the purpose of the battle fought be won.

In the 21st Century after much monitoring of the way war should be fought by the United States and collective organisations such as United Nations, the kind of new breed way on how war is fought very much determined by the non-states actors. Having the upper hand that these non state actors are not bound by the constitutions of the world, they are freed in venturing into any types of warfare strategies and tactics that they want.

Even though such a power of being freed from the world governments looks very much dire and dangerous, but still this non state actors had limitations in their resources and knowledge or ability to fight war. They too are still confined by the states laws which they resides or operate in. If certain states that are protecting them do not adhere to the superpower concern on giving those terrorist to the world government or justice, then that particular states will bear the consequences of harbouring those terrorist. It can be seen in Afghanistan and Iraq. To an extent when seeing the fate befall onto those states, Muammar Ghadaffi that was once considered courageous enough in fighting the develop nations succumb to his own fear in integrate his nations to the world after post-Afghanistan U.S. invasion.

Such tactics of using Weapons of Mass destruction and the way the terrorist groups operating is to bring fear to the public and thus crippling the economic field of certain nations. The 911 attack on the U.S. World Trade Centre in New York was organized to attack the symbols of the U.S. economic power and not his military installation. Fear too can be considered as the weapons of mass destruction which they have the ability to create chaos in the share markets and bring down certain states economic viability.

The 21 Century world will be challenged by the demands of certain nations like Iran and North Korea to develop their nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons is considered the most lethal weapon which can be used against humanity so much so that their development is at the height during the Cold War, but human tends to not to use it after seeing the consequences of similar power during the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. But now, what was afraid is that not the states that will use such weapons, but on how to stop and stem of such a deadly weapons to be used against humanity by the non state actors.

The flood of the nuclear warhead which is seldom being monitor in the ex-Soviet nations is a much of a concern of the free world threat. Nuclear warheads can be bought in the black market by the terrorist and such weapons can be transported through conventional trade route to bring a catastrophe unto certain states. The usage of such nuclear warhead can be considered as an act of desperations, but can any debate be brought up that such weapons will not be used at all? If terrorist groups without hesitation in killing innocent civilians with an aircraft carrier during the 911 attack, such a method of using nuclear warhead too is certain to be. If it’s not due to the efficient security set up and AWACS systems of the developed nations, the way on how the unconventional war will be fought is a certain death towards the civilians.

Seeing the collapse of the Soviet Wall after the cold war had brought up new challenges and threat to the freedom of man, mankind and through governmental institutions is very much trying hard to trimming down the effect of the conventional and absolute war. The build up of the nuclear was is the main concern among states especially rogues states such as North Korea and Iran. Such capabilities of having nuclear warhead and installed it onto their ICBM is cannot be accepted because such capabilities will be used against humanity. United Nations through IAEA try hard in ensuring such technological capabilities is stripped off from the rogue states.

The dominations of the U.S. Military capabilities is the main factor in ensuring such balance of power among the free world will not be repeated. Balance of power should not be seek in this modern world but more cooperative and understanding of the free world. Future world will be fought more in diplomatic methods through debates on the tables of negotiations. Such war is evolving again that mankind had every thing to protect for themselves instead of venturing into nationalism agenda of waging war.


The limitation on the scale of waging war will always exists along the modern warfare doctrine of world states. Mankind had created a un-sign treaty on the issues of rules of engagement in precipitating war. Along the long history of modern warfare, Geneva Conventions and the power of collective thinking had come into being after numerous wars had been fought on the battle field.

Mankind realizes that being the only organism on Earth that can make differences in saving the planet, the limitation on the way war waged is practicable. With the growing awareness and needs for mankind to tackle on the issues of environmental problems, the demarcation line was draw on the kind of weapons that should be used on the battle field. New strategies in subduing the enemy without any destruction are another limitation for the modern warfare.

War exists and came into reality because mankind needs to settle disputes among themselves. Regardless of war, mankind had realizes that new solutions such as diplomacy is also essentials and effective in settling disputes. Such awareness is a major factor why limitation in waging war is practicable.


1.Enduring the freedom: A rogue historian in Afghanistan, 2005. Sean Maloney, Potomac Books Inc;
2.On Nuclear Terrorism, 2007. Michael Levi, Harvard University Press;
3.Deterring America: Rogue States and Proliferation of Weapon of Mass Destruction, 2006. Derek D. Smith, Cambridge University Press; and
4.Buying Military Transformation: Technological Innovation and Defence Industry, 2006. Peter Dombrowski, Columbia University Press.


hassan amir said...

I had many comments when u gave the presentation in class...and over time, and after having read through this paper, i have many more..but some of the more important points i would like to raise are:

1. Limitations on the way war is waged practicable...i would interpret this in a moral and legal sense...something about the just cause, the extent of destruction, the wilfull killing and destruction of innocent civilians and their property. I would also link this to the Geneva Convention, the clauses about proportionality, justification, minimum force, distinction, good faith and all that legal stuff. if you consider it, the actions of modern armies are more circumscribed and limited and more importanty controlled by the moral and legal constraints, rather than by the lack of technology and destructive power.

2. i belive the starting premise of your paper is that you only consider warfare which are being waged by the state. but, the concept of the modern state system did not appear till Westphalia, but mankind has been waging war since the decline of the last ice age. going by the archeological information provided by ancient places like Jericho and Katal
Huyuk, mankind waged war and plunder. the nomadic pastoralists who roamed the vast steppes of Eurasia waged terrible campaigns against the farmers, and even today these nomads are not confined within the state system. my point is...warfare is a cultural phenomenon, not a statutory one..and Clausewitz refused to make this distinction. he made warfare something noble and lordly, and something which could be waged within the legal confines of the state system, with conscript armies and 'mass against CoG tactics'. and the results were World War I and World War II.

3. Genghis Khan did not sack Baghdad, Hulegu Khan did. more importantly, Genghis Khan was a representation of his times...an epitome of the harsh, cruel and brutal life of the mongols. historians claim that his campaigns were revenge driven, and to some extent they are...but so is the GWOT launched against the Al Qaeda...does that make Bush and the Americans of the same vengeful breed?...Genghis Khan was a strict authoritarian, he demanded resect and he demanded loyalty. he spared those he spoke truthfully, and slayed those who betrayed him. so did Mohamed Jalaluddin of the Mughals...and yet in India, people of three faiths called him 'Akbar'- The Great.
Genghis Khan stopped the custom of wife robbing in his khanate. he killed those who committed adultery. he sought diplomatic means first and foremost, and when it failed, he attacked. The Khwarezmedi emperor beheaded the Mongol emmissarries and brought wrath on himself.
terror was used by Genghis as a warning. it send the required message to the enemy. i am not saying he was a saint, but he was no greater a villain than Alexander and Napoleaon. Times included Genghis in their countdown of the 50 most prolific people of the millenium...and to share the pedestal with Gods, Popes, Kings, Poets, Saints...he must have done many things right,,,would he have not?

4. i think the biggest challenge facing the efforts to implement limitation on waging war is the rise of assymetric warfare. the civilianization of warfare and the expansion of the warfare area to include civilians, civilian property, civilian technology and civilian targets as well as civilian opponents make Laws of Armed Conflict go up in smoke. the rise of terrorism, anarchism and vigilantism is making the distinctions more blurry, the confrontations more deadly and the attempts to abide by the conventions more challenging.

can a soldier in a crowded urban setting somewhere in Baghdad know which civilian out of the tens of thousands around him has the trigger to a car bomb? and yet..he, the soldier is bound by law to make the distinction and apprehend the terrorist.

attacking a nuclear facility somewhere in a rogue state like Iran or DPRK can avert future calamities, but blowing it up might cause massive civilian damage due to the EMP and the radioactive fallout. champions of modern democracy would have to make the hard choice...about proportionality.

i have a few more comments, but lastly...i quite dont understand how you have made the distiction between Absolute and Total War.

if Clausewitz's definition of total war is the thousands over thousands of brave soldiers who gave their lives pitting themselves against the heavily defended strongholds on both sides...then i dont see any regard for human lives or their welfare.

Tun Teddy said...

I differentiate between total war and absolute war in terms of human and collective effort of the country's citizens.

absolute - meaning in layman terms you have been put into a corner where no place else to go except fight and die..

total - meaning that the collective effort from the masses such as army, civilians, war industry, diplomacy and all stuff pertaining to the success of war campaign.

hassan amir said...

the object of total and absolute war is the same...destruction of the enemy, his capacity and will to fight...the targets are also not different. if targeting military objectives does not bring about capitulation, target the resource bases, target the civilians and target the non combatants...this is what Hitler did...and he was a strict Clausewitzian.
in Layman language, the object of war is the same...total, attrition, assymetric, symmetric...any kind...it is to render the enemy immobile...to force him to capitulate.

Clausewitz did not devise the concept of Total War...it had been in practice for centuries before him...even Sun Tzu talks about the five elements or calculations which a sovereign has to take into account.
What Clausewitz did was to

Tun Teddy said...

I do agree with you that Hitler was clausewitzian and he did admit at the final days of Nazi time in berlin amid the assault of the Russian troops he mentioned that he is adopting clauswitzian...

But the whole concept of total war in literature that was brought by him shed some lights on military tactics especially to the new nation states that adopting war as political strategy..

please do finish our discussion... I reckons you typing isn't finish in your previous posting.

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