Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Clausewitz and Chaos: Friction in War and Military Policy

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Clausewitz and Chaos: Friction in War and Military Policy

Article excerpt

Clausewitz and Chaos: Friction in War and Military Policy by Stephen J. Cimbala. Praeger Publishers (http://www.greenwood.com/imprints/index. asp?ImprintID=18), 88 Post Road West, Westport, Connecticut 06881-5007, 2000, 240 pages, $68.00.

This book is yet another endorsement of Clausewitz's military theory-specifically, his descriptive analysis of friction in war. It attempts to draw contours between "classical" Clausewitzian military theory and contemporary chaos theory. Thus, it is the union of two schools of thought-one that has stood the test of time and acquired nearly biblical prestige in military and political circles, and one that is struggling to make a mark. Stephen Cimbala may appear to be putting new wine in old wineskins, but the old skins still work fine.

The author's message is clear that friction has always been part of strategy, politics, and war. It is still a fundamental reality of those processes and will remain so in the future. As Clausewitz noted, it is the difference between "war on paper" and war. Depending on one's perspective, friction both plagues and benefits deterrence, crisis management, and peace operations. Friction applies to revolutions in military affairs. Despite programmatic attempts to argue otherwise, technology cannot eliminate friction or even accommodate it. This is because friction breeds friction. Although some technologies may address some forms of friction, they will produce other friction in the process. …

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