The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations - Vol. 2

By Cathal J. Nolan | Go to book overview

Suggested Readings:
Michael Beschloss, ed., Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963–1964 (2001); Michael Beschloss, ed., Reaching for Glory: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1964–1965 (2001); H. W. Brands, The Wages of Globalism (1997); Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991); Robert Dallek, Flawed Giant (1998); Robert Divine, The Johnson Years (1990); George C. Herring, LBJ and Vietnam (1995); Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point (1971).
Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The U.S. General Staff. It combines the chiefs and staff officers of the army, air force, marine corps, and navy.
Jomini, Antoine-Henri (1779–1869). Swiss soldier and military theorist. Jomini ranks in influence with Napoleon and Clausewitz as forebears of modern military thinking, although he does not join them in timelessness. He also had extensive field experience, though mostly as a staff officer. A child of the French Revolution, and a mercenary by temperament, at age 20 he commanded a Swiss battalion of the Helvetic Republic in the service of revolution and of France. He subsequently rose to become chief of staff to Marshal Michel Ney during the Napoleonic Wars. He impressed Napoleon personally with his theoretical works, but also with his courage at Jena (1806) and during the early part of the Peninsular War (1807–1813). He was rewarded with a baronage after the Peace of Tilsit (1807). He accompanied Napoleon and Ney to Moscow, and back again in the retreat from Moscow. Feeling slighted by his masters, and with an order outstanding for his arrest, he fled France and took a commission in the Russian service—clearly a timely move, but hardly one to advance professed revolutionary ideals. He was an adviser to Alexander I from 1814 and was present in the Russian ranks at the Congresses of Vienna, Aix-la-Chapelle, and Verona. He served Nicholas I in his war with Turkey at the close of the Greek War of Independence, and again in the Crimean War. In his theoretical work Jomini claimed to understand war “scientifically.” Unlike Clausewitz, he abstracted war from all social context and reduced it instead to a grand game of strategy, in which rules of decision and tactical results achieved by brilliant supreme commanders (he evinced little interest in common soldiery) were all that mattered.

Jomini put forward certain elementary principles as “scientifically” and demonstrably true: (1) strategy and initiative dominate all warfare; (2) strategy may be understood and applied to warfare according to “scientific principles”; and (3) the key to scientific strategy is to use mass force to achieve local superiority at some decisive point and hammer home to victory through offensive action; the enemy must never be allowed to take the initiative or recover from earlier blows. In its essence, this was little more than an observation of Napoleon’s style of making war (which partly explains why Napoleon was so impressed by Jomini’s writings), at least while Napoleon was still winning. Unlike science, war is as much or more about chaos and confusion, or what Clausewitz called friction, and battles are frequently decided by luck and local fortitude at critical moments in battle, often by a hitherto unidentified and unappreciated few. As for leadership, this probably mostly amounts—as with Jomini’s hero, Napoleon—to sound logistics combined with a keen eye for (but also an almost instinctual sense of when one has actually arrived at), a “decisive point” at which the application of offensive force may achieve the most good. On this point, too, Jomini was almost wholly wrong: Napoleon’s greatness did not lie in his “scientific” understanding of war but in his psychological understanding of men (his understanding of women was also great but led in a different direction) and how they might be motivated and manipulated as individuals, as soldiers, and en masse. Jomini’s essential error was the same as that of much modern international relations theory, which reduces national differences that are crucial in fact to nothing, by considering states as like “units.” Likewise, Jomini assumed that all military units of more-or-less equal parade ground strength would be more or less equal on the battlefield, so that only differences in inspired leadership (notably, his great heroes Napoleon and Frederick the Great) really mattered or warranted serious contemplation. In war, that assumption is almost never borne out. It was thus Jomini’s appreciative and even fawning audience among military men, which was wide and generations long, rather than his ideas per se that made his writings influential. See alsolines of operations; Alfred T. Mahan.


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The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iv
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • F 530
  • Suggested Reading: 534
  • Suggested Readings: 547
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  • G 601
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  • H 681
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  • I 752
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  • J 846
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  • K 884
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  • L 927
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