Military Strategy Magazine  /  Volume 7, Issue 1  /  

When Resources Drive Strategy: Understanding Clausewitz/Corbett’s War Limited by Contingent

When Resources Drive Strategy: Understanding Clausewitz/Corbett’s War Limited by Contingent When Resources Drive Strategy: Understanding Clausewitz/Corbett’s War Limited by Contingent
ID 35318276 © Andrei Moldovan |
To cite this article: Eftimova Bellinger, Vanya, “When Resources Drive Strategy: Understanding Clausewitz/Corbett’s War Limited by Contingent,” Military Strategy Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 1, spring 2020, pages 27-34.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

In recent years, the concept of war by contingent has gradually gained more attention. Partially, this is due to the revival of the legacy of Sir Julian Corbett, but also because of states’ desire to avoid costly all-out conflicts.[i] Corbett credited Clausewitz as the original mind who first described the phenomenon. In the maritime strategist’s description, Clausewitz discovered a way of making war driven mostly by limited resources and conducted without much enthusiasm, attention, or political expectations. As finite means lead the strategy, this type of war-making possibly contradicted the Prussian theorist’s understanding of politics’ preeminent role in war — therefore, in Corbett’s wording, it constituted “an anomalous form of hostility.”[ii]

Readers of On War, however, might find it difficult to locate the exact quote, for Corbett also failed to cite the passage’s precise location. The most popular translation of On War in English by Peter Paret and Michael Howard does not contain language close to this concept, either. The Note of 10 June 1827, published in the treatises preface, only announced Clausewitz’s groundbreaking idea that war can be of two kinds but did not contain any hints to war limited by contingent. According to the Note, war could either seek to “to overthrow the enemy—to render him politically helpless or militarily impotent, thus forcing him to sign whatever peace we please,” or to bargain and negotiate with the other side, for instance, “merely to occupy some of his frontier-districts.”[iii] As this concept emphasizes the differences in political outcomes, today, we simplify the distinctions to war with unlimited objectives and war with limited objectives. The idea that war could be limited by contingent seemingly contradicts Clausewitz.

Despite the discrepancies, this is not another case of a scholar inserting his own ideas into Clausewitz’s text, without any consideration for the original meaning. Corbett, in fact, seized on an unfinished and little-understood chapter of On War, an idea Clausewitz left incomplete and brilliantly interpreted it further. This article explores the historical and theoretical origins of the concept and argues that although it is a useful analytical tool when applied to modern conflict from Afghanistan to Iran, it is not without its pitfalls and requires careful considerations.

The Two Types of War

After Napoleon’s defeat, the European statesmen gathered at the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) faced a complicated situation, much like the diplomats in modern times encountered after the two world wars, in 1919 and 1945. They sought answers to the momentous question of how to restore the world order and avoid another conflagration. The Second Treaty of Paris (1815) renewed the alliance between Prussia, Russia, Austria, and Great Britain for twenty years, and included provisions for the great powers to continue gathering at conferences, to promote further peace and understanding. The development strengthened the new international order, as it created a diplomatic outlet for future contradictions and crises.[iv] On the surface, the Vienna international order resembled the eighteenth-century balance of power. However, instead of being a naked competition between states, the new system emphasized obeying the rules and relied on intermediary gatherings to strengthen and uphold them. Napoleon was gone and the Bourbon dynasty restored in France, but throughout the 1810s and 1820s Europe repeatedly experienced the aftershocks of the French Revolution. Rebellions, unrests, and coup attempts in Spain, Portugal, Austrian dominated Italy, and the Ottoman Empire raised the question about how to intervene and prevent these crises from festering and turning into another potentially dangerous source of instability. In the early 1820s, for the most part, Great Britain successfully blocked Russian Tsar Alexander I’s interventionist tendencies — it was one thing to seek to preserve peace and promote stability, but quite another to openly commit to a general principle of interfering in other countries’ affairs. Yet the evolving crises in Naples, Piedmont, and especially in the politically torn Spain required limited operations to maintain the status quo.

Serving as Chief of Staff for the Rhine Command in Coblenz, in the new territories to the West Prussia had obtained, Carl von Clausewitz began his long-contemplated treatise on the changes in warfare after the French Revolution. Initially, the intention was to compose a field manual for the officer corps with chapters on battles, attacks, sieges, and the like.[v] Soon after, Clausewitz’s ambitions grew. Observing the challenges of building post-Napoleonic Europe, one of the questions he pondered early on was what what would future conflicts look like. In the essay “On Progression and Pause in Military Activity” from 1818, Clausewitz wondered whether wars would continue to be fought with the Napoleonic era’s “fierce intensity,” or the conflicts would come to resemble once again the limited cabinet wars of the eighteenth century. He mulled over the question, too, of whether, after realizing the destructive potential of nations in arms, governments sought to curb the escalation of violence, and whether the deadly genie of all-out war could ever be put back in the bottle.[vi] Clausewitz contemplated even a third possibility for future wars, where the relationship between intensity and outcomes became skewed: “The rapid element of war clashing with the great military strength [could] produce wars that are large-scale, but limited in their effect, bloody but not particularly decisive campaigns. If influenced by it, governments and nations shall be more cautious in [their] decisions to go to war and more willing to settle for peace, the future will show.”[vii] In the first years after 1815, Clausewitz had more questions than answers.

Napoleonic warfare had demonstrated war’s escalating and destructive potential when, to defeat the enemy utterly, states committed mass armies and unlimited resources. As the post-1815 period revealed, however, other crises existed that did not require, even if it was possible, for the states to wage war in such an all-encompassing manner. From this line of thinking, Clausewitz’s concept of war with limited objectives emerged — as he wrote in the Note of 1827, this type of war could be conducted by occupying a neighboring province to use it as a bargaining chip on the negotiating table. Preoccupied with the Bourbon dynasty’s continuing unpopularity in France and potential threads to Prussia, Clausewitz thought about this type of war mostly in the narrow context of the day. How could Prussia, the smallest of Europe’s great powers, still economically recovering, and distrustful to its allies, could, in case of need, counter alone France’s aggression.[viii] With the passage of time, however, the idea of war with limited objectives became a complex construct. In the published chapters of Book VIII, Clausewitz formulated two general ways war with limited objectives could be fought: either by “seizing a small or large piece of enemy territory or holding one’s own until things take a better turn.” The first one he named offensive war with a limited aim, and the second defensive war.[ix]

Another consequential change in Clausewitz’s thinking is found in Book I, Chapter 1, the chapter bound to summarize for readers the essence of On War. In Section 11, he captured the groundbreaking idea of divorcing political and military objectives: “The political object—the original motive for the war—will thus determine both the military objective to be reached and the amount of effort it requires… Sometimes the political and military objectives are the same—for example, the conquest of a province. In other cases, the political objective will not provide a suitable military objective. In that event, another military objective must be adopted that will serve the political purpose…” Therefore, further in the section, Clausewitz concluded that military conduct could encompass “all degrees of importance and intensity”—starting on the high end of the scale with a war of extermination and ending on the lower one with a simple armed observation.[x] In other words, war with limited objectives included not only the occupation of a province but could be conducted in various other ways. Furthermore, theoretically, war with unlimited objectives could be fought with limited means, and vice-versa: war with limited objectives could be carried out with high intensity; although one should strongly question the wisdom of forcing the adversary to the negotiating table by waging war in an unrestrained manner, for the escalation of violence might lead the other side to adopt unlimited objectives.[xi] Most importantly, what distinguished the two types of wars were not the applied military means, but the pursued political objectives — one to defeat the enemy in order to dictate the peace, the other using military means to negotiate an emerging crisis or political interests.

By the time of Clausewitz’s sudden death in 1831, Book VIII consisted mostly of draft chapters — the military theorist was still clearing his mind and wrangling with the complex problems of war planning.[xii] At the end of Chapter 6A, Clausewitz outlined a phenomenon he could not quite catalog and also found dangerously contradictory to the war theory he had developed: a type of war where the “interaction, the effort to outdo the enemy, the violent and compulsive course of war, all stagnate for lack of real incentive. Neither side makes more than minimal moves, and neither feels itself seriously threatened.” Almost shocked, Clausewitz wrote in the next passage that “all imperatives inherent in the concept of a war seem to dissolve, and its foundations are threatened.”[xiii] Reading carefully On War, some eighty years later, Corbett seized on these observations and explored in-depth the phenomenon.

Clausewitz’s Minimal Wars

Despite its imposing title “The Effect of the Political Aim on the Military Objective,” Book VIII Chapter 6A is a very short text — only a page and a half in today’s most popular translation by Paret/Howard. Therefore, it is fair to conclude that its passages were mere rough outlines for ideas Clausewitz planned to develop further.

The key to analyzing the chapter’s meaning lies in the previous one. “The possibility that a military objective can be modified is one we have treated hitherto as deriving only from domestic arguments,” Clausewitz wrote, adding that, “Still, as we argued in the second chapter of Book One (purpose and means in war), the nature of the political aim, the scale of demands put forward by either side, and the total political situation of one’s own side, are all factors that in practice must decisively influence the conduct of war.”[xiv] In other words, the political objective depended not only on the state’s internal considerations and will to commit to war but also on a whole range of other factors interacting within a dynamic and evolving international system. The way states decided to go to war, how they chose to do that, and what resources they were willing to commit depended not only on their interests, but also on the adversary they were about to face, theirs and their adversary’s place in the international system, and the overall political situation.

Without this explanation, Chapter 6A’s initial discussion of coalition warfare appears perplexing. Read within the context of a complex negotiation between allies, Clausewitz simply observed that often states commit to action mainly due to alliance with another state(s), and less because their vital interests are at stake. Subsequently, their objectives and efforts are mostly limited, an observation that remains true today.[xv]

Other times, the dynamic interaction between the adversaries themselves produced a paradoxical de-escalation of violence. Clausewitz gave as an example the case where a state desired a relatively small concession from its adversary and consequently committed moderate resources. As in the enemy’s eyes the desired concession was also somewhat limited, it followed the same path. However, after the initial clash, the state discovered that it had miscalculated — it was weaker than assumed, money and resources were running short, the aim was not crucial enough to keep the morale high. The state attempted to keep the action going, hoping that perhaps things would change eventually. As Clausewitz colorfully described the situation: “Meanwhile, the war drags slowly on, like a faint and starving man.”

In this case, the limited resources drove the limited nature of war, a circumstance that contradicts Clausewitz’s advocacy of political objectives’ preeminent role. Another of the key tenets in Clausewitz’s theory also was war’s natural tendency towards escalation, as adversaries inadvertently reacted to each other’s growing commitment of force. But nothing in the described situation followed this pattern: “Thus interaction, the effort to outdo the enemy, the violent and compulsive course of war, all stagnate for lack of real incentive. Neither side makes more than minimal moves, and neither feels itself seriously threatened.” On the surface, this paradox appeared to contradict war theory and threatened “all imperatives.” Except, as Clausewitz wrote in a rather convoluted sentence, the conflict’s logic still abided war’s inherently political nature: the modest political objectives and the lack of short-term solution continued to dictate the modest application of force. They, the moderate political objectives, dictated, after all, why the two sides remained reluctant or unable to commit more resources. The military theorist named this type of conflict “minimal wars, which consist in merely threatening the enemy, with negotiations held in reserve.”

Connecting Clausewitz’s text to real historical crises, especially throughout 1820s when his correspondence with his wife Marie and best friend August Neidhardt von Gneisenau remains sporadic, is a problematic task. Nonetheless, the ongoing tribulations concerning the ailing Ottoman Empire clearly displayed the described pattern. In the early 1820s, a series of uprisings in Greece and in the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Walachia led to a prolonged Russo-Ottoman standoff. Suspecting direct Russian involvement in the unrests, the Sublime Porte sent troops to occupy the autonomous principalities marking the border between the two empires. It interfered with Russian trade through the Straights, mobs destroyed Russian properties in Istanbul, and in a grizzly public execution, the Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory V was hung from the main gate of the Patriarchate. After the initial anger and show of force, the Sublime Porte realized that it lacked strength to compel Russia to disengage from the Balkans. Furthermore, the Concert of Europe’s concerns that a Russian victory might lead to the Ottoman Empire’s demise— subsequently creating a vacuum where great powers vied for its territories—prompted only a restrained Russian response. The Russian army’s unpreparedness and the anticipated difficulties of fighting a war on the Balkans limited, too, the military options. The fate of the orthodox Christians concerned St. Petersburg, but far less than its main interest of preserving the balance of power. For some time, the adversaries observed each other avoiding overtly provocative gestures. They even negotiated the limited Convention of Akkerman in 1826. The overall dynamic, gradually deescalated the situation, albeit also prolonging the crisis.

The fledgling Greek rebellion and fears of looming massacres—decried by the European press—prompted in 1827 a united Russian, British, and French intervention under the command of Admiral Edward Codrington. Organized as an international naval mission, in order to mitigate Ottoman suspicion, it aimed merely at blocking off the Ottoman-Egyptian fleet in the Ionian Sea and preventing the feared massacres. The warning gesture, however, was misunderstood and lead to the Battle of Navarino, where the allied navy destroyed the complete Ottoman-Egyptian fleet. Despite the cheerful mood throughout Europe, in his correspondence Clausewitz described Navarino as an accidental victory the allies could not capitalize on, making it a mere phase in the prolonged standoff.[xvi] Indeed, in the aftermath, the Sublime Porte closed the Straight to Russian ships, an act that ultimately led to the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829. Curiously, the last sentence of Book VIII, Chapter 6A suggests this development: “The art of war will shrivel into prudence, and its main concern will be to make sure the delicate balance is not suddenly upset in the enemy’s favor and the half-hearted war does not become a real war after all.”[xvii] After Navarino, the half-hearted Russo-Ottoman standoff indeed turned into a real war.

Corbett’s War Limited by Contingent

When Sir Julian Corbett worked on Some Principles of Maritime Strategy (1911), he most likely read On War in the J.J.Graham’s English translation from 1873. The words “war limited by contingent,” however, appear nowhere in the translated text, nor linguistically resembles anything in the original German. Therefore, despite adding quotation marks to the term, it was Corbett who gave Clausewitz’s idea the economic and memorable name.[xviii]

Corbett studied On War primarily from a maritime perspective. He found Clausewitz’s concept of the two types of war based on the political objectives fascinating, and the interrelation between political and military objectives momentous. Nonetheless, Corbett criticized Clausewitz for paying no attention to sea power and its relation to control and conquest of landmasses. After all, as the maritime strategist observed, most of the great Prussian’s ideas about war with limited objectives were less practical for continental Europe but could be successfully applied to navies and their ability to project power. Corbett even suspected that Clausewitz spent so long time mulling over his groundbreaking concepts, without much real progress, because he was testing them in the wrong domain.[xix]

Fascinated by war with limited objectives and combing through On War’s Book VIII to learn more about it, Corbett stumbled upon Chapter 6A. The phenomenon captured in the unfinished draft reminded him of type of war-making he had observed in British history. In Corbett’s analysis, Great Britain mostly relied on two types of limited operations: one aiming at the conquest of overseas colonies, and the other consisting of mainly operations along the European seaboard designed to disturb the enemy’s plans or strengthening the hand of British allies. The most famous example of the latter were, of course, the actions of the Duke of Wellington and his Anglo-Portuguese forces supporting the Peninsular War. According to Corbett, “these operations were distinguished not so much by the nature of the object as by the fact that we devoted to them, not the whole of our military strength, but only a certain part of it which was known as our “disposal force.”[xx] When the British navy delivered Wellington’s moderate expeditionary army of 50,000 men to the Portuguese shores in 1809, the Peninsular theater was of no great value for London. The operation’s main goal was to support and buildup the local resistance, diverge forces Napoleon otherwise needed in Central Europe, and create a constant strain on the French. Although the initial dynamic differed from the one described by Clausewitz, this still was a type of war-making mainly driven by limited resources that also dictated modest expectations for the possible outcomes.

Since Clausewitz had also touched upon coalition warfare in Chapter 6A, this reminded Corbett that engaging as an ally in a conflict could be also from a of war limited by contingent: “During the eighteenth century there had been a large number of cases of war actually limited by contingent — that is, cases where a country not having a vital interest in the object made war by furnishing the chief belligerent with an axillary force of a stipulated strength.”[xxi] The mere circumstance of being the lesser ally, and not having the principle decision power, dictated engaging in such an opportunistic manner.

Exploring the concept further, Corbett realized that war limited by contingent tended to succeed when it was led in a deliberate manner. That is, the state that relied on it, from early on, demonstrated restraint in its expectations and remained coolheaded when dealing with both victories and defeats. In other words, Clausewitz’s example, where two states simply stumbled into this type of war, due to faulty intelligence and unrealistic expectations, was the worst possible scenario. In it, guided by their limited means and captives of vexed circumstances, the states could easily lose sight of their objectives and drift into a prolonged and draining conflict with no clear chance for resolution. Therefore, once in a such situation, Clausewitz emphasized the need to rethink the new realities and let recalibrated political considerations take over the military conduct. Corbett, on the other hand, advised his readers on how to plan for and wage war limited by contingent consciously.

Following the same logic, the maritime strategist also came to the realization that war limited by contingent was actually a method of waging war. Hence, by definition, it could also be applied in both in war with limited and unlimited objectives. Clausewitz’s example of two states wishing to obtain only modest concessions suggested war with limited objectives. Corbett’s example with the Peninsular War, however, demonstrated the other possibility. As part of the larger struggle to overthrow Napoleon, Wellington, in fact, fought a war with unlimited objective. Nonetheless, he did it with limited means, making the best of every opportunity, and patiently and relentlessly grinding on French resources and willpower. Corbett even singled out this specific type of war-making as specifically “British or maritime” form of war. It was characterized by “the application of the limited method to the unlimited form, as ancillary to the larger operations of our allies,” mostly because Great Britain controlled the seas and could select a theater of war that could be truly limited.[xxii]

Furthermore, Corbett singled out the conditions when war limited by contingent tended to succeed. His analysis concluded that this occurred “when it approaches closely the true limited war — that is, as in the case of the Peninsula and the Crimea, where its object is to wrest or secure from the enemy a definite piece of territory that to a greater or lesser extent can be isolated by naval power.”[xxiii] In other words, despite its promises, war limited by contingent could not be fought in every circumstance or theater. It required a careful selection of a limited or secondary theater of war, away from a dangerous concentration of significant adversary capabilities and possibilities to turn into an all-out war. Yet also a theater where lines of communications could be preserved, and resupply relatively easily conducted. Mostly, it required the realization that war limited by contingent was part of a broader strategy.

Applying the Concept to Modern Challenges

While Clausewitz only drafted the concept’s theoretical outlines, Corbett advanced the possibility of waging war limited by contingent in a deliberate and potentially successful manner. His writings’ practical lens and possibilities for understanding the phenomenon—and perhaps successfully pursuing it—is what makes Corbett’s concept so compelling for today’s realities.

As James Holmes of US Naval War College recently observed, Iran has been applying a similar method against the United States for some time, especially in its maritime strategy. Writing before the latest escalation following Qasem Soleimani’s death, Holmes emphasizes that, due to its geographical position, Iran projects power on the cheap and seaward in the Strait of Hormuz and throughout the Persian Gulf. Using land-based missiles, aircraft, and speedboats, Teheran could keep US and its allies on edge. The fact that it could do so from a home territory, instead on faraway shores as Wellington once did, lowers even more the price of this type of war-making. Concerning the Iranian objective, Holmes concludes that “At most they can hope their opponents will tire of ceaseless struggle and strike an accommodation on Iranian terms — or go away altogether.”[xxiv]

The seeming de-escalation following the Soleimani’s death also suggests that both sides—Iran and the United States—understand the need to preserve the balance Clausewitz spoke of and seek to avoid turning the half-hearted war into a real war. The exchange of blows will surely continue, but despite the heated rhetoric, neither adversary truly wishes to stumble into an all-out conflict. Both the United States and Iran rather aim at forcing the other side to change its behavior.

Corbett observed that throughout history, war by contingent was generally treated with contempt and even considered contrary to national interests.[xxv] It seemed a less than honorable way of waging war, Moreover, exaggerated promises of success could inadvertently lead the nation into a costly and prolonged conflict. Only with Wellington’s success and the demonstrated possibilities which a skillful commander could exploit in a secondary theater has this type of warfighting gained recognition. Nonetheless, it is crucial to avoid idealizing the promises of war limited by contingent.

In his Principles of Maritime Strategy, Corbett spent significant time and energy in discussing the conditions of applying the method successfully. The modern way of life and technology seemingly eliminates the physical barriers of bringing war to the enemy’s shores, that once upon a time, only the Royal navy could surpass. Air, cyber, and space domains allow selecting an impactful but isolated assault on enemy capabilities, without risking drawing an all-out answer or full destruction of the “disposable force.” When targeting adversary’s infrastructure via a cyber-attack, we ignore the need for traditional lines of communications and possibilities for resupply. Nonetheless, Corbett’s insistence that the most important tenet when banking on war limited by contingent—that of envisioning it as only a pragmatic method within a broader political strategy—remains true. The Iranian strategy works because we can apply to it the principle Corbett cited over a hundred years ago: “Its value lay in its power of containing force greater than its own. That is all that is that can be claimed for it, but it might be all that is required.”[xxvi]

Another endless modern conflict also reveals the dark side of war limited by contingent— precisely the one Clausewitz so fretted. Eighteen years after its start, the war in Afghanistan truly resembles the cartoonish image of a conflict slowly dragging on, “like a faint and starving man.” Its course uncannily follows the hypothetical case Clausewitz outlined almost two centuries ago. After the initial success of toppling the Taliban, the United States and its allies came to realize that rebuilding Afghanistan into a modern nation and a complete defeat of the Taliban are objectives difficult to achieve—nor truly vital for United States’ interests. The resources and will to continue the war efforts have dwindled. Just like the fictitious state in Book VIII, Chapter 6A, United States “does the best he can,” hoping, against better knowledge, that somehow the outlook will eventually improve.[xxvii] As debates focus mainly on number of US troops to be pulled out or remain there, Afghanistan has truly turned into a war driven by resources and without a clear political perspective in sight. The pages of On War suggest the need for an honest reexamination of United States’ interests, followed by scaled-down commitments, but also an open admission that the conflict might be a low-intensity prolonged operation paired with continuing negotiations with the Taliban. Yet, we should also admit that such a cleared-eyed strategy remains politically unacceptable in Washington.

The concept of war limited by contingent also grew out of Clausewitz’s realization about the complex relationship between political objectives and military means and the conditions that required their séparation. It remains an idea yet to be anchored and widely promulgated in Western strategic thought and war planning. As the United States military enjoys enormous resources and technological superiority, the debates often focus on the means to be applied, primarily how to avoid high human cost, — and not on the desired outcomes. The technological superiority also blinds decision-makers and the broader public to the accurate scale of the political objectives: if the United States commits just a fraction of its capabilities, then surely the war must be limited. However, what is left out of this equation is how the other side perceives the attack. The goal of regime change, a war with unlimited objective, will most likely exert the adversary’s bitter answer, next to requiring careful planning about how to rebuild the peace afterwards.

War limited by contingent has its own political logic, too. As by definition the emphasis is on modest resources, military planners might be even more prone to concentrate on them, instead of on politically objectives. Again, as both Clausewitz and Corbett insisted, this remains the least effective and error-prone way to wage war by contingent. Just because we have military capabilities and the possibilities to use them appear less costly, does not mean we should always apply them, as the impact might run against the war’s political logic. The warning also touches upon building coalitions, as one of the original forms of this type of warfare. Again, the limited resources and the dominant power’s preeminence in the decision-making process might blind potential allies to the political calculations and possible problems. To the German political elite and military, the occupation and rebuilding of Afghanistan has brought, for instance, many controversies, much polarization, and not a few publicly ended careers; while parts of the United States’ military felt that the ally contributed below its capabilities. This is not an argument for avoiding coalition warfare but an emphasis on Corbett’s insistence for a hard-nosed approach to it.

Both Clausewitz and Corbett wrote from the point of view of smaller but aggressive powers seeking to preserve their interest against more populous nations with larger European territories. Therefore, when they discussed limited war, they focused on how Prussia and Great Britain could fight wars in the most advantageous manner. Modern readers, especially in western countries tired of seemingly endless wars, will futility seek advice on how to counter such types of operations. Seeing war limited by contingent for what it is, however, is undoubtedly the first step in finding the right answer.


[i] See for instance Michael I. Handel, “Corbett, Clausewitz, and Sun Tzu,” Naval War College Review (2000), Vol. 53, no. 4 : 101-124; J J Widen, Theorist of Maritime Strategy: Sir Julian Corbett and his Contribution to Naval Thought (Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2012), 79-80; James R.Holmes, "In Iraq, Beware of Destruction Without Control,” The Diplomat, 12 Sept 2014; James R.Holmes, “One of the World's Top Naval Experts Told Us All About a U.S.-Iran War: Iran Can Wage War on the Cheap,” National Interest, 4 January 2020
[ii] Julian Corbett, Some Principles of Maritime Strategy (London: Longmans, Green &Co, 1918), 52.
[iii] Carl von Clausewitz, “Note from 10 June 1827,” in On War, ed. and trans. by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 69.
[iv] Paul Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 557.
[v] See the proposal for Clausewitz’s book Gneisenau sent to the Prussian Minister of War von Boyen, August Neidhardt von Gneisenau to Hermann von Boyen, 5 August 1816, in G.H.Pertz and Hans Delbrück, Das Leben des Feldmarschalls Grafen Neithardt von Gneisenau, Band 5 (Berlin: G.Reimer, 1880), 5:132–33.
[vi] Clausewitz sited the same sentiments later in On War, see Clausewitz, On War, 593.
[vii] Carl von Clausewitz, “Über das Fortschreiten und den Stillstand der kriegerischen Begebenheiten,” in Ausgewählte militärische Schriften, ed. by Gerhard Förster and Dorothea Schmidt (Berlin: Militärverlag der DDR, 1980), 391. Emphasis in the original. Translation is mine
[viii] After the July Revolution in France, Clausewitz, in fact, wrote a memorandum based on his concept of war with limited objective. He suggested the occupation of Belgium as a way to keep Paris in check and force it to the negotiating table. The so-called “Memorandum of 1831” is published in Mitteilungen aus dem Archive des Königlichen Kriegsministeriums. II. Zwei Denkschriften von Clausewitz 1830/1831,” in Militär-Wochenblatt Nr.31 (1891), 818-822.
[ix] Clausewitz, On War, 613-615.
[x] Clausewitz, On War, 81.
[xi] Christopher Bassford offers a detailed discussion about the interrelation between political and military objectives, Christopher Bassford, “Clausewitz’s Categories of War and the Supersession of ‘Absolute War,” ClausewitzStudies.Org, 26 September 2019: 39
[xii] According to the Note from 1827, Clausewitz, On War, 69-70.
[xiii] Clausewitz, On War, 604.
[xiv] Clausewitz, On War, 602
[xv] Clausewitz, On War, 603
[xvi] “The Battle of Navarino caused here, as everywhere else, enormous sensation,” Clausewitz reported to Gneisenau the reaction in Berlin, adding that the victory “appears as a bizarre explosion which has surprised the victors just as much as the defeated.” Despite the jubilant mood among supporters of the Greek cause in Berlin, among which his wife Marie was one of the most vocal, Clausewitz had doubts whether Navarino would lead to an independent Greek state: “It seems to me impossible to predict what would happen. None of the allied forces is ready for a war; none appears particularly eager to accept great sacrifices for something they consider a matter of honor; and none seems to know how exactly to define the allied objective.” Clausewitz to Gneisenau, 24 November 1827, Schriften, 2:1:533.
[xvii] Clausewitz, On War, 604.
[xviii] Corbett, Principles, 51. For the purposes of this article, I also studied J.J.Graham’s translation as published in Carl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. by Col J.J.Graham and introduction and noted by Col F.N.Maude, Part III (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1940), 118-120
[xix] Corbett. 43-44.
[xx] Corbett, 51-52.
[xxi] Corbett, 52
[xxii] Corbett, 56
[xxiii] Corbett, 53
[xxiv] James R.Holmes, “One of the World's Top Naval Experts Told Us All About a U.S.-Iran War: Iran Can Wage War on the Cheap,” National Interest, 4 January 2020
[xxv] Corbett, 54
[xxvi] Corbett, 57.
[xxvii] Clausewitz, On War, 604.