Sunday, September 29, 2019

Creveld’s transformation of war Essay

Martin van Creveld is regarded as one of the most influential contemporary military theorist and historians of modern times. Born in Netherlands, Creveld however has spent a life time in Israel studying and analyzing warfare from the vantage point of the faculty of the Hebrew University where he has been teaching since 1971. During these years he has published a number of works on contemporary military warfare. Supplying War, Command in War, The Transformation of War and The Rise and Decline of the State are some of his most important works amongst others. Highly respected amongst military academia, Creveld has been a regular on the teaching and lecture circuit in many parts of the World including the United States and Europe. His thoughts on warfare and the modern military are absorbed by most militaries including of course the country of his stay, Israel. Many military analysts consider, Creveld’s work, â€Å"The Transformation of War† as his most influential as he has brought out a new paradigm of warfare identified as non Trinitarian war, which is a seminal change in military thinking for the first time after Clausewitz in the 19th Century. (Creveld, 1991). This is now compulsory reading for US army officers. Transformation of War is essentially a critique of the Clausewitzian mode of war as highlighted in the 19th Century master’s seminal work on warfare, On War. (Clausewitz, 1976). Transformation of war breaks away from Clausewitzian model of wars determined by the relationship and resolution of the state or the government, the population and the military, a concept which Creveld has denoted as the Trinitarian model of war. Creveld on the other hand argues that warfare has changed considerably as war is fought today by states as well as non states, thus negating the first premise of Clausewitz. (1991). The population is an indeterminate factor in modern warfare and the modern military is incapable of coping with the changing nature of warfare unless it transforms its war fighting modes. The new war which Creveld talks about is not necessarily an engagement between two states and thus in some ways not winnable by modern armies without transforming themselves. Creveld explains war through a five fold prism of theories. The first is to denote those who fight war. As against the modern state centric militaries, Creveld attempts to indicate that throughout history it is not just states but also leagues, cities and religious orders amongst others who have fought war, thus states do not necessarily have a monopoly on war. In the contemporary spectrum also, states are losing their unique status as the makers of war, Hezbollah, Taliban, Tamil Tigers and the Al Qaeda represent the most significant examples. (Creveld, 1991) The second issue brought out by Von Creveld is the relationship between combatants and non combatants. This is no longer rational as indicated in wars of the old determined by internationally accepted legal instruments as the Geneva Conventions. In many cases today, the lines between war and crime have been blurred with prisoners being treated with utmost brutality. (Creveld, 1991). The third issue is conduct of wars wherein tactics and strategies too have undergone seminal change but which comprise of combat between the will of two protagonists where there is congruence of Creveld’s ideas with Clausewitz. The fourth significant issue addressed by Creveld is that war is not just continuation of politics by other means as indicated by Clausewitz but fought for varied purposes including religious, ethnic survival and so on. Creveld seems to suggest that the policy for making war will be as much determined by culture as by the will of states. (Creveld, 1991) A final issue which has been raised by Creveld is of the role of the individual in war fighting, the motivations, the fighting spirit and the factors that make a soldier fight. This should be clearly understood by the military leader as per Creveld. Seen in this perspective the motivations of the suicide bomber of today forming one of the main weapons of the terrorist organization would attain relevance. (Creveld, 1991) Creveld thus provides a broader perspective of warfare which may have greater relevance in today’s wars, than Clausewitz. This is so as he has covered a much wider period of warfare and thus is able to arrive at much broader conclusions on the changing nature of wars. Clausewitz on the other hand appears to have derived the principles from his more recent experiences which came after establishment of the Westphalian order. Viewed in the perspective of the types of conflicts being waged in the World today, Creveld’s views would seem quite relevant. A number of contemporary military writers as Carver have supported Creveld. (Carver, 1981). Moreover a survey of conflicts in which American forces were engaged even as the Gulf War 1991 was going on would indicate the possible simultaneity of conventional and guerrilla or asymmetric conflicts. (Bolger, 1991). On the other hand to view warfare completely as a state versus non state phenomenon may also be out of context. Some recent wars such as the Iraq War 1991, Operation Enduring Freedom 2003 or the Indo Pakistan conflict in 1999 in Kargil could possibly fall in the context of Trinitarian conflicts. Thus the state has not totally lost monopoly on wars. Another issue is of motivation of soldiers. The overwhelming importance given to motivation of soldiers by Creveld appears unjustified in that this may explain the use of say Kamikaze by the Japanese during the Second World War but such tactics despite high levels of motivation do not win wars. To that extent some of Creveld’s theories are not fully directed towards indicating strategies to win wars. Another argument is that of anarchy, if states lose their monopoly of making wars, the World would resemble chaos and disorder. This is seen in many parts of the globe even today. Thus states will continue to be a prime instrument of violence in the years ahead. Notwithstanding the above issues, Creveld has clearly indicated the changes that have come about in warfare and his theories have received considerable support in the military community. The need is to adopt recommendations made by Creveld rationally to political and military organizations by ensuring that societies adapt instruments of violence which are most appropriate to their environmental culture and needs of the times. Thus states should not only prepare for conventional wars but other types of warfare including guerrilla, information, political and cultural and develop their militaries as full spectrum forces. Government and militaries also need to take into account the possibilities of being confronted not just by uniformed soldiers but also by suicide bombers, grenade and gun toting vagabonds, information warriors and even biological warfare agents. The complexity of conflict has thus interminably increased over the years.

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