369 - Reflections on the nature of contemporary war

Ν. Λυγερός

In the search for decisive battles, war is considered only as a singularity in a political conflict. However, it always has a strong influence on it. Within the framework of dialectical thinking, free of any strategic dogmatism, it must be pointed out that each era tends to create its own strategic doctrine and wars reflect the societies that carry them out. To put it simply, even though this fact itself is shocking to the uninitiated, it is a logical extension of Clausewitz’s principles, who considers, inter alia, that the political intention is the ultimate end, war is the means and the means could never be considered without the end. In other words, war is a key issue in the foreign policy of nations, contrary to what their diplomacy asserts. For, even though war is used only as a dissuasive means during negotiations, it still represents a dynamic pressure. Moreover, it allows us to begin negotiations from a position of strength, having also an indirect impact which extends even over the periods of peace. And it is to this effect that war is so important in our analysis.

In mass democracies, there is a general consensus, which is in fact constructed, that war is a curse. From this point of view, one of the objective reasons is the importance of striving for the stability of the system in order to artificially create a sense of happiness and security for the masses. Thus, strategy, which is by definition a means to reverse the roles of the strong and the weak in a conflict, is basically absent from the conscience of the masses. The point is to avoid any attempt of vague impulses but also to convince in a general way the weak parties of their weakness and the strong ones of their strength. As far as the system is concerned, the preservation of this type of status quo is a kind of victory without battle. In spite of this, war seems to be essential in the context of a dynamic foreign policy.

To resolve this apparent paradox which is based on the negative and essential nature of war, modern societies tend to drastically reduce the duration of apparent conflicts, by increasing the intensity of shock and fire. In this way, with their masses not really realizing it, the concept of Blitzkrieg is pushed to its extremes. On this subject, it is interesting to note, that mass democracies, which were born globally after the Second World War having erased from the map their common enemy, use in turn the same principle which had resulted brilliant victories for the enemy in order to establish and maintain their global authority. A different method to interpret the evolution of war in mass democracies consists in exploiting the battle concept.

Traditionally, war has been considered as a set of decisive battles which makes it possible to ensure a sufficiently stable ratio of power. Therefore, a battle is not enough to win the war, and in this regard there are some well-known proverbs. Nevertheless, with the evolution of the battle concept which can be massive in the search for an effective and efficient destruction on the one hand, and with the reduction of the duration of war in a strictly military sense of the term on the other, the two concepts converge considerably, to the extent that we could analyse the art of actual war as dominant over battle. For, the conflict in its strictly military sense is reduced to its simplest expression, i.e. massive attack of short duration. Thus, war has become a massive battle in a dynamic foreign policy. It is no longer a visible extension but a distribution whose consequences are immense, though the cause is not really visible. War is a singularity point in the political battlefield. However, it would be a serious error to regard it as a minor detail because these types of issues are those that characterize the structure of the political system.