the moral qualities are among the most important subjects in war. They are the spirits which permeate the whole sphere of war. They attach themselves sooner or later with greater affinity to the will which sets in motion the guides the whole mass of forces, and they unite so to speak with it in one whole, because it is itself a moral quantity. Unfortunately, they seek to withdraw from all book knowledge, for they can neither be measured in figures nor grouped into classes, and require to be both seen and felt. . The spirit and other moral qualities of an army, a general or a government, public opinion in provinces in which the war is proceeding, the moral effect of a victory or of a defeat - these are things which in themselves very greatly in their nature, and which, according as they stand with regard to our object and our circumstances, may also have a very different kind of influence.Included in these moral qualities would be pre-modern and modern moral cohesion as well as material cohesion connected to the state. Consider that it is in terms of theory these three forces that allow political communities to develop which of course assumes that a state would provide the administrative apparatus of a single political community. In practice however there exist states whose territories are comprised of more than one political community and/or where the political community lacks the shared identity of a political community (higher levels of pre-modern moral cohesion, but low levels of modern moral and material cohesion). Here we can imagine situations where a state lacks even the cohesion necessary to keep it from falling apart, dividing up into separate political entities which may or may not be viable as states. Consider the case of Yugoslavia during 1991-99 in this regard. "Will" here regards the political purpose of the trinity of each political community or communities in question to defend or expand their interests vis a vis other political communities. Consider this first quote as regarding the internal dynamics of the state/political community in question. For the external dynamics, let us consider this On War quote from Book VI, Chapter 6:
we speak of those essentially interested in maintaining a country's integrity. If, for instance, we look at the various states composing Europe at the present time, we find - without speaking of a systematically regulated balance of power and interests such as does not exist and therefore is often with justice disputed - that still unquestionably the interests, great and small, of states and nations are interwoven with one another in a most complicated and changeable manner. Each point at which they cross forms a strengthening knot, for in it the tendency of the one counterbalances the tendency of the other. By means of all these knots, therefore, a more or less close inter-connection of the whole is created and for any change to take place this inter-connection must be partially overcome. In this way the sum total of the relations of all states to one another serves rather to maintain the status quo of the whole than to introduce changes in it, that is to say, that in general the course of events tends to the maintenance of the status quo. Thus, we believe, must the idea of a balance of power be conceived, and in this sense such a balance will always spontaneously arise wherever several civilized states have many points of contact. How effective the tendency of these collective interests toward the maintenance of the existing condition may be is another question. We can, indeed, conceive changes in the relations of individual states to one another which promote this effectiveness of the whole, and others which obstruct it. In the former case they are efforts to strengthen the political balance, and as these have the same tendency as the collective interests, they will also have the majority of these interests on their side. In the latter case, however, they are abnormalities, excessive activity of individual parts, real diseases. That these should occur in a whole so feebly bound together as the multitude of greater and smaller states is not to be wondered at. After all, they occur in the marvelously ordered organic whole of all living nature. If therefore, we are reminded of the cases in history in which single states have been able to effect important changes solely for their own advantage, without even so much as an attempt having been made by the whole to prevent them, and, indeed, of cases in which a single state has been in the position to raise itself so much above the rest as to become the almost absolute arbiter of the whole, our answer is that these cases in no way prove that the tendency of the collective interests to the maintenance of the status quo does not exist, but only that their effectiveness at the moment was inadequate. Effort toward an object is not the same thing as motion toward it. But it is by no means a nullity on that account, a truth of which the dynamics of the heavens afford the best illustration. When we say that the tendency of equilibrium is the maintenance of the existing condition, we certainly assume that in this condition rest, that is, equilibrium, existed. For where this has already been disturbed and a tension already introduced, the tendency of equilibrium may also, certainly, be directed toward a change. But if we regard the nature of the thing, this change can never affect more than a few single states, and never, therefore, the majority of them. It is certain then that this majority sees its maintenance always represented and assured by the collective interests of all, certain also that each single state, which is not in the position of finding itself already in tension against it in defending itself. Whoever laughs at these reflections as utopian dreams does so at the expense of philosophical truth. Although the latter teaches us to recognize the relations in which the essential component parts of things stand to one another, it would certainly be rash to expect to deduce from them any accidental disturbing influences. But when a person, in the words of a great writer, 'never rises above anecdote', built all history on it, begins always with the most individual points, with the climaxes of events; when he never goes deeper that just so far as he has cause, and thus never reachers the deepest foundation of existing general relations - such a person's opinion will never have value beyond a single case, and for him, certainly what philosophy settles for the generality of cases will only appear a dream.Emphasis is original to Clausewitz. We see here the cycle of rest, tension and movement that characterize all political relations (see Clausewitz's dynamic law of war in Book III, Chapter 18). Since political relations are power relations a certain amount of tension within/among/between political communities is unavoidable. Much of the work of day to day international relations is dealing with this element of normal tension between states and/or political communities. When tension reaches a certain point and a policy decision follows or politics itself forces a decision to apply military force we have a period of movement which culminates at the point where the momentum achieved/released has reached its culmination point and a new state of balance is the result. Part of this state of balance is the status quo of existing political relationships between states/political communities. Say a state is in crisis and its future existence within the currently recognized borders comes into question. Say that one neighbor is causing much of this tension with the aim of gaining territory at the expense of the state in crisis. The other neighboring states would see it more in their interest that the status quo remain instead of the aggressing state becoming more powerful. In effect these other states become "allies" of the state defending with their eventual responses (if any) unknown to the aggressor. There are a few other points which need to mentioned here. First, a hegemonic state is more the nature of an anomaly, a state that enjoys such a level of power that it can effectively dictate to all others is probably a very disrupting and even dangerous state and this "hyperactivity" can be seen as a social malady, or "disease". Having peer states to the most powerful is thus a stabilizing element to international relations. Second, while theory provides us with a starting point we need to delve in deeply to the history of the political relations between the states in question. Far too often commentators are blinded by their own political community's interests or assumed interests as well as seeing one side as "good" and the other as "evil". Both labels are inevitably heavily influenced by culture and interest. Third and finally, looks can be deceiving and sometimes it takes a bit of digging to understand the actual nature of the conflict in question. Is a decision for military action the result of aggressive or preventive action? That is, it is very important to understand the underlying causes of the tension since only in this way is an effective resolution possible. This of course assumes that the interest of the international community is stability and not a continuous state of instability. The final quote I will list is from the Russian Clausewitzian strategic theorist Alexandre Svechin who imo is the greatest Clausewitzian theorist of the first half of the 20th Century. His theoretical approach spans the whole strategic spectrum from grand strategy to tactics and his development of the theoretical underpinnings of operational art and the broad nature of attritional warfare are fundamental to understanding Russian Soviet strategy during World War II. Svechin did not live to think through the actual operational requirements, but his concept of the operational level itself provided the conceptual framework for what followed. This extract deals with negative/positive purpose and exception to the rule of status quo stability (which Clausewitz had also mentioned elsewhere):
In general, the pursuit of negative goals, that is, fighting for the complete or partial maintenance of the status quo, requires less expenditure of forces or resources than the pursuit of positive goals, namely fighting for conquest and forward movement. It is easier to keep what you have than to get something new. The weaker side will naturally go on the defensive. These principles are obvious in both politics and the art of war, but only on the condition that the sides have a certain amount of stability and defensive capability in the status quo. In the same way that ocean waves grind the rocks on the shore against one another, historical conflict rounds off amorphous political formations, erodes boundaries with are too sinuous and gives rise to the stability required for defensive capabilities. However, sometimes this condition is absent. The Treaty of Versailles has filled the map of Europe with historical oddities. The class struggle has created a layer cake of different interests and factions on this map. In these conditions the pursuit of the negative goal of maintaining the status quo may be the weakest rather than the strongest form of waging war: sometimes a superiority of forces will be required for a defensive rather than for an offensive, depriving the defensive of any meaning. This was the situation in the war of 1866 in the German theater of operations. Moltke considered this theater of war secondary to the Bohemian theater and left only three divisions there against middle German forces three times their size. The fragmentation of the German states and the open field system of the Prussian domains resulting form the peace treaties of Westphalia and Vienna made defense incomparably more difficult for the Prussians than offense. The Prussians were fully capable of going on the offense despite the superiority of the enemy's forces. The same conditions are often encountered in a civil war; civil war breaks out over a vast area and definite fronts form only gradually. But given the intensity of the class struggle, these definite fronts do not express the entire heart of the matter: in advancing from the Volga to the Urals the Red forces did not get separated from their base, which is usually a significant disadvantage of an offensive, but approached new and wealthier sources of food and class and economic energy. If the political situation is right, why even think of a defensive? To put down armed uprisings in one's rear? The downfall of the Paris Commune in 1871 can partially be explained by its failure to consider the need for an offensive in order to establish communications with the provinces; Paris alone against all of France was an indefensible position in any case. For centuries, since the time of Cardinal Richelieu, French diplomatic thinking has been nurtured on the idea of creating conditions of fragmentation, open fields, and weaknesses in Europe. As a result of the work of French policy, whose ideas are expressed in the Versailles 'Peace' Treaty, all of Central Europe - Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and so forth - has been placed in a situation which completely rules out the possibility of defense and positional warfare. The French vassals have been skillfully placed in the position of a squirrel compelled to turn the treadmill of militarism. The art of French policy lies in the skillful creation of unstable situations. This is the reason for the impermanence of this creation. The idea behind the Treaty of Versailles, putting Germany in an indefensible position, has made it physically necessary for Germany to prepare for offensive operations. Poland will still have the opportunity to ponder how it should thank France for the gift of the Polish Corridor, which has put Poland first in line for a German attack. Strategy, pp 250-51, 1927Two points here: First, the current state system may actually require force to maintain, that is the moral/material cohesion of the state in question may be so weak as to require outside force to keep the entity together within its current boundaries. Second, for the attacker, the attack might be the stronger form of warfare, unlike most situations where it is the defense that has this advantage. Simply put the political conditions are the dominating factor regarding the resort to force. With these concepts in mind, I have produced a list of questions regarding the current Ukrainian crisis which I think require relatively clear answers in order to understand what is going on. The level of propaganda coming from all sides is at such a level, particularly in the West, must be taken into consideration as well. The first question would be basically what has happened in Ukraine? Was it a coup against a democratically elected President? Was it a revolution? Or is it the beginning of the break-up of the country as a whole, something that could turn into a civil war? Is Ukraine, as it was constituted prior to the crisis a viable state or a hollow shell? Is being Ukrainian distinct from being Russian and if so for how many of the people living in Ukraine? This leads us to the next question, which is simply who are the various sides? Who are the revolutionaries if a revolution has in fact taken place? Why did they see the need for violence and the need to overthrow the former government? Is there any coherent plan to deal with Ukraine's financial crisis, this seen as independent, but obviously closely linked with the political crisis. What are Russia's goals here? The destruction of Ukraine as an independent state? Annexation of Russian populated areas and strategic points in Ukraine important to Russia (the Russian naval base as Sevastopol)? Or simply the protection of Russians in a deteriorating polity? Simply are the Russians orchestrating events or simply more reacting to them? How do Ukraine's other neighbors see this crisis? Is it in the interests of Poland, Slovakia, Belarus, Moldova and Romania that Ukraine continue to exist within its current borders? How would they see a partition of Ukraine? Did the actions of the European Community in November 2013 precipitate this crisis? Why were the Ukrainians presented with the stark choice of choosing either "Europe" or Russia? Why was Russia's proposal for a tripartite agreement instead rejected by the US/EU? What were the actions of the US government and various agents of the US government (including contractors) during the crisis, that is after October 2013? Did the US spend $billions to ferment trouble for the Ukrainian government? Did the US assist in a coup overthrowing a legitimate Ukrainian government? So here are my questions . . . should you have any answers, or simply wish to comment, then please do so.