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Krigens skiftende ansigt : slagmarkens forvandling fra 1. verdenskrig til… (1991)

af Martin L. van Creveld

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At a time when unprecedented change in international affairs is forcing governments, citizens, and armed forces everywhere to re-assess the question of whether military solutions to political problems are possible any longer, Martin van Creveld has written an audacious searching examination of the nature of war and of its radical transformation in our own time. For 200 years, military theory and strategy have been guided by the Clausewitzian assumption that war is rational--a reflection of national interest and an extension of politics by other means. However, van Creveld argues, the overwhelming pattern of conflict in the post-1945 world no longer yields fully to rational analysis. In fact, strategic planning based on such calculations is, and will continue to be, unrelated to current realities. Small-scale military eruptions around the globe have demonstrated new forms of warfare with a different cast of characters - guerilla armies, terrorists, and bandits--pursuing diverse goals by violent means with the most primitive to the most sophisticated weapons. Although these warriors and their tactics testify to the end of conventional war as we've known it, the public and the military in the developed world continue to contemplate organized violence as conflict between the super powers. At this moment, armed conflicts of the type van Creveld describes are occurring throughout the world. From Lebanon to Cambodia, from Sri Lanka and the Philippines to El Salvador, the Persian Gulf, and the strife-torn nations of Eastern Europe, violent confrontations confirm a new model of warfare in which tribal, ethnic, and religious factions do battle without high-tech weapons or state-supported armies and resources. This low-intensity conflict challenges existing distinctions between civilian and solder, individual crime and organized violence, terrorism and war. In the present global atmosphere, practices that for three centuries have been considered uncivilized, such as capturing civilians or even entire communities for ransom, have begun to reappear. Pursuing bold and provocative paths of inquiry, van Creveld posits the inadequacies of our most basic ideas as to who fights wars and why and broaches the inevitability of man's need to "play" at war. In turn brilliant and infuriating, this challenge to our thinking and planning current and future military encounters is one of the most important books on war we are likely to read in our lifetime.… (mere)
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Remarkably prescient [more to come]. ( )
  goliathonline | Jul 7, 2020 |
הטוב שבחוקרים הצבאיים בארץ כותב על השתנות אופי הלחימה ( )
  amoskovacs | Jan 21, 2012 |
Martin van Creveld has written a brilliant, prophetic book that is marred by a weak conclusion and a misogynic aside about women and war (a topic he further treated in a strange failed book). Its relevance to the Middle East crisis and terrorism is haunting.

The book is divided into seven chapters. The first chapter distinguishes three forms of contemporary wars: nuclear War, conventional war and low intensity war. Creveld's thesis is that the first two become progressively more irrelevant. Current armies are ill-prepared for low intensity wars. To illustrate his thesis, Creveld gives an excellent overview of the history of war in the following chapters.

Chapter two "by whom war is fought" shows that the so called trinitarian war as a unity of people, state and army only dates from the time of Clausewitz. Before, the common people did not participate in war as they were the ruler's personal affairs not the states'. Creveld postulates that this unity will dissolve. Already, in most low intensity wars, the state is only a spectator among warring factions. Chapter three "what war is all about" deals with misconceptions about prisoners, non-combattants and weapons. There have always been rules how prisoners and non-combattants (especially women) were treated, which weapons were deemded suitable or honorable, even if they were vastly different from today. If commanders make or let soldiers transgress the rules, they will suffer a collapse in morale (as the strong will be appalled by the mistreatment of the weak). Guerillas, however, do not feel constrained and will use the most brutal force at their disposal. This makes low intensity wars unwinnable for conventional forces as they alienate the civilians if they use force and if they don't, they are unable to defeat the guerillas.

Chapter four "how war is fought" is a brilliant discussion of the futility of the concept of "interest" and "strategy" in the context of total war and low intensity wars. If a population bears any burden for victory, a conventional force using rational goals cannot win. Chapter five "what war is fought for" distinguishes between Clausewitzian political and non-politcial war. The latter has throughout history been the more important. Men die for religion and give their lives for specks of dirt. The concept of "interest" thus is flawed in an all-out war. Chapter six "why war is fought" examines the thesis that warriors need a noble opponent using brilliant examples from the Troian War. Defeating the weak is not honorable and will destroy morale. Conventional armies will suffer a breakdown in low intensity wars. Going from victory to victory will lead to defeat. The chapter ends in a borderline case of the discussion of women as soldiers. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes bizarre.

Chapter seven "future war" is the weakest and an unworthy ending to a fine book. Creveld pessimistically sees low intensity wars and guerilla forces dismantle the state. While I agree that the number of low intensity wars will rise, Conventional armies are unsuitable for this task. Solid police work and reasonable dialogue, however, can lead to the collapse of the guerilla support. Creveld should study the British example in Northern Ireland instead of the dialogue des sourds between Israel and Palestine. ( )
4 stem jcbrunner | Aug 21, 2006 |
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At a time when unprecedented change in international affairs is forcing governments, citizens, and armed forces everywhere to re-assess the question of whether military solutions to political problems are possible any longer, Martin van Creveld has written an audacious searching examination of the nature of war and of its radical transformation in our own time. For 200 years, military theory and strategy have been guided by the Clausewitzian assumption that war is rational--a reflection of national interest and an extension of politics by other means. However, van Creveld argues, the overwhelming pattern of conflict in the post-1945 world no longer yields fully to rational analysis. In fact, strategic planning based on such calculations is, and will continue to be, unrelated to current realities. Small-scale military eruptions around the globe have demonstrated new forms of warfare with a different cast of characters - guerilla armies, terrorists, and bandits--pursuing diverse goals by violent means with the most primitive to the most sophisticated weapons. Although these warriors and their tactics testify to the end of conventional war as we've known it, the public and the military in the developed world continue to contemplate organized violence as conflict between the super powers. At this moment, armed conflicts of the type van Creveld describes are occurring throughout the world. From Lebanon to Cambodia, from Sri Lanka and the Philippines to El Salvador, the Persian Gulf, and the strife-torn nations of Eastern Europe, violent confrontations confirm a new model of warfare in which tribal, ethnic, and religious factions do battle without high-tech weapons or state-supported armies and resources. This low-intensity conflict challenges existing distinctions between civilian and solder, individual crime and organized violence, terrorism and war. In the present global atmosphere, practices that for three centuries have been considered uncivilized, such as capturing civilians or even entire communities for ransom, have begun to reappear. Pursuing bold and provocative paths of inquiry, van Creveld posits the inadequacies of our most basic ideas as to who fights wars and why and broaches the inevitability of man's need to "play" at war. In turn brilliant and infuriating, this challenge to our thinking and planning current and future military encounters is one of the most important books on war we are likely to read in our lifetime.

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