Clausewitz and America: Strategic Thought and Practice from Vietnam to Iraq (Hardback) book cover

Clausewitz and America

Strategic Thought and Practice from Vietnam to Iraq

By Stuart Kinross

© 2008 – Routledge

256 pages

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Paperback: 9780415569637
pub: 2009-12-21
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pub: 2007-08-16
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This book demonstrates how Clausewitzian thought influenced American strategic thinking between the Vietnam War and the current conflict in Iraq.

Carl von Clausewitz's thought played a part in the process of military reform and the transition in US policy that took place after the Vietnam War. By the time of the 1991 Gulf War, American policy makers demonstrated that they understood the Clausewitzian notion of utilizing military force to fulfil a clear political objective. The US armed forces bridged the operational and strategic levels during that conflict in accordance with Clausewitz’s conviction that war plans should be tailored to fulfil a political objective. With the end of the Cold War, and an increasing predilection for technological solutions, American policy makers and the military moved away from Clausewitz. It was only the events of 11 September 2001 that reminded Americans of his intrinsic value. However, while many aspects of the ‘War on Terror’ and the conflict in Iraq can be accommodated within the Clausewitzian paradigm, the lack of a clear policy for countering insurgency in Iraq suggests that the US may have returned full circle to the flawed strategic approach evident in Vietnam.

Clausewitz and America will be of great interest to students of strategy, military history, international security and US politics.


'The book’s real strength is its central insight that American strategic planners since Vietnam have been profoundly influenced by a narrow and often confused understanding of Clausewitzian doctrine … The book brilliantly demonstrates the continued influence of a watered-down version of Clausewitz’s dictum that "war is a continuation of politics by other means."' - Canadian International Council's International Journal, Summer 2010, 790

'… those who want a thorough analysis of an important trend in modern American strategic thinking will find Kinross’s work insightful and, at times, highly original. Because of the undeniable influence of Clausewitzian theory on American strategic doctrine, Kinross has made an important contribution to broader discussions about American strategy.' - Canadian International Council's International Journal, Summer 2010, 790

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1. The Clausewitzian Paradigm, American Strategic Thought and the Legacy of Vietnam 2. The Emergence of Clausewitz in American Strategic Thought 3. The Re-orientation of American Strategic Thought 4. The Renaissance in American Strategic Thought 5. The Gulf War 6. The Problem of Low-Intensity Conflict 7. Strategy and Policy in Post-Cold War America 8. American Strategy and Policy in the Age of Terror 9. Iraq: Invasion, Occupation, and Insurgency. Conclusion

About the Series

Strategy and History

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
HISTORY / Military / Strategy