Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Creveld's Paradox

John Robb at the Global Guerrillas uses the Haditha incident (how vague and androgyneous that word is, if it indeed was a massacre) to showcase the skilled military thinker Martin van Creveld's paradox:

In other words, he who fights against the weak - and the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed - and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins also loses. To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel; to let that opponent kill you is unnecessary and therefore foolish. As Vietnam and countless other cases prove, no armed force, however rich, however powerful, however advanced, however well motivated is immune to this dilemma. The end result is always disintegration and defeat...

This is basically a rhetorical, topical element of strategy. In other words - in assymetric warfare you will turn out to appear either cruel or foolish if you are the large part - both those qualities are not really military features, rather elements of ethos, of reputation. Thus you don't fight to destroy your opponent's Clausewitzean centre of gravity, rather you fight for your reputation. And in that fight, everyone with rhetorical cunning can participate.


Post a Comment

<< Home