Small Wars Journal

Tip-Toe Through the Trinity

Mon, 09/03/2012 - 5:30am

Dave Maxwell points out an excellent read for Labor Day from Christopher Bassford entitled "Tip-Toe through the Trinity or the Strange Persistence of Trinitarian Warfare."  From the conclusion:


Much of the criticism of Clausewitz essentially boils down to a complaint that he never stated his entire theory in a way we could all grasp by reading a single pithy sentence—at most, a pithy paragraph. Nonetheless, the 300-word Section 28 of Book 1, Chapter 1, of On War is an amazingly compressed summation of reality. Clausewitz’s Trinity is all-inclusive and universal, comprising the subjective and the objective; the unilateral and multilateral; the intellectual, the emotional, and the physical components that comprise the phenomenon of war in any human construct. Indeed, through the subtraction of a few adjectives that narrow its scope to war, it is easily expanded to encompass all of human experience. It is thus a profoundly realistic concept. Understanding it as the central, connecting idea in Clausewitzian theory will help us to order the often confusing welter of his ideas and to apply them, in a useful, comparative manner, both to the history of the world we live in and to its present realities. Most important, its realism will help us steer clear of the worst tendencies of theory and of ideology, of “pure reason” and logic, and of pure emotion.