Category Archives: Trinity.

Clausewitz’s Remarkable Trinity Today

Clausewitzian[1] concepts, although interlinked vary while many of them are very controversial. Perhaps the most controversial one is the “Remarkable/Paradoxical Trinity”. As Clausewitz himself puts it, the “paradoxical trinity” is “composed of primordial violence, hatred and enmity, which are to be regarded as a blind natural force; of the play of chance and probability within which the creative spirit is free to roam; and of its element of subordination, as an instrument of policy, which makes it subject to reason alone”.[2] He then wrote that the above “three aspects”, concern “mainly” (emphasis added) “the people”, the commander and his army” and the “government”, respectively.[3]

The latter simplification was used by Harry Summers in his two books, “On Strategy”, about the Vietnam War[4] and the First Gulf War[5] as a framework for strategic analysis. Other authors such as Mary Kaldor and John Keegan argued that the nature of warfare has changed and that the Trinitarian analysis is therefore, nowadays, irrelevant.[6] Specifically they argue that there is not anymore a separation between the society and the military as well as that wars are being fought by non-state actors, and therefore actors without governments.

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