TOPIC: LEADERS in WAR - Faculty & Staff Web Pages

OU Professor Lawrence M. Hynson III
Monday 2/12/2007 1400-1530
Thesis: Some historians and military analysts see Leaders in War through Clausewitz’s
Trinitarian view of War. They frame their analysis through military lessons, personal
experiences, and the how leaders’ influences lessen the catastrophe of combat.
"As a total phenomenon its dominant tendencies always make war a remarkable trinity -composed of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity . . . of the play of chance and
probability and of its element of subordination, as an instrument of policy." Clausewitz
Introduction: Since leaders must adapt to the chaos and confusion of war, they use
conceptual frameworks or doctrines to approach the topic. Air Force Doctrine Center
strategists begin with Clausewitz's trinity. Below in the left diagram you can see them
(chance, violence, and reason). These strategists, like Clausewitz, use the example of the
military, the population, and the government. This adaptation then becomes the basis for
other AFDC formulations (see link).
Obsolete View---- Given AFDC’s formulation Colonel Harry Summer (On Strategy:
A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War,(1982) exploits the illustration, not the original
concepts. Thus the original concepts--violent emotion, chance, and rational policy—are
translated to people, army, and government. He then applies this framework to military
operations during the Gulf War (On Strategy II: A Critical Analysis of the Gulf War).
This particular analysis could be titled “Summersian Trinity” and not Clausewitz's.
Christopher Bassford and Edward J. Villacres believe these adaptations compromise
Clausewitz’s ideas (
Relevant View---- Wan example of this claim comes from the categories listed below:
“irrational forces (violent emotion, i.e., primordial violence, hatred, and enmity); nonrational forces (i.e., forces not the product of human thought or intent, such as friction
and the play of chance and probability); and rationality (war's subordination to reason, as
an instrument of policy. Clausewitz then connects each of those forces mainly to one of
three sets of human actors: the people, the army, and the government.” Bassford and
Villacres quote Clausewitz: “(The Consequences for Theory)
War is more than a chameleon. As a total phenomenon its dominant tendencies
always make war a remarkable trinity--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 .Our task therefore is to develop a theory that maintains a balance
between these three tendencies, like an object suspended between three magnets.
Next Bassford and Villacres elaborate. Here is what they write:
1. The people are paired mainly with irrational forces--the
emotions of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity (or, by
implication, the lack thereof--clearly, it is quite possible to
fight and even win wars about which one's people don't give a
damn, especially if that is the case on both sides.)
2. The army (which refers, of course, to military forces in
general) and its commander are paired mainly with the nonrational forces of friction, chance, and probability. Fighting
organizations deal with those factors under the creative
guidance of the commander (and creativity depends on
something more than mere rationality, including, hopefully, the
divine spark of talent or genius).
3. The government is paired mainly with the rational force of
calculation--policy is, ideally, driven by reason. This
corresponds to the famous argument that "war is an instrument
of policy." Clausewitz knew perfectly well, however, that this
ideal of rational policy is not always met: "That [policy] can err,
subserve the ambitions, private interests, and vanity of those in
power is neither here nor there.... here we can only treat policy
as representative of all interests of the community."
Primordial War is both violent and irrational. It differs from other forms of interaction
by this quality—organized violence. Listen to these sound bites by Ed Murrow (see *
below for instructions). He reports as the people in London are experiencing
war firsthand. These sounds are live from house tops and street corners .They are sounds
of Nazi war planes attacking civilian centers. When originally recorded, Americans
heard sounds of pilots fighting the Battle of Britain.
Play of chance and probability These are the non-rational forces. Here is the
nexus between effective military strategists and those less effective. While technology of
weapon systems and organizational structure play a major part here, so does the creativity
and ingenuity of military leaders. Since war is unpredictable only the courageous
thinkers can operate beyond the fog of war. The operational concepts of friction of space
and center of gravity guide the thinking of military innovators. Listen to this sample
recording by Oliver North (use stream or real player)
Policy as Subordination This component is about the politics of war. How the ends
justify the means. How war is an extension of policy. How political rationalism drives
the process of organized violence. Such ideas were collected over 30 years as Clausewitz
tried to understand the nature of war. There are two examples of this component. One is
a PBS recording of Jim Lehrer, Mark Shields, and David Brooks. They discuss the Iraqi
war. The other recording is longer
and more detailed. Quintan Wiktorowica presents his views on the state of war.
Three Objectives:
Understand what Clausewitz meant by the Trinitarian View of War.
Identify strategic military decision-making applications of military power.
Describe the tactical value of these ideas for General Petraeus in war.
Issues for Consideration:
1. Present your own experiences through the lenses of these ideas. What is gained? What is
ignored? What alternative approaches would you use to analyze particular conflicts?
2. Why do you think so much is written about Clausewitz views? Does the advent of
modern technology limit his original ideas? What about particular “small wars” and the
rise of American foreign policies and military engagements?
3. Can you understand the modernization of Army policy any better using these ideas?
What about an integrated command structure of the military? Any creative gains?
4. As a case study describe the rapid promotions of General Petraeus. How could you frame
his accession using any or all of the trinity components of war?
Case Study General Petraeus Web Links: [edit] External links
Official Army biography
"In Company of Soldiers" (March 15, 2004) by Rick Atkinson
"101st Airborne Scores Success in Reconstruction of Northern Iraq" (September 4,
2003) by Michael R. Gordon, The New York Times
"The Story of O" (April 4, 2004) written by Christopher Dickey, The New York
"A Soldier's Reflections on Iraq" (October 1, 2005) Video and audio recordings of
David Petraeus speaking at the 75th Anniversary of the Woodrow Wilson School
at Princeton University
"An Open Mind For A New Army" (October 31, 2005) by Julian E. Barnes,U.S.
News & World Report
"Bush To Name A New General To Oversee Iraq" (January 5, 2006) by Michael
R. Gordon, The New York Times
"Our Man in Iraq" (October 26, 2006) written by Wesley Morgan, The Daily
"FM 3-24 New Army/Marine Counterinsurgency Manual, (December, 2006),
Foreward written by LTG David Petraeus
"Leader of the Fabled 101st to Command in Iraq" (January 5, 2007) by Tom
Bowman, NPR
"Iraq Will Be Petraeus's Knot to Untie" (January 6, 2007) by Rick Atkinson, The
Washington Post
Readings and Writings on Clausewitz
BIBLIOGRAPHY on Clausewitz
Suggested Reading List & Links
LTL Staff (2005). Leader to leader, leadership breakthroughs from West Point, a special
supplement. New York: John Wiley. ISBN 0787981931. (Text prices available
Kets De Vries, M.F.R. (2006). The leader on the couch: A clinical approach to changing
people and organizations. ISBN 0470030798. (Text prices are available online.)
The Difference Maker Leadership expert John Maxwell believes attitude is the one
thing that can make all the difference in your life - and now shows you how you can
make it your best asset. Be one of the first to read John's NEWEST RELEASE!
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership After more than thirty years of serving in
leadership positions and speaking on leadership, author John C. Maxwell is often asked,
"If you were to take everything you've learned about leadership over the years and boil it
down into a short list, what would it be? This book is his answer. Simply and briefly,
Maxwell outlines the essentials of leadership that transcend time, place, culture, and
situation. These basic laws of success can be applied to business and private life, helping
anyone reach their full potential.
“Lead On” (March, 2002) written by Ruth Palombo Weiss TD.
"Crisis Leadership: Planning for the Unthinkable" Ian Mitroff, Wiley Publishing, 2003
"Crisis Leadership" Gene Klann, Center for Creative Leadership, 2003. Nothing tests a
leader like a crisis. While the highly charged and often dramatic events surrounding a
crisis can profoundly affect the people in an organization and even threaten its survival,
there are actions a leader can take before, during and after to reduce the duration and
impact of difficult situations. In this session you will learn that effective crisis leadership
is comprised of three things - communication, clarity of vision and values, and caring
relationships. Leaders who develop, pay attention to, and practice these qualities go a
long way toward handling the human dimension of a crisis. Leaders must be prepared to
manage a crisis not only within their own organization, but also within the greater orbit of
their influence - clients and customers, the surrounding community, stockholders,
suppliers, vendors, local government, concerned organizations, activist groups and the
media. This webinar is designed to help leaders assess their strengths and weaknesses,
learn new competencies and prepare for events that are as unpredictable as they are
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