I have new research out with the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute that looks at operations in Kosovo in 1999 to 2000. The purpose of this series is to provide case studies for professional military education, specifically to examine how conditions and politics drive operational design. It then assesses how the design is executed and what that meant for the long-term stability of the target state.
It was an interesting exercise to go through, if a bit depressing. Kosovo is generally considered a relative success in the stability operations world, but that was in spite of the planning and not because of it. The whole story does not cast senior military leaders at the time in a good light and any successes that could be claimed were almost entirely due to experienced (recently in Bosnia) leaders on the ground making it up as they went along.
Even more depressing, every lesson that could have been learned here was completely forgotten in 2003. Or ignored, rather. But that seems to be an institutional habit in the U.S. Army.
This semester I'm teaching International Security Politics at the Elliott School. It's a survey course and one of the sessions is dedicated to classical texts. If you know me at all, you know that I'm going to spend most of that session on Clausewitz. As I was preparing for class this week, I was rereading the first chapter of On War - probably a little more closely than normal - when I noticed that this chapter discusses each of the causes of war under a bargaining model.
For those of you who aren't political scientists, the bargaining model suggests that in any conflict there is some overlapping area of where the two sides could avoid war. James Fearon's listed three cases where war occurs anyway under this model: private information and incentives to misrepresent, commitment problems, and issue indivisibilities.
And there in Book I, Chapter One, written 160 years earlier, are all three of these reasons for why war occurs or doesn't. Section 18 on imperfect knowledge is all about private information. Sections 13 and 16 cover commitment problems. To a certain extent, Section 15 and "polarity" closely resemble the ideas in issue indivisibility.* Certainly, Clausewitz is taking a different approach than Fearon with his focus on the suspension of military action, but the concepts are highly related.
Because I love when Clausewitz relates to my primary work, I tweeted about this. Lindsay Cohn at the Naval War College has some related research coming out soon and also pointed me to Dan Reiter's references to Clausewitz in his "Exploring the Bargaining Model of War."
* Polarity is potentially not quite the same meaning as indivisibility, but Clausewitz never wrote the chapter he promised on the topic. But the stuff before getting to the attack/defense dialectic hints at a synonymous meaning at the war level that could be extrapolated to the political level. This discussion probably warrants significant treatment on its own with Aron's commentary as a good starting point. Funnily enough, Fearon almost equally hand-waves issue indivisibility.