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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

What of the relationship between the diplomatic and political efforts to achieve national goals and the decision to use force to impose the will of one nation state upon the other in order to achieve strategic or national goals? Are the two concepts mutually exclusive or is Carl von Clausewitz correct with his statement, “War is not a mere act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means. . . . The political objective is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and means can never be considered in isolation from their purpose.” Effective politics cannot occur without the specter of war to back political efforts. This essay will examine the relationship between politics and war by comparing historical precedents to the recent invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan by the United States.

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