June 20, 2017
Respecting Strategic Agency: On the Categorization of War in Strategy
Many—perhaps most—strategists prefer to think about past, present, and future war in terms of categories. Whether in retrospect, in contemporary experience, or in anticipation, they define war by its generalized character. These strategists arguably include Carl von Clausewitz himself, who suggested that “every age had its own kind of war, its own limiting conditions, and its own peculiar preconceptions. Each period, therefore, would have held to its own theory of war.”1 Due to this tendency of thinking in categories, strategic studies is often washed by recurring tides of jargon. The current fad in terminology is gray zone wars. Often, these faddish terms actually serve to label and relabel the same observed phenomenon.