One of the staff at my school (King’s College, London) recently published a paper that used Clausewitzian definitions of war to declaim that there has been no cyberwar, cyberwar is not happening now, and cyberwar is unlikely to occur in the future. Of course it is easy to prove a point if you control the definitions and I will stipulate that the idea of two nations engaging in purely network and computer based attacks would result in nothing but fodder for cyber pundits and tech journalists.
But warfare has seen many more permutations throughout history than even Clausewitz may have been exposed to. How would Clausewitz have treated India’s successful pacifist revolt? Would he have said you can’t wage a war by fasting? What about asymmetric warfare – a topic that most academic institutions, including King’s College, are focused on. Or psychological warfare? Clausewitz pre-dated the telegraph (invented six years after his death) let alone radio, television, and the Internet. Could Clausewitz have defined the 50 year protracted Cold War which entailed the largest arms build up ever? Arms that were never used.