B War as an Instrument of Policy

Having made the requisite examination on both sides of that state of antagonism in which the nature of war stands with relation to other interests of men individually and of the bond of society, in order not to neglect any of the opposing elements -- an antagonism which is founded in our own nature, and which, therefore, no philosophy can unravel -- we shall now look for that unity into which, in practical life, these antagonistic elements combine themselves by partly neutralising each other.
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Now, this unity is the conception that War is only a part of political intercourse, therefore by no means an independent thing in itself.

We know, certainly, that war is only called forth through the political intercourse of governments and nations; but in general it is supposed that such intercourse is broken off by war, and that a totally different state of things ensues, subject to no laws but its own.

We maintain, on the contrary, that war is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse, with a mixture of other means. We say mixed with other means in order thereby to maintain at the same time that this political intercourse does not cease by the war itself, is not changed into something quite different, but that, in its essence, it continues to exist, whatever may be the form of the means which it uses, and that the chief lines on which the events of the war progress, and to which they are attached, are only the general features of policy which run all through the war until peace takes place. And how can we conceive it to be otherwise? Does the cessation of diplomatic notes stop the political relations between different nations and governments? Is not war merely another kind of writing and language for political thoughts? It has certainly a grammar of its own, but its logic is not peculiar to itself.

Accordingly, war can never be separated from political intercourse, and if, in the consideration of the matter, this is done in any way, all the threads of the different relations are, to a certain extent, broken, and we have before us a senseless thing without an object.

This kind of idea would be indispensable even if war was perfect war, the perfectly unbridled element of hostility, for all the circumstances on which it rests, and which determine its leading features, viz., our own power, the enemy’s power, allies on both sides, the characteristics of the people and their governments respectively, etc., as enumerated in the first chapter of the first book -- are they not of a political nature, and are they not so intimately connected with the whole political intercourse that it is impossible to separate them? But this view is doubly indispensable if we reflect that real war is no such consistent effort tending to an extreme, as it should be according to the abstract idea, but a half-and-half thing, a contradiction in itself; that, as such, it cannot follow its own laws, but must be looked upon as a part of another whole -- and this whole is policy.

Plicy in making use of war avoids all those rigorous conclusions which proceed from its nature; it troubles itself little about final possibilities, confining its attention to immediate probabilities. If such uncertainty in the whole action ensues therefrom, if it thereby becomes a sort of game, the policy of each Cabinet places its confidence in the belief that in this game it will surpass its neighbour in skill and sharpsightedness.

Thus policy makes out of the all-overpowering element of war a mere instrument, changes the tremendous battlesword, which should be lifted with both hands and the whole power of the body to strike once for all, into a light handy weapon, which is even sometimes nothing more than a rapier to exchange thrusts and feints and parries.

Thus the contradictions in which man, naturally timid, becomes involved by war may be solved, if we choose to accept this as a solution.

If war belongs to policy, it will naturally take its character from thence. If policy is grand and powerful, so also will be the war, and this may be carried to the point at which war attains to its absolute form.

In this way of viewing the subject, therefore, we need not shut out of sight the absolute form of war, we rather keep it continually in view in the background.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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