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Military Power and the Art of War

The contention of this book is that military power cannot be understood without looking at society as a whole. The idea is in line with Clausewitz and has its roots in the enlightenment thinking of Edward Gibbon and Adam Smith; it was systematically developed by Max Weber and Hans Delbrück, and appears more recently, for example, in the works of Samuel Finer and Michael Howard. The present work stands on the shoulders of such giants. The reasons for reiterating this tradition of thought are twofold. First, if military power depends on the social circumstances that gave it rise, there cannot be one type of military power since there are many types of societies. Nor can one properly assess the military power of the various nations by recourse to quantitative elements alone: clearly one needs to consider qualitative factors as well: never less than in today’s plural as well as global world should this point be forgotten. Secondly, in the literature and in the opinions circulating in the media there is a tendency to “reduce” military power to a single feature: a commander’s stratagem, a tactical expedient, or a particular system of weaponry. More and more frequently of late some technological novelty has been pinpointed as the key determinant of a military outcome. This book is a reminder that complex phenomena require multi-causal explanations, and that even the most sophisticated technology calls for proper organization and wise strategy if it is to be applied successfully.

Author: Filippo Andreatta

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