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Theory of War

Clausewitz paradoxical trinity states that there is a strong linkage between the people of a warring country, the military involved in war and the governments of the nations at war. This, he says, is because they unite the nature of war, the conduct of war and the purpose of war.  Clausewitz argued that a strong relationship between the top military commanders and the government is vital for success in war. People form the basis of nature of war, while the military form the basis of conduct of war. The government formulates the purpose of war meaning that most wars are politically motivated. The government’s efficiency in using the military as a form of foreign policies to achieve national policies dictates the purpose of war. In some cases, the commander is a part of the cabinet, so that communication between the government and the military is smooth and efficient. He also acts as an advisor to the government on the way forward in an ongoing war. On the other hand, the commander in charge of the military dictates how war is conducted by managing his military operations. The people determine the nature of war by supporting their government or by being part of the resistant group against the government. This paper analyzes the Napoleonic War based on Clausewitz theory on war on strategic goals, people, army and the government.

Introduction to the Napoleonic War

The Napoleonic War was born out of the desire of people to have order in their countries because the old regime consisted of law codes that were in conflict. The law in Europe reflected traditions that were in conflict which obstructed the national unity and administrative efficiency. Napoleon insisted on the formation of certain laws that formed the basis of his policies. On the one hand, he denied equal treatment of workers, while advocating for equality. Such were his conflicting policies but he managed to earn the respect of the people of Europe through the policies and the success in the battlefield. Napoleon’s ultimate power rested on the sword, and this mesmerized the French people. Napoleon’s only goal was to continue having victories because victory had earned him his reputation, and only victory and glory would maintain him. Napoleon suppressed political liberty while protecting the social gains of the revolution.

Napoleon’s War Strategy

According to Clausewitz, the strategy of war involves using military power to attain the objective of the war. In this regard, the armed forces must be involved together with its principle relations in succeeding in the real activity of war. The strategic goals of Napoleon were to make the people of Europe happy by giving them social freedom, though he arrested anyone who opposed him politically. The Napoleonic War was, therefore, politically motivated where he sought to reduce his opponent’s power of resistance. He laid down strategies on how to capture fortresses and occupy terrains. Napoleon pushed his army so far forward into the territory of the enemy that it could not be ignored. His main aim was to make a decisive battle or its threat a reality. He planned to attack from the interior so as to inflict total defeat on the opposing army. His alternative attack model was to attack from behind enveloping the enemy army, thus severing their communication lines.

According to Clausewitz, strategy follows from the objectives of the state. The relations of the state determine what is to be done by war, while the strategy determines how it is to be done. Clausewitz argues that in this regard, a commander must have more strength in will than in tactics. Napoleon combined the power of strategy with the strength of his will to succeed in his battles. He allowed the people to have apprehensions against going to war and allowed objections to be raised. This does not mean that he agreed with the objections, but it was part of his strategy to make people feel as part of the revolution and the goals towards which it was geared.

Napoleon’s Government and Army

Napoleon was the army and the government simultaneously during revolution. This is because he came up with the policies that would help strengthen France, while advancing self-popularity. For instance, he enforced the economic policy which was geared towards protecting the currency from inflation. He also encouraged trade by giving the industries tariffs and loans which earned him support of the bourgeois. These policies are only performed by a government whose interests are being fought for in a battle. In this case, the interests of Napoleon in the war were to become the ultimate leader of Europe by defeating Spain, Prussia and Russia. Napoleon was also the military/army in the battle because he formulated the strategy of the battle. For instance, he stressed on the importance of a rapid and audacious attack. He is hailed in Europe as the greatest of army commanders which was termed by Corsican in his ‘Corsican adventure’ as the French mastery of Europe. Napoleon anticipated every contingency plan by the enemy and mastered every detail of his planned attacks. This portrayed him as the ultimate army commander. As discussed earlier, the government comes up with the aims of war, which is usually politically motivated. Napoleon steered the aims of revolution towards gaining his ends by using a well thought-out strategy, while rallying the people‘s force behind the war.

People and the Nature of the Napoleonic War

According to Clausewitz, an army commander must be well-versed with the traditions and tendencies of the people, their interests, their habits and peculiar faults and inclinations of those whom he is to command and serve. Napoleon came up with a civil code which defined the rights of the people. Napoleon made provision for religion and gave his subjects (the French people) the freedom of religion. He also came up with economic policies that kept the currency strong and stable for the French people. Napoleon came up with education policies as per the requirements of the people of France.

Napoleon understood the traditional tendencies and practices of the people. He also understood the government of the countries which he came to overthrow through revolution. Napoleon’s codes helped remove feuds motivated by difference in privileges. They also helped remove the interference of religion in matters of state. He brought an illusion that there was equality for all before the law, although he denied the people political and media liberty. With this illusion he knew he could rule the people and win their support as a person by appreciating the social freedom they were given.

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