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Small wars in the age of Clausewitz: the watershed between partisan war and people's war

Heuser, B. (2010) Small wars in the age of Clausewitz: the watershed between partisan war and people's war. Journal of Strategic Studies, 33 (1). pp. 139-162. ISSN 1743-937X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01402391003603623


Around the time of Clausewitz’s writing, a new element was introduced into partisan warfare: ideology. Previously, under the ancien régime, partisans were what today we would call special forces, light infantry or cavalry, almost always mercenaries, carrying out special operations, while the main action in war took place between regular armies. Clausewitz lectured his students on such ‘small wars’. In the American War of Independence and the resistance against Napoleon and his allies, operations carried out by such partisans merged with counter-revolutionary, nationalist insurgencies, but these Clausewitz analysed in a distinct category, ‘people's war’. Small wars, people's war, etc. should thus not be thought of as monopoly of either the political Right or the Left.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:18795
Uncontrolled Keywords:Small Wars; Insurgencies; Counterinsurgency; Clausewitz; Guerrilla; Partisan Warfare
Additional Information:Free access to the full text of this article is available in the Related URLs field "Publisher". A shorter version of this item was published in German as ‘Clausewitz und der Kleine Krieg’ [Clausewitz and small wars] in Clausewitz Informationen 1 (2005), pp. 35-65.
Publisher:Routledge (Taylor and Francis)

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