Two centuries after Carl von Clausewitz wrote On War, it lines the shelves of military colleges around the world and even showed up in an Al Qaeda hideout. Though it has shaped much of the common parlance on the subject, On War is perceived by many as a “metaphysical fog,” widely known but hardly read. In War as Paradox, Youri Cormier lifts the fog on this iconic work by explaining its philosophical underpinnings. Building up a genealogy of dialectical war theory and integrating Hegel with Clausewitz as a co-founders of the method, Cormier uncovers a common logic that shaped the fighting doctrines and ethics of modern war. He explains how Hegel and Clausewitz converged on method, but nonetheless arrived at opposite ethics and military doctrines. Ultimately, Cormier seeks out the limits to dialectical war theory and explores the greater paradoxes the method reveals: can so-called “rational” theories of war hold up under the pressures of irrational propositions, such as lone-wolf attacks, the circular logic of a “war to end all wars,” or the apparent folly of mutually assured destruction” Since the Second World War, commentators have described war as obsolete. War as Paradox argues that dialectical war theory may be the key to understanding why, despite this, it continues.
Youri Cormier is a lecturer/assistant professor (contractual) at the Royal Military Colleges of Canada.
?Cormier ably defends an interesting and provocative thesis challenging the received wisdom that Kant and especially Hegel had little or no important impact on Clausewitz. Not only does the text include detailed scholarship on Clausewitz, but Cormier also extends his thesis to the domains of communist and anarchist appropriations of Clausewitz and Hegel. It concludes with an informative and lively epilogue exploring contemporary implications for war theory. The text is interesting, engaging, and full of insights not only regarding these key trajectories, but many other matters as well — an original, thoughtful, and well-conceived book.” Bruce Gilbert, Bishop's University
"Cormier makes a strong case that Clausewitz's dialectical thinking was derived from Hegel." Canadian Military Journal
"Scholars of Clausewitz, historians, and philosophers will find this volume a fascinating argument about the influence of Kant and Hegel on war theory generally and on Clausewitz's work in particular." The Strategy Bridge
"An interesting book ... his discussion on Hegel is illuminating and direct. ... a thoughtful, well-argued contribution. Recommended." Choice
?Cormier has written an intriguing dissection of dialectical war theory that students of philosophy and ethics will find indispensable.” Antulio Echevarria, US Army War College