The Democratic Warrior: Clausewitz in 2011
The changes since the landmark years of 1989/1991 require a different model of the soldier in democratic societies. Since then, the model of the warrior has gradually been developing, in contrast to the soldier. The warrior has always embodied the difference and distance between soldierly actions and the self-image of a civilian society, while at the same time developing his own warrior code of honor. Some of these approaches, however-and especially in John Keegan and Martin van Creveld-put so much emphasis on the difference from civilian and democratic society that there appears to be no possibility of ever bridging the gap. On the other hand, the decisive problem for the 21st century continues to be integrating the military into and reconnecting it with the standards, values, and interests of a democratic society, while at the same time recognizing its own identity and culture.
A pure adaptation to changes in duties, as in the concept of the "archaic combatant," would not only sever the dynamic bond between the military and society and open up an unbridgeable chasm, but it would also permanently define individual and possibly limited changes. On the other hand, concepts such as the "armed social worker" tend to undervalue the specifics of soldierly action which are the application and threat of force. It's true that in modern armies only a small percentage of the soldiers actually fight. In that respect, the much-trumpeted differentiation of roles is as practical a perspective as multifunctionality, but because of this very differentiation, it can never offer soldiers a relatively consistent meaning or solidify into a social role. On the contrary, in multifunctionality the essential professional and social identity of the soldier seems to vanish. By way of contrast, the concept of the "democratic warrior" is introduced here in an attempt to build a bridge that can both do justice to the soldierly self-image and reconnect it to a democratic society and its political goals in world society. At the same time, we must point out the basic difference between the social roles of the combatant and the warrior. Whereas a combatant embodies only one dimension of soldierly action, the social role of the warrior encompasses a variety of possible duties and differentiations.
In systematic terms, this perspective of reconciling opposite poles is in line with Clausewitz's concept of the "wondrous trinity." Rather than reducing his far-reaching theoretical approach to the famous formula of "war as a continuation of policy by other means," in his "wondrous trinity" he created an arsenal that can basically encompass all types of war. In my interpretation of his trinity, each war is a different historically-based combination of primordial violence, the struggle between two or more opponents, and the membership of the combatants in a comprehensive society-a situation that Clausewitz elucidated with the primacy of politics. The specific form that a war takes is determined by the historical differences in the particular means of violence, the fight, and the particular communities. According to this definition of war by Clausewitz, soldiers themselves must also be able to strike a balance between these three tendencies. In terms of the military's self-image, this means that its soldiers must be capable of exerting or threatening violence, they must be able to fight and, finally, they must act as part of a larger community as well as being perceived as such. For Clausewitz, the larger community was the Prussian state, and at times the Prussian nation. The model for us today is and remains the democratic state-and this community is of existential importance for intervention forces, which are perceived as closely connected to their particular social model.
Especially network structures require a different relationship between those conducting wars and civil society. Such conduct of war is characterized by "loose and diffuse organizational structures" in which the underlying political will and mandate can no longer be imposed down to the lowest level of a hierarchical system, but as in the warfare of partisans, necessarily assumes a high value placed on political content. It is because of the relative independence of soldiers in network-centric warfare that this type of warfare does not require an "archaic combatant," but rather a democratic warrior. In the event of war, the actions of these soldiers are in any case attributed to the political-cultural community for which they are acting. In the case of an "archaic combatant," his actions would be attributed to a body politic that has no stake as a democratic society.
From "soldiers" to "warriors"
To explain this connection between the state and soldiers in terms of Clausewitz, we need to take a look at German history. Often the term soldier is used indiscriminately to describe any bearer of arms. To distinguish them from other arms bearers, soldiers in the narrower sense have only been commonly referred to since the French Revolution. Ideally, soldiers serve the state out of conviction, they defend higher values and identify with the state that they serve. Military service as a soldier is generally linked to state citizenship, and conscription is an outgrowth of the individual citizen's obligation to the state. "Defense of the fatherland is the foundation myth of modern armies" and of the soldier. Naturally, this attribution of meaning does not directly correspond to reality, but besides playing an essential role in the self-image and political formation of soldiers, it is also central to the democratic legitimization of conscription in modern armies. Friedrich Engels already noted that conscription was Prussia's only democratic institution. In revolutionary France, citizenship and membership in the national defense force were seen as two sides of the same coin and related to the concept of the modern nation as a political variable that appointed the people as sovereign.
As a reaction to the Prussian defeats, military reforms were also introduced there that were, on the one hand, guided by the image of the victorious Napoleonic armies and, on the other hand, took into account the conditions peculiar to Prussia. From this developed a specific tension: the entire society was enlisted for the purpose of warfare with the goal of producing the patriotic and willingly self-sacrificing "soldat citoyen." At the same time, however, the political transformation had to remain limited in order to maintain the existing power structure. Prussia was no sovereign nation of citizens, it had no constitution that would have curtailed the monarch's authority and allowed citizens to participate in legislation. But how to achieve a national enthusiasm and sense of self-sacrifice for the nation state as per the French model without an adequate social foundation, i.e. without equality and the possibility of political participation for all citizens? The Prussian military reforms remained inconsistent and half-hearted, although they included some very positive elements, such as the abolishment of dishonorable and inhumane punishments. For the reformers, the only way to deal with the dilemma of needing to mobilize the entire society for the war on the one hand, and not being able to change the existing social structure on the other, was an "educational dictatorship." From now on, the army and civil society would merge in that all (male) citizens would become potential soldiers.
What was the significance of the perspective unity of citizen and soldier-the militarization of society or the civilizing of the military? In Prussia, it could initially be seen as a civilizing of the military because of the abolishment of its especially degrading and savage practices. Over time, however, there was more and more of a militarization of society that Friedrich Meinecke described in hindsight as historically unprecedented. In particular after the successful wars during the founding of the German empire (1864-1871), the Prussian lieutenant "made his way through the world as a young god and the civilian reserve lieutenant as a demi-god." However, the First and Second World Wars were decisive in establishing the image of the soldier as a member of a popular army. Two battles in World War I illustrate two different soldier images: Langemarck and Verdun. In a communiqué from the Supreme Command, the events at Langemarck were described thus: "Young regiments broke forward with the song ‘Deutschland, Deutschland über alles' against the first line of enemy positions and took them." What was suppressed here was the mass slaughter of young soldiers and the fact that this was a defeat. Indeed, only one year later the story was: "The Day of Langemarck will forever remain a day of honor for the German youth. This day saw sheaves of the bloom of our youth slain. But our grief for the bold dead is so splendidly surpassed by the pride in how well they knew how to fight and die." The myth that came out of the battle at Langemarck conjured up a military past that was shaped by the ideal of heroic sacrifice for the Fatherland. It was very different from the Verdun myth. Verdun is the symbol of industrialized and depersonalized war. The initial enthusiasm was gone and now it was only a matter of enduring the effects of mechanized warfare. Neither the Anglo-French offensive on the Somme nor the German offensive at Verdun achieved their goals, but both resulted in battles involving a previously unknown expenditure of soldiers, equipment, munitions, and guns. Within an area of a few square kilometers, hundreds of thousands of people were "processed." The aim of the battles was not primarily to gain territory, but to cause the greatest possible losses to the enemy. The Germans did not celebrate the subsequent military successes of the First World War as a triumph of superior ideals, but considered them a highpoint in modern technological warfare.
The myth created on the soil of Verdun required a new image of the soldier. Under the constant threat of death on the battlefield, the soldier's only choice was to adapt to these circumstances. It seemed that there was no more room for honor, morality, or ideals on the industrialized battlefield of the 20th century. Whereas formerly weapons were at the service of people, from now on people were at the service of weapons. Elements of the Verdun myth were used by Fascism to support the principle of selection: in a situation where fighting seems unavoidable, the ideal soldier is the one who submits to the principles of modern martial force. The laborer-soldier image of the front-line soldier in the storm of steel generated its own amorality that absolutized the fight. For good reason, many soldiers in the German Reich joined in the Second World War without belief in the justness of their country's cause. The combination of rigid modernity and pre-civilized amorality found its gruesome embodiment in the members of the SS.
Following World War II, fundamentally different armed forces and ideas of the "soldier" developed. The soldier became the (democratic) citizen in uniform. According to Wilfried von Bredow, an adequate understanding of the history of the Bundeswehr since its creation in 1956, and of its sociopolitical integration, is not possible unless both are understood to be a consequence of a break with pre-1945 German history when all things military were overemphasized. In "leadership and civic education"-a complete system of measures intended to guarantee the concept of the citizen in uniform in terms its legal status and soldierly self-image at all times-von Bredow sees "one of the Federal Republic of Germany's most innovative and creative political reforms, fully comparable in its significance to the conception of the social market economy." The image of the soldier was now co-determined by a critical public, by the social demystification of the military, by the marginalization and reduction of the armed forces as part of comprehensive changes in the threat and values and, finally, by the democratization and civilization-institutionally fixed but whose enforcement was not without resistance-of the government's instruments of force. Ever since the national defense forces became intervention forces in the 1990s and conscription armies became professional armies, the model of the democratic "citizen in uniform" has been subject to in increased requirement to adapt-a development that had already taken place in the U.S. following the loss of the Vietnam War.
This development reflects the transition from conscription to a professional army as well as a new self-image and growing self-awareness on the part of the arms bearers. If we summarize the many approaches, the warrior is characterized by a strong attachment to values, a clearly defined distance from civilian society, and a high measure of professionalism.. The values represented by warriors do not reflect the values of the particular society or community. They are not politically or ideologically biased, but spring solely from their organization and affiliation, as well as their special capabilities. Their closest counterparts in history are the medieval knights, and how they understood themselves to be warriors from a social elite. John Keegan, one of the propagandists of a new warrior image, explains the rejection of the values of civil society. War reaches into the most secret depths of the human heart, where the ego eliminates rational goals, where pride reigns, where emotions have the upper hand, and instinct rules. One of Keegan's models of the warrior was the Roman centurion. These officers were soldiers through and through. They entertained no expectation of rising to the governing class, their ambitions were entirely limited to those of success within what could be perceived, for the first time in history, as an esteemed and self-sufficient profession. The values of the Roman professional soldiers were of an ideal and not a material nature. According to Keegan, these ideals were those by which their comrades in the modern era also live: pride in a distinctly masculine way of life, the good opinion of comrades, satisfaction in the tokens of professional success, and the expectation of an honorable discharge and retirement.
Malicious, scheming, and womanish-these are the things a warrior should not be. Malicious for a warrior means, for example, weapons that offer an unfair advantage. The poisonous gas first used during World War I filled the soldiers of that time with disgust, they saw it as unchivalrous. This image of the warrior best expresses the aspect of the duel, which is as symmetrical as possible in terms of weapons. The weapon and honor of a warrior elite enter into a direct bond. The weapon of war is wielded only against the soldierly opponent, the honorable enemy. A warrior does not sully his weapon with the blood of a partisan, traitor, or "deceitful wench." Fighting with bows and arrows was especially repulsive because these were a poor man's weapons. Anyone could win with a bow and arrow: the very poorest, "most dishonorable" and most cowardly scoundrel. Despite its clear overvaluing of Medieval knighthood (especially considering the gender-specific valuations), the subject of the warrior's "honor" can play an important role in limiting violence in future conflicts. Regardless of the existence of conventions of war and the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal, current developments worldwide are tantamount to a revocation of limitations on the use of violence. Warriors, on the other hand, follow certain conventions for the sake of "honor": as part of the customs of war followed by warriors with mutual respect for one another, aspects of "conventional" warfare thus arose that-besides the fighting of battles-were based on a dissociation from combatants considered to be illegitimate. Sun Tzu could be a model for this understanding of the warrior, for despite the differences between him and Clausewitz regarding direct and indirect warfare, the two could be seen as complementing one another in the sense that Sun Tzu concentrates more heavily on the actual conduct of war and on those conducting the war, and Clausewitz concentrates more on the relationship between the war and the political-social conditions previous to and resulting from the war.
The democratic warrior in the 21st century
The classic image of war has largely been replaced by a comprehensive image of security in which the military plays a quantitatively smaller but at the same time qualitatively expanded role within the context of the security policy players. Combining the different perspectives in the areas of foreign, economic, development, judicial, domestic, and defense policy permits a global approach to the planning and implementation of conflict resolution, for the purpose of meeting the requirements of complex conflict and crisis scenarios and thus fighting both the causes of a crisis or conflict and its consequences. For this purpose, security-related governmental and non-governmental actors must consciously coordinate, connect, and systematically integrate their goals, processes, structures, and capabilities into their long-term actions. Based on this expansion of the concept of security, a democratic army needs a specific task and function, as explained below, based on the concept of a new containment policy.
When the East-West conflict ended, Francis Fukuyama also announced the "end of history," meaning an end to the practice of war and violence. The triumphant advance of democracy and free markets seemed to be unstoppable, to the point where it appeared as if the twenty-first century would be an age defined by economics and thus, to a large extent, peace. However, these expectations were quickly disappointed, not only because of the ongoing massacres and genocide in Africa, but also by the return of war to Europe (primarily in the former Yugoslavia), together with the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the U.S., the subsequent war in Afghanistan, the Iraq War of 2003, and the uprisings in Iraq since 2003-2004, as well as the war between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia in 2008 and, most recently, escalation of the war in Afghanistan and the threat of war due to the Iranian nuclear program. In a complete reversal of Fukuyama's thesis, a struggle against a new brand of Islamic totalitarianism appears to have begun, in which war and violence are commonly perceived as having an unavoidable role. Both are also perceived as having become "unbounded"-both in a spatial sense, because terrorist attacks are potentially ever-present, and temporally, since no end to these attacks is in sight. One can also speak of a new dimension to violence with respect to its extent and brutality-as exemplified by the extreme violence of the ongoing civil wars in Africa, and by completely new types of threats, such as those from weapons of mass destruction held by terrorist organizations.
These processes of growing disinhibition must be countered by a new containment policy that limits the expansion of war and violence in world society just as George Kennan-who formulated the original approach to the expansion of the USSR in 1946-already emphasized in 1987: "We are going to have to develop a wider concept of what containment means . . . -a concept, in other words, more responsive to the problems of our own time." Although his original concept was reduced to its military aspect by various administrations of the U.S. government, incorporating the concept of common security during the Cold War made it possible to harmonize the actual dual strategy of curbing military expansion on the one hand and establishing mutual cooperation on the other. Contrary to the common view, it was not just the military-technological superiority of the U.S. that led to Gorbachev's reforms. Rather, it was first and foremost the dual strategy of military deterrence plus far-reaching offers of cooperation, Glasnost and Perestroika in the East.
Two basic assumptions underlie this conception. The first assumption is that the limitation of war and violence in world society is so multifaceted and differentiated that a single counter-strategy will not suffice. Rather, an overarching perspective is required for deciding which measures are suitable in individual cases-without being able to exclude the possibility of terrible errors and miscalculations. The second assumption is that in today's world society-as has been the case throughout history-many contrary processes are at work. Thus, a regard for only one counter-strategy can have paradoxical, unanticipated consequences.
This can be clarified using the example of democratization. If a general, worldwide democratization-which, because of the highly symbolic value of democracy, would also have to be implemented through violence-were the only counter-strategy against the processes of disinhibition of both violence and war, the results would almost certainly be counterproductive. This is particularly clear in those cases where fully developed constitutional democracies are not yet present, but societies are undergoing the initial process of transformation. It is much more justified to speak of the antinomies of democratic peace in the latter cases than when referring to developed democracies. Thus it is possible that a one-sided demand for democratic processes without regard for local conditions might, in individual cases, even contribute to the creation of antidemocratic movements. The historical experience that corresponds to this change is found in the developments after the First World War. Here, too, in nearly all of the defeated states, there was initially a process of democratization, and even democratic revolutions. Yet almost all ended in authoritarian or even totalitarian regimes. In Eastern Europe and the Balkans, the "right of national self-determination" proclaimed by U.S. President Wilson was interpreted in a nationalist rather than a democratic way, and as an exclusion of entire populations. Thus, the concept of the democratic warrior is not based on imposing democracy by force but on limiting war and violence in world society in order to enable and maintain democratic self-determination.
Conflicting developments are evident, above all in the following dimensions: globalization versus struggles over identities, locational advantages and interests; high-tech wars versus "combat with knives and machetes" or asymmetrical warfare; the privatization of war and violence versus their re-politicization and re-ideologization as well as "world order wars"; the formation of new regional power centers and superpowers versus the increasing juridification of international relations and the institutionalization of regional and global communities.
Dealing with these opposing developments requires a differentiated counter-strategy of curbing war and violence in world society, of a new containment policy combined with a fostering of good governance. This is the common element shared by humanitarian intervention and the development of a culture of civil conflict management. Add to this measures to limit the causes of war and violence, such as poverty, oppression, and ignorance, and the resolution of regional conflicts in order to construct a "task of the century" facing both the community of states and civil society. Last but not least, restricting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but also of small arms, is of primary importance. The concept of limitation implies that there will be no entirely non-violent societies or even a non-violent world society in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the goal of completely eliminating conflicts as such would ignore the fact that, historically speaking, conflicts and their resolution have often furthered human development toward free and democratic ideals-as per the American struggle for independence and the French Revolution. The primary task of politics and social forces in the 21st century is therefore to radically limit violence and war so that non-violent structures can also be preserved and the mechanisms of the "social world" can have an impact.
As an overarching political perspective, the concept of limiting war and violence in world society is based on the following elements: first, the option of using military force as a last political resort to limit and contain particularly excessive and large-scale violence as well as violence that has the potential to destroy societies; second, the diminishing of conditions that help cause violence, such as poverty and oppression, especially in the economic sphere, and also the recognition of a pluralism of cultures and life styles in world society; third, the development of a "culture" of civil conflict management (concepts that can be summed up with the "civilizational hexagon," global governance and democratic peace); and, fourth, restrictions on the possession and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and small arms. In this context, soldiers have a unique significance and identity as democratic warriors. Not as those who impose democracy or peace by force-this would not only overstretch their capabilities, but would even be counterproductive-but as those who make different forms of democratic self-determination in world society possible by curbing and containing war and violence.
The democratic warrior today
At first glance, the concept of the democratic warrior appears to be self-contradictory. Indeed, it combines seemingly conflicting value systems in a single conception. Based on the example of a magnet, or on the model favored by Clausewitz of the unity of polar opposition between attack and defense, a methodology can already be formulated to explain how this type of conflicted unity is not necessarily a logical opposition, but can also be a dynamic interrelationship on a continuum. At one end of the continuum is democratic equality and non-violent conflict resolution; at the other end is the threat and sometimes violently enforced limitation of war and violence. At one end is a civilized society and at the other is a subsystem of society whose identity is defined by martial honor.
The decisive bond that can link the two poles of this dynamic relationship without eliminating their opposition is the classical republican virtues, which can lay claim to relative validity in both spheres. Since Plato, the classical virtues have been prudence (wisdom), justice, fortitude and temperance. Without a specific ethos aimed at the political functioning of the polity, a state can sustain itself only under the conditions of a dictatorship. If republican virtue, which is oriented toward the polity, cannot be directly reconciled with the liberal democracy and its focus on the individual, it can take on a completely new significance as a bond linking a democratic society to democratic warriors. Thus, for Machiavelli, republican virtue already guaranteed both external and internal freedom. In this respect, the necessary though not yet adequate condition of the democratic warrior is to be likewise a republican soldier. Add to this the limitation of war and violence in world society in order to make democratic societies possible. A renewal of republican virtue is the link between liberal-democratic society and a warrior ethos. This conception is the direct result of an application of Clausewitz's wondrous trinity of war to the definition of the warrior identity.