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Document Details :
Author(s): VERSTRAETEN, J.
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 11 Issue: 2-3 Date: 2004
Karl von Clausewitz’s magnum opus ‘On War’ continues to be mandatory reading for policy-makers. In the first pages he demonstrates that war is not a game. Taken on its own, as absolute war, it is pure violence. It causes death and destruction and escalates to the extreme unless the wisdom of political rationality keeps the inherent tendency to more violence under control. Only a war subject to political rationality can be limited. But even in the case of prudent political discernment it remains a dangerous reality, particularly when it is waged in a context characterized by vehement emotions such as hatred, frustration and offended religious or national feeling. Vehement emotional undercurrents pour oil on the flames. They can transform a ‘limited’ war into an uncontrollable spiral of violence in which real war ultimately approaches the absolute violence of its abstract nature.