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One may reasonably consider that Clausewitz would view in a similar light the effort of U.S. and allied forces to pursue the guerillas of today — the terrorists — into their own territory in Afghanistan and Iraq where the balance appears to have shifted in favor of the forces with the shorter lines of communication.

As to nuclear war we have no hint of what Clausewitz might have thought. But, as Mr. Strachan points out, Clausewitz did consider the relationship between policy and military action. He sensibly viewed policy — or diplomacy — as the preferred course when no favorable outcome could be predicted from military action.

Clausewitz was a realist and probably would have seen that nuclear, or even conventional, preemption would only work when one party’s attack could eliminate with certainty any possibility of nuclear response. That certainty fades and even disappears as the nuclear facilities on each side multiply. Then carrots, not sticks, become the preferred course.

Clausewitz’s intellectual heirs have a formidable task in putting their minds to work on terrorism and the threat of nuclear war.

David C. Acheson is a retired lawyer and foreign policy analyst and an avid reader of books on the wars of Napoleon.