Publication Date

Spring 5-2023


Helms School of Government


Government: International Studies; Government: Politics and Policy; International Relations


International Relations, China, American Strategy, United States, Military Conflict, Power Projection, Clausewitz, On War, Strategic Competition


Arts and Humanities


In his writing On War, Carl von Clausewitz explained the nonlinear nature of war and the inevitable chaos that occurs during times of conflict. Fundamental to his theory of war is the Clausewitzian Trinity, comprised of three elements: the people, the military, and the government. In the text, he emphasized the intrinsic relationship of these variables, observing that political objectives are the original motives for war. As such, the inherent values of the people will have a direct impact on the success of any war. In an examination of various military conflicts since the time of World War II, this paper will show that distinct objectives with measurable outcomes are fundamental to the success of the endeavor. Looking towards the future, the United States is facing an increasing threat from China. The lessons of history are on China’s side. However, the United States also has a long military history, filled with valuable experience. The United States must continue to adapt and prepare for the future by understanding the enemy and making a concerted effort to project and maintain power.