Today, the House of Representatives approved a bill put forward by President Obama in favor of arming and training Syrian rebels against ISIS. This is effectively an act of war against the terrorist group ISIS. To quote Carl von Clausewitz, ” War is the continuation of politics by other means.”. This quote, along with another by Thucydides, “Everyone fights for fear, honor, or interest”, can be used to explain the House’s and President Obama’s actions today.
If the House continued to allow ISIS’s acts of terrorism against the United States of America, as well as its threats against the American public, go unchallenged, then this could be taken for weakness by others powers in the world. You could almost say this bill is in response to a fear of being perceived as weak by other countries and groups. Or even that the House and President Obama are honor bound to respond to ISIS, as America is a world superpower. So is Thucydides right, and the House and President are preparing for war out of fear and honor? I, for one, agree with Thucydides. The only reason why the House would agree to the President’s proposal is out of a sense of fear that this, if unchallenged, could result in the floodgates being opened, as well as the honor of the American people, the American dream and ideals, are being impugned by ISIS’s acts and threats.
This continuation of politics through other means, namely war, is classic von Clausewitz theory. Politically, this bill is genius in the fact that it is a forceful response to ISIS, while also preventing the United States from getting its own hands dirty, so to speak, by sending more of its own Armed Forces into the Middle East. This effectively continues the politics of confronting ISIS in a way that prevents another Iraq-Afghanistan war from happening for the moment. Also, it allows the House, President, and Senate to redirect their focus to other matters outside of ISIS for the moment. This political maneuvering is very adept on the House and President’s part. von Clausewitz’s influence on the political thinking of the House and President can’t be denied in this bill.
To conclude, this bill put forth by the President, and approved by the House, has its roots set in von Clausewitz and Thucydides’s theories. This bill is a continuation of politics through other means, chiefly war, and the reasons behind this bill, be they fear, honor, or interest, shows the influence of von Clausewitz and Thucydides on modern day politics. Through von Clausewitz and Thucydides’s ideas, some explanations can be drawn as to why the House and President took the actions they did today.