Containment and intensification in political war : Carl Schmitt and the Clausewitzian heritage
Pankakoski, T. (2017). Containment and intensification in political war : Carl Schmitt and the Clausewitzian heritage. History of European Ideas, 43 (6), 649-673. doi:10.1080/01916599.2016.1234967
Published inHistory of European Ideas
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published by Taylor & Francis. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
This article provides the first comprehensive and chronological analysis of Carl Schmitt’s reception of Carl von Clausewitz. While earlier scholarship has mostly stressed Schmitt’s shift from Clausewitzian ‘instrumentality’ to an ‘existential’ view of war, I note some inherent difficulties in this dichotomy and instead promote the parallel distinction between two argument types: those of containment and intensification. Schmitt theorized both limited political war and the intensification of war out of traditional bounds, and focusing on one should not eclipse the other. Further, both elements are identifiable already in Clausewitz. I analyse Schmitt’s oscillation between containment and intensification arguments chronologically from the mid-1920s to the 1960s. Despite sometimes nominally rejecting Clausewitz’s famous thesis of war as the continuation of politics, Schmitt nevertheless affirmed the idea of war’s political nature. I conclude that Schmitt’s view can be read as a radicalized version of the Clausewitzian political theory of war rather than a strict deviation from it. This becomes evident as soon as we place Schmitt’s partly incoherent observations on Clausewitz in their argumentative contexts. ...