Date of Graduation

Spring 2011


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Robert Joseph


irregular warfare, regular warfare, principle of destruction, Carl von Clausewitz, T.E. Lawrence, Mao Tse-tung, Ernesto Che Geuvara, guerilla warfare, insurgency, counterinsurgency

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


According to the principle of destruction the best way to achieve victory in war is to disarm the enemy by destroying his forces in battle. However, irregular warfare is commonly assumed to operate through processes that make the principle of destruction irrelevant. An analysis of the writings and military experiences of T.E. Lawrence, Mao Tse-tung and Ernesto "Che” Guevara, three of the 20th century‟s most influential theorists of irregular war, supports the argument that the principle of destruction remains valid in irregular warfare. This conclusion admits of one major exception in conflicts where a sharp asymmetry of interests exists between the belligerent parties, when it is possible for irregulars to achieve victory by exhausting the enemy's political will, rather than by destroying his military forces.


© Benjamin Kane Borgeson

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