Date of Graduation
Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies
Defense and Strategic Studies
irregular warfare, regular warfare, principle of destruction, Carl von Clausewitz, T.E. Lawrence, Mao Tse-tung, Ernesto Che Geuvara, guerilla warfare, insurgency, counterinsurgency
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
Borgeson, Benjamin Kane, "The Principle of Destruction in Irregular Warfare: Theory and Practice" (2011). MSU Graduate Theses. 1470.