War, Statecraft and Sustainability Research

On War, Statecraft and Sustainability

As Clark (2008) points out, sustainability has been defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development as the capability of meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (p. 3). Sustainability is related to the need recognized by nations to conserve finite resources so that they are not depleted for the next generation. Intertwined with environmental sustainability are economic and social goals, as indicated by Kates, Parris and Leiserowitz (2005). Commonly included as some of the social goals in a sustainable culture are equality/equitability and a high quality of public health.

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However, because conflicts arise between peoples over the use of resources, war breaks out not infrequently. War is typically defined as “armed conflict” and stands as a “direct opposition to sustainability” because nothing tends to deplete resources faster than war (Clark, 2008, p. 3). As Jones (2015) war is the inevitable outcome of nations willing to use force to achieve their objectives, which are invariably control or domination of a region, resource or route.

Statecraft is the management or art of conducting the affairs of state. Rhetoric, agenda; social, political and economical platforms; use of diplomacy, use of military, and use of resources—all of this plays a part in the effective demonstration of statecraft. Stillman (2003) notes that statecraft can be informed by deep, cultural ideals and values that administrative bodies within the state personify or subsume and display in their administrative output. Statecraft, in other words, tends to reflect some aspect of the underlying philosophy of a society.

Jomini and Contemporary Times

Antoine Jomini was a Swiss general who served in the Swiss, French and Russian armies at the end of the 18th century and first half of the 19th century. He studied the Napoleonic art of warfare. Jomini’s writings were highly articulate, thoughtful and engaging, and they were used to educate generations of soldiers and leaders at places like the West Point, the famous U.S. Military Academy. Some of

Jomini, like Clausewitz, believed in the strategy of uniting or connecting battles (Bassford, 1993). By linking individual or independent contests, a better understanding of “where and when to fight to realize the purposes of war” (Kelly & Brennan, 2009, p. 12). Jomini likewise believed in a strong connection between politics and war—i.e., in the relationship between statecraft and war. Jomini believed that in war, force should be minimal so as not to deplete one’s own resources. Pressure could be applied in creative ways, including through the intentional use of statecraft, to get the enemy to submit (Nomura, 2012). For this reason, Jomini did not believe that war was an exact science but rather a fluid and dynamic art.

In contemporary times, the concept of war has expanded. Total war, as seen in the U.S. Civil War, WWII, and in today’s proxy wars in the Middle East, is an example of how Jomini’s ideas have had less impact. Jomini stressed, for example, the idea of having “interior lines of communication” (Jones, 1985, p. 21)—but technology made this concept somewhat obsolete. The telegraph and railroad allowed messages and lines to strengthen beyond what Jomini had envisioned. However, his ideas were still influential in terms of minimizing/maximizing force so as to avoid casualties.

War, statecraft and sustainability were linked in the American Civil War, for instance, in the idea that Lincoln expressed towards the South: in order to win the war, the North had to destroy the morale of the South by essentially cutting the region off from the rest of the world. Blockades were established as part of the Anaconda Plan (Office of the Historian, 2018). The North blockaded southern ports so that the Rebels could not import or export materials to sustain their war effort. Lincoln wanted to crush the South by starving them into submission. This idea would have been thoroughly met with approval by Jomini as the Plan did not call for a great deal of expenditure of force or risk too many casualties—yet it was highly effective in achieving the aims of war as far as the North was concerned.


The Anaconda Plan in the American Civil War to Starve and Crush the South


Retrieved from https://history.state.gov/milestones/1861-1865/blockade


In WWII, the Allies applied the same idea in their war against the Axis: Germany was blockaded and Japan’s cities were bombed even though they played no logistical part in the country’s war aims. The idea was to annihilate the country’s morale—just as Sherman had done in the American Civil War during his March to the Sea, laying waste to everything in his path. As Smith (1997) notes, Sherman’s thoughts on total war were supported by his understanding of Jomini.

War, statecraft and sustainability intersect in the concept of total war in that forces are used to subdue the enemy (sustainable warcraft which attacks the sustainability of a society) while the state applies political pressure to surrender, as the Allies did to the Axis powers in Japan. In the Middle East of today, statecraft is used to support the proxy wars in Syria, as the West aims at regime change there and in Iran by supporting rebels and protests and arming and training insurrectionists while also applying economic sanctions so that the countries opposed by the West are essentially cut off from being sustainable. Psychological warfare was developed in WWII to a high degree thanks to C. D. Jackson who was in charge of the Psych Warfare division of the U.S. (Spartacus, 2018).


Table Comparing Theorists.









Should by fluid with battles connected

Continuation of policy through other means

Adopted Jomini’s strategies for naval warfare

Total war, destroy the enemy’s ability to have a sustainable existence

Pscyh warfare is more compelling than military force



Is connected to war; political pressure can be applied

The root of war

Apply the principle of surprise

Politics are secondary to the use of total destruction of enemy’s infrastructure

Politics is pivotal in psych warfare strategy



Economy of force is Key to success; deplete the enemy’s access to this

Economy of force

Economy of force

Crush the enemy’s access to this

More sustainable long-term





Boko Haram is a continuous threat to peace in Northern Nigeria. Forbes (2018) notes that “military efforts to prevent further Boko Haram attacks in the coming months are hugely challenged by the sheer size of the territory in which the group operates and its continued ability to launch attacks.” Yet, problems of corruption and faithlessness to the concept of sustainability and as well as to the important role statecraft and integrity in political leadership are routinely seen as issues in Nigeria’s war against terrorism. For example, Forbes (2018) points out that “ongoing corruption issues will further undermine efforts to defeat the group. Significant resources have been diverted towards military efforts. Nigeria’s state governors in December 2017 approved the withdrawal of $1 billion from the excess crude account to combat Boko Haram through the purchase of equipment, training of military personnel and provision of logistical support. However, there have been several cases of officials siphoning off funds and resources meant for the region.” Jomini recognized this kind of corruption as detrimental to a state’s power and influence in warfare: if the state’s leaders are incapable of providing leadership, morale can be crushed and the effectiveness of warfare is diminished.

Jomini’s ideas of connecting battles so as to know when and where to fight is crucial in Nigeria’s war effort. For example, the expanse in the North in which Boko Haram is dug in is large and a concentration of force should be used by linking the battles instead of viewing them as independent. The more that Nigeria can see how the enemy’s defenses are interconnected, the more it can understand its weaknesses and target appropriately the places where it can have the most impact—whether this is socially, economically or politically. In fact, as Jomini would so, all three are linked and the war is not just fought on the battlefield but also by the political leaders and the financiers of war as well as by the people whose beliefs provide the moral support.

As Tinubu (2017) has pointed out, the theories of Jomini were largely developed for 19th century modes of warfare. Today, warfare is much different because of technological influences and the culture underpinning the statecraft that directs the art of war: “Today, much of the world’s military challenges have little to do with the confrontation of standing army against standing army. You now must adapt your concepts and your very institution to Fourth Generation or Non-trinitarian Warfare. Here, you deal with the intersection of ideology, politics and highly weaponized non-state actors whose membership, tactics and aims are fluid and inconstant” (Tinubu, 2017). The Nigerian military has faced conflict in the Niger Delta and with the Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria. Jomini’s ideas have impacted the fight against Boko Haram in the sense that the need for a just culture and just system of governance is required because statecraft is the essence of the culture. Statecraft prescribes war—and if the culture of the state is corrupted, the wars will be brutal because the state will lead to the rise of extremist reactionaries like Boko Haram. It is necessary to have a just government in order to prevent the rise of violent extremism in the first place (Tinubu, 2017). This is the idea of sustainability as view by Jomini applied to Nigeria’s battle with Boko Haram. As Tinubu (2017) notes, “unjust allocation of resources, widespread poverty caused by an unjust allocation of income, wealth and resources provides fertile ground for extremist ideologies, that run contrary to the inclusive democracy we seek to perfect.” In order to fight the war against Boko Haram, a culture war also has to be fought because culture is what undergirds the military war and use of force. Force is an extension of the will, and if the will is corrupted by bad ideas and bad leaders, the force and might of war will fall into the hands of the enemy. Boko Haram was allowed to rise because of corruption from within the Nigerian state, according to Tinubu (2017). Addressing this issue is the greatest lesson that Nigeria can take from this conflict.

Tinubu (2017) provides another two lessons: “Protracted years of gross mis-governance are a down payment on the rise of extremism. Second, the armed forces may contain violent outbreaks but they cannot fully resolve strife originating from a nation’s political and social imbalances. Some type of political resolution is needed.” This war in Nigeria’s case is not wholly external to the country but rather the outcome of an internal strife within the country’s own socio-economic and political infrastructure and culture. To defeat the enemy of Boko Haram is only one half of the battle. The battle is also internal. It requires the application of statecraft and faithful adherence to the idea of sustainability. Without these two ideas firmly utilized, warfare will continue and enemies like Boko Haram will continue to plague the Nigerian state. The greatest lesson the Nigerian military is, therefore, the need to recognize the value and virtue of containment: the enemy may be external in one sense, but it is internal in another sense and must be battled on both fronts.




Bassford, C. (1993). Jomini and Clausewitz: Their interaction. Retrieved from


Clark, G. E. (2008). War and sustainability: The economic and environmental

costs. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 50(1), 3-4.

Forbes. (2018). Boko Haram continues to drive terrorism. Retrieved from


Jones, F. S. (1985). Analysis and Comparison of the Ideas and Later Influences of Henri

Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz(No. ACSC-85-1370). AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL.

Jones, D. M. (2015). Reason, statecraft and the art of war: a politique

reassessment. Global Discourse, 5(2), 225-235.

Kates, R. W., Parris, T. M., & Leiserowitz, A. A. (2005). What is sustainable

development? Goals, indicators, values, and practice. Environment(Washington DC), 47(3), 8-21.

Kelly, J., & Brennan, M. (2009). alien: how operational art devoured strategy. Army war

coll strategic studies inst Carlisle Barracks Pa. Retrieved from


Nomura, R. C. (2012). Issues in strategic thought: from Clausewitz to al-Qaida (Doctoral

dissertation, Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate School).

Office of the Historian. (2018). Blockade of Confederate Ports. Retrieved from


Smith, M. A. (1997). Sherman’s Unexpected Companions: Marching Through Georgia

With Jomini and Clausewitz. The Georgia Historical Quarterly, 81(1), 1-24.

Spartacus. (2018). C. D. Jackson. Retrieved from


Stillman, R. J. (2003). Twenty–first century United States governance: statecraft as

reform craft and the peculiar governing paradox it perpetuates. Public Administration, 81(1), 19-40.

Tinubu, B. (2017). Strategic Leadership: My Personal Theory And Practice. Retrieved

from https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/01/tinubu-berates-buharis-economic-policy-seeks-review/




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