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Politics and War

Updated: Apr 30, 2022

In order to understand Battle For Hurungwe, and indeed revolutions and war around the world, it is essential to grasp that "politics is war without bloodshed and war is politics with bloodshed" (Mao Zedong's Little Red Book pp 58-9). All wars are political by nature.

In other words, war is a continuation of politics and the political precedes the military. When political negotiations breakdown, politicians declare war in order to remove or address the obstacles. These obstacles stand in the way of the politicians (often latent) ambitions and agendas. War continues until the obstacles are removed and the politicians negotiate peace. The Commander in Chief is generally the leading politician and not the commander of the military. For example, in the Rhodesian Civil War the prime minister Ian Smith was the Commander in Chief. Similarly, in the present Russia/Ukraine war, in overall command are Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy respectively. In the America and the UK Joe Biden and Boris Johnson respectively are the commander's in chief. Clearly war is political by nature and the military is under the command of the political.

Why is this significant? Because the political strategic aim dictates the way the war is fought, the desired strategic outcomes, the tactics employed to achieve it, and the allocation of resources to support it. The strategic aim of the military comes from the political strategic aim and supports the Government in achieving it.

The foot soldier is propagated to fight for a political agenda. Whilst the politicians strive to achieve their political objectives, the soldier "lays down his life" in the struggle to remove the obstacles. In short, the military is deployed to achieve the political aims and objectives, irrespective of the individual sacrifices. It is said that one death is a tragedy whilst many deaths are a statistic.

In the Rhodesian Civil War, what was the political strategic aim. Was there one? What was the strategic aim of Combined Operations? Was there one? It's in the book.

The link between political agendas, the military and the people, the process of the three becoming one, is vital to comprehending successful counter-revolution and mass-mobilisation strategies. It's in the book.

In my opinion, success or failure should be laid at the feet of the overall commander.

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Book Review Neil Petrie

Battle for Hurungwe, by John Padbury is essential reading for those interested in the Rhodesian conflict, irregular warfare and national strategy. It is a personal but professionally produced work cov


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