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Library of Alexandria
It must continually be insisted upon in military history, that general actions, however decisive, are but the functions of campaigns; and that campaigns, in their turn, are but the functions of the political energies of the governments whose armies are engaged. The object of a campaign is invariably a political object, and all its military effort is, or should be, subsidiary to that political object. One human community desires to impose upon the future a political condition which anOther human community rejects; or each is attempting to impose upon the future, conditions irreconcilable one with the Other. Until we know what those conditions are, or what is the political objective of each opponent, we cannot decide upon the success of a campaign, nor give it its true position in history. Thus, to take the simplest and crudest case, a nation or its government determines to annex the territory of a neighbour; that is, to subject a neighbouring community to the laws of the conqueror. That neighbouring community and its government, if they are so old-fashioned as to prefer freedom, will resist by force of arms, and there will follow what is called a “campaign” (a term derived from the French, and signifying a countryside: for countrysides are the theatres of wars). In this campaign the political object of the attempted conquest on the one hand, and of resistance to it on the Other, are the issue. The military aspect of the campaign is subsidiary to its political objects, and we judge of its success or failure not in military but in political terms. The prime military object of a general is to “annihilate” the armed force of his opponents. He may do this by breaking up their organisation and dispersing them, or by compelling the surrender of their arms. He may achieve success in this purely military object in any degree. But if, as an end and consequence of his military success, the political object be not achieved—if, for instance, in the particular case we are considering, the neighbouring community does not in the future obey laws dictated to it by the conqueror, but remains autonomous—then the campaign has failed