Intelligence and National Security Strategy – Reading Review

Patrick M. Cronin, PhD, Clausewitz Condensed.


Patrick Cronin PhD wrote Clausewitz Condensed in 1985 while a defense analyst for the Congressional Research Service for the Library of Congress and a senior analyst for the Center for Naval Analyses . While at the Congressional Research Service, he worked extensively on U.S.-Soviet military balance under the senior specialist for national defense. He earned a bachelors degree from University of Florida and both Masters (1982) and PhD (1984) in international relations from Oxford University England. He was also a commissioned U.S. Naval Reserve Intelligence Officer from 1987-2000. Dr. Cronin was a faculty member at the National Defense University, at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) from 1990- 1997. From 1998 until 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Dr. Cronin is currently the Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

Thesis and Key Arguments

Dr. Cronin’s thesis was to extract the principal thoughts of Clausewitz’ On War which are still relevant to contemporary strategists and present a view on war as a timeless activity steeped more in art than science. Clausewitz had previously broken down the elements and patterns of battle, such as political, social, economic, legal, and technical, while Dr. Cronin summarizes those key arguments into a modern style. Dr. Cronin’s key argument, war is the violent means for the ways of a political purpose to compel an enemy to our ends. A triad of the government, the armed services, and the people are unified under a single purpose in which war is waged. Policymakers need to understand how they can shape in both good and bad military strategy. If the military is to be subordinate to the policymakers, then policymakers need to embrace military theory as guide, not a template, for the plan of battle. Military and policymakers reach a consensus that defense is a stronger tactical means in warfare than offense. Offense compounds the dangerous and sudden actions that must ensure peace, through superiority in numbers, surprise, morale, and will, not additional defensive stalemates. Dr. Cronin continues to emphasize the need for both the soldiers’ morale to kill the enemy’s morale and the commanders’ bold morale to lead soldiers to victory rather than applying bold decisions that lead to the death of our soldiers.


Dr. Cronin expressly chose to not add editorial comments, instead leaving the reader to determine the validity of Clausewitz’ principles.

Author’s Conclusions

Dr. Cronin states that Clausewitz more than any other writer has captures the unchanging elements of war through out his lifetime. Caution should be used since the author biases are based on early 19th century German philosophy, as Clausewitz’ died before the book was published not all the thought are clear of ambiguity and contradiction. Finally, Clausewitz was an infantryman with no discussion of naval powers and without the knowledge of air power. In today’s warfare, On War can be used to guide for strategists to remain versatile and effective to meet the political purpose to which the battle must be fought.

Student’s Review

Considering the intended audience of Military Review, I believe Dr. Cronin correctly brought the strategic challenges to the modern era and I chose the past 100 years for examples. Beginning with World War One in 1917, the U.S. had used political and economic power to stay out of the Great War. Germany rejected U.S. diplomatic request for neutrality and reinstated submarine attacks on U.S. merchant and passenger ships. This decision ultimately influenced the U.S. people to support policymakers and empower the military services for a total victory for peace. The U.S. people, policymakers and the Secretary of War agreed that entering into the second Great War was not in the best interest of the country. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, coupled with Japan’s alliance with Germany could only mean the spread of dictatorships. The U.S. triad was united for the purpose of defeating tyranny. The Korean War began as civil war between the North and South Korea and quickly became a United Nations political mission when the North and South were split between communism and democracy, respectively. Many counties with too many ideological objectives made the full support of U.S. people, policymakers, and the armed service unable to reach an achievable objective, the mission faltered. The policymakers in the Johnson administration sought a U.S military presence in South Vietnam to bring the hostilities to an end, unfortunately for the policy makers, the Tet Offensive was not a U.S. success and the morale of the people and the armed services began a precipitous downward slide. With relative peace until the Persian Gulf War, diplomatic efforts failed to stop the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, the armed forces led by charismatic General Norman Schwarzkopf , galvanized the U.S. people to support the war, the triad was complete, and Iraq was defeated. In the 2003 Iraq War, the U.S. alone issued an ultimatum to Saddam Husain to leave Iraq or the U.S. would begin strategic bombing, the bombing began. Support for the armed services remained high, with overall support from people as mixed in support of the policymakers.



Cronin, Patrick. “Military Review, August 1985.” Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library. July 17, 2009. Accessed August 29, 2015.

“Cronin Patrick M. Bs, Mphil, Phd.” Accessed August 29, 2015.

“Dr. Patrick M. Cronin.” Accessed August 29,


“Iraq War, 2003—2011.” Accessed August 29,


“Milestones: 1914—1920.” Accessed August 29, 2015.

“Milestones: 1937—1945.” Accessed August 29, 2015.

“Milestones: 1945—1952.” Accessed August 29, 2015.

“Milestones: 1961—1968.” Accessed August 29, 2015.

“Milestones: 1961—1968.” Accessed August 29, 2015.

“Milestones: 1989—1992.” Accessed August 29, 2015.

“Patrick M. Cronin.” Accessed August 29, 2015.

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