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Ruins of Warsaw's Napoleon Square in the aftermath of World War II Total war Total war is a type of warfare that includes any and all civilian- associated resources and infrastructure as legitimate military targets, mobilises all of the resources of society to fight the war, and gives priority to warfare over non-combatant needs. The term was coined by a general during the American Civil War and has been defined as "A war that is unrestricted in terms of the weapons used, the territory or combatants involved, or the objectives pursued, especially one in which the laws of war are disregarded." [1] In the mid-19th century, scholars identified total war as a separate class of warfare. In a total war, the differentiation between combatants and non-combatants diminishes due to the capacity of opposing sides to consider nearly every human, including non- combatants, as resources that are used in the war effort. [2] Total war is a concept that has been extensively studied by scholars of conflict and war. One of the most notable contributions to this field of research is the work of Stig Förster, who has identified four dimensions of total war: total purposes, total methods, total mobilisation, and total control. Tiziano Peccia has built upon Förster's work by adding a fifth dimension of "total change." Peccia argues that total war not only has a profound impact on the outcome of the conflict but also produces significant changes in the political, cultural, economic, and social realms beyond the end of the conflict. As Peccia puts it, "total war is an earthquake that has the world as its epicenter." [3] [4] The four dimensions of total war identified by Förster are: 1) Total purposes: The aim of continuous growth of the power of the parties involved and hegemonic visions. 2) Total methods: Similar and common methodologies among countries that intend to increase their spheres of influence. 3) Total mobilisation: Inclusion in the conflict of parties not traditionally involved, such as women and children or individuals who are not part of the armed bodies. 4) Total control: Multisectoral centralisation of the powers and orchestration of the activities of the countries in a small circle of dictators or oligarchs, with cross-functional control over education and culture, media/propaganda, economic, and political activities. Peccia's contribution of "total change" adds to this framework by emphasising the long-term effects of total war on society. Characteristics
5) Total change: This includes changes in social attitudes, cultural norms, and political structures, as well as economic and technological developments. In Peccia's view, total war not only transforms the military and political landscape but also has far-reaching and long-time implications for society as a whole. [5] [6] Actions that may characterise the post-19th century concept of total war include: Strategic bombing, as during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War (Operations Barrel Roll, Rolling Thunder and Linebacker II) Blockade and sieging of population centres, as with the Allied blockade of Germany and the Siege of Leningrad during the First and Second World Wars Scorched earth policy, as with the March to the Sea during the American Civil War and the Japanese " Three Alls Policy" during the Second Sino-Japanese War Commerce raiding, tonnage war, and unrestricted submarine warfare, as with privateering, the German U-boat campaigns of the First and Second World Wars, and the United States submarine campaign against Japan during World War II Collective punishment, pacification operations, and reprisals against populations deemed hostile, as with the execution and deportation of suspected Communards following the fall of the 1871 Paris Commune or the German reprisal policy targeting resistance movements, insurgents, and Untermenschen such as in France (e.g. Maillé massacre) and Poland during World War II Industrial warfare, as with all belligerents in their respective home fronts during World War I and World War II The use of civilians and prisoners of war as forced labour for military operations, as with Japan, USSR and Germany's massive use of forced labourers of other nations during World War II (see Slavery in Japan and forced labour under German rule during World War II) [7] Giving no quarter (i.e. take no prisoners), as with Hitler's Commando Order during World War II The phrase "total war" can be traced back to the 1935 publication of German general Erich Ludendorff's World War I memoir, Der totale Krieg ("The total war"). Some authors extend the concept back as far as classic work of Carl von Clausewitz, On War , as "absoluter Krieg" ( absolute war), even though he did not use the term; others interpret Clausewitz differently. [8] Total war also describes the French "guerre à outrance" during the Franco-Prussian War. [9] [10] [11] In his 24 December 1864 letter to his chief of staff during the American Civil War, Union general William Tecumseh Sherman wrote the Union was "not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies," defending Sherman's March to the Sea, the operation that inflicted widespread destruction of infrastructure in Georgia. [12] Background
United States Air Force General Curtis LeMay updated the concept for the nuclear age. In 1949, he first proposed that a total war in the nuclear age would consist of delivering the entire nuclear arsenal in a single overwhelming blow, going as far as "killing a nation". [13] Written by academics at Eastern Michigan University, the Cengage Advantage Books: World History textbook claims that while total war "is traditionally associated with the two global wars of the twentieth century... it would seem that instances of total war predate the twentieth century." They write: As an aggressor nation, the ancient Mongols, no less than the modern Nazis, practiced total war against an enemy by organizing all available resources, including military personnel, non- combatant workers, intelligence, transport, money, and provisions. [14] The Sullivan Expedition of 1779 was an example of total warfare. As Native American and Loyalist forces massacred American farmers, killed livestock and burned buildings in remote frontier areas, General George Washington sent General John Sullivan with 4,000 troops to seek "the total destruction and devastation of their settlements" in upstate New York. There was only one small battle as the expedition devastated "14 towns and most flourishing crops of corn." The Native Americans escaped to Canada where the British fed them; they remained there after the war. [15] [16] [17] Sherman's March to the Sea in the American Civil War—from 15 November 1864, through 21 December 1864—is sometimes considered to be an example of total war, for which Sherman used the term hard war . Some historians challenge this designation, as Sherman's campaign assaulted primarily military targets and Sherman ordered his men to spare civilian homes. [18] In his book, The First Total War: Napoleon's Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know it , David A Bell, a French History professor at Princeton University argues that the French Revolutionary Wars introduced to mainland Europe some of the first concepts of total war, such as mass conscription. [19] [20] He claims that the new republic found itself threatened by a powerful coalition of European nations and used the entire nation's resources in an unprecedented war effort that included levée en masse (mass conscription). By 23 August 1793, the French front line forces grew to some 800,000 with a total of 1.5 million in all services—the first time an army in excess of a million had been mobilised in Western history: History Middle Ages 18th and 19th centuries North America American Civil War Europe
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