Type of Document Thesis Author Karnisky, Robert Brian URN etd-07082007-104700 Title On War and the Winter War Degree Master of Arts Department History, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Jonathan Grant Committee Chair James P. Jones Committee Member Michael Creswell Committee Member Keywords
- Russo-Finnish War
Date of Defense 2007-06-29 Availability unrestricted AbstractRenowned for its heroism, intrigue, pathos, and freezing cold, the compelling story of the Russo-Finnish War, in which “tiny” Finland repulsed a much larger Soviet invasion force, has been thoroughly studied and recorded. Less well-researched are the influences of military strategy on the generals in that war. The conflict provides many examples of the theories on warfare advanced by Carl Philipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz in his book, Vom Kriege, first published in 1832, making it an excellent teaching tool for military scholars.
Clausewitz proposed that any war could be understood according to his theories. While his book is regarded as a classic reference on war, few authors have actually applied his “trinitarian” analysis to a particular war, and none have examined the Russo-Finnish War in the scholarly fashion he recommends. The mistaken impression of unequal forces in the war is reconfigured as an asymmetry across his three interrelated categories: chance and probability, rational policy, and primordial violence. Closer investigation reveals that the so-called “Finnish Miracle” was no miracle at all, but an understandable outcome, clear enough to preclude any need to postulate miracles.
Numerous subtopics continually resurface here. The degree to which Prusso-German military concepts, not only those of Clausewitz, affected the conduct of both sides in the war receives attention, as do Soviet leader Josef Stalin’s ideologically-based attempts to purge their influence from the Red Army. The genius of the Finnish commander, Baron Field Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, and the courage of the Finns cannot be overlooked. Neither can the looming threat of Nazi Germany, nor the hesitancy of the overly cautious Western democracies to intervene. Using the trinitarian method to untangle this complex web of competing stratagems and policies, the author reveals why and how the war followed the course it did.
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