George Orwell on Politics and War

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George Orwell is not generally remembered for his views on strategy. Nevertheless a careful reading of his written work reveals a coherent appreciation of war’s strategic dimension. For Orwell, war is a necessary adjunct to politics, and the utility of strategic action should be based on rational considerations of cost and benefit. He rejected pacifism and self-imposed restraints on warfare on the basis that such positions proceeded from unexamined emotional commitments, and were neither instrumentally nor morally sound. He also maintained that the enemy’s political values are an essential input into effective strategic calculations. On this latter basis he criticised the strategic prescriptions of H. G. Wells and B. H. Liddell Hart for limited war with Nazi Germany.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-239
Number of pages19
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number2
Early online date11 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


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