Thomas Hobbes as Strategist

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Hobbes’ relevance to the concerns of strategy has gone unappreciated. He is, after all, interested in escaping the condition of war, rather than exploiting its political utility. And yet, exactly because of this, Leviathan addresses the principal difficulty with strategic deliberation—which is the epistemic deficit that attends human interaction, encouraging anticipatory violence. As the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz observed, minimizing the costs of war involves identifying opportunities for exercising mutual restraint over its conduct. And achieving this requires that the aforementioned epistemic deficit be ameliorated. For Hobbes, the sovereign state achieves this for its citizens; but he also considers other solutions in the context of relations between such states. The resulting insights are relevant to matters such as nuclear deterrence, and recent stability operations in the Middle East.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDefence Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Oct 2020


  • Clausewitz; Hobbes; Leviathan; strategy; war


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