Character of the Strategic Defensive
Too Long; Didn't ReadWe have already explained what the defensive is generally, namely, nothing more than a stronger form of carrying on war, by means of which we endeavour to wrest a victory, in order, after having gained a superiority, to pass over to the offensive, that is to the positive object of war.
Even if the intention of a war is only the maintenance of the existing situation of things, the status quo, still a mere parrying of a blow is something quite contradictory to the conception of the term war, because the conduct of war is unquestionably no mere state of endurance. If the defender has obtained an important advantage, then the defensive form has done its part, and under the protection of this success he must give back the blow, otherwise he exposes himself to certain destruction; common sense points out that iron should be struck while it is hot, that we should use the advantage gained to guard against a second attack. How, when and where this reaction shall commence is subject certainly to a number of other conditions, which we can only explain hereafter. For the present we keep to this, that we must always consider this transition to an offensive return as a natural tendency of the defensive, therefore as an essential element of the same, and always conclude that there is something wrong in the management of a war when a victory gained through the defensive form is not turned to good account in any manner, but allowed to wither away.