What is ‘total war’? Stig Forster and Myriam Gessler point out four characteristics of total war: total war aim, that is, unconditional surrender of the enemy; total methods, that is, use of all possible weapons against the enemy regardless of international law and common moral principles; total mobilization of the resources of the state for conducting warfare; and finally, total control over the war effort, that is, centralized guidance. Forster and Gessler, however, warn scholars that total war is an ideal type and it does not exist in empirical reality. Rather the concept is derived from comparative study of historical phenomena. Any given war might approach the ideal type but will never realize it in full....
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