A few months ago I posted a link to an article I published on smallwarsjournal.com, in which I argued that the principle of destruction – as defined by Clausewitz – constitutes an important continuity between regular and irregular warfare. To achieve victory, a guerrilla movement must be able to defeat its enemy in battle; in essence the object of guerrilla warfare is to build enough strength to shed its guerrilla nature and transform into regular warfare, a process Mao called “protracted war.” The major exception occurs in situations where the enemy belligerent has only a secondary or tertiary interest in the conflict, and it is therefore possible to defeat him by exhausting his political will to continue fighting with constant guerrilla warfare.
Thus, irregular warfare can achieve the political object by one of two paths: protracted war, or political exhaustion. I created a chart to visually represent these two simple processes of irregular warfare, but I did not include it with the article:
Of course, political exhaustion is not a strategy exclusive to irregular warfare; Hans Delbucke noted that strategies can be divided according to the categories of annihilation and exhaustion, and that holds true for all warfare.