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Dr Jan Willem Honig

Senior lecturer


honigDepartment of War Studies


Room K6.41

Tel: 020 7848 7285


Office hours: Fridays 11.30 -13.00 or by appointment



I  received degrees in history and medieval history from the University of Amsterdam and hold a PhD in War Studies from the University of London. Between 2007 and 2011, I was on loan from the Department of War Studies to the Swedish National Defence College in Stockholm where I was the first holder of the chair in military strategy. I remain a visiting professor there and also hold a visiting position at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University. I taught for many years at the Royal College for Defence Studies in London and offered a postgraduate course on ‘Contemporary War and the Liberal Conscience’ at the Maxwell School for Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

The late Tony Judt invited me to spend a year as a senior visiting fellow at the Remarque Institute, New York University. During that time, I was also a visiting fellow at Center of International Studies at Princeton University. Earlier in my career, I was a recipient of a John D. Catherine T. MacArthur Postdoctoral Fellowship and taught at the University of Utrecht and New York University. Between 1990 and 1992, I was a Research Associate at the Institute for East-West Security Studies in New York, NATO Research Fellow 1987–1988 and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Scholar from 1985–1987.

Research Interests
  • The strategic relationship between politics and war
  • Western strategic thought and practice from the Middle Ages to the present
  • The theories of Clausewitz and their influence
  • Post-Second World War European defence and security policy-making, with a special emphasis on smaller countries

My most recent book is a volume, edited with Andreas Herberg-Rothe and Daniel Moran, on ‘Clausewitz: The State and War’, which was published by the prestigious German political science publisher Franz Steiner in Stuttgart in August 2011. I will be publishing an edition of Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’ with Barnes & Noble in New York and a major reappraisal of Medieval strategy in the April issue of the journal ‘War in History’. Colin Gray described the latter as ‘an outstanding piece of work … genuinely original and innovative and marks out Honig as an intellectual leader in our discourse on strategy.’

I am co- the author, with Norbert Both, of Srebrenica: Record of a War Crime (New York and London: Penguin, 1997; German, Dutch, Czech, Serbian and Bosnian translations). William Shawcross hailed this study in The Sunday Times as ‘a stunning, even brilliant book’. The Times described it as ‘an unusually good book’. It was shortlisted for the George Orwell Prize.

For a full list of publications please download the PDf dochere or go to the Research Portal


I currently teach and convene the following modules:


4SSW2019 Art of War


7SSWM100 Approaches to War (co-convenor)

PhD Supervision

I am interested in supervising theses on topics related to strategy broadly defined. Particular ares of interest are the relationship between strategic ideas and practice, the ideas of Clausewitz and their reception, and Medieval warfare.

Current Thesis Supervision
  • Youri Cormier, ‘The Dialectics of War in Hegel and Clausewitz’
  • Deborah Hanagan, ‘NATO and Coalition Warfare in Afghanistan, 2001–2011’
  • Gunilla Engvall, ‘Reframing Intelligence Analysis: Policy, Discourses and Knowledge’ (Swedish National Defence College and Örebro University)
  • Magnus Johnsson, ‘Street-level Bureaucracy, Professionalism and War: Understanding the the Formation of Force Conduct in Contemporary Counterinsurgency Operations’ (Swedish National Defence College and Uppsala University)
Successful Theses Previously Supervised
  • Nathalie Wlodarczyk, ‘Magic and War: The Role of Ritual and Traditional Belief in the Kamajor Civil Defence Forces in Sierra Leone and Beyond’ published as Magic and Warfare: Appearance and Reality in Contemporary African Conflict and Beyond (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) (recipient of three-year King’s College London School of Social Sciences and Public Policy Scholarship)
  • Jan Ångström, ‘International Relations Theory and the Problem of International Order after the Cold War’ to be published as International Relations Theory and Internal Order (New York: SUNY Press, forthcoming)
  • Efstathios Fakiolas, ‘The Grand Strategy of Small States: The Case of Greece’s Territorial Enlargement, 1909–1920’ published as How A Small State Expands: Grand Strategy and Greece’s Territorial Expansion in the Balkans and Asia Minor (New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2012)
  • David Whetham, ‘Unorthodox Warfare in the Age of Chivalry: Surprise and Deception in the Hundred Years’ War’ published as Just Wars and Moral Victories: Surprise, Deception and the Normative Framework of European War in the Later Middle Ages (Leiden: Brill, 2009)
  • Isabelle Duyvesteyn, ‘The Political Dynamics of Civil War: A Structured Focused Comparison of the Liberian (1989–1997) and Somali (1988–1995)’ published as Clausewitz and African Wars: Politics and Strategy in Liberia and Somalia (London: Frank Cass, 2005)
  • David Trim, ‘Fighting “Jacob’s Wars”. The Employment of English Mercenaries in the European Wars of Religion: France and the Netherlands, 1562–1610’ (recipient of three-year AHRB Scholarship)
Expertise and Public Engagement

I am currently writing a book for Cambridge University Press which seeks to uncover what we in the West have come to understand by ‘winning wars’ and how we think the use of force generates desired political effects. This book project is part of a major £750,000 research programme funded by the Swedish Armed Forces on ‘Organisational Culture, Norms and Modern Warfare’, which is run from the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University.

In 2010, I was awarded, with Dr Jann Kleffner and Dr Lisa Hultman of the Swedish National Defence College, a three-year, £240,000 grant from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) for a multidisciplinary project on organised armed groups. My part of the project focuses on the issue how early modern European non-state based organised armed groups became subject to a regimen of rules, conventions and restraints.

A third project, due for completion soon is an evaluation of the strategic performance of the Swedish-Finnish Provincial Reconstruction Team in northern Afghanistan.

My commentary on international and strategic affairs has appeared in newspapers and current affairs magazines across Europe, including in the Netherlands (Elsevier, Vrij Nederland, De Volkskrant, NRC/Handelsblad, Trouw, Het Parool), Sweden (Svenska Dagbladet), Finland, Austria and the UK. I have also appeared frequently on radio and television in the US, UK, Canada and many other European countries. My contributions to television documentaries are numerous and range from medieval warfare to modern war crimes. 

Presentations and Talks
  • ‘Total War: From Clausewitz to Ludendorff’, Paper Presented at the International Forum on War History at the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS), Tokyo, 14 September 2011
  • ‘Srebrenica and the Responsibility to Protect’, Public Lecture at the Hochschule Fulda, 13 May 2011
  • ‘An Iconography of Wars’ Endings’, Paper Presented at the ‘Normative Orders’ Exzellenzcluster, Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main, 12 May 2011 and Department for Peace and Conflict Studies, Uppsala University, 14 October 2010
  • Moderator & Organiser, Stockholm Sea Power Conference, ‘Maritime Strategy in the 21st Century’, Organised by Swedish National Defence College in cooperation with Groupe Thétys, Paris and the Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies, JSCSC, Shrivenham, Stockholm, 3–4 May 2011
  • ‘Translating Clausewitz’s Early Writings’, Presentation at a Workshop ‘Clausewitz On Small Wars’, Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Washington DC, 5 April 2011
  • ‘The Use(fulness) of Force and the Diversity of Peace in Contemporary Conflicts’, Presentation at ‘Civil-Military Relations in Peace Support Operations’ Seminar, Organised by the Sociology Team, Swedish National Defence College, 28 January 2011
  • ‘Deterrence and Norms’, Paper Presented at a Workshop on ‘Deterrence’ Organised by SNDC, the Centre for Defence Studies and the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, London, 25 May 2010
  • ‘Peacebuilding and the Use of Force’, Paper Presented at the International Seminar ‘Europe and Latin America in Peace Operations: Comparative Perspectives and Practices’, Institute of International Relations (IRI), Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) and Swedish National Defence College, Rio de Janeiro, 14–15 April 2010
  • ‘Clausewitz and the Politics of Early Modern Warfare’, Paper Presented at the Joint Seminar in International Relations, Swedish Institute for International Affairs and Swedish National Defence College, Stockholm, 18 March 2010

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