The Maginot Line was arguably the most sophisticated system of fortifications in history. Kilometers thick at points, it had observation posts, anti-tank ditches, fortresses with retractable turrets, flood zones, and thousands of bunkers. Contrary to the way it is often described in history books, it wasn’t irrelevant. It blocked an invasion route through northern France, including and especially Alsace-Lorraine, which France had fought for at great cost. It simply wasn’t as relevant, or relevant in the way its designers intended, after the character of war changed.
War has an unchanging nature. War is violent, interactive, and fundamentally political. War’s character, by contrast, changes, and reflects how technology, law, ethics, and many other factors influence combatants’ use of violence to create political outcomes. The character of war is a semi-regular topic of discussion among military theorists, and one that has an unfortunate tendency to descend into esoteric arguments that are fascinating