Tuesday, October 02, 2012

On war; “An act of violence to compel the enemy to do our will.” ~ Carl von Clausewitz 1807

On war

Principal ideas

The young Clausewitz
Key ideas discussed in On War include:
  • the dialectical approach to military analysis
  • the methods of "critical analysis"
  • the nature of the balance-of-power mechanism
  • the relationship between political objectives and military objectives in war
  • the asymmetrical relationship between attack and defense
  • the nature of "military genius" (involving matters of personality and character, beyond intellect)
  • the "fascinating trinity" (wunderliche Dreifaltigkeit) of war
  • philosophical distinctions between "absolute" or "ideal war," and "real war"
  • in "real war," the distinctive poles of a) limited war and b) war to "render the enemy helpless"
  • "war" belonging fundamentally to the social realm—rather than to the realms of art or science
  • "strategy" belonging primarily to the realm of art
  • "tactics" belonging primarily to the realm of science
  • the importance of "moral forces" (more than simply "morale") as opposed to quantifiable physical elements
  • the "military virtues" of professional armies (which do not necessarily trump the rather different virtues of other kinds of fighting forces)
  • conversely, the very real effects of a superiority in numbers and "mass"
  • the essential unpredictability of war
  • the "fog" of war[10]
  • "friction" - the disparity between the ideal performance of units, organisation or systems and their actual performance in real world scenarios (Book I, Chapter VII)
  • strategic and operational "centers of gravity"[11]
  • the "culminating point of the offensive"
  • the "culminating point of victory"


Cupl quotes -

"Do not take the first step without considering the last." - Karl von Clauswitz, On War, 1832

"Machiavelli, who has very sound judgement in military affairs, asserts that it is more difficult to defeat with fresh troops an army which has just been victorious than to defeat it beforehand." - Karl von Clauswitz.


The Principals of War by Claus Von Claueswitz