In the latter year, the outbreak of several revolutions around Europe and a crisis in Poland appeared to presage another major European war. Clausewitz was appointed chief-of-staff to the only army Prussia was able to mobilize, which was sent to the Polish border. He subsequently died in a cholera outbreak in His magnum opus on the philosophy of war was written during this period, and was published posthumously by his widow in Although Carl von Clausewitz participated in many military campaigns, he was primarily a military theorist interested in the examination of war.
He wrote a careful, systematic, philosophical examination of war in all its aspects, as he saw it and taught it.
The result was his principal work, On War, the West's premier work on the philosophy of war. His examination was so carefully considered that it was only partially completed by the time of his death on November 16, Other soldiers before this time had written treatises on various military subjects, but none undertook a great philosophical examination of war on the scale of Clausewitz's and Tolstoy 's, both of which were inspired by the events of the Napoleonic Era. Clausewitz's work is still studied today, demonstrating its continued relevance.
Lynn Montross writing on that topic in War Through the Ages said; "This outcome … may be explained by the fact that Jomini produced a system of war, Clausewitz a philosophy. The one has been outdated by new weapons, the other still influences the strategy behind those weapons. Clausewitz introduced systematic philosophical contemplation into Western military thinking, with powerful implications not only for historical and analytical writing but for practical policy, military instruction, and operational planning.
Vom Kriege On War is a long and intricate investigation of Clausewitz's observations based on his own experience in the Wars of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars and on considerable historical research into those wars and others. It is shaped not only by purely military and political considerations but by Clausewitz's strong interests in art, science, and education.
Clausewitz used a dialectical method to construct his argument, leading to frequent modern misinterpretation. One of the main sources of confusion about Clausewitz's approach lies in his dialectical method of presentation. It is the antithesis in a dialectical argument whose thesis is the point—made earlier in the analysis—that "war is nothing but a duel [or wrestling match, a better translation of the German Zweikampf ] on a larger scale. This synthesis lies in his "fascinating trinity" [wunderliche Dreifaltigkeit]: a dynamic, inherently unstable interaction of the forces of violent emotion, chance, and rational calculation.
Another example of this confusion is the idea that Clausewitz was a proponent of total war as used in the Third Reich's propaganda in the s. He did not coin the phrase as an ideological ideal—indeed, Clausewitz does not use the term "total war" at all. Rather, he discussed "absolute war" or "ideal war" as the purely logical result of the forces underlying a "pure," Platonic "ideal" of war. In what Clausewitz called a "logical fantasy," war cannot be waged in a limited way: the rules of competition will force participants to use all means at their disposal to achieve victory.
Thesis Frictions Geniuses Clausewitz
But in the real world , such rigid logic is unrealistic and dangerous. In modern times the reconstruction and hermeneutics of Clausewitzian theory has been a matter of some dispute. Between one of the most prominent was the analysis of Panagiotis Kondylis a Greek-German writer and philosopher who opposed the popular readings of Raymond Aron in "Penser la Guerre, Clausewitz and other liberal writers.
In one of his most famous works which was titled Theory of War and first published in German -later translated in Greek by Kondylis himself. In this very influential book Kondylis opposes Raymond Aron's liberal perception of Clausewetzian theory. According to Raymond Aron in Penser La Guerre, Clausewitz, Clausewitz was on of the very first writers condemning the militarism of the military staff and their war-proneness based in the claim "war is a continuation of politics by other means" Kondylis claims that this a reconstruction that is not coherent with Clausewitzian thought.
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He claims that Clausewitz was morally indifferent to war and that his advices of political rule over war have nothing to do with pacifistic claims. For Clausewitz war is just a mean to the eternal quest for power of the reason d'etat in an anarchical and unsafe world. Other famous writers studying Clausewitz's texts and have translated them in English are the war specialists Peter Parret Princeton University and Michael Howard and the philosopher, musician and game theorist Anatol Rapoport who has translated the Penguin edition and has comparatively studied Clausewitz and other theories of War such as Tolstoi.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Clausewitz's Christian name is sometimes given in non-German sources as Carl Philipp Gottlieb, Carl Maria, or misspelled Karl due to reliance on mistaken source material, conflations with his wife's name, Marie, or mistaken assumptions about German orthography. Carl Philipp Gottfried appears on Clausewitz's tombstone and is thus most likely to be the correct version. The tombstone reads:. There is no single "correct" spelling for German names before the early nineteenth century.
Vital records were kept by pastors in their parish records.
Different pastors used different spellings and commonly ignored how their predecessor may have spelled the same name. It appears that pastors recorded names as they heard them and spelled them as they believed they should be spelled. Pastors treated persons of importance or high status such as nobility or civil or military officials more deferentially. For the names of such persons it can make sense to distinguish between such spellings as "Carl" or "Karl" even then.
Clausewitz and Soviet Strategy
The situation changed radically in the Napoleonic era when French civil servants introduced greater discipline in keeping vital records in German lands. Spellings of family and given names were "frozen" in whatever state they happened to be in then. It was, however, not unusual for brothers who made their homes in different parishes to have their family names spelled differently. Such variations endure to this day and confound amateur genealogists who are not familiar with the fluidity of German spellings before the Napoleonic reforms.
While spellings of names were fluid when Clausewitz was born, they had become firm by the time of his death. That is why it makes sense to accept the spelling of his name as recorded on his tombstone which, presumably, agrees with the vital records of his death. Despite his death just prior to completing On War, Clausewitz' ideas have been widely influential in military theory. Later Prussian and German generals such as Helmuth Graf von Moltke were clearly influenced by Clausewitz: Moltke's famous statement that "No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy" is a classic reflection of Clausewitz's insistence on the roles of chance, friction, "fog," and uncertainty in war.
The idea that actual war includes "friction" which deranges, to a greater or lesser degree, all prior arrangements, has become common currency in other fields as well e. Some claim that nuclear proliferation makes Clausewitzian concepts obsolescent after a period—i. The generals wisdom and courage Tzu, , p. It is the role of the commander to give the best orders and lead the way of his soldiers advantageously.
Even though the Normandy invasion was a mishap for Germans, Hitler had flawless victories in against Poland, helped by the advancement of weaponrys. Linking to von Clausewitzs centre of gravity Hitler used blitzkrieg as a means of destroying Polands military lines, its objective is to disrupt the victims lines of communication and deny the defender time to reinforce weak points and regroup Mearsheimer, , p.
By using a single, concentrated battle against Poland, Hitler perfectly won the battle and saved the effort and losses of a series of smaller and less efficient strikes against the Polish forces. Besides knowledge about systematic military actions, although von Clausewitz does not pay that much emphasis on it except he includes it in friction, terrain has a vital role, as Sun Tzu explains, in the course of war.
From a political perspective, knowing beforehand the land where one is going to fight gives high chances of being better prepared from strategic and tactic perspectives.
Carl von Clausewitz - New World Encyclopedia
Sun Tzu , p. If he attacks downhill, do not oppose him. The entire terrain accomodation is part of the complex strategic approach of knowing your enemy as much as possible, to obtain as much information about his position in war, his tactics, his amunition, the number of his soldiers and attack plans. Know your enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril Tzu, , p.
In order to reach Von Clausewitz sense of locality and Sun Tzus terrain knowledge, the general has to be flexible and adapt his army to the situation experienced just as the water finds its way in the already existing channels Tzu, This situations refers to the territoriality of the battle, the structure of the wars fighting equipment and teams, and also to the political context of the state or region involved in war.
The political context of an enemy has a series of channels through which it could be decripted in order to find out all of its weaknesses and powerfull points. From a political point of view, Sun Tzu sees war as an expression of politics, a materialization of it and von Clausewitz sees war as a continuation or a tool for accomplishing political goals. There are different factors that allow building up military intelligence and political informational background: historical knowledge, technological devices, spies and battle field experience.
It is difficult or even impossible to obtain valuable data without having strong and powerful connections. Sun Tzu pays a lot of emphasis upon knowing your enemy and taking advantage of his weak points Tzu, , p. By knowing your enemys weak points and battle plans, one could minimize the costs of own battle and build up deception plans. Through deception Sun Tzu explains all warfare, as building phantasmas for enemies and making them believe your strenghts as weakness and weaknesses as strenghts: when near, make it appear that you are far away; when far away, that you are near Tzu, , p.
Sun Tzu believed that this disemination of truth is the key to succes. A big role of in conducting valuable information related to warfare is possessed by spies and secret agents and services. During World War Two, the United Kingdom had the best secret services network and very well trained spies to work for them.
- Thesis Frictions Geniuses Clausewitz.
- Carl von Clausewitz and Antoine-Henri Jomini and Military Strategy.
- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
They have been able to gain a lot of. Spies are the connectors of ones army with its enemies, of all those in the army close to the commander none is more intimate than the secret agents; of all rewards none is more liberal than those given to secret agents Tzu, , p.