|NEW! Carl von Clausewitz and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815 (Clausewitz.com, 2010).
Ed./trans. Christopher Bassford, Daniel Moran, and Gregory W. Pedlow.
|This book is built around a new and complete translation of Clausewitz's study of the Waterloo campaign (Berlin: 1835), which is a strategic analysis of the entire campaign (not just the Battle of Waterloo), and the Duke of Wellington's detailed 1842 response to it. It contains Wellington's initial battle report; two of Clausewitz's post-battle letters to his wife Marie; correspondence within Wellington's circle concerning Clausewitz's work; Clausewitz's campaign study; Wellington's memorandum in response; and enlightening essays by the editors. See review in The Journal of Military History.|
Clausewitz Goes Global:
♦ CHRISTOPHER BASSFORD
Professor, National Defense University, Washington, DC.
Tiptoe Through the Trinity: The Strange Persistence of Trinitarian Warfare. Working paper. Understanding the trinity is key to understanding how all of Clausewitz's ideas hang together. Understanding the ways in which it has been misrepresented by various popular writers is key to being an effective communicator on the subject. Two rather different (and shorter) published articles have been derived from this working paper: Christopher Bassford, Chapter 4, The Primacy of Policy and the Trinity in Clausewitz's Mature Thought, in Hew Strachan and Andreas Herberg-Rothe, eds., Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (Oxford University Press, 2007), pp.74-90; Christopher Bassford, "The Strange Persistence of Trinitarian Warfare," in Ralph Rotte and Christoph Schwarz, eds. War and Strategy (New York: Nova Science, 2011), pp.45-54.
There are also two older pieces on this subject:
Reclaiming the Clausewitzian Trinity. Co-authored with Edward J. Villacres. Parameters, Autumn 1995.
Teaching the Clausewitzian Trinity. January 2003.
The Relationship Between Political Objectives and Military Objectives in War. Co-authored with Col B.A. Andrews, USAF, as a teaching guide for faculty at the National War College. PowerPoint slideshow, September 2005. This addresses the core strategic-analytical model in On War and tries to deal with some of the terminological and conceptual stumbling blocks to using it effectively. [If you can't run the PowerPoint file, there's a PDF version here, but it does not show the animations.]
Clausewitz in English: The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America, 1815-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994). FULL TEXT
John Keegan and the Grand Tradition of Trashing Clausewitz. War in History, November 1994.
Clausewitz and His Works. An extensive introduction to the man, his key writings, and his ideas. Derived from Chapter 2 of Christopher Bassford, Clausewitz in English: The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), this version was written as courseware for the Army War College in 1996 and is periodically updated.
A Response to Bruce Fleming, 'Can Reading Clausewitz Save Us from Future Mistakes?' The Clausewitz Homepage, 1 March 2004. (The original articles is listed below.) A shorter version, along with responses from Tony Echevarria and Rutgers University's Professor Michael David Rohr, is here, as is Fleming's somewhat irritated attempt at rebuttal. Last word from The Clausewitz Homepage is here.
A Modest Proposal, an only partly tongue-in-cheek, radical proposal to update Clausewitz for the 3rd Millenium (1999, modified 2006, 2008, 2010).
Jomini and Clausewitz: Their Interaction. Paper presented to the 23rd Meeting of the Consortium on Revolutionary Europe at Georgia State University, 26 February 1993; slightly edited in June 2000.
A Word Index to On War. Find that quote you're looking for! A computer-generated index to c.1200 words and phrases in Clausewitz's magnum opus.
"Clausewitz, Nonlinearity and the Unpredictability of War," International Security, 17:3 (Winter, 1992), pp. 59-90. (Here's the Abstract.) This article is also available in French: "Clausewitz: Non Linéarité et Imprévisibilité de la Guerre," Theorie, Littérature, Enseignement, 12 (1994), pp165-98. This is perhaps the most important article published on Clausewitz in the past thirty years. That's because nonlinear mathematics and science (of which "Chaos Theory" and "Complexity" are trendy reflections) underlie virtually all modern science. They are what happened when it became routinely possible to apply computer analysis to real-world data in virtually every field. Beyerchen's piece is a splendid introduction to the whole field and also to Clausewitz. But the reader should go on to read more on the actual science. We recommend reading James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science, 20th Anniversary edition (New York: Penguin, 2008) and M. Mitchell Waldrop, Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992) before reading efforts to apply nonlinearity to politics, social science, and history. We make this recommendation because a great many social science, security studies, and historical interpretation of nonlinearity are shallow, obtuse, and in many cases useless. Some, however, are very good indeed: See especially John Lewis Gaddis, The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). Understanding these scientific concepts will change your internal model of "how the world works." And once your internal model has adjusted, we think you'll see Clausewitz in a strikingly different light.
Clausewitz, Nonlinearity, and the Importance of Imagery. Paper delivered at National Defense University, November 1996.
Note: See our "Clausewitz and Complexity" section.
[Pamphlet] "Why Metaphors Matter: Understanding the power of implicit comparison and its uses within the Marine Corps." Perspectives on Warfighting Number 5. Quantico, VA, [Date?]. This essay is not particularly about Clausewitz, but it does make some references to him that are interesting in the light of Beyechen's other relevant work.
♦ ROBIN BROWN
Senior Lecturer, Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds. [Contact Info]
"Clausewitz in the Age of Al-Jazeera: Rethinking the Military-Media Relationship," Paper, Harvard Symposium "Restless Searchlight: The Media and Terrorism," 21 August 2002.
♦ KIRSTEN CALE
Journalist specializing in international relations.
Cultural Wars (from LM: THE MARXIST REVIEW OF BOOKS, later simply LM, now defunct) issue 73, November 1994.
Review essay on Keegan, A History of Warfare; Pick, War Machine: The Rationalisation of Slaughter in the Modern Age; Porter, War and the Rise of the State; van Creveld, On Future War.
The Chicagoboyz Clausewitz Roundtable is a free-for-all web discussion of Clausewitz. The discussants don't claim any particular expertise, and this is not the place to start learning about Clausewitz. However, if you are familiar with Clausewitz, and particularly if you are interested in teaching other people about Clausewitz, this discussion can tell you a lot about the ways in which Clausewitz comes across to intelligent, energetic seekers-after-truth who have not seriously encountered him before.
Here's a useful backgrounder by ChicagoBoyz discussant Joseph M. Guerra, "The Clausewitz Roundtable at Chicagoboyz."
"Clausewitz for Every War." War in History, 18(2) , pp.249-261. This is an insightful review essay covering:
Clausewitz's Puzzle: The Political Theory of War. By Andreas Herberg-Rothe. Oxford University Press. 2007. 208 pp. ISBN 978 0 19 920269 0
Carl von Clausewitz's On War:A Biography. By Hew Strachan. Atlantic. 2007. 256 pp. ISBN 978 1 84354 391 6
Clausewitz and Contemporary War. By Antulio J. Echevarria. Oxford University Press. 2007. 264 pp. hbk. ISBN 978 0 19 923191 1
Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century. Edited by Hew Strachan and Andreas Herberg-Rothe. Oxford University Press. 2007. 328 pp. ISBN 978 0 19 923202 4
Clausewitz en France: deux siecles de reftexion sur la guerre 1807-2007. By Benoit Durieux. Economica. 2008. 861 pp. ISBN 978 2 7178 5577 7
The Cognitive Challenge of War: Prussia, 1806. By Peter Paret. Princeton University Press. 2009. 176 pp. ISBN 978 0 691 13581 6
♦ YOURI CORMIER
Youri Cormier received his M.A. from the Royal Military College of Canada and his PhD from King' College London (War Studies). Having formerly served in research roles with the Canadian Department of National Defence and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and taught International Politics and Human Rights on behalf of Johns Hopkins University’s Centre for Talented Youth and King’s College London, he currently lives in Montreal and is the Executive Director of a Canadian charity focused on youth civic engagement and democratic education.
"Fighting Doctrines and Revolutionary Ethics," Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, Vol. 15, Issue 1, 2013. Article Abstract: The expression 'Clausewitz connection' has become the standard go-to term for showcasing how keen many Marxists were in citing and applying ideas from On War to their revolution. That being said, the 'connection' has often been exaggerated. Azar Gat made this case effectively by digging up the original exchanges between Marx and Engels and showing they were by no means devout Clausewitzians, even though they read and commented on at least sections of his book, Vom Kriege. The error among scholars has been to expect a connection based on methodological affinities alone. A closer scrutiny reveals that while their methodology had similarities, it was not the methodology that mattered. In fact, the way the revolutionaries cited Clausewitz was strategic, but shallow and far removed from method. Instead, what becomes clear is that the ethical dimension of Clausewitz best explains where and how the revolutionaries linked up with his system, and more importantly where they broke away. To arrive at this conclusion, one must consider the surprising fact that while the Communists were indeed citing Clausewitz, albeit not as much as has been claimed, their Anarchists co-revolutionaries in the anti-bourgeois movement were not citing him at all. Their fighting doctrines were instead tied up closely with Hegel. This exclusive relationship tells us something about how the two groups understood the ethics of political violence—as 'instrumental' in the Clausewitzian tradition, or as a 'right' in the Hegelian tradition—and how this complicated the integration of Clausewitz into communist doctrine and made him altogether irrelevant to anarchist doctrine.
"Hegel and Clausewitz: Convergence on Method, Divergence on Ethics." The International History Review, on-line 16 JAN 2014. DOI: 10.1080/07075332.2013.859166. Article Abstract: "The Hegelian influence in Clausewitz has far more often been stated than it has ever been qualified, quantified, or verified. Perhaps the error was to try to ‘prove’ such a link, rather than focus on what such a convergence consists of and what it means, regardless of how it happened. Using both a historical and a linguistic argument, this essay delineates early writings that are devoid of any Hegelian similarities from those later in Clausewitz's life where a convergence of ideas becomes manifest. A counterpoise to Raymond Aron's overall dismissal of the link between the two authors, this article nonetheless reaches a limit as well: though they agreed in many ways in their methodology, the two fathers of the ‘dialectical war theory’ diverged quite dialectically on ethics. Hegel understands war as an inherently justified ‘right’ of the state, while Clausewitz sees it rather as the neutral ‘instrument’ of a moral agent, the state. The author traces this divergence to a missing link: a foundational aspect of Hegel's method regarding the nature of subjectivity and objectivity is absent from Clausewitz's work, and this appears to generate the impasse. The essay provides grey tones to arguments on either side of the debate about influences, or lack thereof, which have strayed too far into shades of black and white."
♦ TONY CORN
US Department of State.
"Clausewitz in Wonderland" (in the Hoover Institution's Policy Review, "web special," September 2006)
EXCERPT: "If a Colin Grayarguably the smartest living Clausewitzian todaycan be so blind as to the nature of the challenges facing the West, one can easily guess the damage done by Clausewitzology on less talented minds."
Despite the poor logic revealed in the excerpt above, this is an interesting
piece. For some reason, Corn has chosen to pretend that Carl von Clausewitz
is behind the scientific, historical, and anthropological ignorance, the
political naiveté, and the smothering political correctness that
underlie the remarkably dysfunctional national strategic culture that
the United States displayed throughout the era of the G.W. Bush administration. This article may be a clever critique
of that strategic culture or merely a particularly poignant example of
The Clausewitz Homepage responds HERE.
♦ PAUL CORNISH
Formerly Director, Centre for Defence Studies, Kings College, London.
"Clausewitz and the ethics of armed forces," Journal of Military Ethics, Volume 2, Number 3/November 2003.
ABSTRACT: The work of Carl von Clausewitz continues to provoke heated debate. For some scholars, Clausewitz's On War remains indispensable to serious thought on the resort to war in the modern period. Others, however, see Clausewitz's work as either outdated, or a morally repellent argument for unlimited, unrestrained and brutal warfare. This essay argues not only that Clausewitz's work continues to be relevant to discussions on the use of armed force, but also that On War provides a framework for ethical reflection on war and its conduct. Two main preoccupations of western military academies and staff colleges--Clausewitz on the one hand, and the just war tradition on the other--can complement, rather than rival each other. On War creates a space for reflection on the use of armed force, and for that reason if no other, should still be considered an important resource for contemporary students and practitioners of strategy.
♦ CHRISTOPHER DAASE
Chair of International Organisation Cluster of Excellence "Normative Orders," Goethe University Frankfurt.
♦ BRIAN DROHAN
Captain, US Army.
"Carl von Clausewitz, His Trinity, and the 1812 Russian Campaign, Part 1. " The Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Volume 19, Number 2, June 2006, pp. 295-341; Part 2 appears in Volume 19, Number 3, September 2006, pp.515–542, 2006. Posted to The Clausewitz Homepage with the permission of the editors of The Journal of Slavic Military Studies.
♦ ANTULIO J. ECHEVARRIA II
LTC, US Army (ret.), Ph.D. (Princeton), Strategic Studies Institute, Carlisle, PA. Editor of Parameters.
Clausewitz's Center of Gravity Legacy. In this article, Antulio J. Echevarria II argues that contemporary military doctrine has made the concept of center of gravity the prerequisite for operational art. But the art really lies in knowing when not to use it. Infinity Journal, February 20-12.
Reconsidering War's Logic and Grammar. Infinity Journal, Spring 2011.
"On the Clausewitz of the Cold War: Reconsidering the Primacy of Policy in On War." Armed Forces & Society, October 2007 vol.34 no.1, pp.90-108.
Clausewitz's Center of Gravity: It's Not What We Thought. Naval War College Review, Winter 2003, pp.108-123.
Clausewitz's Center of Gravity: Changing Our Warfighting Doctrine—Again! Strategic Studies Institute, September 2002. Over the last 30 years, the center of gravity concept has grown increasingly central to the U.S. military's warfighting doctrine. This monograph cuts through the myriad interpretations surrounding the concept and returns to the original idea as conceived by Carl von Clausewitz. In doing so, the author reveals that Clausewitz intended the center of gravity to function much as its counterpart in the mechanical sciences does—as a focal point. He argues that the Clausewitzian center of gravity is not a strength, nor a weakness, nor even a source of strength, but rather the one element within a combatant's entire structure or system that has the necessary centripetal force to hold that structure together. This is why Clausewitz wrote that a blow directed against a center of gravity will have the greatest effect. The monograph concludes with recommendations for revising Joint and Service doctrine so that they will reflect a more accurate and coherent definition of a center of gravity. [If the primary URL is unavailable, click HERE for backup copy.]
Borrowing from the Master: Uses of Clausewitz in German Military Literature before the Great War War in History, 3 (July 1996)
War and Politics: The Revolution in Military Affairs and the Continued Relevance of Clausewitz Joint Forces Quarterly (Winter 1995-96)
Clausewitz: Toward a Theory of Applied Strategy Defense Analysis, Vol 11, No. 3, (1995).
See also Tony's books, After Clausewitz: German Military Thinkers before the Great War ( University Press of Kansas, 2000) and Clausewitz and Contemporary War (Oxford University Press, 2007).
Can Reading Clausewitz Save Us from Future Mistakes? Parameters, Spring 2004, pp. 62-76. Another effort to expose Clausewitz's essential foolishness.
See also Christopher Bassford, "A response to Bruce Fleming, 'Can Reading Clausewitz Save Us from Future Mistakes?'" The Clausewitz Homepage, 1 March 2004. A shorter version, along with responses from Tony Echevarria and Rutgers University's Professor Michael David Rohr, is here, as is Fleming's somewhat irritated attempt at rebuttal. Last word from The Clausewitz Homepage is here.
♦ BRETT FRIEDMAN
Friedman, Brett [Captain, USMC]. "Creeping Death: Clausewitz and Comprehensive Counterinsurgency." Military Review, January-February 2014, pp.82-89. Criticizing both the 'population-centric' school of counterinsurgency and the view that seeking out and destroying the insurgents' fighting forces is the counterinsurgent’s path to success, Friedman argues that both approaches "are built on an inaccurate idea of the center of gravity concept and a misunderstanding of Clausewitz’s theory as a whole. Both ideas assume a predictable, static relationship between the enemy, the civilian population, and the insurgency itself.... [It] is Clausewitz who offers the most insight into insurgencies, and his ideas reveal that a more comprehensive method is required for successful counterinsurgency.... This essay points out that the analytical reductionism inherent in both ideas has clouded the theories as well as the practice of counterinsurgency. It does so with a focus on third party support to host nations that are fighting an insurgency, also referred to as Foreign Internal Defense.... [W]hile counterinsurgency is a specific type of warfare, it is still war and thus subject to the same immutable and timeless forces as any other war. American unfamiliarity with counterinsurgency and the wounds of Vietnam blinded us to this fact. It is past time we take off the blinders."
"Resurrecting the 'Icon': The Enduring Relevance of Clausewitz’s On War," Strategic Studies Quarterly, Spring 2009, pp.119-133. A very capable response to Phillip Meilinger's "Busting the Icon: Restoring Balance to the Influence of Clausewitz," Strategic Studies Quarterly (Fall, 2007), pp.116-145 (listed below). Many thanks, Nik: You have spared The Clausewitz Homepage the task of swatting this particular fly.:-)
♦ DAVID R. GILLIE
CDR David R. Gillie, USN, is Adjunct Professor of Strategic Intelligence at the National Defense Intelligence College and Commanding Officer, Navy Reserve Naval Information Operations Command Georgia-Great Lakes.
"Interpreting Clausewitz’s Miraculous Trinity—Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis: A Study of the Essential Intellectual Content and Didactic Purpose of the Trinitarian Model," 9 December 2009.
This paper is the unanticipated product of research on a closely-related subject, undertaken by Gillie while he was completing a Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies at the United States Naval War College. Successful prosecution of that research required Gillie to first conduct a reexamination of his own understanding of the essential intellectual content and didactic purpose of Carl von Clausewitz’s trinitarian model of war. In this paper, Gillie presents the conclusions of that reexamination.
♦ COLIN S. GRAY
Professor of International Politics and Strategic Studies at the University of Reading, England.
"Clausewitz Rules, OK? The Future is the Past—with GPS." In Michael Cox, Ken Booth, and Tim Dunne, eds., Interregnum: Controversies in World Politics, 1989-1999. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, 161-182. If thatb link is broken, try this Google link.
and Achieving Decisive Victory. Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies
Institute, April 2002.
In this post-9/11 monograph, Gray explores the concept of victory in the war in terrorism, but he does so by placing it within the larger currents of change that are sweeping the global security environment. He contends that the time-tested idea of decisive victory is still an important one, but must be designed very carefully in this dangerous new world. To do so correctly can provide the foundation for an effective strategy. To fail to do so could be the first step toward strategic defeat. Though this is not an essay specifically on Clausewitz, Gray--as usual--explicitly utilizes Clausewitzian ideas and shows how they apply in the evolving strategic environment. [If the primary URL is unavailable, click HERE for backup copy.]
"Clausewitz, History, and the Future Strategic World," prepared for the Strategic and Combat Studies Institute Conference "Past Futures," Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, 3-4 July, 2003 and Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Quantico, VA, USA, 9-10 September, 2003. Strategic and Combat Studies Institute Occasional Paper No 47.
♦ JOSEPH M. GUERRA
"An Introduction to Clausewitzian Strategic Theory: General Theory, Strategy, and their Relevance for Today." Infinity Journal, no.65, VOL.2, ISS.3.
Also by Joe Guerra:
"Martin Luther King, American Strategist: A Clausewitzian Analysis," blog entry, 24 March 2010.
♦ T.X. HAMMES
War Isn't a Rational Business Naval Institute Proceedings (July 1998). The information revolution notwithstanding, war will continue to be a brutish, chaotic, and emotional battle of wills. Network-centric warfare will not change that. Re-posted by Small Wars Journal.
♦ BRYAN HEHIR
Counselor, Catholic Relief Services, and Professor, Harvard Divinity School.
Excerpt: "[T]here were two people who taught the Western world to think about politics, strategy, and ethics. They were a strange combination—a 19th century Prussian general and a 5th century African saint. It was Clausewitz and Augustine that helped us to relate politics, strategy, and ethics." This is a presentation delivered on June 3, 1996, at a conference at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
*On the topic of Just War theory as a practical theory of statecraft, with some meaningful references to Clausewitz, see also George Weigel, "Moral Clarity in a Time of War," the Second Annual William E. Simon Lecture, Thursday, October 24, 2002. [Posted on the "Ethics and Public Policy Center" website.]
♦ ANDREAS HERBERG-ROTHE
Outside lecturer in political theory and intellectual history, Institute of Social Sciences, the Humboldt University, Berlin. See his Clausewitz.com Vita and his listing on World Security Network.
"Primacy of Politics or Culture in a Modern World? John Keegan's Critique Demands a Sophisticated Interpretation." Defense Analysis, Volume 2, August 2001.
"Carl von Clausewitz today—the primacy of politics in war and conflict." World Security Network Newsletter, reporting from Berlin, February 21, 2009.
"Clausewitzs Wondrous Trinity as General Theory of War and Violent Conflict." Paper. This essay is an extended and revised version of a lecture of the same name given at the Gewaltlast (Burdens of Violence) Congress at the University of Zurich in 2005, and at the University of Hildesheim in 2003.
"Clausewitz’s 'Wondrous Trinity" as a Coordinate System of War and Violent Confict." International Journal of Conflict and Violence, Vol. 3 (2) 2009, pp. 204 – 219.
"The Concept of Honor in War." World Security Network (on-line), 18 January 2012. Excerpt: "It is well known that for the tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in FATA the concept of honor is of greatest importance. The young Clausewitz shared this outlook, despite his markedly different social background. In order to understand the dynamics of fighting for one's honor, it is worth looking back at Clausewitz's reaction to the Prussian defeats at Jena and Auerstedt (1806) which he personally experienced as a junior infantry officer and, for a time, as a prisoner of war."
♦ TERENCE M. HOLMES
Professor (ret.), Swansea University, UK.
Chaos in Clausewitzs On War."
The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1 (February 2007), pp.129 151.
(Posted to The Clausewitz Homepage with permission of the publishers.)
Holmes takes on some writers who argue that Clausewitzian theory is somehow inimical to practical military planning. This excellent exploration of the subject of planning in On War may somewhat miss the point of Alan Beyerchen's brilliant nonlinear interpretation of Clausewitz, but that's a good subject for debate.
♦ RICHARD D. HOOKER, Jr.
Dr/Colonel, U.S. Army, now Dean, NATO Defense College, Rome.
"Beyond Vom Kriege: The Character and Conduct of Modern War." Parameters, Summer 2005, 4-17.
Hooker takes on the issues of whether Clausewitzian theory is limited to state-on-state warfare and, if so, whether that is a problemwhich depends to a great extent on how we define "the state."
♦ INFINITY JOURNAL—edited by A.E. Stahl [Infinity Journal is a free publication but registration is required.]
Special Issue: Clausewitz & Contemporary Conflict (February 2012)
• A.E. Stahl, An Introduction to Clausewitz and Contemporary Conflict
• Antulio J. Echevarria II, Clausewitz's Center of Gravity Legacy. In this article, Antulio J. Echevarria II argues that contemporary military doctrine has made the concept of center of gravity the prerequisite for operational art. But the art really lies in knowing when not to use it.
• Adam Elkus, The Policy-Strategy Distinction: Clausewitz and The Chimera of Modern Strategic Thought. Adam Elkus explains Clausewitz's distinction between policy and strategy and argues for its signal importance in 21st century strategy. It's not just semantics: knowledge and proper application of Clausewitz's ideas about policy and strategy can help military analysts think better about today's security problems, while a poor understanding of the policy-strategy distinction can produce conceptual confusion.
• Beatrice Heuser, Ends, Ways, Means: Clausewitz and Other Prophets. Heuser explains that it is just in the question of how ways and means should be related to (larger political) ends that Clausewitz decided not to furnish larger elaborations of the subject. He himself recognised that a conflict might not be decided permanently by a military victory, but did not want to pursue the subject of how to move from the conduct of war to a lasting peace. This means that On War cannot guide us much further on this subject.
• David Kaiser, Clausewitz and the First World War. Taking issue with writers who have blamed Clausewitz for the First World War, David Kaiser discusses his influence upon the planning for that war but adds that On War should have enabled statesmen and generals to draw more sensible conclusions after a stalemate developed. He then shows how Clausewitz's trinity can explain exactly how that war came to an end.
• William F. Owen, To Be Clausewitzian. What does it mean 'To Be Clausewitzian'? In this article, William F. Owen argues that one must be able to understand the value of Clausewitz's observations and insights in On War, so that they can be utilized for practical guidance and applied in conjunction with sound judgment. He holds that Clausewitzians do not simply study On War out of academic interest alone. While not excluding other important works on war and warfare, it does mean that they use Clausewitz's observations as their start point.
• Hugh Smith, Clausewitz as Sociologist. Hugh Smith argues that Clausewitz's approach to war is imbued at every level with a sociological perspective—from his understanding of the novice soldier going into battle to the impact of social change on the capacity of European nations for war. This sociological dimension, the author suggests, is a major reason for the continuing relevance of Clausewitz's ideas.
♦ BARON ANTOINE-HENRI DE JOMINI
French-Swiss writer on military affairs, 1779-1869.
The Present Theory of War and Its
Preface to Jomini's Summary of the Art of War (1838)
Jomini is frequently portrayed as Clausewitz's most influential competitor as a military theorist and, misleadingly, as his "opposite." This essay is reproduced (with minor changes) from the 1854 American translation of Jomini's The Artof War, trans. Major O.F. Winship and Lieut. E.E. McLean (New York: Putnam, 1854). It is a somewhat clumsy translation and a bit difficult to read, which is of course why it has been entirely superseded by the better 1862 Mendell/Craighill translation. Unfortunately, the latter translation omits this revealing essay on the state of military theory as Jomini perceived it around 1838. A close reading of this essay will reveal both overt sneers at Clausewitz and many adaptations to the arguments made in On War.
♦ DAVID KAISER
Professor of Strategy, US Naval War College.
"Back to Clausewitz." Journal of Strategic Studies, vol.32, no.4 (August 2009), pp.667-685.
This excellent review essay on Hew Strachan, Clausewitz’s On War, A Biography (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press), 2007; Antulio J. Echevarria II, Clausewitz and Contemporary War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007); Hew Strachan and Andreas Herberg-Rothe, eds., Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007) covers a great deal of the current debate among serious Clausewitz scholars in the US and UK. Made available through The Clausewitz Homepage by the editors of The Journal of Strategic Studies.
"Purple Patch: Total Wars," The Daily Times ("A new voice for a new Pakistan"), 16 JAN 2000. This is an intelligent piece, reflecting a more nuanced understanding of Clausewitz than is reflected in Kaldor's more recent discussions (see below), which are drivel.
"Five Books." c.8 March 2010. Kaldor lists her top five books about war. Not a bad selection, but we have no idea why she bothered to list Clausewitz's On War. The man sounds like an idiot.
"Reconceptualising War," OpenDemocracy.net, 24 February 2010. Kaldor's problem appears to be that her own private Clausewitz has mutated from being a real mind with a specific set of ideas into a strawman label for "war as some people imagine it must have been practiced in the early 20th century." The connection escapes us. One might explain Kaldor's presentation as a desperate attempt to leverage the historical delusions of ignorant policymakers to manipulate them into making better policy and strategy. That way lies madness. The phrase "New Wars" cannot describe a valid category.
The intensive unrealism and ahistoricism of Kaldor's "New Wars" thinking (not to mention its surprisingly un-PC Eurocentricity) is well displayed on the "Global Sociology" website's page entitled "War."
"So, when Clausewitz defined war – structured armed conflict – he had in mind the interstate wars, that is, wars that appeared in the 19th century between states whose national armies (either popular through draft or composed of professional servicemen) face each other on the battlefield.... New wars are related to globalization and the end of the Cold War. New wars are also global as in transnational and they are a globalizing force."
♦ JUSTIN KELLY and MIKE BRENNAN
This is a clever and interesting piece. The Clausewitz Homepage, however, is more interested in its discussion specifically of Clausewitz, and this is problematic. On that subject it commits some of the usual absurdities, in this case pretending that he was a "hedgehog" (a term that has been applied to Clausewitz by others, notably Isaiah Berlin), used here to describe Clausewitz as a simplistic thinker with "one big idea"—i.e., that the sole objective of war was the destruction of the enemy's forces. We really do not know why otherwise sensible people like to misread and/or misrepresent Clausewitz in this manner. It does not really bother us that it's shallow; our expectations are not, after all, very high. But it does bother us that it's so unproductive. The conduct of war varies dramatically in accordance with the political context. We (should) know that. And Clausewitz definitely did know that and say that. What is the value of pretending otherwise?
Review of Jon Tetsuro Sumida, Decoding Clausewitz: A New Approach to On War (University Press of Kansas, 2008), Army History, Summer 2010, pp.46-48. We don't usually list book reviews on this page, but this is a thoughtful, witty, and balanced piece that actually offers a good handle on the issues under dispute: "Decoding Clausewitz is fun, elegant, thought-provoking, and sometimes convincing. [Sumida's] description of On War 'as a set of instructions on how to engage in serious learning of a highly personal nature rather than an impersonal representation of the totality of that which is to be learned' is as intelligent an explanation of the book as one is likely ever to read. Those of us who teach military history in an effort to educate soldiers will find in Decoding Clausewitz an inspiring explanation of what we ought to be doing."
"On War Without the Fog." Military Review, September-October 2001, pp.85-87. "Like most useful military concepts, 'fog of war' normally is attributed to Clausewitz, who receives credit for the alliterative 'fog and friction'—friction referring to physical impediments to military action, fog to the commander's lack of clear information. The only problem with this neat formula is that he neither uses fog of war nor gives fog significant weight in his argument."
♦ KINGS OF WAR
A blog by various faculty and research students of the Department of War Studies, King's College London.
"Warriors: Politicians by other means"
by Kenneth Payne on February 1, 2010 · 2 comments
"The Cognitive Challenge of War: Great Britain 2010"
by Kenneth Payne on January 29, 2010 · 15 comments
"Porter rides again"
by Kenneth Payne on January 27, 2010 · 2 comments
"Jihad and Clausewitz"
by Thomas Rid on January 9, 2010 · 13 comments
"Strategies, analogies and Luttwak"
by Patrick Porter on January 2, 2010 · 7 comments
"Iran’s Date with Destiny"
by Thomas Rid on December 30, 2009 · 18 comments
♦ JANEEN KLINGER
Professor, USMC Command and Staff College.
"The Social Science of Carl von Clausewitz." Parameters, Spring 2006, pp.79-89. Overall, this is a good appreciation of Clausewitzian theory by a social scientist. Klinger may, however, have misunderstood the implications of Clausewitz's actions in 1812/13.
♦ WALTER RUSSELL MEAD
James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and Editor-at-Large of The American Interest magazine.
"Clausewitz: Master of War." The American Interest, May 17, 2011. This is on "Via Meadia," Mead's Blog.
Discusses teaching about Clausewitz at Bard College. "Clausewitz’s unfinished masterpiece On War stands out as perhaps the greatest work of strategic thought human reflection has yet produced."
♦ PHILLIP S. MEILINGER
Colonel, USAF (ret.).
"Busting the Icon: Restoring Balance to the Influence of Clausewitz," Strategic Studies Quarterly (Fall, 2007), pp.116-145. [See backup copy here.]
This a critique of the use and misuse of Clausewitz in Western military thought generally and by the US military in particular. It is similar in some respects to other recent critiques by Tony Corn and Bruce Fleming (also listed on this page), and contains plenty of arguable propositions (as well as some classic bits of hoary Airpower theology).
The Clausewitz Homepage would have responded "at a time and place of our choosing," but Nik Gardner's capable "Resurrecting the 'Icon': The Enduring Relevance of Clausewitz’s On War," Strategic Studies Quarterly, Spring 2009, pp.119-133 (listed above), has saved us the trouble.
See also Patrick Porter, "Clausewitz and his critics," on Kings of War [a blog of various faculty and research students of the Department of War Studies, King's College London], September 15, 2008. See also the rather striking commentary page for Porter's piece, e.g., "Clausewitz-hatred: the signature tune of the blowhard."
♦ DANIEL MORAN
US Naval Postgraduate School.
Strategic Theory and the
History of War. Paper, 2001.
A short (17pp) survey of the development of strategic theory from its emergence in the 17th century through the era of the World Wars.
♦ RALPH PETERS
LTC US Army, (ret.), journalist and author.
The New Strategic Trinity, Parameters, Winter 1998
Like Steve Metz's article (above), this piece seems to argue for Clausewitz's obsolescence. Instead, as some behind the scenes discussion reveals, Peters' comments on Clausewitz reflect the writer's need for a provocative "hook" assailing Clausewitz and his conviction that this is a harmless fiction, since no one understands Clausewitz properly anyway.
♦ WILLIS G. REGIER
Director, University of Illinois Press.
"The Essence of War: Clausewitz as Educator," review article, The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 3, 2009.
"Clausewitz was a general, yes, but he spent most of his career as an educator. He was tutor to a prince, a teacher of cadets, director of a military academy, and a gifted military historian. He wanted to write a war book of a much higher order than existing maxims and manuals, a book that would combine experience, historical examples (the more recent the better), and exact analysis in a clear and emphatic fashion. A careful scholar, Clausewitz revised drafts of his books again and again, On War among them.... "Disputes about Clausewitz—Is he vicious? Contradictory? Obsolete?—heat up the scholarship about him. His attackers (like the military historians Martin van Creveld, B.H. Liddell Hart, and John Keegan) have been met with fierce defense and counterattack by younger scholars (Christopher Bassford, Antulio J. Echevarria II, Andreas Herberg-Rothe, Hew Strachan), who seem to be winning."
♦ CLIFFORD ROGERS & JON SUMIDA
Professors, USMA and U. Maryland, respectively.
Here's an argumentative but reasonably civilized exchange between two scholars on the meaning of some important ideas in Clausewitz's On War.
Jon Tetsuro Sumida, “The Relationship of History and Theory in On War: The Clausewitzian Ideal and its Implications,” Journal of Military History, April 2001
Cliff Rogers, "Clausewitz, Genius, and the Rules," The Journal of Military History, October 2002
Jon Sumida replies to Cliff RogersThe Journal of Military History, October 2002
"Clausewitz and the 'New Wars' Scholars," Parameters, Spring 2010, pp.89-100.
This is an excellent survey and critique of various recent efforts to dismiss Clausewitz as irrelevant to war in the current era—e.g., the work of Mary Kaldor, Martin van Creveld, John Keegan, etc., etc.
Here's a very interesting discussion thread on Clausewitz, initiated by the best Sun Tzu site on the web.
♦ A.E. STAHL (editor, Infinity Journal)
Stahl, A.E., "Viable Targets? Hamas Centers of Gravity," Infinity Journal, Volume 3, Issue No. 2, Spring 2013, pages 9-12. [Infinity Journal is a free publication but registration is required.]
Clausewitz.com does not wish to encourage the long-standing and requently absurd doctrinal debate concerning the "Center of Gravity"—a term that appears in English translations of Clausewitz's Vom Kriege but is seldom treated in a manner that reflects his own approach to theory. But the debate exists and frequently invokes Clausewitz's name, so we must give it air-time. Infinity Journal provides an energetic forum for discussions of strategic matters and is probably as good an arena as any to thrash this subject out.
Abstract: In this Infinity Journal article, A.E. Stahl briefly examines Hamas' centers of gravity (CoG), as defined by Carl von Clausewitz, during the 2000-2005 Second Palestinian Armed Rebellion. It questions, among others, where Hamas' CoGs resided and whether they were immune from or susceptible to military force, or whether such centers were even worth the cost of striking them. Stahl holds that during the armed rebellion, there were four possible CoGs. He concludes, however briefly, with an understanding that Hamas' CoG was most likely their armed force. However, this was one CoG that Israel either could not or chose not to destroy.
♦ JON SUMIDA
Professor, U. Maryland. See also his controversy with Cliff Rogers, above.
On Defense as the Stronger Form of War” (draft, 15 March 2005). Paper delivered at the University of Oxford, March 2005. This key Clausewitzian concept has never been extensively described or discussed in English. In fact, in the notoriously bad Penguin edition, one of the most widely available English-language abridgements of On War, Book 6, "Defense"—by far the largest book in the entire work—has been entirely edited out. That editorial act reflects at least in part the assumption that Clausewitz, allegedly the "High Priest of Napoleon," etc., must have been kidding when he argued that the defender, all other things being equal, holds inherent advantages.
"The Clausewitz Problem," Army History, Fall 2009, pp.17-21. This is a short, well-crafted, and useful précis of Sumida's controversial arguments in his recent book, Decoding Clausewitz: A New Approach to On War. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2008. The controversy, to a large extent, involves Sumida's style, perhaps excessively exclusive claims, and details of his treatment of "absolute war." His core arguments, which concern 1) the nature and meaning of Clausewitz's views on the inherently superior strengths of the defensive form of war, and 2) Clausewitz's ideas concerning the use of historical reenactment in military-strategic education, are innovative, important, and sound. See, however, Jennie Kiesling's thoughtful, witty, and balanced review, listed above.
♦ UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS DOCTRINE
FMFM 1: Warfighting (1989) (HTML) [c.118Kb]
Click on the button to view on-line versions of the following new publications, all of which draw heavily on Clausewitz.
See also Christopher Bassford, "Doctrinal Complexity: Nonlinearity in Marine Corps Doctrine."
♦ THOMAS WALDMAN
University of York
"War, Clausewitz, and the Trinity," Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, June 2009. Recommended. Now significantly revised and published as War, Clausewitz and the Trinity (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013), ISBN 9781409451396
"This study is an attempt to analyse Clausewitz’s central theoretical device for understanding war – the ‘remarkable trinity’ of politics, chance, and passion. It aims to present a more accurate conception and one which is truer to Clausewitz’s intentions." One endearing line: "It has been written that, in order to avoid ... endless misunderstanding, On War ‘has to be studied repeatedly, seriously, and in depth.’ The irony that this was written by one of Clausewitz’s most mistaken interpreters [i.e., Martin van Creveld] should not detract from the wisdom of the injunction."
"Politics and War: Clausewitz’s Paradoxical Equation." Parameters, Vol. 40, No. 3 (Autumn 2010). This is a truly excellent exploration of the meaning of the most quoted—and most frequently misunderstood—concept in On War.
♦ BARRY D. WATTS
Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
(National Defense University: McNair Paper Number 52, October 1996; revised as McNair Paper Number 68, 2004)
♦ SPENSER WILKINSON
British Military Historian and Journalist, 1853-1937. Wilkinson was arguably Britain's most influential military correspondent and commentator from the 1890s to well into the interwar period.
"Strategy in the Navy," The Morning Post, 3 August 1909; "Strategy at Sea," The Morning Post, 12 February 1912. These essays are essentially attacks on the influential British naval theorist Julian Stafford Corbett's interpretation of Clausewitz and on Corbett's influence on the Royal Navy. They serve to demonstrate that the pre-World War I debate concerning the implications of Clausewitzian theory was a good deal more energetic than most standard treatments of the issue would indicate. Wilkinson's debate with Corbett is discussed in a larger treatment of Clausewitz's role in pre-WWI British naval theory, pp.94-103 of Bassford, Clausewitz in English.
Killing No Murder: An Examination of Some New Theories of War Army Quarterly 14 (October 1927). This is a critical response to Basil Liddell Hart's book, The Remaking of Modern Armies (London: J. Murray, 1927).
♦ BARRY S. ZELLEN
Zellen (formerly of the Naval Postgraduate School) is an author and political theorist specializing in the philosophy of war, state-tribe conflict, and the foundations of world order.
Order in an Age of Absolute War: Brodie, Clausewitz and the Case for Complexity. Security Innovator, 1 FEB 2009.
♦ SEE ALSO: BIBLIOGRAPHIES Extensive bibliographical information on books and articles, etc., on Clausewitz in English, German, French, Japanese, and other languages. Includes many links to items on-line.
Return to The Clausewitz Homepage