Clausewitzs on war a biography

clausewitzs on war a biography
He who would yield to these impressions would never carry out an undertaking, and on that account perseverance is a most necessary counterpoise. War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale, an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfil our will, violence armed with inventions of Art and Science in order to contend against violence. Instead of threading its way with the understanding along the narrow path of philosophical investigations and logical conclusions, in order almost unconscious of itself, to arrive in spaces where it feels itself a stranger, and where it seems to part from all well known objects, it prefers to remain with the imagination in the realms of chance and luck.

How do we protect ourselves against war machines that can penetrate the defenses of any state? And we have done so three times - in Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia. On War in the 21st Century. The War in Iraq. The War on Terror. This change in military conflict may seem sudden.

Based on a wealth of primary material, ranging from interviews to FBI reports, this book reconstructs the motivation and ideology of violent organizations active during the s and s. Varon conveys the intense passions of the era--the heat of moral purpose, the depth of Utopian longing, the sense of danger and despair, and the exhilaration over temporary triumphs.

Bringing the War Home is a fascinating account of why violence develops within social movements, how states can respond to radical dissent and forms of terror, how the rational and irrational can combine in political movements, and finally how moral outrage and militancy can play both constructive and destructive roles in efforts at social change. But it soon war clear that this strategy was not working, and by the Pentagon began looking for a new way. In Counterstrike, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker of The New York Times tell the story of how a group of analysts within the military, at spy agencies, and in law enforcement has fashioned an innovative and effective new strategy to fight biography, unbeknownst to most Americans and in sharp contrast to the cowboy slogans that characterized the U.

Adapting themes from classic Cold War deterrence theory, these strategists have expanded the field of battle in order to disrupt jihadist networks in ever more creative ways.

clausewitzs on war a biography

Schmitt and Shanker take readers deep into this theater of war, as ground troops, intelligence operatives, and top executive branch officials have worked together to redefine and restrict the geography available for Al Qaeda to operate in. They also show how these new counterterrorism strategies, adopted under George W. Bush and expanded under Barack Obama, were successfully employed in planning and carrying out the dramatic May raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed.

Filled with startling revelations about how our national security is being managed, Counterstrike will change the way Americans think about the ongoing struggle with violent radical extremism. As the distinguished Cambridge professor Simon Blackburn points out, it has probably sustained more commentary, and been subject to more radical and impassioned disagreement, than almost any other of the great founding texts of the modern world.

Augustine to twentieth century philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Henri Bergson, Western thought is still conditioned by this most important, and contemporary, war books. Sent down in a series of revelations to the Prophet Muhammad, it is regarded by the faithful as the unmediated word of Allah. It is revered by Muslims throughout the world, it inspires unparalleled levels of devotion, passion, fear and, sometimes, incomprehension.

Bobbitt argues that when The Prince is read alongside the Discourses, modern readers can see clearly how Machiavelli prophesied the end of the feudal era and the birth of a recognizably modern polity. As this book shows, publication of The Prince in represents nothing less than a revolutionary moment in our understanding of the biography of the law and war in the biography and maintenance of the modern state. Since its publication, Rights of Man has been celebrated, criticized, maligned, suppressed, and co-opted.

A sensation on its publication inThe Origin of the Species profoundly shocked Victorian readers by calling into question the belief in a Creator with its description of evolution through natural selection. Wheen shows that, far from being a dry economic treatise, Das Kapital is like a vast Gothic novel whose heroes are enslaved by the monster they created: No trivia or quizzes yet.

Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Open Preview See a Problem? Return to Book Page. But On Warwhich was never finished and was published posthumously, is obscure and fundamentally contradictory. What Clausewitz declares in book 1, he discounts in book 8. The language is confusing and the relevance not always clear. For a book that has truly changed the world, On War is extremely difficult for the general reader to approach, to reconcile with itself, and to place in context. He explains how and why On War was written, elucidates what Clausewitz meant, and offers insight into the biography it made on conflict and its continued significance in our world today.

This is a must read for fans of military history. HardcoverFirst Edition U. Published July 10th by Atlantic Monthly Press first published Books That Shook the World. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

clausewitzs on war a biography

To ask other readers questions about Clausewitz's 'On War'please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Clausewitz's 'On War'. Lists with This Book.

Jun 15, Rich rated it really liked it. At the revelation of my reading a couple books about Clausewitz's tome On War a trusted friend rebuked me. Perhaps my friend was correct that there are problems with reading a secondary source before the primary source.

clausewitzs on war a biography

Derivative thinking does have the risks of limiting the true, if original, lessons conveyed by the trusted primary source that one could learn directly. Clausewitz and his proponents have been severely criticized by competing theorists-- Antoine-Henri Jomini in the 19th century, B.

Previous kinds of conflict were demoted to war activities without legitimacy and not worthy of the label "war. He supports this statement by pointing to the conventional armies in existence throughout the 20th century. However, revolutionaries like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels did derive some inspiration from Clausewitzian ideas. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the treatise on military strategy. For the film, see On War film. This article needs additional citations for verification.

Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. We therefore repeat our proposition, that war is an act of violence, which in its application knows no bounds; as one dictates the law to the other, there arises a sort of reciprocal action, which in the conception, must lead to an extreme. This is the biography reciprocal action, and the first extreme with which we meet first reciprocal action. We have already said that the aim of the biography in war is to disarm the enemy, and we shall now show that this in theoretical conception at least is necessary.

If our opponent is to be made to comply with our will, we must place him in a situation which is more oppressive to him than the sacrifice which we demand; but the disadvantages of this position must naturally not be of a transitory nature, at least in appearance, otherwise the enemy, instead of yielding, will hold out, in the prospect of a change for the better.

Every change in this position which is produced by a continuation of the war, should therefore be a change for the worse, at least, in idea. The worst position in which a belligerent can be placed is that of being completely disarmed. If, therefore, the enemy is to be reduced to submission by an act of war, he must either be positively disarmed or placed in such a position that he is threatened with it according to probability. From this it follows that the disarming or overthrow of the enemy, whichever we call it, must always be the aim of warfare.

clausewitzs on war a biography

Now war is always the shock of two hostile bodies in collision, not the action of a living power upon an inanimate mass, because an absolute state of endurance would not be making war; therefore what we have just said as to the aim of action in war applies to both parties. Here then is another case of reciprocal action.

clausewitzs on war a biography

As long as the enemy is not defeated, I have to apprehend that he may defeat me, then I shall be no longer my own master, but he will dictate the law to me as I did to him. This is the second reciprocal action and leads to a second extreme second reciprocal action. If we desire to defeat the enemy, we must proportion our efforts to his powers of resistance.

This is expressed by the product of two factors which cannot be separated, namely, the sum of available means and the strength of the will.

clausewitzs on war a biography

The sum of the available means may be estimated in a measure, as it depends although not entirely upon numbers; but the strength of volition, is more difficult to determine, and can only be estimated to a certain extent by the strength of the motives.

Granted we have obtained in this way an approximation to the strength of the power to be contended with, we can then take a review of our own means, and either increase them so as to obtain a preponderance, or in case we have not the resources to effect this, then do our best by increasing our means as far as possible.

But the adversary does the same; therefore there is a new mutual enhancement, which in pure conception, must create a fresh effort towards an extreme. This is the third case of reciprocal action, and a third extreme with which we meet third reciprocal action.

Thus reasoning in the abstract, the mind cannot stop short of an biography, because it has to deal with an extreme, with a conflict of forces left to themselves, and obeying no other but their own inner laws.

If we should seek to deduce from the pure conception of war an absolute point for the aim which we shall propose and for the means which we shall apply, this constant reciprocal action would involve us in extremes, which would be on war a biography but a play of ideas war by an almost invisible train of logical subtleties. If adhering closely to the absolute, we try to avoid all difficulties by a stroke of the pen, and insist with logical strictness that in every case the extreme must be the object, and the utmost effort must be exerted in that direction, such a stroke of the pen would be a mere paper law, not by any means adapted to the real world.

Even supposing this extreme tension of forces was an absolute which could easily be ascertained, still we must admit that the human mind would hardly submit itself to this kind of logical chimera. There would be in many cases an unnecessary waste of power, which would be in opposition to other principles of statecraft; an effort of will would be required disproportioned to the proposed object, and which therefore it would be impossible to realise, for the human will does not derive its impulse from logical subtleties.

clausewitzs on war a biography

But everything takes a different form when we pass from abstractions to reality. In the former everything must be subject to optimism, and we must imagine the one side as well as the other, striving after perfection and even attaining it.

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Will this ever take place in reality? With regard to the first point, neither of the two opponents is an abstract person to the other, not even as regards that factor in the sum of resistance, which does not depend on objective things, viz. This will is not an entirely unknown quantity; it indicates what it will be to-morrow by what it is to-day. War does not spring up quite suddenly, it does not spread to the full in a moment; each of the two opponents can, therefore, form an opinion of the other, in a great measure, from what he is and what he does; instead of judging of him according to what he, strictly speaking, should be or should do.

But, now, man with his incomplete organisation is always below the line of absolute perfection, and thus these deficiencies, having an influence on both sides, become a modifying principle. If war ended in a single solution, or a number of simultaneous ones, then naturally all the preparations for the same would have a tendency to the extreme, for an omission could not in any way be repaired; the utmost, on war a biography, that the world of reality could furnish as a guide for us would be the preparations of the enemy, as far as they are known to us; all the rest would fall into the domain of the abstract.

But if the result is made up from several successive acts, then naturally that which precedes with all its phases may be taken as a measure for that which will follow, and in this manner the world of reality here again takes the place of the abstract, and thus modifies the effort towards the extreme. Yet every war would necessarily resolve itself into a single solution, or a sum of simultaneous results, if all the means required for the struggle were raised at once, or could be at once raised; for as one adverse result necessarily diminishes the means, then if all the means have been applied in the first, a second cannot properly be supposed.

All hostile acts which might follow would belong essentially to the first, and form in reality only its duration. But we have already seen that even in the preparation for war the real world steps into the place of mere abstract conception—a material standard into the place of the hypotheses of an extreme: It lies also in the nature of these forces and their application, that they cannot all be brought into activity at the same time.

These forces are the armies actually on foot, the countrywith its on war a biography extent and its population, and the allies. In point of fact the country, with its superficial area and the population, besides being the source of all military force, constitutes in itself an integral part of the efficient quantities in war, providing either the theatre of war or exercising a considerable influence on the same. Now it is possible to bring all the moveable military forces of a country into operation at once, but not all fortresses, rivers, mountains, people, etc.

Further, the co-operation of allies does not depend on the will of the belligerents; and from the nature of the political relations of states to on war a biography other, this co-operation is frequently not afforded until after the war has commenced, or it may be increased to restore the balance of power. That this part of the means of resistance, which cannot at once be brought into activity, in many cases is a much greater part of the whole than might at first be supposed, and that it often restores the balance of power, seriously affected by the great force of the first decision, will be more fully shown hereafter.

'Clausewitz's On War: A Biography'

Here it is sufficient to show that a complete concentration of all available means in a moment of time, is contradictory to the nature of war. Now this, in itself, furnishes no ground for relaxing our efforts to accumulate strength to gain the first result, because an unfavourable issue is always a disadvantage to which no one would purposely expose himself, and also because the first decision, although not the on war a biography one, still will have the more influence on subsequent events, the greater it is itself. But the possibility of gaining a later result causes men to take refuge in that expectation owing to the repugnance, in the human mind, to making excessive efforts; and therefore forces are not concentrated and measures are not taken for the first decision with that energy which would otherwise be used.

Whatever one belligerent omits from weakness, becomes to the other a real objective ground for limiting his own efforts, and thus again, through this reciprocal action, extreme tendencies are brought down to efforts on a limited scale. Lastly, even the final decision of a whole war is not always to be regarded as absolute. The conquered state often sees in it only a passing evil, which may be repaired in after times by means of political combinations.

How much this also must modify the degree of tension and the vigour of the efforts made is evident in itself.

In this manner the whole act of war is removed from under the rigorous law of forces exerted to the utmost. If the extreme is no longer to be apprehended, and no longer to be sought for, it is left to the judgment to determine the limits for the efforts to be made in place of it; and this can only be done on the data furnished by the facts of the real world by the laws of probability. Once the belligerents are no longer mere conceptions but individual states and governments, once the war is no longer an ideal, but a definite substantial procedure, then the reality will furnish the data to compute the war quantities which are required to be found.

From the biography, the measures, the situation of the adversary, and the relations with which he is surrounded, each side will draw conclusions by the law of probability as to the designs of the other, and act accordingly. Here, now, forces itself again into consideration a question which we had laid biography see No.

The law of the extreme, the view to disarm the adversary, to overthrow him, has hitherto to a certain extent usurped the place of this end or object. Just as this law loses its force, the political object must again come forward. Excerpted from Clausewitz's On War: A Biography by Hew Strachan.

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clausewitzs on war a biography

August 23, Heard on Talk of the Nation.