Carl von Clausewitz "The Continuation Of Politics" June 1, 1780 - November 16, 1831
"War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by different means." This statement is probably the most quoted sentence from On War (Vom Kriege), the work on military strategy written by the foremost military theorist of the 19th century, Car von Clausewitz. Though many Americans may have read the original German or a French translation of On War, Clausewitz's book was not translated into English until 1873; thus his theories were not so well known to American-born generals as those of Andre Jomini and other writers on the science of war. But Clausewitz's ideas were recognized and taught in North America, and many of the European soldiers who fought in the Civil War were very familiar with his writings.
The son of a poor but middle-class Prussian family, Clausewitz entered the Prussian army at the age of 12. His brilliant mind was recognized by his superiors, and in 1801 he entered Berlin's War College, where he excelled in military science, philosophy, and literature. He later rendered extremely valuable service as a staff officer and was conspicuous in providing sound advice and demonstrating bravery in battle. He became a general in 1818 and was appointed the administrative head of the War College. It was during the 12 years as head of the college that he wrote his famous book.
Clausewitz was not so concerned with tactics and the correctness of operational doctrines as were other military theorists of his day; he was most concerned with the grand strategy of warfare. Based on his logic and realism regarding the science of war, he advocated the concept of total war, in which all of the nation's wealth and resources would be brought to bear in destroying not only the enemy's armies, but its property and citizens as well. This wholehearted waging of war was intended to destroy the enemy's will to fight and bring a quick and decisive end to the conflict. Clausewitz realized that despite training and planning, chance inevitably affected the course of war. He taught that it should be regarded as a positive element to be exploited to the fullest extent possible.
Fascinating Fact: Shy and sensitive by nature, Clausewitz spent virtually his whole life in military service, yet he never held a command of his own.
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