Carl von Clausewitz was a 19th century military theorist who drew many of his ideas from his own experience as a Prussian soldier. Clausewitz's conception of war is strikingly unique: characterizing it as a Hegelian dialectic of opposing factors which interact and build upon each other, Clausewitz's theories are surprisingly romantic. Nevertheless, the author stresses war as a political action that must be ruthless and uncompromising in its annihilation of the enemy.
About the Author
Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was a Prussian soldier and German military theorist who stressed the moral and political aspects of war. His most notable work, Vom Kriege (On War), was unfinished at his death. Von Clausewitz espoused a romantic conception of warfare, though he also had at least one foot planted firmly in the more rationalist ideas of the European Enlightenment. He stressed the dialectic of how opposite factors interact, and noting how unexpected new developments unfolding under the "fog of war" called for rapid decisions by alert commanders. Clausewitz saw history as a complex check on abstractions that did not accord with experience. In opposition to Antoine-Henri Jomini he argued war could not be quantified or graphed or reduced to mapwork and graphs. Clausewitz had many aphorisms, of which the most famous is, "War is the continuation of policy by other means," a description of war which has won wide acceptance.