Carl von Clausewitz: two letters on strategy (CSI reprint) - download pdf or read online

By Carl von Clausewitz

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Extra resources for Carl von Clausewitz: two letters on strategy (CSI reprint)

Sample text

B6 I hate the sort of technical language that leads us to believe we can reduce the individual case to a universal, to the inevitable. Strategists manipulate thes’e terminologies as if they were algebraic formulae, whose accuracy has long been established, brief formulae that may be used as substitutes for the original reality. But these phrases do not even represent clear and definite principles. Rather they are nebulous, ambiguous expressions, whose true meaning remains open to question. This is no accident.

Suppose we find that out of fifty wars forty-nine have been of the second kind -that is, wars with limited objectives, not directed at the total defeat of the enemy- then we would have to believe that these limitations reside in the nature of war itself, instead of being in every case brought about by wrong ideas, lack of energy, or whatever. We must not allow ourselves to be misled into regarding war as a pure act of force and of destruction, and from this simplistic concept logically deduce a string of conclusions that no longer have anything to do with the real world.

Since it is impossible to generate all essential facts in a hypothetical exercise, it is evident that the more detailed our account, the more illusory it becomes. We make any number of tacit assumptions, and develop an analysis that in the end might not be relevant to one case in a hundred. Reasoning of this kind may still be useful to train our judgment, of course. But it is clear that such an analysis can never be satisfactorily refuted by equally arbitrary arguments. If we are contentious we won’t be able to reach agreement; if we honestly seek a solution we will eventually fall inta a disagreeable state of perplexity, in which we might almost despair of the validity of any theory whatever.

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Carl von Clausewitz: two letters on strategy (CSI reprint) by Carl von Clausewitz

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