Carl von Clausewitz quotes

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Carl von Clausewitz

Birthdate: 1. June 1780
Date of death: 16. November 1831
Other names: Carl Philipp Gotfried Von Clausewitz, Карл Филипп Готтлиб фон Клаузевиц, Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz

Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz was a Prussian general and military theorist who stressed the "moral" and political aspects of war. His most notable work, Vom Kriege , was unfinished at his death.

Clausewitz was a realist in many different senses and, while in some respects a romantic, also drew heavily on the rationalist ideas of the European Enlightenment.

Clausewitz's thinking is often described as Hegelian because of his dialectical method; but, although he was probably personally acquainted with Hegel, there remains debate as to whether or not Clausewitz was in fact influenced by him. He stressed the dialectical interaction of diverse factors, noting how unexpected developments unfolding under the "fog of war" call for rapid decisions by alert commanders. He saw history as a vital check on erudite abstractions that did not accord with experience. In contrast to the early work of Antoine-Henri Jomini, he argued that war could not be quantified or reduced to mapwork, geometry, and graphs. Clausewitz had many aphorisms, of which the most famous is "War is the continuation of politics by other means." Wikipedia

Photo: Karl Wilhelm Wach, Unknown source / Public domain

Works

On War
On War
Carl von Clausewitz

„War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.“

—  Carl von Clausewitz, book On War

Variant: War Is Merely the Continuation of Policy by Other Means
Source: On War (1832), Book 1, Chapter 1, Section 24, in the Princeton University Press translation (1976)
Variant translation: War is merely the continuation of politics by other means.
Context: War Is Merely the Continuation of Policy by Other Means
We see, therefore, that war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means. What remains peculiar to war is simply the peculiar nature of its means.

„Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat the enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war.“

—  Carl von Clausewitz, book On War

Source: On War (1832), Book 1, Chapter 1, Section 3, Paragraph 1.
Context: Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat the enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war. Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy that must be exposed: War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst.

„There are cases in which the greatest daring is the greatest wisdom.“

—  Carl von Clausewitz, book On War

Variant: There are times when the utmost daring is the height of wisdom.
Source: On War (1832), Book 2

„Strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one’s balance in spite of them.“

—  Carl von Clausewitz, book On War

Source: On War (1832), Book 1, Chapter 3.
Context: Strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one’s balance in spite of them. Even with the violence of emotion, judgment and principle must still function like a ship’s compass, which records the slightest variations however rough the sea.

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„War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst.“

—  Carl von Clausewitz, book On War

Source: On War (1832), Book 1, Chapter 1, Section 3, Paragraph 1.
Context: Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat the enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war. Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy that must be exposed: War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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