Le’ Notes #37: A very short introduction to Clausewitz

This post briefly covers Clausewitz’s main ideas on war, with specific reference to Books 1 and 2.

If you have (or are) studying war, the name Clausewitz will always pop up, and for good reason too. His treatise, On War, is one of the foundational texts in the study of war. In it, Clausewitz tries to create a sort of grand theory of war. So, what’s his theory of war? In this post, I’ll go through Clausewitz’s main ideas that make up his (unfinished) theory of war.

Before we go further, I’ll be taking most of the quotations from the Howard and Paret translation, as this is considered the academic standard of all On War translations. There are two versions of the Howard-Paret translation: the first being the original version (1976) and the second being the Everyman’s Library version (1993). Since I have the 1993 version, I’ll be using that as a reference. Note that the major difference is just the page numbering.

On War consists of eight books; however, for those who aren’t studying to become military commanders, you mostly need to be acquainted with Books I and II. These contain the essence of Clausewitz’s thoughts on war. However, if you have the time or are planning to further your understanding on Clausewitz, I suggest you read Bernard Brodie’s guide on how to read On War, present in the Everyman’s edition on page 775. It’s a really nifty study guide.

Continue reading “Le’ Notes #37: A very short introduction to Clausewitz”

Le’ Notes #4: The Politics of Grand Strategy

This post discusses strategy, grand strategy, and the influence of politics on strategy and defining the national interest.

What’s the difference between strategy and grand strategy? And what does politics have to do with it? More than you think.

Though we might be acquainted with “strategy” strictly in military terms, we have to accept that the word has fallen into abuse over and over again. And it’s got even more muddier ever since Liddell Hart came up with the definition of “grand strategy” as being the use of all national resources to achieve political objectives. So here, let’s talk about the politics of grand strategy, how it is formed, and how politics sometimes fail strategically.

Continue reading “Le’ Notes #4: The Politics of Grand Strategy”

Le’ Notes #2: The Centre of Gravity

This post discusses the centre of gravity as a concept and the confusion surrounding it, while also pondering whether or not we still need a concept of the COG in modern warfare.

Out of the dominant characteristics of both belligerents “a certain center of gravity develops, the hub of all power and movement, on which everything depends.  That is the point against which all our energies should be directed. – Clausewitz, On War, Book VIII, 595-596

First formulated by the great Clausewitz, the term “centre of gravity” or Schwerpunkt, which I will shorten to COG, has become one of the most debated terms in military strategy. Much intellectual energy has been spent on debating the definition of a COG to whether or not the COG is still relevant to today’s strategy.  Continue reading “Le’ Notes #2: The Centre of Gravity”

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