Carl von Clausewitz (July 1, 1780 - November 16, 1831) Carl von Clausewitz Carl Philipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz (July 1, 1780 November 16, 1831) was a Prussian Major-General and military theorist who was most famous for his book “Vom Kriege” or “On War”. Von Clausewitz’s strategies of war influenced many leaders after his time and still influence many nations today. General Strategy Von Clausewtiz stated in his general strategy that war has 3 objectives. – To conquer and destroy the armed power of the enemy. – To take possession of his material and other sources of strength. – To gain public opinion. His general strategy also dictated to “always direct the principle operation against the main body of the enemy army or at least against an important portion of his forces”, and concluded by stating that “public opinion is won through great victories and the occupation of the enemies capital”. The 4 Rules Von Clausewitz’s elaborated upon winning public opinion by establishing 4 major rules towards creating a swift victory: – The first and most important rule to observe in order to accomplish these purposes, is to use forces with the utmost energy. Any moderation shown would leave us short of our aim. Even with everything in our favor, we should be unwise not to make the greatest effort in order to make the result perfectly certain. For such effort can never produce negative results. Suppose the country suffers greatly from this, no lasting disadvantage will arise; for the greater the effort, the sooner the suffering will cease. The moral impression created by these actions is of infinite importance. They make everyone confident of success, which is the best means for suddenly raising the nation’s morale. The 4 Rules – The second rule is to concentrate our power as much as possible against that section where the chief blows are to be delivered and to incur disadvantages elsewhere, so that our chances of success may increase at the decisive point. This will compensate for all other disadvantages. – The third rule is never to waste time. Unless important advantages are to be gained from hesitation, it is necessary to set to work at once. By this speed a hundred enemy measures are nipped in the bud, and public opinion is won most rapidly. Surprise plays a much greater role in strategy than in tactics. It is the most important element of victory. Napoleon, Frederick II, Gustavus Adolphus, Caesar, Hannibal, and Alexander owe the brightest rays of their fame to their swiftness. – Finally, the fourth rule is to follow up our successes with the utmost energy. Only pursuit of the beaten enemy gives the fruits of victory. Defensive Strategy Von Clausewitz also established 4 main defensive and 2 main offensive rules for a successful campaign in wartime: – Adopt a strategic defense mainly when the enemy is superior. – Disorganize the enemy and force it into a retreat, during which it will necessarily suffer great losses. – Fortifications are to keep the enemy occupied. It is best to fight from behind it, but not stand by idly while it is conquered. – If the defense wins and peace does not follow immediately, we can gain further success only through the offensive. Offensive Strategy Von Clausewitz also established 4 main defensive and 2 main offensive rules for a successful campaign in wartime: – OFFENSIVE: Constant replacement of troops and arms. The roads of our lines of operation must be covered constantly with transports of soldiers and supplies, We must establish military stations along these roads to hasten this rapid transport. – OFFENSIVE: The aggressor should foresee a possibility of great disaster, by organizing strong points along the lines to retreat to incase of a defeat, they should be fortified. On War In “On War”, Von Clausewitz also discusses the critical analysis, tactics, unpredictability, fog, friction, and centre of gravity in war. Von Clausewitz was highlighted for discussing the differences between “absolute” or “ideal war” as opposed to “real war”. Von Clausewitz clearly influenced leaders and nations after his time and changed the way we think of war. After his death, his influence was strong in World War I, World War II, the Cold War and perhaps even today. World War II Cold War Today Some argue that Clausewitzian theory is out of date in today’s world of nuclear proliferation. The United States is currently the world’s only superpower and they have never used Clausewitzian theory, however many attribute this to their failure in Vietnam and modern-day Iraq. “War is just an extension of politics”.