By Hew Strachan, Andreas Herberg-Rothe
Clausewitz's On War has, a minimum of till very lately, been considered as crucial paintings of concept on its topic. yet because the finish of the chilly conflict in 1990, or even extra because the Sept. 11 assaults at the usa in 2001, increasingly more commentators have argued that On War has misplaced its analytical aspect as a device for knowing struggle. they've got argued that Clausewitz used to be involved completely with inter-state warfare and with competently outlined armies, and that the kinds of conflicts which he mentioned are as a result a part of a old trend which ruled Europe among 1648, the top of the Thirty Years warfare, and 1990 itself. a few have long past additional, and recommended that Clausewitz's most sensible identified aphorism, that struggle is a continuation of coverage by means of different capability, isn't just beside the point this present day but additionally inapplicable traditionally. Clausewitz within the Twenty-First Century reconsiders the significant subject matters in Clausewitz's writings from a modern standpoint, and unearths in them even more proposal and perception than those generalisations enable. Embracing the views of heritage, philosophy and political technology, the booklet reconsiders either the textual content and its present implications. conventional interpretations of On War are placed into clean mild; missed passages are re-examined; and new insights are derived from the conjunction among Clausewitz's textual content and today's demanding situations.
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Shorn of its nineteenth-century style, rid of its fondness for the impersonal passive tense, and free of its lengthier sentences, it has gained immensely in clarity. It has also gained in readers (hence Howard’s reference to the ﬁnancial rewards). M. Baldwin, ‘Clausewitz in Nazi Germany’, Journal of Contemporary History, 16 (1981), 19. 44 Ibid. 19. , Basil Liddell Hart, The Defence of the West (London, 1950), 292–4, 371. 46 J. F. C. Fuller, The Conduct of War 1789–1961: A Study of the Impact of the French, Industrial and Russian Revolutions on War and Its Conduct (London, 1961), 12, 64–5.
However, Paret himself suggested another answer. He believed that Clausewitz’s most famous assumption, that war is nothing but the continuation of policy by other means, pervades the entire text, because it was a proposition which had its roots in his earliest reactions to war and was fully ﬂedged by 1804–5, even before the battle of Jena. Thus for Paret, and for those who have read his rendering of it, On War possesses an inner unity which had escaped its earlier readers. This is the Clausewitz which has ruled the roost in American military academies for the last thirty years, and it made sense both in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and in the later years of the Cold War.
Linking this surge of interest to the inﬂuence of Moltke rests on an underlying paradox. On War is a sustained dialogue between theory and practice. Clausewitz’s early self-education, the inspiration of his adolescence, had been in philosophy; he had read the works of the Enlightenment, and, for all his damning comments about certain military theorists, he was determined to write a theory of his own. Both his own experience as a soldier and military history, to which he had been introduced by Scharnhorst, were the reality checks on this inclination to abstraction.