The Clausewitz so readily condemned by commentators of today, such as Martin van Creveld, John Keegan and Mary Kaldor, is the Clausewitz who was fashionable in the 1970s. The fact that the rationality of the “formula” of war’s relationship to policy looks less clear in 2007 does not invalidate it as an interpretative tool. The problem has arisen from its artificial exclusivity, from its being taken so very much out of context. There is much more to On War than one hackneyed catchphrase, and the tragedy for the armed forces of the United States and their allies today is that greater attention to rather more of the text would have provided the intellectual underpinnings for greater self-awareness and strategic sensitivity than has been evident over the last half decade. We need not to ditchOn War but to read more of it, and to read it with greater care.
Published on: July 1, 2007
Carl von Clausewitz