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Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831)


Prussian general and influential military theorist.
Carl von Clausewitz
If a segment of one's force is located where it is not sufficiently busy with the enemy, or if the troops are on the march - that is, idle - while the enemy is fighting, then these forces are being managed uneconomically. In this sense they are being wasted, which is even worse than using them inappropriately.
Clausewitz quotes
...soldierly simplicity of character that has always represented the military at its best. In the higher ranks it is different. The higher a man is placed, the broader his point of view. Different interests and a wide variety of passions, good and bad, will arise on all sides. Envy and generosity, pride and humility, wrath and compassion - all may appear as effective forces in this great drama.
Clausewitz
Knowledge must be so absorbed into the mind that it ceases to exist in a separate, objective way." "...in 1797 the secret of the effectiveness of resisting to the last had not yet been discovered.




Clausewitz Carl von quotes
The worst of all conditions in which a belligerent can find himself is to be utterly defenseless.
Clausewitz Carl von
Phillipsburg was the name of one those badly drawn fortresses resembling a fool with his nose too close to the wall.
Carl von Clausewitz quotes
Determination in a single instance is an expression of courage; if it becomes characteristic, a mental habit. But here we are referring not to physical courage but to courage to accept responsibility, courage in the face of a moral danger. This has often been called courage d'esprit, because it is created by the intellect. That, however, does not make it an act of the intellect: it is an act of temperament. Intelligence alone is not courage; we often see that the most intelligent people are irresolute. Since in the rush of events a man is governed by feelings rather than by thought, the intellect needs to arouse the quality of courage, which then supports and sustains it in action.
Looked at in this way, the role of determination is to limit the agonies of doubt and the perils of hesitation when the motives for action are inadequate.
Carl von Clausewitz
War is an act of violence pushed to its utmost bounds.
Clausewitz Carl von quotes
There are times when the utmost daring is the height of wisdom.
Clausewitz
Knowledge in war is very simple, being concerned with so few subjects, and only with their final results at that. But this does not make its application easy.
Clausewitz Carl von
We repeat again: 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.
Carl von Clausewitz
Timidity is the root of prudence in the majority of men.




Carl von Clausewitz quotes
The moral elements are among the most important in war. They constitute the spirit that permeates war as a whole, and at an early stage they establish a close affinity with the will that moves and leads a whole mass of force, practically merging with it, since the will is itself a moral quantity. Unfortunately they will not yield to academic wisdom. They cannot be classified or counted. They have to be seen or felt. ... It is paltry philosophy if in the old-fashioned way one lays down rules and principles in total disregard of moral values. As soon as these appear one regards them as exceptions, which gives them a certain scientific status, and thus makes them into rules. Or again one may appeal to genius, which is above all rules; which amounts to admitting that rules are not only made for idiots, but are idiotic in themselves.
Carl von Clausewitz
Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult.
Clausewitz quotes
If the mind is to emerge unscathed from this relentless struggle with the unforeseen, two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead.
Clausewitz Carl von
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.
Clausewitz Carl von quotes
Beauty cannot be defined by abscissas and ordinates; neither are circles and ellipses created by their geometrical formulas.
Carl von Clausewitz
...only a fraction of book learning will seep into practical life anyhow; and the more foolish the theory, the less of it.
Carl von Clausewitz quotes
Our discussion has shown that while in war many different roads can lead to the goal, to the attainment of the political object, fighting is the only possible means.
Carl von Clausewitz
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.
Clausewitz Carl von
...in war, the advantages and disadvantages of a single action could only be determined by the final balance.


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