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Antoine Henri De Jomini Vs Carl Von Clausewitz

2936 words - 12 pages

It is interesting and even surprising that the two major strategies regarding war were developed by European contemporaries of the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. Antoine Henri de Jomini (1779-1869) approached his philosophy of war in a structured, scientific manner. Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) took a more fluid, open-ended approach to his philosophy of war. The fact that they lived during the same time period in Europe is also fascinating in that they likely knew of each others’ writings as well as potentially influenced and were influenced by the philosophy of the other. Jomini’s scientific approach is more applicable to the tactical and operational levels of war while Clausewitz approaches war as more of an art or interaction between people that is more appropriate to the strategic and political levels of war. Although their two war strategies are presented as opposing strategies, by comparing concepts from each of the theorists to the other theorist’s work shows that they are actually more complementary than competing in that they are addressing different levels of war. The concepts to be evaluated are Clausewitz’s “Trinity of War”, “war as a continuation of politics”, and the “unpredictability of war” as well as Jomini’s definition of strategy and his “Fundamental Principle of War”.

The first concept is Clausewitz’s Trinity of War which is comprised of “…three categories of forces: irrational forces…; non-rational forces…; and reason or rational calculation…” [Bassford, pg 205]. The irrational forces are hostility and violence that originate mainly with the people and are the impetus of a political solution that may result in war. The non-rational forces refer to chance and probability which are primarily addressed by the military and its leadership during war through their knowledge, skills and experience in the profession of arms. The rational forces are the careful planning and sound judgment whereby the government translates the people’s hostility and violence into political objectives that ultimately may be pursued through war. He describes war as a phenomenon that occurs between the three types of forces mentioned above. However, it is unpredictable because of the ever-changing amount of influence exerted by these forces at any given time.

Jomini hints at an interrelationship between the people, the military and the government in Article XII of his Summary of the Art of War, “As the excited passions of a people are… a powerful enemy, both the general and his government should… allay them. We have nothing more to add to what has been said on this point…” [Jomini, pg 129]. However, he doesn’t go on to explore the relationship between these entities or any other higher level factors that influence the conduct of war. It seems like an incomplete thought that was placed in the section entitled Other Causes which Exercise an Influence upon the Success of a War without more of an explanation. Earlier in Chapter 1,...

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