Carl Von Clausewitz Essay

1135 words - 5 pages

Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz was born June 1, 1780 in Burg bei Magdeburg, Prussia. Drawing from influences such as his professor of theology grandfather as well as philosopher Immanuel Kant, Clausewitz is regarded as a very experienced military strategist and the father of war philosophy. Due to my Army ROTC commitment and future career path, I chose him to suit my interests and aspirations. He grew up as the youngest son of a middle class family and became a cadet in the Prussian military service in his early teens. Eventually, holding positions such as staff officer with political and military responsibilities, he rose through the ranks and attained Major General and married into a high class family. During one of his tours as a combative field soldier, he was captured by Napoleon along with 25,000 others, wiping out the fighting force of the Prussian state. Clausewitz drew extensive influence on the styles of Napoleonic warfare and returned to Prussia to aid in the reformation process of his home country. Years later, he helped negotiate the alliance between Prussia, Russia, and the United Kingdom resulting in Napoleon’s defeat. Carl von Clausewitz is referred to as “the only philosopher of war” by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy due to his extreme and narrow focus exclusively on war.
Clausewitz is most notable for his collection of writings titled Vom Kriege, or On War, published in 1832 despite being unfinished due to his death on November 16, 1831. On War is classified as one of the most influential pieces of military philosophy in the Western world and has been translated into virtually every major language. The widespread success and praise was very real, however disagreement and debate arose about the motivation and a few significant contradictions between sections. Results in review of Clausewitz’ work leads to a foggy conclusion and paraphrasing ideas in some cases, although his book remains an influence and an invaluable resource for historians as well as modern strategists.
Throughout history wars have been fought for a myriad of different reasons such as religion, politics, land disputes, economics, and to defeat tyrannical leaders who have committed atrocities against mankind. Very few men have ventured to explain the philosophical side to what is considered commonplace in today’s militaries. Clausewitz firmly believed that war belongs more to the realm of philosophy rather than the realms of art or science. He eventually developed his own form of analysis which he referred to as Kritik in which he would gather facts, find where each effect would lead to each cause, and evaluate each relationship. His theory somewhat resembles the scientific method, where one would propose a hypothesis and prove it either true or false empirically. Clausewitz gains much experience with his form due to his widespread first hand combat opportunities he utilized to also extract tactics and strategy from historical battles and wars...

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