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Old 09-11-2006   #21
Tc2642
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Default Bit long but...

Having read through this article it does appear that the writer has not even taken any time to read through Clausewitz (why bother if you think he is redundant?). In terms of theory far from being redundant I would state that he is very much relevant to today’s and future wars. There are a number of inconsistencies in this text, I doubt Clausewitz would have disagreed with ‘know thy enemy and know thyself’, but this does not suggest that Clausewitz is dogmatic, his work was meant as a tool for learning not the end in itself.

He also made very clear in his work that each age war would have its own characteristics particular to that age, that theory should be there to show how things are not how they should be.

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Like the aging Marxists with a Karl of their own, the Clausewitzians today are more interested in exonerating their idol from the evil perpetrated in his name than in demonstrating what good he could bring to the current challenges facing the military. It may well be that Marx and Clausewitz were indeed mostly "misread" by most people most of the time, but if the risks of "misreading" are statistically greater than the chances of getting it right, what's the point of making it required reading in the first place?
Yeah, why bother reading something if it is too difficult to understand first time around, this from my point of view is lazy thinking, the ideas and concepts are complex but by rereading certain parts over and reading “On War” in it’s entirety you can avoid misreading it.

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A decade ago already, U.S. Army War College professor Steven Metz remarked: "Like adoration for some family elder, the veneration heaped on Clausewitz seems to grow even as his power to explain the world declines. He remains an icon at all U.S. war colleges (figuratively and literally) while his writings are bent, twisted, and stretched to explain everything from guerilla insurgency (Summers) through nuclear strategy (Cimbala) to counternarcotrafficking (Sharpe). On War is treated like holy script from which quotations are plucked to legitimize all sorts of policies and programs. But enough! It is time to hold a wake so that strategists can pay their respects to Clausewitz and move on, leaving him to rest among thehistorians."7
I refer to, http://www.clausewitz.com/CWZHOME/METZSLAM.htm,

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Does the obsession with Clausewitz really matter that much? You bet it does. As the military-educational complex (150 institutions, of which the Naval War College is the crown jewel) takes in interagency education, the danger is that "strategism" and "Clausewitzology" will spread to other agencies and may aggravate already dysfunctional civil-military relations at the working level. The Iraqi precedent, in that respect, does not bode well.
I don’t like this term strategism, strategy in the simplest terms is using battles to achive the political objective of the war that is being fought. Not strategy for the sake of strategy, who would fight a battle for the sake of it?

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But the successor generations should have logically benefited from the "lessons learned" in Vietnam as well as the growing literature on counterinsurgency. Yet instead of being exposed to the policy-relevant Clausewitzian realism of Osgood's Limited War Revisited (1979), the new generation of officers was force-fed with the Clausewitzian "surrealism" of Summers's On Strategy (1981) -- the true beginning of strategy for strategy's sake in America.
So he has more of a problem with Clausewitz being taught in a ‘surrealist’ way than the policy relevant realism of Clausewitz? Hold on, I thought Clausewitz should be confined to the dustbin of history? Not taught from a different perspective

Not really sure about the military educational establishment so will pass without comment.

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Yet, while the Osamas of this world were issuing fatwas against "Jews and Crusaders" and defining their own struggle in terms of "Fourth-Generation Warfare," our Clausewitzian Ayatollahs were too busy turning Vom Kriege in a military Quran and issuing fatwas against the theoreticians of 4GW, Netwar, and other postmodern "heresies." If that attitude does not qualify as "dereliction of duty," what does?
I would again state, that from my point of view as a Clausewitzian and someone who belives that Fourth Generational war is with us that the two are not mutually inconceivable together, that they can be conflated.

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‘if the Clausewitzian text is indeed so filled with fog and friction, if On War is so hard to teach from that even most educators can't teach it properly, then surely thought should be given to retiring Clausewitz, or the educators -- or both.
I would disagree, may have taken a bit of time but I now have a better understanding of Clausewitz and a broader conception of his ideas and some of the more nuanced points of his work

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If, as Gray rightly points out, "strategy is -- or should be, the bridge that connects military power with policy," what kind of a bridge is On War, which devotes 600 pages to military power and next to nothing to policy?
Clausewitz was a soldier, not a politician, thefore why should he write anything about policy, that’s left up to the government.

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Why such an irrational "resistance" (in the Freudian sense) on the part of military educators? After all, it does not take an Einstein to realize that, from Alexander the Great to Napoleon, the greatest generals for 20 centuries had one thing in common: They have never read Clausewitz. And conversely, in the bloodiest century known to man, the greatest admirers of Clausewitz also have had one thing in common: They may have won a battle here and there, but they have all invariably lost all their wars.
Hm, Lenin, Mao, Lawerence?


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As of this writing (August 2006), it is too early to tell whether Baghdad will be America's Battle of Algiers -- or Battle of Jena. But it is not too early to call for a Renaissance in Strategic Education -- for military and civilians alike. In diplomacy as in academe and in the media, there is unquestionably a need for greater strategic literacy, and the military can play a constructive role; but by the same token, the military will have to free itself from the Clausewitzian straitjacket if it ever wants to make a significant contribution to grand strategy.
http://www.clausewitz.com/CWZHOME/Keegan/KEEGWHOL.htm

I will try and make a go of going through the rest, but those are my thoughts so far

Last edited by Tc2642; 09-11-2006 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 09-12-2006   #22
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On Clausewitz in Wonderland...
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Old 10-20-2006   #23
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Cool Reply from Clausewitz.com

Chris Bassford, who is on the faculty at the National War College and is editor of The Clausewitz Homepage, has posted a somewhat disdainful reply to Tony Corn at http://www.clausewitz.com/CWZHOME/OnCornyIdeas.htm. I've got to admit, it is hard to understand why a writer like Corn, who is apparently trying to influence the strategic debate, would launch so many snide ad hominem attacks on people who might otherwise be influenced--which does not include old Carl, of course. I wonder if Tony knows the guy reached room temperature 175 years ago.
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Old 10-20-2006   #24
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Default Thanks for the link...

Here is an excerpt from Dr. Bassford's reply A Response to Tony Corn's "Clausewitz in Wonderland" at the The Clausewitz Homepage:

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... Nor is Clausewitz responsible for the smothering political correctness that makes it virtually impossible even to discuss things like the strategic history of Islam. Personally, I am still recovering from the high-pitched institutional whining that ensued when I made remarks on that subject virtually identical to Corn's a few weeks ago at one of the nation's premier institutions for strategic education. And almost every PME effort to discuss the "anthropology" of Islam that I have experienced has immediately degenerated into an utterly irrelevant analysis of the finer points of Koranic theology. Corn makes some (seemingly) favorable allusions to the potential value to strategists of understanding modern evolutionary theory (i.e., to Richard Dawkins and his memes). Great stuff! But mention evolutionary theory to a US-government audience and you'll spend the next hour debating the Book of Genesis with folks on the right side of the room; a week later you'll be reading articles by lefties in the Washington Post accusing you of advocating new eugenics laws banning reproduction by racial minorities.

The errors Corn describes originate in American cultural attitudes that certainly do not derive from Clausewitz. Iindeed, it is those cultural attitudes that drive the frequently ludicrous manner in which Clausewitz's ideas are used and taught. Those attitudes will not magically disappear once every copy of On War has been safely burned. If anthropology becomes the new strategic rage, then educators who may be "men of one book" (or even "men of one set of Cliffs notes") will be subjecting students to equally misleading doctrinal discourses on Margaret Mead. (I'm not joking here: Read John Keegan's anthropological absurdities in his A History of Warfare, which are every bit as asinine as his comments on Clausewitz.)

There are a great many ideas in Corn's article that, however disjointed, are worthy of discussion. Rather than respond with my own theory-of-everything, let me focus briefly on Corn's very positive comments on thinking inside the US Marine Corps. Though I am evidently one of the "Clausewitzian petits maitres" Corn finds so objectionable, I know something at least about USMC doctrine, since I wrote small pieces of the current MCDP 1, Warfighting, and virtually all of MCDP 1-1, Strategy and MCDP 1-2, Campaigning (not to mention the Aviation Operations and Reconnaissance manuals…). The MCDPs did not spring full-blown from the pen of any academic, but emerged from an energetic debate within the Corps' leadership. They are, in fact, supremely eclectic works drawing on a vast array of ideas and influences. But only a poseur who had never even looked at the famous Warfighting manual's table of contents (for which I bear no responsibility whatsoever—its primary author, John Schmitt, is a self-professed "Sun Tzu guy") could write that they are "largely exempt from the Clausewitz regimen." Just look at the chapter and section titles: "Nature of War," "Theory of War," "Friction," etc., etc. Or scan the source documentation...
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Old 10-20-2006   #25
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I have some problems with Tony Corn's article. The first problem I have is he gives Clauswitzian Theory too much credit for driving U.S. military strategy and doctrine. The U.S. Army has traditionally been driven by Jominian theory as opposed to Clauswitzian. Jomini can be summed up as telling somebody how to fight, and Clauswitz can be summed up explaining the why. The real misunderstanding of Clauswitz is that his work is assumed to be purely a work for military people. Many sections of his work ought to be read by political leaders because I feel he does an outstanding job of explaining the political leadership aspects of startegic decision making. That is why I believe that Clauswitz is more relevant than ever. Furthermore, Clauswitz defined his success as theorist based on timelessness and universiality. Both of which apply. I would argue that 4GW is not a theory. It has merely taking Maoist theory and added the concept of mass media to it. Maybe I can meet corn, since I am supposedly going to work in DC for 6 months from january to june on COIN issues.
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Old 10-20-2006   #26
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I agree, jimbo. Old Carl was writing more of an overarching theory than a simple prescriptive study. Clausewitz also never finished "On War," which is something the detractors tend to overlook.
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Old 10-20-2006   #27
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Default Mead as the new prophet?

To much commentary on Anthropology for me not to jump in

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Nor is Clausewitz responsible for the smothering political correctness that makes it virtually impossible even to discuss things like the strategic history of Islam. Personally, I am still recovering from the high-pitched institutional whining that ensued when I made remarks on that subject virtually identical to Corn's a few weeks ago at one of the nation's premier institutions for strategic education. And almost every PME effort to discuss the "anthropology" of Islam that I have experienced has immediately degenerated into an utterly irrelevant analysis of the finer points of Koranic theology.
No question in my mind that Clausewitz isn't responsible for the current PC attitudes, and I can certainly understand the "institutional whining" reaction - I see that frequently enough <wry grin>. Without being there, I honestly couldn't say whether the analysis of Koranic theology was irrelevant or not (probably, but there's always a chance it might not have been).

What is to clear to me is that Bassford got trapped in a debate where theologians (broadly construed to include both deistic and non-deistic theologies) set the rules of discourse. I'll admit to engaging in theological debates myself, usually over Port and/or Brandy. They can be a lot of fun, but the true enjoyment in them comes from one fairly simple fact - they have no immediate relevance to the material world. As such, they really should be exlcuded from discussions dealing with immediate, real world activities unless their relevance can be demonstrated.

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Corn makes some (seemingly) favorable allusions to the potential value to strategists of understanding modern evolutionary theory (i.e., to Richard Dawkins and his memes). Great stuff! But mention evolutionary theory to a US-government audience and you'll spend the next hour debating the Book of Genesis with folks on the right side of the room; a week later you'll be reading articles by lefties in the Washington Post accusing you of advocating new eugenics laws banning reproduction by racial minorities.
Too true! I remember applying for a position in one US university and being asked if I would give Intelligent Design theory the same weight as Evolutionary Theory. Being 99% sure I wouldn't get the job, and being pretty sickened by the rampant PC attitude of the interviewer, I told her that I would be more than happy to teach a course that included ID theory - along with every other creation myth I was aware of: an "Anthropology of Origin Myths". You can imagine the reaction...

Bassford is also quite right in his comments about Dawkins meme theory - it has a direct relevance to the GWOT. Part of the problem, however, is that he (and the rest of us who use any neo-evolutionary theory) is up against is an institutional reaction within Sociology and, to a lesser extent, Anthropology against anything to do with studying biology in addition to the Genesis crowd. This reaction comes out of a general, post-WWII reaction against the Nazis and their state-sponsored "racial science". The unfortunate problem is that it has, de facto, destroyed a very profitable line of research.

If Bassford really wants to get lambasted in the press by "lefties", he should try integrating Dawkins work with that of Jerome Barkow, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby and, just for fun, toss in the works of Charles Laughlin. Of course, he would also end up with a theoretical model that actually models mediaspace warefare and how it ties in to insurgency warfare. Obviously, this would be too useful to actually get published in any academic setting...

Quote:
The errors Corn describes originate in American cultural attitudes that certainly do not derive from Clausewitz. Iindeed, it is those cultural attitudes that drive the frequently ludicrous manner in which Clausewitz's ideas are used and taught. Those attitudes will not magically disappear once every copy of On War has been safely burned. If anthropology becomes the new strategic rage, then educators who may be "men of one book" (or even "men of one set of Cliffs notes") will be subjecting students to equally misleading doctrinal discourses on Margaret Mead. (I'm not joking here: Read John Keegan's anthropological absurdities in his A History of Warfare, which are every bit as asinine as his comments on Clausewitz.)
Well, I suspect that the doctrinal discourses would be on Clifford Geertz and Clifford and Marcus, with hermeneutic strategies derived from Foucault, but I can't disagree. Too much of Anthropology teaching has moved towards a non-deistic theology - probably an inevitable consequence of institutional vectors following WWII. On this line, I posted an article that appeared in the Times Higher Education Supplement that is relevant in another thread.

Marc
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Old 10-20-2006   #28
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Default Clausewitz' theories are great, but not dogma

I believe the biggest problem that most have with Clausewitz is that his book (as if he wrote only one) is selectively read, anecdotally quoted, and rarely thought about in a critical manner. One of the basic problems with Clausewitz is that he died before he actually finished ON WAR. He had the draft, realized he needed to adjust it in light of his thinking about the influence of politics on war, and only had time to finish the first chapter before passing on.

So, are there inconsistencies in ON WAR? Certainly, which is one of the reasons it needs to be critically read and not mindlessly quoted. Having said that an officer can only be better off if he were to read the first book and thought deeply about “real” war, the fog of war, friction, the relationship of politics on war – he’s the only one that has truly tried to get to the nature of war regardless of its type. (Hmmmm...things that seem to have been ignored against the context of the so-called revolution in military affairs and the self-appointed gurus of transformation who focused on "capabilities-based" planning instead of on the real world threat.)

But, keep this in mind, Clausewitz clearly argues that any theory of war had to account for the fact that the majority of wars are limited in nature, and not the total "ideal" wars about which he had been writing. Clausewitz did not create the concept of “unlimited war” except as an ideal that could NEVER be achieved. Critically reading the first chapter of the book is key. So, although he didn’t write about insurgencies per se, his thinking on limited war and the need to align strategic goals (policy) with means still applies.

A pretty good book for understanding not just Clausewitz’ themes, but also how his writings, in particular ON WAR, were put together is READING CLAUSEWITZ by Beatrice Heuser.

However, what’s just as bad as criticizing Clausewitz without critically reading ON WAR is to accept what he says as dogma. He’s great food for thought and has a lot of application still today, but there are other strategic theorists out there that should be read in order to have a deeper understanding of the nature of war and so that you can modify your “lessons learned” to the situation at hand.
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Old 11-10-2006   #29
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Default The Clausewitz Collection (merged thread)

Quote:
Times Online October 26, 2006

Euro pact to fight 5bn carousel fraud
By Michael Herman and agencies

The six biggest EU states have pledged to join forces in the fight against the growing problem of so-called carousel fraud, a multi-billion pound tax scam the Government believes is linked to terrorism.


John Reid, the Home Secretary, said that the agreement was a major step towards a common European response to the fraud that is estimated to cost EU states as much as 55 billion in lost taxes each year. It is the first time the problem has been discussed at such a high level between EU members.

More...
One of my part-time students sent me this link (she is working in the area). Even if the estimates are inflated, it is still an increadible amount of money to be filtered into terrorist coffers.

Marc
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Old 01-22-2008   #30
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Default Clausewitz v. Tilly

I've heard it often said that Clausewitz refers to war as inextricably linked to politics and war is a continuation of politics. I can reverse that and say that war is within the spectrum of conflict. Can anybody name a book and chapter where Clausewitz says this explicitly? In book 1, chapter 1 he talks around it, and in my version from Penguin classics Anatol Rapoport discusses it.

The reason being I'm reading Charles Tilly "The Politics of Collective Violence", and he says in Chapter 3 that Clausewitz argued for a segregated (from society) military organization. To me that seems totally counter-intuitive to the themes through out "On War". But, I can't find anything to directly refute it.

Suggestions?
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Old 01-22-2008   #31
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Originally Posted by selil View Post
I've heard it often said that Clausewitz refers to war as inextricably linked to politics and war is a continuation of politics. I can reverse that and say that war is within the spectrum of conflict. Can anybody name a book and chapter where Clausewitz says this explicitly? In book 1, chapter 1 he talks around it, and in my version from Penguin classics Anatol Rapoport discusses it.

The reason being I'm reading Charles Tilly "The Politics of Collective Violence", and he says in Chapter 3 that Clausewitz argued for a segregated (from society) military organization. To me that seems totally counter-intuitive to the themes through out "On War". But, I can't find anything to directly refute it.

Suggestions?
I know this isn't really what you were asking, but I'd recommend Tony Echevarria's latest book.
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Old 01-22-2008   #32
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Can anybody name a book and chapter where Clausewitz says this explicitly? In book 1, chapter 1 he talks around it, and in my version from Penguin classics Anatol Rapoport discusses it.
You have the worst translation of Clausewitz ever written. Throw it, and get this one. http://www.amazon.com/War-Carl-von-C.../dp/0691018545

It's the only acceptable version (that I am aware of) for military thought.
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Old 01-22-2008   #33
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I know this isn't really what you were asking, but I'd recommend Tony Echevarria's latest book.
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Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
You have the worst translation of Clausewitz ever written. Throw it, and get this one. http://www.amazon.com/War-Carl-von-C.../dp/0691018545

It's the only acceptable version (that I am aware of) for military thought.
Purchased them both.

You know I blame SWC for this and especially the absent MarcT. In my last semester of course work and my last 4 credits for my doctorate I could have taken Kayaking or Archery. Instead I'm taking two doctoral level sociology classes on conflict and violence. OH and it's SIX credits so I'm tossing two off the bridge for free! But, I get to read books like "The electric kool-aid acid test".... 32 books in 16 weeks...
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Old 01-22-2008   #34
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You may also want to get your hands on Handel's "Masters of War." He goes into some pretty interesting comparisons of ol' Carl, Sun Tzu, and other "old school" military theorists.
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Old 01-22-2008   #35
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Sam, I'll see if I can get you close when I get home today. It would not hurt to look up some of the other folks who have spent some time thinking about the nature of war.
Best, Rob
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Old 01-22-2008   #36
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Heck, I'd suggest emailing Tony Echevarria. He's better equipped to answer this than anyone I know with the possible exception of Colin Gray or Chris Bassford.
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Old 01-22-2008   #37
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Selil, try Carl's homepage there is a search able quotes section.
http://www.clausewitz.com/CWZHOME/CWZBASE.htm
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Old 01-22-2008   #38
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Selil, try Carl's homepage there is a search able quotes section.
http://www.clausewitz.com/CWZHOME/CWZBASE.htm
That's Chris Bassford's page. Use the search engine to find his admittedly witty goring of me.
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Old 01-22-2008   #39
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That's Chris Bassford's page. Use the search engine to find his admittedly witty goring of me.
Were you REALLY breathless?
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Old 01-22-2008   #40
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Were you REALLY breathless?
LOL. Less so than the dead Prussian, as I reminded Chris.
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