Clausewitz's "On War": Useful Insights for Twenty-First Century Warfare Essay

Clausewitz's "On War": Useful Insights for Twenty-First Century Warfare Essay

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Amongst military theorists and practitioners who studied war, its origin and implications, Carl von Clausewitz assumes a place among the most prominent figures. With his book On War, he demonstrated his capability to provide thorough historical analysis of the conflicts he experienced, and as a philosopher he reflected on war itself. Today, Western armies conduct warfare in a dynamic environment composed of multiple threats in which civilians form a substantial part. Studying Clausewitz provides current military and political leadership useful insights to understand twenty-first century warfare. He explains the nature of war, provides an analytical tool to understand the warfare, and he argues for well educated and adaptable leadership capable of creative thinking. Although he died before his work was complete, his writing style is ambiguous and unclear at some moments, and current technology reduces some of his tactics obsolete, his work still arouses and inspires military and political strategists.
First, current military leadership should comprehend the nature of war and the political framework in which they develop plans coherent with the desired political end state. According to Clausewitz, war is an act of politics that forces an enemy to comply with certain conditions or to destroy him through the use of violence. Indeed, a nation determines its vital interests which drive national strategy towards the use of the elements of power, which consist of diplomatic, informational, military and economical means. However, the use of military force remains a way to achieve strategic goals, military leaders stay subjected to this hierarchy to assure national unity of effort. The US National Military Strategy reflects this method i...


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...ks in a complex environment.



Works Cited

Barack, Obama, National Security Strategy, Washington, DC, May 2010, p. 19

Clausewitz, Carl von. On War. Edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976

Clausewitz, Carl von. Principles of War. Translated and Edited with an introduction by Hans W. Gatzke. Minneola, NY, Dover Publications, Inc. 2003. (Reprint from The Military Service Company, Harrisburg, PS, 1942).

Mike, G. Mullen, The National Military Strategy of the United States of America 2011, Washington, DC, February 2011

Rothenberg, Gunther E. “Maurice of Nassau, Gustavus Adolphus, Raimundo Montecuccoli, and the ‘Military Revolution’ of the Seventeenth Century”. Makers of Modern Strategy, from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Edited by Peter Paret. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986

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