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Unformatted text preview: CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ O N WAR Edited and Translated by MICHAEL HOWARD and PETER PARET Introductory Essays by PETER PARET, MICHAEL HOWARD, and BERNARD BRODIE; with a Commentary by BERNARD BRODIE Index by ROSALIE WEST PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS PRINCETON, N E W JERSEY CARL V O N C L A U S E W I T Z PREPARED UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE CENTER OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES PRINCETON UNIVERSITY A LIST OF OTHER CENTER PUBLICATIONS APPEARS AT THE BACK OF THE BOOK CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ O N WAR Edited and Translated by MICHAEL HOWARD and PETER PARET Introductory Essays by PETER PARET, MICHAEL HOWARD, and BERNARD BRODIE; with a Commentary by BERNARD BRODIE Index by ROSALIE WEST PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS PRINCETON, N E W JERSEY Published by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540 In the United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, Chichester, West Sussex Copyright O 1976 by Princeton University Press Index copyright O 1984 by Princeton University Press All Rights Reserved Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Clausewitz, Carl von, 1780-183 1. On war. Translation of: Vom Kriege. Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Military art and science. 2. War. I. Howard, Michael Eliot, 192211. Paret, Peter. 111. Title. U102.C65 1984 355 84-3401 ISBN 0-691-05657-9 ISBN 0-691-01854-5 (pbk.) First Princeton Paperback printing, 1989 Princeton University Press books are printed on acid-free paper and meet the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources Printed in the United States of America pbk. ISBN-10: 0-691-01854-5 (pbk.) CONTENTS Editors' Note xi Note for the 1984 Edition xii Introductorv Essays The Genesis of On War PETER PARET The Influence of Clausewitz MICHAEL HOWARD The Continuing Relevance of On War BERNARD BRODIE On War Author's Preface Author's Comment Preface MARIE VON CLAUSEWITZ Two Notes by the Author BOOK ONE On the Nature of War I What is War? 2 Purpose and Means in W a r 3 On Military Genius 4 On Danger in W a r 5 On Physical Effort in War 6 Intelligence in W a r 7 Friction in War 8 Concluding Observations on Book One CONTENTS BOOK TWO On the Theory of War I Classifications of the Art of War 2 On the Theory of War 3 Art of War or Science of War 4 Method and Routine 5 Critical Analysis 6 On Historical Examples BOOK THREE On Strategy in General Strategy Elements of Strategy Moral Factors The Principal Moral Elements Military Virtues of the Army Boldness Perseverance Superiority of Numbers Surprise Cunning Concentration of Forces in Space Unification of Forces in.Time The Strategic Reserve Economy of Force The Geometrical Factor The Suspension of Action in W a r The Character of Contemporary Warfare Tension and Rest CONTENTS BOOK FOUR The Engagenlent I Introduction 2 The Nature of Battle Today 3 The Engagement in General 4 The Engagement in General-Continued 5 The Significance of the Engagement Duration of the Engagement Decision of the Engagement Mutual Agreement to Fight The Battle: Its Decision The Battle-Continued: The Effects of Victory The Battle-Continued: The Use of Battle Strategic Means of Exploiting V ~ C ~ O N Retreat after a Lost Battle Night Operations BOOK FIVE Military Forces 1 General Survey 3 The Army, the Theater of Operations, the Campaign 3 Relative Strength 4 Relationship between the Branches of the Service 5 The Army's Order of Battle 6 General Disposition of the Army 7 Advance Guard and Outposts 8 Operational Use of Advanced Corps 9 Camps 10 Marches vii CONTENTS 11 Marches-Continued 12 Marches-Concluded 13 Billets 14 Maintenance and Supplv 15 Base of Operations 16 Lines of Communication 17 Terrain 18 The Command of Heights BOOK SIX Defense Attack and Defense The Relationship between Attack and Defense in Tactics The Relationship between Attack and Defense in Strategy Convergence of Attack and Divergence of Defense The Character of Strategic Defense Scope of the Means of Defense Interaction between Attack and Defense Types of Resistance The Defensive Battle Fortresses I I Fortresses-Continued 12 Defensive Positions I3 Fortified Positions and Entrenched Camps 14 Flank Positions 15 Defensive Mountain Warfare 16 Defensive Mountain Warfare-Continued 17 Defensive Mountain Warfare-Concluded 18 Defense of Rivers and Streams 19 Defense of Rivers and Streams-Continued CONTENTS A. Defense of Swamps B. Inundations Defense of Forests The Cordon The Key to the Country Operations on a Flank Retreat to the Interior of the Country The People in Amls Defense of a Theater of Operations Defense of a Theater of Operations-Continued Defense of a Theater of Operations-Continued: Phased Resistance Defense of a Theater of Operations-Concluded: Where a Decision Is Not the Objective BOOK SEVEN The Attack Attack in Relation to Defense The Nature of Strategic Attack The Object of the Strategic Attack The Diminishing Force of the Attack The Culminating Point of the Attack Destruction of the Enemy's Forces The Offensive Battle River Crossings Attack on Defensive Positions Attack on Entrenched Camps Attack on a Mountainous Area Attack on Cordons Maneuver Attacks on Swamps, Flooded Areas, and Forests CONTENTS 5 Attack on a Theater of War: Seeking a Decision 16 Attack on a Theater of War: Not Seeking a Decision 545 17 Attack on Fortresses 55l i 548 18 Attack on Convoys 19 Attack on an Enemy Armv in Billets 5 57 20 Diversions 5 6 ~ 21 Invasion 565 22 The Culminating Point of Victory 566 BOOK EIGHT W a r Plans 1 Introduction 5 77 2 Absolute War and Real War 5 79 582 3 A. Interdependence of the Elements of W a r B. Scale of the Military Objective and of the Effort T o Be Made 585 4 Closer Definition of the Military Objective: The Defeat of the Enemy 5 Closer Definition of the Military Objective-Continued: Limited Aims 6 A. The Effect of the Political Aim on the Military Objective B. War Is an Instrument of Policy 7 The Limited Aim: Offensive W a r 8 The Limited Aim: Defensive War 9 The Plan of a War designed to Lead to the Total Defeat of the Enemv A Commentary A Guide to the Reading of On War BERNARD l3RODIE Index ROSALIE WEST 60 1 603 60 5 The reader may wonder why another English translation of Vom Kriege is needed when two already exist. The first, made by Colonel J. J. Graham in 1874, was republished in London in 1909. The second, by Professor 0. J. Matthijs Jolles, appeared in New York in 1943. But Graham's translation, apart from its dated style, contains a large number of inaccuracies and obscurities; and while Jolles' translation is more precise, both his version and Graham's were based on German texts that contained significant alterations from the first edition published in 1832. The growing interest in Clausewitz's theoretical, political and historical writings in recent years suggested that the time had come for an entirely new translation. W e have based our work on the first edition of 1832, supplemented by the annotated German text published by Professor Werner Hahlweg in 1952, except where obscurities in the original edition-which Clausewitz himself never reviewed-made it seem advisable to accept later emendations. In all but one respect we have followed the original arrangement of the text. The first edition printed four notes by Clausewitz on his theories, dating from various periods between 1816 and 1830, as introductions to On War itself-a practice adopted by most subsequent German and foreign editions. W e have abandoned the haphazard arrangement in which these have always appeared, and instead print them in the order in which we believe the notes to have been written. Read consecutively they help to indicate how On W a r took shape in Clausewitz's mind, and suggest how it might have further developed had he lived to complete it. W e have also included Marie von Clausewitz's Preface to the first edition of Clausewitz's posthumous works, which adds information on the genesis of On War, and on the manner in which the manuscript was prepared for publication. A brief note she inserted at the beginning of the third volume of Clausewitz's Works, immediately preceding Book Seven of On War, has been deleted since its primary concern is not with On War but with other historical and theoretical writings. W e have attempted to present Clausewitz's ideas as accurately as possible, while remaining as close to his style and vocabulary as modern English usage would permit. But we have not hesitated to translate the same term in different ways if the context seemed to demand it. For instance, we have translated Moral and moralische Kraft variously as "morale," EDITORS' NOTE "moral," and "ps~~chological."Clausewitz himself was far from consistent in his terminology, as might be expected of a writer who was less concerned with establishing a formal system or doctrine than with achieving understanding and clarity of expression. At times he writes Geisteskrafte, Seelenkrafte, even Psychologie instead of moralische Kraft or moralische Grossen, and a similar flexibility characterizes his use of such terms as "means," "purpose," "engagement," "battle," etc. As he writes in Book Five, Chapter Seven: "Strict adherence to terms would clearly result in little more than pedantic distinctions." The task of translation was initially undertaken by Mr. Angus Malcolm, formerly of the British Foreign Office, who to the deep regret of his many friends died while he was still engaged on the project. He had however already done much valuable preliminary work, for which we are greatly in his debt. \Ye should like to thank Mrs. Elsbeth Lewin, editor of World Politics, and Professor Bernard Brodie of the University of California at Los Angeles for checking the manuscript and helping us resolve many ambiguities, and Messrs. Herbert S. Bailey, Jr. and Lewis Bateman of Princeton University Press for the care they took in preparing the manuscript for publication. Financial assistance by the Center of International Studies of Princeton University facilitated the early phases of our work. Finally, it is a pleasure to express our gratitude to Professors Klaus Knorr of Princeton University and Gordon Craig of Stanford University, without whose interest and encouragement this task would never have been undertaken. We have corrected some errors and attempted to remove a few infelicities in our translation of Clausewitz's text. As in the past, however, we believe that this work demands translators who combine a deep respect for the author with the willingness to seek equivalents whenever too close a correspondence with the original would lead to artificiality. In the introductory essays, minor changes were made in "The Genesis of War," and two paragraphs on the Marxist interpretation of Clausewitz were added to "The Influence of Clausewitz." The only other change from our original edition is the inclusion of an index, which Mrs. Rosalie West has compiled on the model of the index in Professor Werner Hahlweg's 1952, 1972, and 1980 German editions of On War. MICHAEL HOWARD Oxford University PETERPARET Stanford University I N T R O D U C T O R Y ESSAYS By Peter Paret, Michael Howard, and Bernard Brodie PETER PARET The Genesis of On W/ar Despite its comprehensiveness, systematic approach, and precise style, On War is not a finished work. That it was never con~pletedto its author's satisfaction is largely explained by his ways of thinking and writing. Clausewitz was in his early twenties when he jotted down his first thoughts on the nature of military processes and on the place of war in social and political life. A pronounced sense of reality, skeptical of contemporary assumptions and theories, and an equally undoctrinaire fascination with the past, marked these observations and aphorisms and lent them a measure of internal consistency; but it would not be inappropriate to regard his writings before 1806 as essentially isolated insightsbuilding-blocks for a structure that had not yet been designed. The presence of a few of his earliest ideas in On War suggests the consequentiality with which his theories evolved, though in the mature work these ideas appear as components of a dialectical process that Clausewitz had mastered in the course of two decades and adapted to his own purposes. An example is his concept of the role genius plays in war, which lies near the source of his entire theoretical effort. Survivors of a somewhat different kind are his definitions of strategy and tactics, which h e first formulated when he was twenty-four, or the characteristic all!^ unromantic comparison of war to commercial transactions, dating from the same time. Most of his early thoughts, however, expanded and acquired new facets in the years between Napoleon's defeat of Prussia and the Russian campaign. Clausewitz was a member of the loose alliance of reform-minded civilians and soldiers who attempted with some success to modernize Prussian institutions at this time, and his manifold activities as staff officer, administrator, and teacher further stimulated his intellectual interests and his creativity. Numerous passages from memoranda, lectures, and essays written during the reform era reappear, barely changed, in On War.After 1815, by which time his lnanuscripts on politics, history, philosophy, strategy, and tactics ran into thousands of pages, Clausewitz set to work on a collection of essays analyzing various aspects of war, which gradually coalesced into a comprehensive theor). that sought to define universal, permanent elements in war on the basis of a realistic interpretation of the present and the past. In the course of PETER PARET a decade, he wrote six of eight planned parts, and drafted the remaining two. By 1827, however, he had developed a new hypothesis on what he called the "dual" nature of war, the systematic exploration of which demanded a far-reaching revision of the entire manuscript. H e died before he could rewrite more than the first chapters of Book One.' On War thus presents its author's thoughts in various stages of coinpletion. They range from the magnificent opening sequence of logically unfolding propositions to the rich but at times one-sided or contradictory discussions of Books Two through Six, to the essayistic chapters of the last two books, which suggest with brilliant strokes what a final version might have contained. Nothing can take the place of this unwritten version; but we should remember that Clausewitz's decision in 1827 to revise his manuscript had not implied a rejection of earlier theories-he only meant to expand and refine them. As we read the present text of On War, we can at least approximate Clausewitz's intention by keeping his closely related hypotheses of the dual nature of war and of its political character clearly in mind. It will be useful, at the end of this discussion, to return to his ultimate hypotheses and outline their most significant aspects, the more so since h e never fully developed their implications to theory. That, despite the unevenness of its execution, On War offers an essentially consistent theory of conflict is indicative of the creative power of Clausewitz's method and ideas. Anyone prepared to enter into his man1 Much of the older literature on the different phases of the writing of On War is based on inadequate sources and can be disregarded. Still valuable today is the short book by R. v. Caemmerer, Clause~vitz(Berlin, 1905), and the suggestive article by H. Rosinski, "Die Entwicklung von Clausewitz' Werk 'Vom Kriege' im Lichte seiner 'Vorreden' und 'Nachrichten,"' Historische Zeitschrift, 151 ( 1 9 3 5 ) ~pp. 278-293, which was amended in important respects by E. Kessel's response "Zur Entstehungsgeschichte von Clausewitz' Werk vom Kriege," Historische Zeitschrift, 152 (1935), pp. 97-100. W . M. Schering's speculations in his anthology of Clausewitz's writings, Geist und Tat (Stuttgart, 1 9 4 1 ) ~are full of contradictions and factual errors; but since Schering was familiar with Clausewitz's unpublished drafts and seems to have been the last scholar to work on them before they disappeared at the end of the Second World War, his interpretations cannot be ignored. In a knowledgeable essay "Clausewitz," in Makers of Modern Strategy, ed. E. M. Earle (Princeton, 1943), PP. 93-113, H . Rothfels writes (p. 108, n. 65): "Clausewitz revised Book Eight and parts at least of Book One (probably Chapters One-Three) and of Book Two (certainly Chapter Two)." But he adds that Clausewitz regarded only Book One, Chapter One as complete. I believe that Rothfels considerably overstates the extent of Clausewitz's revisions after 1827. He gives no reason for his views other than internal evidence, but the passage from Book Eight he cites as proof of a late revision can be found in almost identical form in Clausewitz's manuscript on strategy of 1804. The best-informed evaluation of the entire question, incorporating the findings of a century of scholarship, is contained in E. Kessel's brilliant "Zur Genesis der modernen Kriegslehre," Wehrwissenschaftliche Rundschau, 3 ( 195 3 ) , "0. 9, pp. 405-423 4 T H E GENESIS OF On War ner of reasoning will grasp his thoughts on the timeless aspects of war. But our reading of On War can only benefit from an awareness of its genesis and intellectual context. What political and military experiences influenced its author? What were the assumptions and theories he reacted against? What, in his view, were the methodological requirements of sound analysis? Even a brief consideration of these questions will cast light on the development of Clausewitz's ideas and on the forms his ideas assumed in the various strata of On War.z Clausewitz, the son of a retired lieutenant who held a minor post in the Prussian internal revenue service, first encountered war in 1793 as a twelve-year-old lance corporal. In the previous year the French legislative assembly had declared war on Austria, with whom Prussia had recently concluded a defensive alliance. T h e French action was caused less by considerations of national interest than by internal politics, but it opened twenty-three years of conflict between revolutionary and later imperial France and the rest of Europe. Aside from the Duke of Brunswick's initial invasion, which came to a halt at Valmy, the Prussians did reasonably well in a war to which the): never committed more than part of their military resources. They defeated the French repeatedly in Alsace and the Saar, and captured thousands of prisoners; when the fighting ended in 1795,.they controlled the line of the Rhine. But these achievements brought no political returns. As inight be expected, the war with its exertions, bloodshed, and unspectacular outcome made a strong impression on the young Clausewitz; he himself later wrote of its impact on his emotions and thought. In the following years, while stationed in a small provincial garrison, he drew some tentative conclusions from these early experiences, three of which in particular were to have a lasting influence: There was no single standard of excellence in war. The rhetoric and policies of the French Republic, which proclaimed the coming of a new age, by no means overpowered the armies of the ancien rkgime. Mercenaries and forcibly enrolled peasants, led by officers whose effectiveness still rested as much on aristocratic self-esteem as on professional expertise, proved a match for the levke en masse. On the other "ny interpretation of the genesis of Clausewitz's thought on war must rest not only on his works on military theory and history but also on his extensive writings on such subjects as education, politics, the theory of art, and on his correspondence. Especially valuable analyses of aspects of his broad intellectual development are H. Rothfels' Carl von Clause~vitz:Politik und Krieg (Berlin, 1920), and E. Kessel's introduction to C. v. Clausewitz, Strategie aus dem jahr 1804 (Hamburg, 1937). Pr...
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