published under a different title or volume number 6 During the years he spent

Published under a different title or volume number 6

This preview shows page 5 - 6 out of 17 pages.

published under a different title or volume number. 6 During the years he spent postulat ing his military views, Jomini also developed a distinct intellectual infex ibility and an intolerance of criticism. As a result, the central characteristics of Jomini’s ideas remained consistent from the publication of his frst two volumes in 1804 through the comple tion in 1838 of his capstone work, the Art of War , which he continued to defend until his death in 1869. While many of Jomini’s works examined re cent military history, his frst and last writings in particular focused on his theory of war. As John Alger puts it, “Jomini’s writings present a startling symmetry, for he ended very nearly at the place where he began.” Jomini even arranged to promote the immutability of his principles afer his death, having his biographer Ferdinand Lecomte publish an edited version of Jomini’s Art of War in 1894. Near the end of his life, Jomini had asked Lecomte to write a supplement to Jomini’s treatise to support his view that new technolo gies would not alter the principles of war he had ofered many years before. 7 Te intransigence with which Jomini defended his claims contrasts with de cades of evidence demonstrating their variance with reality. Te second implication of the two men’s diferent backgrounds is that of divergent perspectives. Jomini’s early study of contemporary military theory, uninformed by any practical experi ence in war, led to his understanding of warfare as a fundamentally simple phenomenon that, like any other sci ence, conformed to universal principles. Jomini claimed to have identifed those principles and found an audience in early nineteenth-century Europe hungry for just this kind of formulaic approach to military theory. 8 Witnessing the ever-increasing scale and devastation of war, readers drew comfort in Jomini’s simple explanations and assurances. By contrast, Clausewitz’s early experience of combat and his struggle to identify the various causes of his beloved Prus sia’s demise resulted in his view of war as a complex and unpredictable phenomenon. Over the following three decades, Clausewitz grew even more convinced that the only universal truths about war lay in its staggering complex ity. Any principles of war one might discern served only to identify broad generalities, none of which consistently held true in the fog and friction of actual combat. It is difcult to imagine how the motivations and perspectives of two military thinkers could have difered more fundamentally than did those of Jomini and Clausewitz. While their diferent motivations stemmed largely from their unique personal circum stances, one must analyze the intellectual climate within which each man worked to understand how they developed such divergent outlooks on war.
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