Clausewitz and Strategic Studies Essay example

2649 Words Sep 4th, 2010 11 Pages
Strategic Studies Essay
“Choose a pre-20th century military strategist and show how/why their ideas remain relevant in the 21st century.”

Major General Carl von Clausewitz was a staff officer in the Prussian Army in the early parts of 19th century, suffering defeat in 1806, but leading Prussia back to glory in 1815. However, he was better known as a military theorist, and today is recognised as an integral figure in the evolution of military strategy, for many of his ideas are still prominent and embedded in the modern day strategies used today.

Clausewitz is renowned for his famous work On War (Vom Kriege), in which he records his observation in analytical form, shaped by military and political considerations. His writings come from 39
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“Generally speaking, a military objective that matches the political object in scale will, if the latter is reduced, be reduced in proportion; this will be all the more so as the political object increases its predominance. Thus it follows that without any inconsistency wars can have all degrees of importance and intensity, ranging from a war of extermination down to simple armed observation.”4

That quote from Clausewitz sums up why his ideas are still relevant today, because no matter on what scale wars are fought, it will always be for the same type of purpose, contain the same elements and concepts.

The concept of war, as explained by Clausewitz involves people, equipment and weather, and these entities are still relevant in today‟s conflicts. These factors account for the outcome of wars since the time of Clausewitz and quite possibly before then. These factors also explain how strategies fail, how plans do not get implemented properly or fail in the process and the impact of human error in determining the outcome of a contest. Clausewitz‟s idea has lasted til this time because these factors still remain in modern day warfare. There is no way to escape the human flaws which could destroy the best possible laid plans. It also explains why military plans do not last the first contact and how the military must work under the direction of the government in order to carry out mission which reflect a political objective.

An example of this is the US
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