Clausewitz and the politics of war

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Abstract

Two hundred years ago, in early May 1813, a 32 year old Prussian officer was recovering from wounds sustained only days earlier during the chaotic Battle of Lutzen. He had led repeated cavalry charges as part of the allied German and Russian forces confronting Napoleon’s Grand Army. At one point, finding himself surrounded by French soldiers, he had had to fight his way out in desperate hand to hand combat. Also, his face was blackened from frostbite having spent the winter pursuing French forces during their disastrous retreat from Moscow, and he had personally witnessed the dreadful crossing of the Berezina River. This soldier was Carl von Clausewitz. Why is it that still even today, senior figures such as Colin Powell and General McChrystal publicly invoke the ideas of this man? I will try and shed light on this question.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationPolitics@York Blog
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • War
  • Clausewitz
  • Politics of war

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