A Better von Clausewitz

 Recently, I’ve seen  Dr. Chris Bassford’s site, Clausewitz.com mentioned at the Small Wars Council and then one of my co-authors, A.E. of Rethinking Security, favorably cited a link to Clausewitz.com on a social networking platform. Intrigued, I wandered over and read for a while. I’m glad that I did.

On War was a book I read as an undergraduate for a class that focused on German intellectual history and was included by the prof more or less as an afterthought, along with works by Kant, Marx, Nietzsche and a few others. I recall that I was not terribly impressed at the time by On War; my real interest then was Cold War diplomatic history and I paid far greater attention to Marx. To me, Clausewitz was a turgid writer, another Germanic pedant, though an important one for his contribution to strategy. I never developed any particular dislike for him either, since military affairs wasn’t a priority and I stuck Clausewitz on my shelf and ceased to give him much consideration thereafter. Other philosophers and thinkers seemed to be more relevant.

While reading at Clausewitz.com, I came across Bassford’s critique of various translations of On War and he panned one in particular:

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