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New Post at The Clausewitz Roundtable

Sadly, I am still on Book III. I will have a full round up of the work of the advanced kids later tonight. : )

Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Book III: Calculation

Clausewitz devoted Book III of On War to matters of general strategy and he has an important section on the nature of calculation ” Possible Engagements are to be Regarded as Real Ones because of Their Consequences“:

“In both cases results have been produced by the mere possibility of an engagement: the possibility has acquired reality….Even if the whole enterprise leaves us worse off than before, we cannot say that no effects resulted from using troops in this way, by producing the possibility of an engagement; the effects were similar to a lost engagement.

This shows that the destruction of the enemy’s forces and the overthrow of the enemy’s power can be accomplished only as the result of an engagement, no matter whether it really took place or was merely offered but not accepted”A passage rich in implications.

Clausewitz assumes here that opponents would have rough knowledge of each other’s actions and maneuvers. A position held entirely in secret by one side cannot become part of his enemy’s assessment and calculation. This is entirely logical given the small geographic context of the Western-Central European battlefield in the 18th and 19th centuries when field commanders had a shared understanding of warfare and armies had been raised on precision drill since the days of Gustavus Adolphus. It is also logical for the “higher” level of supreme command, the soldier-statesmen like Frederick the Great or Dwight Eisenhower who had to read situations in warfare like geopolitical, multidimensional, chess many moves ahead of their next, actual, move.

Read the rest here.

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