Suicide before death

Did Clausewitz really say that?

I saw an author quoted him this morning in reference to blowback from US intervention, given the fact that directed foreign regime change is often said to have disasterous consequences. It’s an interesting comment with regard to international security and conflict, but it brings Masada and the Roman empire to mind more than Clausewitz.

Anyway, here’s a thrilling read by Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr., USA (Ret) titled Clausewitz: Eastern and Western Approaches to War.

…the American Vietnam-era military did not “know itself.” Within its ranks a vacuum existed on Western approaches to war. The American military has never been noted for its attention to the theories and philosophies of war. If there ever was an American philosopher of war, it was Antoine Henri, Baron de Jomini, who was particularly influential in the Civil War. His concentration on fixed rules and geometric and algebraic formulas became so pervasive that in 1869 then Commanding General of the Army William Tecumseh Sherman warned the graduating class at the United States Military Academy against the “insidious and most dangerous mistake” that one could “sit in ease and comfort in his office chair and … with figures and algebraic symbols, master the great game of war.”

Seems to be working in Iraq though, no?

Summers goes on to conclude, with regard to the Vietnam War…

It was not so much that American commanders read the wrong book on the art and science of war as it was that, in too many cases, they had read no such book at all.

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