Carl Von Clausewitz Famous Quotes & Sayings

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100 Carl Von Clausewitz Famous Sayings, Quotes and Quotation.

Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: [ ... ] to introduce into the philosophy of war itself a principle of moderation [ ... ] to introduce into the philosophy of war itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: There are times when the utmost daring is the height of wisdom. There are times when the utmost daring is the height of wisdom.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Whenever armed forces ... are used, the idea of combat must be present ... The Whenever armed forces ... are used, the idea of combat must be present ... The end for which a soldier is recruited, clothed, armed, and trained, the whole object of his sleeping, eating, drinking, and marching is simply that he should fight at the right place and the right time.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Friction is the only concept that more or less corresponds to the factors that distinguish Friction is the only concept that more or less corresponds to the factors that distinguish real war from war on paper ...
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is a conflict of great interests which is settled by bloodshed, and only in War is a conflict of great interests which is settled by bloodshed, and only in that is it different from others.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: It is even better to act quickly and err than to hesitate until the time It is even better to act quickly and err than to hesitate until the time of action is past.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: In war, while everything is simple, even the simplest thing is difficult. Difficulties accumulate and In war, while everything is simple, even the simplest thing is difficult. Difficulties accumulate and produce frictions which no one can comprehend who has not seen war.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: If our opponent is to be made to comply with our will, we must place If our opponent is to be made to comply with our will, we must place him in a situation which is more oppressive to him than the sacrifice which we demand; but the disadvantages of this position must naturally not be of a transitory nature, at least in appearance, otherwise the enemy, instead of yielding, will hold out, in the prospect of a change for the better.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: PRINCIPLE is likewise such a law for action, except that it has not the formal PRINCIPLE is likewise such a law for action, except that it has not the formal definite meaning, but is only the spirit and sense of law in order to leave the judgment more freedom of application when the diversity of the real world cannot be laid hold of under the definite form of a law.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Where absolute superiority is not attainable, you must produce a relative one at the decisive Where absolute superiority is not attainable, you must produce a relative one at the decisive point by making skillful use ofwhat you have.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is politics by other means. War is politics by other means.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Never forget that no military leader has ever become great without audacity. Never forget that no military leader has ever become great without audacity.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: In war everything is simple, but it's the simple things that are difficult. In war everything is simple, but it's the simple things that are difficult.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: With uncertainty in one scale, courage and self-confidence should be thrown into the other to With uncertainty in one scale, courage and self-confidence should be thrown into the other to correct the balance. The greater they are, the greater the margin that can be left for accidents.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: In war, where imperfect intelligence, the threat of a catastrophe, and the number of accidents In war, where imperfect intelligence, the threat of a catastrophe, and the number of accidents are incomparably greater than any other human endeavor, the amount of missed opportunities, so to speak, is therefore bound to be greater.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The object of defense is preservation; and since it is easier to hold ground than The object of defense is preservation; and since it is easier to hold ground than to take it, defense is easier than attack. But defense has a passive purpose: preservation; and attack a positive one: conquest ... If defense is the stronger form of war, yet has a negative object, it follows that it should be used only so long as weakness compels, and be abandoned as soon as we are strong enough to pursue a positive object.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain. Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Rather than comparing [war] to art we could more accurately compare it to commerce, which Rather than comparing [war] to art we could more accurately compare it to commerce, which is also a conflict of human interests and activities; and it is still closer to politics, which in turn may be considered as a kind of commerce on a larger scale.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: ... a strong character is one that will not be unbalanced by the most powerful ... a strong character is one that will not be unbalanced by the most powerful emotions
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: It should be noted that the seeds of wisdom that are to bear fruit in It should be noted that the seeds of wisdom that are to bear fruit in the intellect are sown less by critical studies and learned monographs than by insights, broad impressions, and flashes of intuition.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The commander's talents are given greatest scope in rough hilly country. Mountains allow him too The commander's talents are given greatest scope in rough hilly country. Mountains allow him too little real command over his scattered units and he is unable to control them all; in open country, control is a simple matter and does not test his ability to the fullest.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: There is only one decisive victory: the last. There is only one decisive victory: the last.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is the province of chance. in no other sphere of human activity must such War is the province of chance. in no other sphere of human activity must such a margin be left for this intruder. it increases the uncertainty of every circumstance and deranges the course of events.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is merely a continuation of politics, War is merely a continuation of politics,
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination. Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: No one starts a waror rather, no one in his sense ought to do sowithout No one starts a war
or rather, no one in his sense ought to do so
without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by the war and how he intends to conduct it.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is nothing but a duel on a larger scale. War is nothing but a duel on a larger scale.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action is War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: If you entrench yourself behind strong fortifications, you compel the enemy seek a solution elsewhere. If you entrench yourself behind strong fortifications, you compel the enemy seek a solution elsewhere.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: But the main point is that soldiers, after fighting for some time, are apt to But the main point is that soldiers, after fighting for some time, are apt to be like burned-out cinders. They have shot off their ammunition, their numbers have been diminished, their strength and their morale are drained, and possibly their courage has vanished as well. As an organic whole, quite apart from their loss in numbers, they are far from being what they were before the action; and thus the amount of reserves spent is an accurate measure on the loss of morale.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: A general in time of war is constantly bombarded by reports both true and false; A general in time of war is constantly bombarded by reports both true and false; by errors arising from fear or negligence or hastiness; by disobedience born of right or wrong interpretations, of ill will; of a proper or mistaken sense of duty; of laziness; or of exhaustion; and by accident that nobody could have foreseen. In short, he is exposed to countless impressions, most of them disturbing, few of them encouraging ... If a man were to yield to these pressures, he would never complete an operation.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Beauty cannot be defined by abscissas and ordinates; neither are circles and ellipses created by Beauty cannot be defined by abscissas and ordinates; neither are circles and ellipses created by their geometrical formulas.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Strategy can therefore never take its hand from the work for a moment. Strategy can therefore never take its hand from the work for a moment.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: To achieve victory we must mass our forces at the hub of all power and To achieve victory we must mass our forces at the hub of all power and movement. The enemy's center of gravity
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Great things alone can make a great mind, and petty things will make a petty Great things alone can make a great mind, and petty things will make a petty mind unless a man rejects them as completely alien.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Savage peoples are ruled by passion, civilized peoples by the mind. The difference lies not Savage peoples are ruled by passion, civilized peoples by the mind. The difference lies not in the respective natures of savagery and civilization, but in their attendant circumstances, institutions, and so forth. The difference, therefore, does not operate in every sense, but it does in most of them. Even the most civilized peoples, in short, can be fired with passionate hatred for each other.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: All action takes place, so to speak, in a kind of twilight, which like a All action takes place, so to speak, in a kind of twilight, which like a fog or moonlight, often tends to make things seem grotesque and larger than they really are.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: If the mind is to emerge unscathed from this relentless struggle with the unforeseen, two If the mind is to emerge unscathed from this relentless struggle with the unforeseen, two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The more a leader is in the habit of demanding from his men, the surer The more a leader is in the habit of demanding from his men, the surer he will be that his demands will be answered.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is not an exercise of the will directed at an inanimate matter. War is not an exercise of the will directed at an inanimate matter.
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Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: As each man's strength gives out, as it no longer responds to his will, the As each man's strength gives out, as it no longer responds to his will, the inertia of the whole gradually comes to rest on the commander's will alone. The ardor of his spirit must rekindle the flame of purpose in all others; his inward fire must revive their hope.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Every combat is the bloody and destructive measuring of the strength of forces, physical and Every combat is the bloody and destructive measuring of the strength of forces, physical and moral; whoever at the close has the greatest amount of both left is the conqueror.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Responsibility and danger do not tend to free or stimulate the average person's mind- rather Responsibility and danger do not tend to free or stimulate the average person's mind- rather the contrary; but wherever they do liberate an individual's judgement and confidence we can be sure that we are in the presence of exceptional ability.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The difficulty of accurate recognition constitutes one of the most serious sources of friction in The difficulty of accurate recognition constitutes one of the most serious sources of friction in war, by making things appear entirely different from what one had expected.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The very nature of interactions is bound to make it unpredictable. The very nature of interactions is bound to make it unpredictable.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The more a general is accustomed to place heavy demands on his soldiers, the more The more a general is accustomed to place heavy demands on his soldiers, the more he can depend on their response.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: All war presupposes human weakness and seeks to exploit it. All war presupposes human weakness and seeks to exploit it.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is the province of danger. War is the province of danger.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Boldness becomes rarer, the higher the rank. Boldness becomes rarer, the higher the rank.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: In war the will is directed at an animate object that reacts. In war the will is directed at an animate object that reacts.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The Statesman who, knowing his instrument to be ready, and seeing War inevitable, hesitates to The Statesman who, knowing his instrument to be ready, and seeing War inevitable, hesitates to strike first is guilty of a crime against his country.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Only the element of chance is needed to make war a gamble, and that element Only the element of chance is needed to make war a gamble, and that element is never absent.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish by that test the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: ...in war, the advantages and disadvantages of a single action could only be determined by ...in war, the advantages and disadvantages of a single action could only be determined by the final balance.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Self-reliance is the best defence against the pressures of the moment. Self-reliance is the best defence against the pressures of the moment.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Of all the passions that inspire a man in a battle, none, we have to Of all the passions that inspire a man in a battle, none, we have to admit, is so powerful and so constant as the longing for honor and reknown.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating. Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Where execution is dominant, as it is in the individual events of a war whether Where execution is dominant, as it is in the individual events of a war whether great or small, then intellectual factors are reduced to a minimum.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is only caused through the political intercourse of governments and nations - war is War is only caused through the political intercourse of governments and nations - war is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse with an admixture of other means.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The deduction of effect from cause is often blocked by some insuperable extrinsic obstacle: the The deduction of effect from cause is often blocked by some insuperable extrinsic obstacle: the true causes may be quite unknown. Nowhere in life is this so common as in war, where the facts are seldom fully known and the underlying motives even less so.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by different means. War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by different means.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: If we read history with an open mind, we cannot fail to conclude that, among If we read history with an open mind, we cannot fail to conclude that, among all the military virtues, the energetic conduct of war has always contributed most to glory and success.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: We must evaluate the political sympathies of other states and the effect war may have We must evaluate the political sympathies of other states and the effect war may have on them. To assess these things in all their ramifications and diversity is plainly a colossal task. Rapid and correct appraisal of them clearly calls for the intuition of a genius; to master all this complex mass by sheer methodical examination is obviously impossible. Bonaparte was quite right when he said that Newton himself would quail before the algebraic problems it could pose.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The invention of gunpowder and the constant improvement of firearms are enough in themselves to The invention of gunpowder and the constant improvement of firearms are enough in themselves to show that the advance of civilization has done nothing practical to alter or deflect the impulse to destroy the enemy, which is central to the very idea of war.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: But everything takes a different shape when we pass from abstractions to reality. In the But everything takes a different shape when we pass from abstractions to reality. In the former, everything must be subject to optimism, and we must imagine the one side as well as the other striving after perfection and even attaining it. Will this ever take place in reality?
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: If we do not learn to regard a war, and the separate campaigns of which If we do not learn to regard a war, and the separate campaigns of which it is composed, as a chain of linked engagements each leading to the next, but instead succumb to the idea that the capture of certain geographical points or the seizure of undefended provinces are of value in themselves, we are liable to regard them as windfall profits.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: If we have made appropriate preparations, taking into account all possible misfortunes, so that we If we have made appropriate preparations, taking into account all possible misfortunes, so that we shall not be lost immediately if they occur, we must boldly advance into the shadows of uncertainty.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Principles and rules are intended to provide a thinking man with a frame of reference. Principles and rules are intended to provide a thinking man with a frame of reference.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is the domain of physical exertion and suffering. War is the domain of physical exertion and suffering.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: What we should admire is the acute fulfillment of the unspoken assumptions, the smooth harmony What we should admire is the acute fulfillment of the unspoken assumptions, the smooth harmony of the whole activity, which only become evident in the final success.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The bloody solution of the crisis, the effort for the destruction of the enemy's forces, The bloody solution of the crisis, the effort for the destruction of the enemy's forces, is the first-born son of war.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy. The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: In the whole range of human activities, war most closely resembles a game of cards. In the whole range of human activities, war most closely resembles a game of cards.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: If the enemy is to be coerced, you must put him in a situation that If the enemy is to be coerced, you must put him in a situation that is even more unpleasant than the sacrifice you call on him to make. The hardships of the situation must not be merely transient - at least not in appearance. Otherwise, the enemy would not give in, but would wait for things to improve.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Men are always more inclined to pitch their estimate of the enemy's strength too high Men are always more inclined to pitch their estimate of the enemy's strength too high than too low, such is human nature.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Blind aggressiveness would destroy the attack itself, not the defense. Blind aggressiveness would destroy the attack itself, not the defense.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The best strategy is always to be very strong. The best strategy is always to be very strong.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: An intellectual instinct which extracts the essence from the phenomena of life, as a bee An intellectual instinct which extracts the essence from the phenomena of life, as a bee sucks honey from a flower. In addition to study and reflections, life itself serves as a source.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: In war more than anywhere else, things do not turn out as we expect. In war more than anywhere else, things do not turn out as we expect.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: No other human activity is so continuously or universally bound up with chance. And through No other human activity is so continuously or universally bound up with chance. And through the element of chance, guesswork and luck come to play a great part in war.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: After we have thought out everything carefully in advance and have sought and found without After we have thought out everything carefully in advance and have sought and found without prejudice the most plausible plan, we must not be ready to abandon it at the slightest provocation. should this certainty be lacking, we must tell ourselves that nothing is accomplished in warfare without daring; that the nature of war certainly does not let us see at all times where we are going; that what is probable will always be probable though at the moment it may not seem so; and finally, that we cannot be readily ruined by a single error, if we have made reasonable preparations.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The majority of people are timid by nature, and that is why they constantly exaggerate The majority of people are timid by nature, and that is why they constantly exaggerate danger. all influences on the military leader, therefore, combine to give him a false impression of his opponent's strength, and from this arises a new source of indecision.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: (1) War becomes a completely isolated act, which arises suddenly, and is in no way (1) War becomes a completely isolated act, which arises suddenly, and is in no way connected with the previous history of the combatant States. (2) If it is limited to a single solution, or to several simultaneous solutions. (3) If it contains within itself the solution perfect and complete, free from any reaction upon it, through a calculation beforehand of the political situation which will follow from it.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult Everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: There is nothing more common than to find considerations of supply affecting the strategic lines There is nothing more common than to find considerations of supply affecting the strategic lines of a campaign and a war.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: War is merely the continuation of politics by other means War is merely the continuation of politics by other means
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The heart of France lies between Brussels and Paris. The heart of France lies between Brussels and Paris.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Whoever does great things with small means has successfully reached the goal. Whoever does great things with small means has successfully reached the goal.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The great uncertainty of all data in war is because all action, to a certain The great uncertainty of all data in war is because all action, to a certain extent, planned in a mere twilight - like the effect of a fog - gives things exaggerated dimensions and unnatural appearance.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: There are cases in which the greatest daring is the greatest wisdom. There are cases in which the greatest daring is the greatest wisdom.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: History had no lessons or rules to offer the student, it could only broaden his History had no lessons or rules to offer the student, it could only broaden his understanding and strengthen his critical judgment.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: I shall proceed from the simple to the complex. But in war more than in I shall proceed from the simple to the complex. But in war more than in any other subject we must begin by looking at the nature of the whole; for here more than elsewhere the part and the whole must always be thought of together.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: By 'intelligence' we mean every sort of information about the enemy and his country - By 'intelligence' we mean every sort of information about the enemy and his country - the basis, in short, of our own plans and operations.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: A conqueror is always a lover of peace. A conqueror is always a lover of peace.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Action in war is like movement in a resistant element. Just as the simplest and Action in war is like movement in a resistant element. Just as the simplest and most natural of movements, walking, cannot easily be performed in water, so in war, it is difficult for normal efforts to achieve even moderate results.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: Every age has its own kind of war, its own limiting conditions and its own Every age has its own kind of war, its own limiting conditions and its own peculiar preconceptions.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: The general unreliability of all information presents a special problem in war: all action takes The general unreliability of all information presents a special problem in war: all action takes place, so to speak, in the twilight, which, like fog or moonlight, often tends to make things seem grotesque and larger than they really are. Whatever is hidden from full view in this feeble light has to be guessed at by talent, or simply left to chance. So once again for the lack of objective knowledge, one has to trust to talent or to luck.
Carl Von Clausewitz Sayings: It is paltry philosophy if in the old-fashioned way one lays down rules and principles It is paltry philosophy if in the old-fashioned way one lays down rules and principles in total disregard of moral values . As soon as these appear one regards them as exceptions, which gives them a certain scientific status, and thus makes them into rules. Or again one may appeal to genius , which is above all rules; which amounts to admitting that rules are not only made for idiots , but are idiotic in themselves.