Clausewitz's Paradoxical Trinity March 16, 2012 Clausewitz Essay

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Clausewitz's "Paradoxical Trinity" March 16, 2012


Carl Von Clausewitz, the prominent theorist of war, stated that "a certain grip of military affairs is essential for those in control of general policy."First identifying the actuality of government leaders not being military experts, and the only sound measure is to formulate the commander-in-chief a member of the cabinet. Governments, are organized when their chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by regulation the top military consultant to the president. The evidence of military success in this century specifies that Clausewitz was right. The deeper the association between the nation's senior military commanding officers and the government, the more successful that nation is in using the military instrument of foreign policy to achieve national political objectives.

The paradoxical trinity is one of the Clausewitzian perceptions which have been most recurrently cited in all of current military literature. Given that interpretations of Clausewitz are a cause of such extensive controversy, it seems significant to differentiate between what Clausewitz actually said and other perception of a trinity that are consequent from but not the same as the "remarkable trinity" defined in On War (Kinross, 2008).

This paper will include, Clausewitz's "paradoxical trinity" to analyze a specific war and addresses any one of the three terms in indication to Clausewitz, who spend a great deal of attempt in speculating about these three elements and their relationship with war. Clausewitz endeavored to do this work thoroughly, but he lacked an opinion about naval warfare, war troop disbursement, the psyche of the armed forces, the wars waged by younger people. These aspects would be taken up and analyzed by those who followed him. The argument in this paper uses Clausewitz's ideas and illustrates the nature of a war to be what means a state is eager to dedicate to combating a particular war vs. The nature of war in common.

Argumentative Essay

Carl von Clausewitz was born in Prussia in 1780. He was one theorist and thinker, and he had emerged out of the Napoleonic wars with a profound sense of warfare theories. It is in the light of Clausewitz's theories that many of the 19th and 20th century wars are perceived. Clausewitz's view's of war were that it was "suspended between three magnets," policy, probability, and passion. War was interspersed with these unusually related elements so that it was a kind of 'paradoxical trinity'.

He perceived war as being "politics by other means," and was probably his most well-known idea. He emphasized upon ideas if friction, chance, risk, and intelligence when he analyzed war. He also considered the psychological aspects which impacted those commanders and troops who were involved in warfare. Additionally, he wondered about the full blown and limited war. He was curious whether war was made stronger by taken a line of offense or defense.

Throughout the course of his military career, Clausewitz remained an intelligent reformer. He ranked at top of his class in 1804, and commenced his military career in the role of an aide to a Prussian prince in the wars of Jena and Aurestadt in 1806. The Prussian Army was defeated badly and Clausewitz was sentenced to a prison sentence, which he served on Parole in the vicinity of France. Upon returning to Prussia in 1807, he became an aide again to Scharnhorst in Koeninsberg. This was during the time 1807 to 1911, when Clausewitz discreetly assisted Scharnhorst to formulate ideas to restructure the Prussian military.

Their objective was to resist Napoleon rather than joining the forces that Napoleon was insisting upon Prussia to provide to take part in his upcoming Russian campaign. Clausewitz, along with about 30 other officers gave up their commission and joined the Russian Army. During 1812, Clausewitz contributed as a colonel in the Russian forces and was ultimately granted an entry back in the Prussian service in 1813. This was at the time when Napoleon was beaten in Russia.

Clausewitz headed the forces of Thiemann's corps during the battle at Waterloo and this gave him an opportunity to participate in a part for protecting Grouchy against the battlefield at Waterloo. This event had the potential to determine the consequence of the battle. In 1818, Clausewitz became the administrative director of the war college in Berlin and was eminent to the post of Major General.

He leveraged this chance to pen several battle campaign account of a historical and political nature. During this time, he also wrote the theories that would be included in his famous book On War. Clausewitz was about to be sent to Poland to govern the Prussian, where unfortunately cholera was rampant. Clausewitz too was afflicted by this disease and he died as a consequence of this disease in the same year.

Clausewitz perceived the co-relation between warfare theory and their practical implementation as being rather similar to the relationship between theory and practical implementation in the field of art or architecture. He felt very strongly that theory and practice were closely intertwined and complemented each other. Additionally, Clausewitz saw a similar link between theory and practice in art as that between theory and a natural practitioner. The military astuteness was akin to artistic genius. Clausewitz related Napoleon to Michelangelo or Beethoven, and felt that the resemblance here was not just of inner prestige and magnetism but also how they approached the methods of any craft. They comprehended these rules better than anyone else and ultimately became the masters of these rules. They were extremely adroit about breaking rules, as to when and why to do so. Additionally, they devised new rules. They did not neglect the original rules, but put them to use in a very smart way (Harris, 2008 ).

Clausewitz's theories are thought of as smart, authentic, and deep, and he proved to be among influential military theorists of contemporyary times. This was essentially true as far as the Prussian defeat of the French forces in 1870 captured the world's interest on their strategy and thought. But of all the three magnets of war, Clausewitz's expertise lay in the way he addressed political and strategic issues of tacking the enemy. This is quite evident is the events that have been discussed above. Clausewitz endeavored to do this work thoroughly, but he lacked an opinion about naval warfare, war troop disbursement, the psyche of the armed forces, the wars waged by younger people. These aspects would be taken up and analyzed by those who followed him.

Clausewitz connects rationality and violent forces primarily to one of three sets of human actors: the citizens, the army, and the administration. Clausewitz affirmed, "The first, the ultimate, the most far-reaching act of decision that the statesman and chief officer have to make is to ascertain the kind of war on which they are going on board. The nature of U.S. wars since World War II has been first and foremost asymmetric. With the arrival of nuclear weapons and complicated biological and chemical armaments, or weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the United States has relied on this artillery as a disincentive to those with similar capabilities. Asymmetric wars are the end result when their nature is restricted for one side and limitless for the other. The failure to distinguish the asymmetric nature of these wars contributed to their doubtful results. In the case of Vietnam, there was an evident assumption that U.S. dominance at the point of contact would escort to success. Though U.S. did not lose fight in the field, they lost the war to a long-suffering enemy eager to dedicate unlimited time and resources to their origin. Hence in such condition and war situation, the means which they were willing to commend did not accomplish a victory. They finished with a termination of hostilities under circumstances far short of our idea…

Sources Used in Document:


Harris, B.F. (2008). America, technology and strategic culture: a Clausewitzian assessment.

USA: Taylor & Francis.

Herberg-Rothe, A. (2007). Clausewitz's Puzzle: The Political Theory of War. Great Britain: Oxford University Press.

Huber, T.M. (n.d.). H100: Rise of the Western Way of War Parallel Block. Us Army Command and General Staff College, p. 1-2.

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