Carl Von Clausewitz’s "On War"--and More

Discussion in '1800-1914' started by RonPrice, May 20, 2008.

  1. RonPrice

    RonPrice New Member

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    THE KIND OF WAR

    Carl Von Clausewitz’s On War which he wrote in the years 1817 to 1829, aimed at an understanding and clarification of the principles of conflict, of war. The nature of war seems to be changing, certainly for me and my daily life and most of my contemporaries in this half century, 1953-2003. In my lifetime the nature of warfare changed a great deal. But all the wars I fought were in my personal life. Even here the principles of warfare outlined by Clauswitz were relevant. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 9 February 2003.8)

    It’s a different war these days
    than the ones my father
    and his father and fathers before
    went to with guns and uniforms
    and marching, marching. Marching.

    A tightening in the gut, real fear,
    morning after morning,
    wanting to run away
    from this stoney, narrow and tortuous path,
    learning to love it, slowly, slowly, slowly--
    well, most of it.

    It’s the kind of war that wears you
    down, year after year as you learn
    to keep your forces concentrated-
    that simple law of strategy-
    and keep faithful to the principles
    you--and he--have laid down.1

    1 These were the first two principles laid down by Clauswitz in his book.

    Ron Price
    9 February 2003.

    TIME MAY VINDICATE

    Thucydides began his history of the Peloponnesian War with a short prelude, a description of critical events from 435 to 432 BC. But thi9s is far back in history and does not belong at this section of "Aircraft of WW2." He believed it was going to be “the greatest war of all” and “worth writing about”1 The war that is the chief concern of this poetry begins in 1937 with a hiatus period covering major events of the twenty years back to 1917. Thucydides gives a short account of the period before the war, the period 479-431 BC. He called this period ‘the Pentecontaetia.’ The years before 1919, back to 1844, seventy five years, I shall call the Heroic Age. Some of my poetry is devoted to events of that three-quarters of a century. -Ron Price with thanks to Thucydides, History of the Pepolonnesian War, Penguin, 1972, p.35.

    There’s a perpetual restlessness here
    as I hop-along from place to place
    through an immense complexity1
    only touching down, sharp edge,
    on a life, a place here and there
    where I lived and watched it rage,
    far from the fringes of that Golden Age,2
    hardly knowing, unbeknownst,
    like some kind of game,
    light electric entertainment,
    as an old world fell apart
    and a new one was born
    in which self crystallized
    little-by-little around a world
    of language and I tried
    to describe that war, so different,
    create it in words for the first time,
    to perpetuate in memory deeds
    which should not be forgotten,
    which supremely tested beliefs.

    Travelling and reading, I derived
    from my generation new understandings
    of the early stage of this new war.
    And so I write an everlasting possession3
    which time may vindicate, just may.

    1Thucydides does not off the reader a resting place or a solution to the complexity of history. He offers perpetual restlessness.(James Boyd White, When Words Lose Their Meanings: Constitutions and Reconstitutions of Language, Character and Community, University of Chicago Press, 1984, p.88)
    2 Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, 1965, p.21.
    3 P.A. Brunt, Studies in Greek History and Thought, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993, p. 137.

    Ron Price
    1 February 2001

    ....enough for now....Ron Price, Tasmania8)
     
  2. Burmese Bandit

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    For those of you here who REALLY have an interest in history, I will reccomend one book from Phillip Bobbit: "The Shield of Achilles" - A book bursting with new ideas.

    One of the ideas is that WWI, WWII, the Cold War were actually ONE war - which ended only in the signing of what he calls "The Peace of Paris" in 1990.
     
  3. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I have Sun Tzus "Art Of War". it was written well before Christ lived. Many of its edicts are as true today as they were when first written.

    I attended the Naval equivalent of the RMC Officer training course back in 1970's. The standard texts included in our elementary strategic stidies units included Sun Tzu and Clausewitz. We also studied Napoleon, Nelson and Vauban, amongst others.

    It is said that modern nations spend a lot of time training its peronnel getting ready to win the last war, but the next war always ends up being different to the last
     
  4. Burmese Bandit

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    Yes, that is true - and yet "plus la change, plus cest ca meme chose"...

    War is as old as man, and while the surface of war changes, the fundamental principles remain the same over the centuries.

    If the robot war envisaged by some of the RMA theorists actually takes shape, even then it will not displace the role of, say, morale in war...only the necessity for morale may shift from grunts to software programmers.
     
  5. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    I have thought about that often. It seems the people of the communist bloc countries mostly Russians were the victors of this war. And the west is not defeated but severely weakened.
     
  6. Burmese Bandit

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  7. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I havent read Amsels book, but I just read the synopsis. It doesnt appear to say that the Soviets were the big winners of this "long war" concept.

    Nor does it appear to add to the theory of war. Except that long wars tend to be something the author calls "constitutional wars....whatever that is.

    Please do explain further
     
  8. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    Where did I say in my thoughts that the "Soviets" were the winners? I have no time to read the whole book at this time but I did agree with the comment that "WWI, WWII, the Cold War were actually one war ".

    One only has to look at the people of Russia to see who has had the best transformation to a better life. From a peon existance then punished severely under a collectivist system to the present day social democratic existance.

    While the the various systems traded blows in the ideaological side to this war, the peoples of Russia had most to gain from their democratic enemies while the people of the west have been going through civil unrest and have had their cultures and national resolve weakened severely through the spread of marxist propaganda since the height of the cold war in the sixties.

    I am at work right now and can't go into a full blown explanation for you.

    I do appreciate your sense of humor though, Parsifal. But your haughtiness stinks.
     
  9. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Amsel

    You need to talk to some real russians sometime. they dont see their current situation as better than what it was under the Soviet system. I can assure you of that.

    Frankly, i dont give a rats about what you think of my haughtiness. At least i am not rude about where i stand. I try at all times to display good manners but this can come across as stiffness if I am having trouble understanding or accepting another members position. I treat you you with a good deal of stiffness, because in the time I have conversed with you you have found it acceptable to insult the values of my country, and other indiscretions that I have chosen not to respond to. If you want we should perhaps leave it at that
     
  10. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    They did not see their situation better right after the Soviet regime fell. Things are looking up for the Russian people and times are getting better within just the last 5 years.

    If I have insulted the values of your country it was not meant to be a direct insult to you. I am sure your country has a variety of values and opinions just like any other country. As a matter in fact I know it to be true.
     
  11. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The people that I know (my inlaws) would say that there are some in the former Soviet Repuiblics that agree with you. Generally these are the ones who have done well out of the revolution (the so-called "family"). These are a small minority however. The majority of Russians are far worse off then they were under the old Soviet system. Things that they value like public housing, health, social welfare, full employment are all under threat. This has been brought shraply into focus in recent economic collapse.

    In the New republics like Kazakhstan, where 45% of the population is Russian, there is an added burden....prejudice. Russians in kazakhstan (and the other breakaway republics are pretty much the same) cannot own property, hold directorships in companies, take money out of the country. Russians are forced to live in fortified encampments, and are regularly stoned, insulted and generally mistreated by the ethnic population. i can assure you thews russians living in these countries dont see it as paradise found. There arent massacres happening at the moment, because the Russian army is bivouacked at the borders of the more problematic regimes. The minute the shooting starts, the Russian have made it quite clear they will interven militarily to protect the ethnic Russian populations
     
  12. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    These things take time. One good example that I know is when I was in Berlin after the wall came down the difference between the two sectors. I thought at the time that it was going to take a bit for the people who grew up in the warsaw pact countries to catch up.
     
  13. Burmese Bandit

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    Um...haven't we gone off track here a bit, gentlemen? And I know I'm almost a NooB....but...let me put this as gently as i can...if I want to watch a feud, I'll switch my TV to the WWE...

    I do hope I haven't offended anyone by that last remark. But being and growing up as a sort of nerd-ish smart aleck Asian, let me assure you that I do know quite a thing or two about being insulted, and the vicious circle of thinking you're being insulted when actually you weren't just because someone insulted you in the past, and so on ad nauseum...

    In the past I used to lash out. Hence "Burmese Band-Aid" :D

    Now I just mostly shrug and chill.

    But to get back on topic, I think the book I mentioned is going to be one of most profound ones of the past and present decades, because it unites the seemingly disparate areas of Law, Strategy, and History. Bobbit shows us that these three actually are dynamically interdependent.

    Ah, as Confucious not say "Only bloddy fool try to explain 1000 page book in one sentence". Well, I shall be a bloddy fool....later, when I have some more time.

    In the meantime, guys, CHILL. And merry Christmas, BTW!
     
  14. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    Sounds good to me. Merry Christmas, Parsifal, BB and everyone!
     
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