Clausewitz's PuzzleThe Political Theory of War

Clausewitz's PuzzleThe Political Theory of War

Andreas Herberg-Rothe

Print publication date: 2007

ISBN: 9780199202690

Publisher: Oxford University Press


This book argues that Clausewitz developed a wide-ranging political theory of war by reflecting not only on the success, but also on the limitations and the failure of Napoleon's method of waging war. Successes, failures, and defeats of Napoleon forced Clausewitz to reflect on questions that went beyond purely military matters and led him to develop a political theory of war. Analyses of three paradigmatic campaigns — which are symbolized by Jena, Moscow, and Waterloo — are placed at the center of understanding surrounding Clausewitz's On War and it's inherent problems, like the relation of absolute and real war, theory and practice, the primacy of politics, the enigma of the first chapter, and the dialectics of attack and defense. Clausewitz's analysis of these war campaigns are the cornerstones of On War and redounded to the ‘wondrous trinity’, which is the basis for a general theory of war and which is quite different from the so-called trinitarian war.