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Clausewitz's PuzzleThe Political Theory of War$
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Andreas Herberg-Rothe

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199202690

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199202690.001.0001

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Clausewitz and Napoleon: Jena, Moscow, and Waterloo

Clausewitz and Napoleon: Jena, Moscow, and Waterloo

(p.15) 1 Clausewitz and Napoleon: Jena, Moscow, and Waterloo
Clausewitz's Puzzle

Andreas Herberg‐Rothe

Oxford University Press

Clausewitz draws different conclusions from his war experiences and analyses of Jena, Moscow, and Waterloo. Jena demonstrated for him the superiority of the strategies of unleashing violence, the attack and the decisive battle, and also the superiority of military power over policy. He developed from this experience an existential construction of war according to which the nation and the people should replace the state. The fundamental change in Clausewitz's thought began with Moscow. The superiority of the defence over attack, the military value of avoiding a decisive battle, and the realization of the immanent limits to what could be achieved by military action suggested a primacy of policy over the military aims. Waterloo finally demonstrated the primacy of policy and the negative side of Napoleon's strategy of unrestrained violence, which — as could now be seen — has led to self-destruction.

Keywords:   attack vs. defense, primacy of policy, military power, existential war, unleashing violence, decisive battle, self-destruction

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