Carl von Clausewitz Quotes

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Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz was a Prussian military strategist and army general who is mostly known for his theories and analysis on the moral and political aspects of war. The theories of Carl von Clausewitz are clearly documented in books and writings like On War, Principles of War, On the Nature of War as well as many others.

Here are some best and inspirational Carl von Clausewitz quotes on war, leadership, victory, defeat, strategy and many other interesting topics:

Carl von Clausewitz Quotes On War

Carl von Clausewitz Quotes On War

1. War is merely the continuation of politics by other means. -Carl von Clausewitz

2. All war presupposes human weakness and seeks to exploit it. -Carl von Clausewitz

3. Everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult. -Carl von Clausewitz

4. In war, the advantages and disadvantages of a single action could only be determined by the final balance. -Carl von Clausewitz

5. War is a conflict of great interests which is settled by bloodshed, and only in that is it different from others. -Carl von Clausewitz

6. Peace is maintained by the equilibrium of forces, and will continue just as long as this equilibrium exists, and no longer. -Carl von Clausewitz

7. The aggressor is always peace-loving (as Bonaparte always claimed to be); he would prefer to take over our country unopposed. -Carl von Clausewitz

8. The political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and means can never be considered in isolation from their purpose. -Carl von Clausewitz

9. Modern wars are seldom fought without hatred between nations; this serves more or less as a substitute for hatred between individuals. -Carl von Clausewitz

10. War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.

Carl von Clausewitz

11. To secure peace is to prepare for war. -Carl von Clausewitz

12. War is not an exercise of the will directed at an inanimate matter. -Carl von Clausewitz

13. War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst. -Carl von Clausewitz

14. To introduce into the philosophy of war itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity. -Carl von Clausewitz

15. Casualty reports on either side are never accurate, seldom truthful, and in most cases deliberately falsified. -Carl von Clausewitz

16. 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 renown. -Carl von Clausewitz

17. War is not merely a political act but a real political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, a carrying out of the same by other means. -Carl von Clausewitz

18. 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

19. 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. -Carl von Clausewitz

20. 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

Carl von Clausewitz Quotes On Leadership

Carl von Clausewitz Quotes On Leadership

21. Boldness governed by superior intellect is the mark of a hero. -Carl von Clausewitz

22. Never forget that no military leader has ever become great without audacity. -Carl von Clausewitz

23. A strong character is one that will not be unbalanced by the most powerful emotions. -Carl von Clausewitz

24, 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

25. Anyone who falls into the habit of thinking and expecting the best of his subordinates at all times is, for that reason alone, unsuited to command an army. -Carl von Clausewitz

26. 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

27. Courage, above all things, is the first quality of a warrior. -Carl von Clausewitz

28. Principles and rules are intended to provide a thinking man with a frame of reference. -Carl von Clausewitz

29. The more a general is accustomed to place heavy demands on his soldiers, the more he can depend on their response. -Carl von Clausewitz

30. As man under pressure tends to give in to physical and intellectual weakness, only great strength of will can lead to the objective. -Carl von Clausewitz

31. Great things alone can make a great mind, and petty things will make a petty mind unless a man rejects them as completely alien. -Carl von Clausewitz

32. 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

33. 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. -Carl von Clausewitz

Inspirational Carl von Clausewitz Quotes

Inspirational Carl von Clausewitz Quotes

34. Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination. -Carl von Clausewitz

35. Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating. -Carl von Clausewitz

36. There are cases in which the greatest daring is the greatest wisdom.

Carl von Clausewitz

37. There are very few men-and they are the exceptions-who are able to think and feel beyond the present moment. -Carl von Clausewitz

38. History had no lessons or rules to offer the student, it could only broaden his understanding and strengthen his critical judgment. -Carl von Clausewitz

Carl von Clausewitz Quotes About Strategy

Carl von Clausewitz Quotes About Strategy

39. The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy. -Carl von Clausewitz

40. The talent of the strategist is to identify the decisive point and to concentrate everything on it, removing forces from secondary fronts and ignoring lesser objectives. -Carl von Clausewitz

41. We repeat again: strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one’s balance in spite of them. Even with the violence of emotion, judgment and principle must still function like a ship’s compass, which records the slightest variations however rough the sea. -Carl von Clausewitz

42. If, adhering closely to the absolute, we try to avoid all difficulties by a stroke of the pen, and insist with logical strictness that in every case the extreme must be the object, and the utmost effort must be exerted in that direction, such a stroke of the pen would be a mere paper law, not by any means adapted to the real world. -Carl von Clausewitz

43. The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan.

Carl von Clausewitz

44. It is even better to act quickly and err than to hesitate until the time of action is past. -Carl von Clausewitz

45. Surprise becomes effective when we suddenly face the enemy at one point with far more troops than he expected. This type of numerical superiority is quite distinct from numerical superiority in general: it is the most powerful medium in the art of war. -Carl von Clausewitz

46. 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

47. Our knowledge of circumstances has increased, but our uncertainty, instead of having diminished, has only increased. The reason of this is, that we do not gain all our experience at once, but by degrees; so our determinations continue to be assailed incessantly by fresh experience; and the mind, if we may use the expression, must always be under arms. -Carl von Clausewitz

Carl von Clausewitz Quotes About Victory

Carl von Clausewitz Quotes About Victory

48. The side that feels the lesser urge for peace will naturally get the better bargain. -Carl von Clausewitz

49. The conqueror is always a lover of peace; he would prefer to take over our country unopposed. -Carl von Clausewitz

50. 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.

Carl von Clausewitz

51. There is only one decisive victory: the last. -Carl von Clausewitz

52. To achieve victory we must mass our forces at the hub of all power and movement. The enemy’s “center of gravity. -Carl von Clausewitz

Carl von Clausewitz Quotes About Defeat

Carl von Clausewitz Quotes About Defeat

53. A general who allows himself to be decisively defeated in an extended mountain position deserves to be court-martialed. -Carl von Clausewitz

54. As long as the enemy is not defeated, he may defeat me; then I shall be no longer my own master; he will dictate the law to me as I did to him.

Carl von Clausewitz

55. Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat an enemy without too much bloodshed and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war. Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy that must be exposed; war is such a dangerous business that the mistakes which come from kindness are the very worst. -Carl von Clausewitz