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Clausewitz Condensed

Military Leaders Should Help Shape Policy

While the thrust of On War is directed primarily at the primacy of policy, Clausewitz nonetheless contends that military leaders should not be subject to the capriciousness of some government policies:

" If we keep in mind that war springs from some political purpose, it is natural that the prime cause of its existence will remain the supreme consideration in conducting it. That, however, does not imply that the political aim is a tyrant. It must adapt itself to its chosen means, a process which can radically change it; yet the political aim remains the first consideration." (87)

Hence, while the statesmen must retain authority over the general or admiral, the latter should, in Clausewitz' mind, be in a position to influence the former.