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Clausewitz Condensed

Importance of Political Will

Will also plays a key political role in Clausewitz' calculus of war. As the armed services provide the means for war, those means must not be diverted from their prescribed political purpose:

"Once it has been determined, from the political conditions, what a war is meant to achieve and what it can achieve, it is early to chart the course. But great strength of character, as well as great lucidity and firmness of mind, is required in order to follow through steadily, to carry our the plan, and not to be thrown off course by thousands of diversions." (178)

The complete execution of armed force for political ends is far more arduous than the mere establishment of those political goals in the abstract. Clausewitz thus admonishes those with muddled political goals:

"The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish...the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature. This is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive." (88-89)