Reclaiming the Clausewitzian Trinity
MILITARY ACADEMY WEST POINT NY DEPT OF HISTORY
Pagination or Media Count:
In a recent Parameters article, US Military Doctrine and the Revolution in Military Affairs Autumn 1994, Dr. David Jablonsky made frequent reference to the theories of Carl von Clausewitz to illustrate points about strategy and doctrine. Jablonskys discussion of his central subject demonstrated his usual flair and insight. On one particular point, however, his use of Clausewitz touched an ambiguity that is becoming troublesome to many students of the Prussian philosopher of war. The problem appears in Jablonskys discussion of what Clausewitz had referred to as the remarkable trinity the military, the government, and the people. There is a serious discrepancy between this definition of the remarkable trinity and the definition given by Clausewitz himself in On War Clausewitz defines the components of the trinity as follows 1 primordial violence, hatred, and enmity 2 the play of chance and probability and 3 wars element of subordination to rational policy. By no means originating with Jablonsky, this discrepancy appears frequently in recent analyses, both those that enlist Clausewitzs support and those that attack the Prussian philosopher of war as benighted, evil, or simply irrelevant. In fact, the remarkable or paradoxical trinity is one of the Clausewitzian concepts most frequently cited in all of recent military literature. Since interpretations of Clausewitz are a source of such extensive controversy, it seems important to differentiate between what Clausewitz actually said and other concepts of a trinity that are derived from, but not the same as, the remarkable trinity defined in On War.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics