> Author Index > C - Authors > Karl von Clausewitz Quotes

Karl von Clausewitz Quotes


Carl Philipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz was a Prussian soldier and German military theorist who stressed the moral and political aspects of war.
(1780 - 1831)

Pages: 12Next

A conqueror is always a lover of peace.
 

All action takes place, so to speak, in a kind of twilight, which like a fog or moonlight, often tends to make things seem grotesque and larger than they really are.
[Action]
 

Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.
 

Courage, above all things, is the first quality of a warrior.
 

Everything in war is very simple. But the simplest thing is difficult.
 

I shall proceed from the simple to the complex. But in war more than in any other subject we must begin by looking at the nature of the whole; for here more than elsewhere the part and the whole must always be thought of together.
[Begin]
 

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.
 

In war the will is directed at an animate object that reacts.
[War]
 

In war, more than anywhere else in the world, things happen differently from what we had expected, and look differently when near from what they did at a distance.
 

It is even better to act quickly and err than to hesitate until the time of action is past.
[Action]
 

Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain.
 

Never forget that no military leader has ever become great without audacity.
 

Politics is the womb in which war develops.
 

Principles and rules are intended to provide a thinking man with a frame of reference.
 

Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination.
[Determination]
 

The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.
 

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

The political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and the means can never be considered in isolation form their purposes.
 

To secure peace is to prepare for war.
 

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.
 


Pages: 12Next