Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Carl von Clausewitz, fully Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz, also Karl von Clausewitz

Prussian Army Officer, Writer

"If the aim of the military action is an equivalent for the political object, that action will in general diminish as the political object diminishes. The more this object comes to the front, the more will this be so. This explains how, without self-contradiction, there can be wars of all degrees of importance and energy, from a war of extermination down to a mere state of armed observation."

"War is an act of force, and to the application of that force there is no limit. Each of the adversaries forces the hand of the other, and a reciprocal action results which in theory can have no limit."

"War is a continuation of policy by other means. It is not merely a political act but a real political instrument."

"To secure peace is to prepare for war."

"Courage is of two kinds: first, physical courage, or courage in the presence of danger to the person; and next, moral courage, or courage before responsibility, whether it be before the judgment seat of external authority, or of the inner power, the conscience."

"War is a continuation of policy by the use of different means."

"There is nothing more common than to hear of men losing their energy on being raised to a higher position, to which they do not feel themselves equal."

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

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

"Politics is the womb in which war develops."

"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."

"War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by different means."

"Obstinacy is a fault of temperament. Stubbornness and intolerance of contradiction result from a special kind of egotism, which elevates above everything else the pleasure of its autonomous intellect, to which others must bow."

"Self-reliance is the best defence against the pressures of the moment."

"Timidity is the root of prudence in the majority of men."

"All war presupposes human weakness and seeks to exploit it."