Carl von Clausewitz Quotes

Who the Hell is Carl von Clausewitz?

Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz was a Prussian general and military theorist.

Clausewitz's most notable work, Vom Kriege (On War), was unfinished at his death.

Born June 01, 1780
Died November 16, 1831

Books by Carl von Clausewitz


Best 39 Quotes by Carl von Clausewitz

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

Carl von Clausewitz

"On War" Quotes

“A strong character is one that will not be unbalanced by the most powerful emotions.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“All war presupposes human weakness and seeks to exploit it.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Anyone who falls into the habit of thinking and expecting the best of his subordinates at all times is, for that reason alone, unsuited to command an army.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Boldness governed by superior intellect is the mark of a hero.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Given the same amount of intelligence, timidity will do a thousand times more damage than audacity.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Great things alone can make a great mind, and petty things will make a petty mind unless a man rejects them as completely alien.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“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.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“If the mind is to emerge unscathed from this relentless struggle with the unforeseen, 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.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“In the whole range of human activities, war most closely resembles a game of cards.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat an enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war. Pleasant as it sounds; it is a fallacy that must be exposed: War is such a dangerous business that the mistakes which come from kindness are the very worst.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Knowing is different from doing and therefore theory must never be used as norms for a standard, but merely as aids to judgment.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Knowledge must be so absorbed into the mind that it ceases to exist in a separate, objective way.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Men are always more inclined to pitch their estimate of the enemy's strength too high than too low, such is human nature.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

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

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“No one starts a war–or rather, no one in his sense ought to do so–without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by the war and how he intends to conduct it.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Only the element of chance is needed to make war a gamble, and that element is never absent.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Our knowledge of circumstances has increased, but our uncertainty, instead of having diminished, has only increased. The reason of this is, that we do not gain all our experience at once, but by degrees; so our determinations continue to be assailed incessantly by fresh experience; and the mind, if we may use the expression, must always be under arms.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Politics is the womb in which war develops.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

Products by Carl von Clausewitz

“Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Savage peoples are ruled by passion, civilized peoples by the mind.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

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

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Strategy can never take its hand from the work for a moment.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one’s balance in spite of them. Even with the violence of emotion, judgment and principle must still function like a ship’s compass, which records the slightest variations however rough the sea.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Tactics is the art of using troops in battle;
strategy is the art of using battles to win the war.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Talent and genius operate outside the rules, and theory conflicts with practice.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“The best form of defense is attack.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“The conqueror is always a lover of peace; he would prefer to take over our country unopposed.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“The side that feels the lesser urge for peace will naturally get the better bargain.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“Theory must also take into account the human element; it must accord a place to courage, to boldness, even to rashness.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“There are cases in which the greatest daring is the greatest wisdom.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“There are very few men – and they are the exceptions – who are able to think and feel beyond the present moment.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War

“What is the object of defense? To preserve. To preserve is easier than to acquire.”

Carl von Clausewitz
On War