Carl von Clausewitz

Carl von Clausewitz quotes

Quotes and Teachings




Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was a Prussian soldier, military historian and military theorist




< Carl von Clausewitz quotes

Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination.

Carl von Clausewitz



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



Outstanding Thinker




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



Highersight vs. Insight



Carl von Clausewitz quotes

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

Carl von Clausewitz



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





Carl von Clausewitz quotes

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

Carl von Clausewitz



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

The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.

Carl von Clausewitz



Carl von Clausewitz quotes

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

Carl von Clausewitz







“History had no lessons or rules to offer the student, it could only broaden his understanding and strengthen his critical judgment.”
“Of all the passions that inspire a man in a battle, none, we have to admit, is so powerful and so constant as the longing for honor and renown.”
“Everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult.”
“Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.”
“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.”

“We repeat again: 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.”
“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.”
“ man under pressure tends to give in to physical and intellectual weakness, only great strength of will can lead to the objective.”

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





We can teach ourselves to see things the way they are. Only with vision can we begin to see things the way they can be.

Sometimes we think we're a little too gifted to show up, you know. But none of us truly is... By avoiding risk we really risk what's most important in life  −  reaching toward growth, our potential, and a true contribution to a common good.


We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.







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

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.

To achieve victory we must mass our forces at the hub of all power and movement. The enemy’s "center of gravity”.

If we read history with an open mind, we cannot fail to conclude that, among all the military virtues, the energetic conduct of war has always contributed most to glory and success.





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