Clausewitz Roundtable Begins Tomorrow

On War

As previously announced, the roundtable begins the week of January 11, 2008, which starts in about twenty four hours.

I look forward to the what our participants will have to say. (We have added a few since the list originally went up, so please take a look at the list.)

I have been enjoying my meetings with Clausewitz.

I imagine him sitting by the fire, out of his uniform, in civilian clothing of his era, with a pipe in his hand, sometimes getting up and pacing, taking down an atlas or a book to show me something or look up some historical example. We go through his book together, and he tells me what he is trying to accomplish with this or that passage. And he has many questions for me. I imagine telling him about the many developments since his day, and him pondering these things, and asking questions about motorized vehicles, railroads, aircraft, modern small arms and artillery, telephones and radios, the internet, the spread of democracy, the end of monarchies, the end of European empires, the rise and fall of communism, the rise of Japan and China, the wars of the two centuries since his death. I tell him about nuclear weapons, and his eyes widen, but he nods and considers this information quietly, only briefly surprised that such things could be, and he quickly launches a barrage of questions about these weapons, how they might be used, the remarkable fact of their non-use. We discuss the seeming imponderables of where war is going, what it is and what it means under current conditions. He comments on places where his ideas seem to have survived the tests of time, and some where they may not have. Yet he waves aside my comments about his impact and influence. He is remarkably uninterested in anything smacking of self-concern, or gratifying his ego. He makes notes. He is thinking of a new version of the book in light of all this remarkable information. He has many questions I cannot answer, many ideas. He smiles, and says, if by some magic you can visit me here in my library, perhaps I can visit your times by the same process? But he is not interested in socializing in Chicago, except perhaps to gather a stack of books. He has a great desire to get to Iraq, or to Afghanistan, in person, to speak to the soldiers, the officers, the commanders, to see and hear for himself what is happening … .