What is war? For those who choose to live by rule sets of law, war is an act, an instrument of policy.
My oldest son is a career NCO in the US Army, currently beginning his third assignment in Iraq. I discuss Clausewitz because war is a serious means to a serious end, and I want to better understand my civic responsibilities.
Pg 86. Such is war, such is the commander who directs it, and such the theory that governs it. War is no pastime; it is no mere joy in daring and winning, no place for irresponsible enthusiasts. It is a serious means to a serious end, and all its colorful resemblance to a game of chance, all the vicissitudes of passion, courage, imagination, and enthusiasm it includes are merely its characteristics.
How serious the means? The means is a trinity: passionate belief, a force inherent in people; the service and sacrifice of the commander and his soldiers; and a reasoned subordination to rule of law by the body politic.
Pg 89. As a total phenomenon its dominant tendencies always make war a remarkable trinity–composed of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity, which are to be regarded as a blind natural force; of the play of chance and probability within which the creative spirit is free to roam; and of its element of subordination, as an instrument of policy, which makes it subject to reason alone.
The first of these three aspects mainly concerns the people; the second the commander and his army; the third the government.
How serious the end? “…render the enemy powerless: and that, in theory, is the true aim of warfare.” (pg 75)