- People With Arms
Clausewitz served a dynasty renowned for enlightened manpower management (“Dogs! Do you want to live forever?”) and cutting edge political agitation (“My people and I have come to an agreement which satisfied us both. They are to say what they please, and I am to do what I please.”). However, this passage from On War may have given even the avant-garde Hohenzollerns pause:
The system of requisitioning, and the enormous growth of armies resulting from it and from universal conscription, the employment of militia – all of those run in the same direction when viewed from the standpoint of the older, narrower military system and that also leads to the calling out of the home guard and arming the people.
The innovations first mentioned were the natural, inevitable consequences of the breaking down of barriers. They added so immensely to the strength of the side that first employed them that the opponent was carried along and had to follow suite. That will also hold true of the people’s war. Any nation that uses it intelligently will, as a rule, gain some superiority over those who disdain its use…
By its very nature, such scattered resistance will not lend itself to major actions, closely compressed in time and space. It’s effect is like that of the process of evaporation: it depends upon how much surface is exposed. The greater the surface and the area of contact between it and the enemy forces, the thinner the later have to spread, the greater the effect of the general uprising. Like smoldering embers, it consumes the basic foundations of the enemy forces. Since it needs to time to be effective, a state of tension will develop while the two elements interact. This tension will either gradually relax, if the insurgency is suppressed in some places and slowly burns itself out in others, or else it will build up to a crisis: a general conflagration closes in on the enemy, driving him out of the country before he is faced with total destruction…To be realistic, one must therefore think of a general insurrection within the framework of a war conducted by the regular army, and coordinated in one all-encompassing plan.
Clausewitz’s temerity, remarkable for an era where Prussia danced to the tune of the Concert of Europe, was echoed by Thomas Jefferson, a minor Clausewitz contemporary who was the political leader of the reactionary agrarian Republicans in the peripheral United States of America: