Reviewed by Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Military people have been reared on such values as precision and synchronized timing. But they also need to acknowledge the vicissitudes and uncertainties of real-world war if they are to have any hope of avoiding the pitfalls that have plagued military strategists since the dawn of organized armed conflict. This is the enduring value of Carl von Clausewitz's classic On War.
Whenever I begin a new year of teaching the Strategy and War course for the Naval War College, where it is my job to get future leaders and staff officers to begin to think strategically, I start by projecting a slide onto the classroom screen. I ask students their opinion of the text:
It is up to the politicians to exercise diplomacy, economic sanctions, etc., to achieve the nation's aims, but once those have failed and the nation resorts to arms, it becomes the realm of the generals, and the politicians should leave the war to the professionals.