Small Wars Journal


Center of Gravity: What We Can Learn From Spanish Television’s Casa de Papel

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 11:01am
Like the mystery of the pyramids or the recent findings in Holy Scripture, the Center of Gravity concept has all the ingredients to generate passionate debates. The 19th century master of military theory, Carl von Clausewitz, first introduced the concept in his unfinished manuscript published after his death. It remained largely unknown, like old papyrus, until it was poorly translated to English and resurrected in Western military theory in the 1980’s as THE key for victory! Since then it has taken on the status of military theory’s ‘Holy Grail’ and fueled countless quests for truth and understanding.

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Clausewitz and His… Singularity?

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 9:33am
Long before his famous Trinity Clausewitz had discovered the Singularity. No, no, YOU get out! It’s true! It’s not really a secret- it’s just that people who built their careers as Strategists (gasp!) get paid a lot of money to lecturing practitioners would prefer you to believe in the mystery of Clausewitz, a mystery that only Strategists (gasp!) can unravel.

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Tip-Toe Through the Trinity

Mon, 09/03/2012 - 5:30am

Dave Maxwell points out an excellent read for Labor Day from Christopher Bassford entitled "Tip-Toe through the Trinity or the Strange Persistence of Trinitarian Warfare."  From the conclusion:


Much of the criticism of Clausewitz essentially boils down to a complaint that he never stated his entire theory in a way we could all grasp by reading a single pithy sentence—at most, a pithy paragraph. Nonetheless, the 300-word Section 28 of Book 1, Chapter 1, of On War is an amazingly compressed summation of reality. Clausewitz’s Trinity is all-inclusive and universal, comprising the subjective and the objective; the unilateral and multilateral; the intellectual, the emotional, and the physical components that comprise the phenomenon of war in any human construct. Indeed, through the subtraction of a few adjectives that narrow its scope to war, it is easily expanded to encompass all of human experience. It is thus a profoundly realistic concept. Understanding it as the central, connecting idea in Clausewitzian theory will help us to order the often confusing welter of his ideas and to apply them, in a useful, comparative manner, both to the history of the world we live in and to its present realities. Most important, its realism will help us steer clear of the worst tendencies of theory and of ideology, of “pure reason” and logic, and of pure emotion.