After reading our assigned lesson, I found myself in search of some leaders in history that exhibited great power and influence. I was immediately drawn to a Carl von Clausewitz. Von Clausewitz was a German military theorist who lived in the early 1800’s, and his work Vom Kriege (On War) captures his perception as war as what we would call today a “psychological game”. Von Clausewitz is known for many theories and aspects of war with three of his most famous being ‘blitzkrieg’ (what modern football names a ‘blitz’ after), the ‘fog of war’ (the knowledge, or lack of the capabilities of the enemy) and ‘total war’ (the view as war as a nation entirely involved). Von Clausewitz breaks down war into three important aspects, “the military power, the country, and the will of the enemy” (von Clausewitz & Graham, 2007). In his work, he emphasizes the means to achieve victory by using power and influence.
Firstly, von Clausewitz mentions the need for a military to have absolute power when it comes to war, free from the corruption of politics and delays (von Clausewitz & Graham, 2007). This theory indirectly aligns with the need for power (PSU World Campus, 2013). This philosophy stipulates that a nation must have socialized power as a whole and the need for attainment of good for society as opposed to personalized power seen by politicians. This is an interesting stance – and may seem counterintuitive. How can a military leader who seeks socialized power for himself desire a supreme command free from politics? We can allege that this is possible if the leader of the military is after a just and right cause, and that politics would only interfere with this goal. Von Clausewitz (von Clausewitz & Graham, 2007) also mentions the need to “draw upon the essence of military genius” in times of war. This clearly shows that he believes power should be drawn from expert knowledge.
Skipping over the more broad aspect of ‘country’, let’s move onto what is defined as ‘the will of the enemy.’ Von Clausewitz emphasizes the need to exert power over the enemy by constantly keeping them unaware of what his actions are, and he later goes on to define this concept as the fog of war (von Clausewitz & Graham, 2007). This sounds rather familiar, as his hopes to strike fear in the enemy and use the “fear of punishment” (PSU World Campus, 2013) is consistent with what we call cohesive power.
Clearly this is certainly only a fraction of the military and psychological genius of one of history’s predominant military theorists. Though only a fraction, we can easily see how some of the aspects of power and influence are very real life experiences.