Clausewitz Is Wrong

Dr. Jamie Schwandt
6 min readJan 26, 2019
Illustration pulled from Great A’Tuin, the Giant Star Turtle (Chelys galactica), carrying four giant elephants and the Discworld on her back. Image via fyterrypratchett

Clausewitz is wrong. In the U.S. military, a statement like this is both blasphemy and heresy. It’s blasphemy to call Clausewitz irrelevant and it’s heresy to say he “was” or “is” wrong. I will leave it up to you to determine which one.

Carl von Clausewitz book On War is one of the most influential books ever written and is preached across the world in military education. I will admit, I do enjoy the discussion provided in On War. It offers immense value to strategic and abstract thinkers. However, there are fundamental errors in Clausewitz theory.

Center of gravity analysis

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In On War, Clausewitz discusses center of gravity. You may recognize this as a term from physics. It is a point from which the weight of a body or system may be considered to act.

We have formally adopted center of gravity (CoG) in the military. In fact, we define it in Joint Publication (JP) 1–02 as the source of power that provides moral or physical strength, freedom of action, or will to act. We view it as the enemy source of strength or power. Once identified, we know exactly where to attack. Or do we? In Three Approaches to Center of Gravity Analysis: The Islamic State of



Dr. Jamie Schwandt

Dr. Schwandt (Ed.D.) is an American author, L6S master black belt, and red teamer.