Home / Articles / Clausewitzian Alchemy and the Modern Character of War
Current conflicts reinforce, rather than undermine, the Clausewitzian paradigm. It is not the nature of war itself that is changing, but rather the dominant relationships between the components of its nature. Recognizing that the relationship between the interaction with passion, reason, and chance with the people, the state, and the military, which prevailed in Clausewitz’s day, does not continue to prevail in our day deeply rests on ideas established in On War. Three shifts in the character of war have materialized: the collapse of warfare, the intersection of strategy and politics, and the atomization of political power. To act successfully in future conflicts, we must move beyond any simple Clausewitzian alchemy and understand the countless ways in which passion, chance, and rationality can be alloyed with the state, the people, and the military.