The British and Pakistani Armies: Sharing Both a Personal and Institutional Future

The long relationship between the British and Pakistani armies is transforming, from one based mostly on pomp, ceremony and personal friendships, to one based on shared strategic interests.

The Pakistan Army can sometimes be more British than the British Army, at least when it comes to pomp and ceremony. Its cavalry officers have the best horses, and they play in the top polo competitions in Argentina and England; many of their sons go to Britain’s top boarding schools; and they even fashion their moustaches in the same manner as Field Marshal Herbert Kitchener.

According to Carey Schofield in her book Inside the Pakistan Army, after independence in 1947 the Pakistan Army inherited the majority of the British Indian Army regiments that were facing the threat on the Afghanistan ‘frontier’. As a result, it initially had British officers mentoring in the military academies and staff colleges.

Now the relationship has come full circle with a Pakistan Army major, Uqbah Malik, becoming the first instructor from a Muslim country to teach British cadets at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He has also trained the Jordanian crown prince, Emirati princes and Afghan cadets. Malik’s role reflects a British bid to learn from the Pakistan Army’s operational and doctrinal training of military forces in the Middle East. Under Malik, British cadets have trained with their Pakistani counterparts in Pakistan, a historical first observed first-hand by the author, and now British NCOs are on their way to becoming part of Pakistan’s military academy at Kakul. There is also talk of a British Major heading to become an instructor in Pakistan, and at present there is a Pakistani colonel at the Defence Academy at Shrivenham, where he is a member of the Directing Staff and has his own syndicate group.

Since the US-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan it has been no secret that the West – and, in particular, the Americans – have seen the Pakistan Army, and especially its intelligence services, as the biggest external obstacle to the destruction of the Taliban.

Whenever the relationship with the US has soured, particularly after a US military helicopter strike killed at least 24 Pakistani troops in 2011, British
senior officers have been brought in to keep the Pakistani military on-side. It has even been argued by the Americans and Afghans that the British military has been too soft on the Pakistanis and cared more about Pakistani concerns than those of the Afghans.

The former British envoy to Afghanistan, Sir Sherard CowperColes, wrote in his book, Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign, that two British defence chiefs, Field Marshal Charles Guthrie and General Lord Richards formed close friendships with the Pakistani top brass. Ahmed Rashid, in his book, Descent into Chaos: The World’s Most Unstable Region and the Threat to Global Security, also said that Richards was too close to the Pakistani military’s viewpoint. According to former US Vice President Dick Cheney, Guthrie’s friendship with General Pervez Musharraf, the former military ruler of Pakistan, helped the Americans to forge a close relationship with the Pakistanis in their efforts to hunt down and capture the majority of AlQa’ida’s leadership.

More recently, Chief of the General Staff Sir Nicholas Carter has described Pakistan’s former Chief of Army General Raheel Sharif, as ‘a great adviser and mentor’. This month, Carter became the first British Army chief to be the main guest to attend a Pakistan Army cadets’ passing out parade, an honour reserved normally only for Saudi and other Arab royal families. In the past year alone, Carter has been to Pakistan three times, more times than he has been to any other non-NATO member.

It was these personal British friendships that have kept Pakistan from completely falling out with the US and NATO. Now the British army wants to capitalise on this relationship as it bids to evolve into a smaller, but smarter, force. History and pomp and ceremony aside, the UK–Pakistan relationship is becoming more strategic, to the extent that the two armies could even fight together against a common enemy. Carter, along with Commander Field Army Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders, have put Pakistan at the forefront of their defence engagement policy. They are keen to learn from the Pakistan Army’s reported success in Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which Sanders praised, going so far as to say that what the Pakistan Army had achieved in Waziristan and the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas ‘has not been achieved for 150 years’. One of the cornerstones of this success was how the army leadership used the militants’ own narrative against them: enforcing regulations on hate speech; scrutinizing more closely the curriculums in religious schools; prohibiting media coverage of terrorist organisations; and, crucially, declaring that only the Pakistani state – as a Muslim state – could declare jihad – non-state actors such as the Taliban or Daesh did not have the authority to do so. The British army, which has been operating in Muslim countries such as

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Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, is engaging the Pakistanis on ‘lessons learned’. So the question for the British is how they can use the religion card to fight militants who justify their war against the UK based on theology.
The UK is also keen to leverage Pakistan’s historically close ties to the Gulf. In his book, Churchill’s Empire, Richard Toye claims that Winston Churchill wanted the new state of
Pakistan to replace the old British Indian Army as the guardian of the Gulf, and in 1956 Pakistan were close to taking part in the Suez Crisis on behalf of the British. At the time, the Egyptians under President Gamal Abdel Nasser saw Pakistan as a Western and British lackey. This year, Pakistan’s continuing close ties to the Gulf were made clear
when General Raheel Sharif became the head of a newly formed military alliance of mostly Sunni Islamic states led by Saudi Arabia, known as the ‘Muslim NATO’. Indeed, Pakistan continues to be a key provider of security to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, both of which are vital for the UK’s own security: intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia is key to stopping terror plots in the UK, while Bahrain now serves as a permanent base for British forces in the Persian Gulf. Pakistan and the UK have already worked together
in the Gulf, particularly on counterpiracy operations in the Horn of Africa and Persian Gulf.

Britain, under its own new East of Suez policy, can in the long-term benefit from cooperation with the Pakistani Army. The trust between the two armies built during the Afghan war is set to pay dividends both in the Middle East and at the prestigious academies in the UK.
The author knows that the 32 Engineer Regiment of the British Army is partnering in counter-IED capability with the Pakistan Army Engineers, and the British Army’s 77th
Brigade are conducting intellectual level engagements on perception management of the enemy, the cultural side of the war and media strategy. The two armies hold an annual counterinsurgency conference, focusing not just on combat, but also diplomacy and refugee management. The author is aware that the British Army is also sending officers to the Centre for International Peace and Security – which prepares officers to deploy in conflict zones – at the National University of Sciences and Technology in Islamabad
to learn from Pakistan’s experiences in peacekeeping.
Britain is also using the Pakistan Army to help with the recruitment of more British Muslims – the majority of whom are of Pakistani origin – into the UK armed forces. British Muslims have reportedly been reluctant to join the armed forces partly because they believe that the UK is waging a war against Islam. By saying that the British and Pakistani armies are fighting against terrorists and not Islam, the army is attempting a new approach, and the author has seen first-hand that Pakistani military officers are regular guests at recruitment events to help to explain this. The British Army has invited Pakistan Army officers to address key community leaders in cities such as Manchester
and Birmingham to help not just with recruitment but also to explain what it is doing in regional conflicts.
The British and Pakistani armed forces appear now to be on the same page, from training each other’s officers and soldiers, to countering violent extremism in their communities and showing a united front, whether on the Afghan border or in the Gulf. The message being given is that the two militaries are fighting the same enemy, whether it be on the Pakistani–Afghan border or in the Middle East. With geopolitical alliances shifting rapidly, and with instability and conflict raging from North Africa to Southeast Asia, the UK–Pakistan military alliance that was born in 1947 on polo fields and golf courses is now playing a key role in both Pakistan’s and Britain’s defence engagement with the wider world. Both armies stand to benefit from this in the decades to come.

Kamal Alam
Kamal has been a Visiting Fellow at RUSI since July 2015 and specialises in the Pakistan Army’s relationship with the British Army. Previously he has advised the British Army on Syrian affairs.

With thanks to Kamal Alam and RUSI for allowing me to use this.


China’s regional strategy

At a recent conference in Europe I found a great deal of interest in Pakistan’s close and growing relations with China. Three sets of questions aroused much curiosity.One, how is this relationship evolving in a changing international environment? Two, where does Pakistan fit in with China’s ‘March West’, characterised as China’s effort to direct greater attention and resources to regions to its west and promote its vision of an economic corridor along the ancient Silk Road? And three, with the US troop drawdown looming in Afghanistan, how do Pakistan and China see their neighbour’s future at such a pivotal moment?

On the first question, some misconceptions seem to stubbornly persist among a section of the Western policy community. For example there is a tendency – driven mainly by their media – to see the relationship as a recent phenomenon, a reflection of Pakistan ‘turning to China’ as US attention shifts away from the region with its involvement in the war in Afghanistan nearing an end. In fact, when Pakistan-US relations encountered turbulence in recent years, this line of thinking postulated that Islamabad was increasingly looking to China as ‘an alternative’ to America.

These are fundamentally mistaken notions. Yet they reflect just some of the misperceptions found in Western circles about Islamabad’s relations with Beijing. For a start, Pakistan’s relations with China and with the US are not interchangeable. Pakistan has different equities in the two relationships, and they address different needs of the country. Moreover, far from being a ‘breaking story’, Pakistan-China relations have been time-tested over six decades. This has been a consistent and resilient relationship, unlike Pakistan’s other relationships, which have seen many ups and downs.

China has and continues to be a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy and its principal long-term strategic ally. The strategic quality of relations also derives from the firm national consensus in both countries that undergirds the partnership. This distinguishes it from Islamabad’s ties with other major powers, which are valued more by its leaders than the public.

As for the zero-sum nature some ascribe to Pakistan’s relations with China and America, a recall of history will help to invalidate this flawed notion. Pakistan played a central role in one of the most dramatic episodes of the Cold War, because it enjoyed good relations with both China and the United States. Islamabad facilitated Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to Beijing in 1971, which paved the way for Sino-US rapprochement, and decisively tilted the East-West balance.

But more than history, the strategic direction this robust relationship has taken in recent years has given the Pakistan-China partnership added significance at a time of a fundamental change in the global balance of power brought about by China’s rise as an economic and geopolitical power. In the past several years, bilateral ties have broadened and diversified from the traditional focus on defence and military cooperation toward a greater economic and investment orientation.

In the past year alone a series of visits by the new leaderships of both countries have served to elevate the partnership and affirm a common strategic vision of binding Pakistan more closely to China’s expanding economy and geo-economic strategy.

A prominent Western writer who recently declared that the “China-Pakistan alliance is now past its sell-by date” could not have been more wrong. The latest upswing in Sino-Pakistan relations is being driven by the converging economic priorities of the two countries. To attain more balanced economic growth, China is according priority to development of its landlocked western regions, which have lagged behind its eastern and coastal areas. It is therefore looking to greater connectivity and trade with countries to its west, especially long time ally Pakistan.

That is why with the signing of numerous new agreements Pakistan has become the top destination for Chinese investment in South Asia. Nearly 200 projects of varying size are in place today while work is underway on 12 hydel power projects with Chinese help. Already there are 10,000 Chinese nationals working on different projects in Pakistan. Security of Chinese workers has, however, emerged as a challenge, which Islamabad must address to accelerate different projects, some of which are designated as ‘early harvest’ ones.

On his first visit to Pakistan last May, Prime Minister Li Keqiang proposed the establishment of an economic corridor between the two countries, connecting China’s western Xinjiang region to Pakistan’s Gwadar port. This envisages greater connectivity and expansion of trade through a network of road, rail, fibre optic cables and energy pipelines.

The MOU on this also provides for the creation of special economic zones, industrial parks and trade centres and development of energy and technical cooperation. This is the most concrete manifestation of an evolving joint strategy that aims to align China’s plans to develop its western region to Pakistan’s efforts to revive and grow its economy.

This elaborate roadmap of enhanced economic cooperation can be seen as part of the vision of reviving the “ancient Silk Road” articulated by President Xi Jinping in September 2013. Envisioned as a Eurasian economic and trade land bridge, also connecting China to energy-rich Central Asia as well as the Middle East, this is projected by Chinese officials as a “transparent”, “win-win” concept that aims to bring prosperity and stability to the entire region.

The Pakistan-China economic corridor is at the heart of two key aspects of China’s Silk Road vision: maritime and land links. With Gwadar providing China the shortest land route to the sea for commercial traffic, connectivity with Pakistan is central to China’s regional economic strategy.

The many MOUs signed between the two countries, which include upgrading the Karakoram Highway and constructing an airport at Gwadar, will need proper follow up by Islamabad, where bureaucratic wrangles have often stalled projects in the past. Nevertheless the various agreements now in place signal a determined bid to put relations on a stronger footing.

In a press conference last month China’s foreign minister Wang Li outlined his country’s key foreign policy goals for the future. Emphasising the importance of China’s external environment for its economic progress, he said Chinese diplomacy would now aim to better serve the country’s domestic reform agenda. He also stressed “neighbourhood diplomacy” and said China’s key diplomatic priority this year would be to work with Afghanistan and other neighbours to “fight all terrorist forces”.

This brings up the third question of how China and Pakistan see the way ahead in Afghanistan. China’s higher profile and more active diplomacy in Afghanistan in recent years reflect both security and economic imperatives. As a direct neighbour, China has a fundamental interest in Afghanistan’s peace and stability. It seeks to protect its border regions especially Xinjiang from the separatist activities of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a militant organisation with longstanding links to the Afghan Taliban.

China’s economic imperatives reflect the need to develop its western provinces, meet the energy requirements of its expanding economy as well as protect its investments in Afghanistan. Seen from this perspective it is easy to understand why there are strong convergences between Pakistan and China on Afghanistan. They include:

• A common desire to see a responsible drawdown of Western forces from Afghanistan.

• Support for Afghan political reconciliation and a settlement that can bring an end to fighting.

• A post-2014 outcome that ensures that Afghan territory is not used for attacks against another country.

• Continued international engagement especially economic engagement.

• Enhanced regional cooperation to help Afghanistan’s stabilisation.

Significantly China also (i) recognises Pakistan’s constructive role in facilitating an Afghan peace process; (ii) acknowledges the sacrifices made by Pakistan in countering terrorism; and (iii) emphasises respect for principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity in addressing related issues.

In sum, China’s ‘March West’ promises to be a factor for stability for the region. Pakistan sees China’s rise as a global power and its greater engagement in the region as an opportunity from which the entire neighbourhood can benefit – and not another version of a Great Game that its detractors may try to project.

The writer is special adviser to the Jang Group/Geo and a former envoy to the US and the UK.

Twitter: @LodhiMaleeha

Jomini & Clausewitz

Jomini and Clausewitz
Jomini morphing into Clausewitz


Christopher Bassford

An edited version of a paper
presented to the 23rd Meeting of the
Consortium on Revolutionary Europe
at Georgia State University
26 February 1993. Copyright
Christopher Bassford.

Fundamental Differences Between the Two Theorists
Their Interaction
Conclusions: The Return of Jomini

At least three important military theorists emerged from the experience of the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon: The Austrian Archduke Charles; the Swiss writer Antoine-Henri Jomini; and the Prussian Carl von Clausewitz. The archduke has had very little influence in the United States or Great Britain, since his work was never translated into English.*1 The military-theoretical traditions founded by Jomini and Clausewitz, however, have very definitely had an impact on our military thinking.

Most frequently, Jomini is treated as being somehow the opposite of Clausewitz: military educators often hurl the epithets “Jominian” and “Clausewitzian” at one another as if those single words somehow summed up their opponents’ fallacious world-views and defects of personal character. On the other hand, a number of thoughtful observers have considered the differences betweem Jomini and Clausewitz to be rather inconsequential. Alfred Thayer Mahan is a case in point. Mahan’s father, military educator Dennis Hart Mahan, is generally considered to have been a devout Jominian, and so is his son (though in fact both were creative thinkers in their own right, and calling them “Jominians” is an unfair characterization). The younger Mahan eventually became familiar with Clausewitz,*2 calling him “one of the first of authorities.” However, he found Clausewitz to be in essential agreement with Jomini in all significant respects,*3 so he continued to put forth his arguments in largely Jominian terminology.*4 The great British Clausewitzian Spenser Wilkinson thought that Mahan and Clausewitz were in general accord.*5 In Germany, Albrecht von Boguslawski also argued that Jomini and Clausewitz were saying the same thing. More recently, US Naval War College Professor Michael Handel has sought to reconcile the two theorists.*6

Thus Jomini and Clausewitz often appear either as opposites or as twins. As usual when we are given a choice between two such clear alternatives, neither really proves to be very useful and the truth lies somewhere else. In reality, Jomini and Clausewitz saw much the same things in war, but saw them through very different eyes. The similarities in their military ideas, which are indeed very great, stem from three sources:

1. A common historical interest in the campaigns of Frederick the Great
2. Long personal experiences in the Napoleonic Wars, albeit usually on different sides
3. They read each other’s books.

Despite having these things in common, their approaches to military theory were fundamentally different, and the source of these differences can be found in their very different personalities.

This is not the place to delve terribly deeply into the arcane theoretical details of these two men’s work. Instead, I want to focus on the sources of our modern-day confusion: Why is it that Jomini and Clausewitz look so radically different to some observers, yet so very similar to others? I will attribute this confusion to our frequent lack of sensitivity to the differences in the two men’s experiences and personalities, and to the way in which theyinteracted over time. 


Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was a professional soldier from the age of 12 to his death from Cholera–a disease he incurred on active duty–at the age of 51. He first saw combat in 1794 when he was 13. He experienced first-hand Prussia’s disastrous military humiliation by Napoleon in 1806, was captured, and returned to Prussia a passionate military reformer. As a junior staff officer, he worked closely with the great Prussian military reformers Gerhard von Scharnhorst (who was his mentor) and August von Gneisenau (who became his friend and protector). In 1810, he was appointed military tutor to the crown prince, for whom he wrote (in 1812) a military treatise we call The Principles of War.*7 The same year, on a matter of high principle, he gave up his commission and joined the Russian army to fight Napoleon. He fought throughout the Russian campaign and on through the Wars of Liberation of 1813 and 1814. He was Prussian III Corps chief of staff during the campaign of 1815. It was Clausewitz’s corps which–outnumbered two-to-one–held Grouchy’s forces at Wavre, contributing decisively to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo.

Clausewitz had a reputation in the Prussian army as both an idealist and a superb staff officer, but he was considered temperamentally unsuitable for command. No hint of personal scandal attaches to Clausewitz, and his intellectual integrity was the driving force behind the ruthless examination of military-theoretical ideas that we find in his greatest book, On War. However, while he rose very high in the King’s service, he was widely considered too open to liberal ideas to be altogether politically reliable. His ideas on war are heavily influenced by the mass popular warfare of the French Revolutionary period, and those ideas were uncomfortable to conservative aristocrats.

Clausewitz’s relationship to Napoleon is often misunderstood. Although he is often called the “high-priest of Napoleon” (Liddell Hart’s and J.F.C. Fuller’s term for him), it is important to note that, in fact, Clausewitz represents not the ideas of Napoleon but rather those of his most capable opponent, the Prussian military reformer Gerhard von Scharnhorst.


The man who did claim to interpret Napoleon to the military world was Antoine-Henri Jomini, later Baron de Jomini, a French-speaking Swiss (1779-1869).*8 Originally headed for a career in banking, young Jomini got carried away by the excitement of the French Revolution and joined the French army in 1798. He returned to business in Switzerland after the Peace of Amiens (1802), where he began writing on military subjects. His Traité de grande tactique was first published in 1803. He continually revised, enlarged, and reissued it into the 1850s.

Rejoining the army in 1804, Jomini was accepted as a volunteer staff member by Marshal Ney (who had loaned him the money to publish his Traité de grande tactique).*9 He served in the Austerlitz and Prussian campaigns, then in Spain. He finally received an actual staff commission in the French army at the behest of Napoleon a while after Austerlitz. He served for a while as chief of staff to his long-time mentor, Marshal Ney. Jomini’s arrogance, irascibility, and naked ambition often led to friction with his fellows and eventually to a falling-out with Ney. Eventually, however, Jomini was promoted to brigadier general and given a succession of fairly responsible staff positions, mostly away from actual troops. Following his recovery from the rigors of the Russian campaign, he was reassigned to Ney in 1813. However, he was shortly thereafter arrested for sloppy staff work. His ambitions thwarted by real or imagined plots against himself, Jomini joined the Russian army in late 1813. He spent much of the remainder of his long career in the Russian service.

During his actual military career, “Jomini … [had been] a very minor figure, seldom mentioned in orders or dispatches, practically ignored in the memoirs of the officers who had served with him.”*10 Nonetheless, he became by far the best known military commentator of his day, and maintained that position through zealous self-promotion. His most famous work, Summary of the Art of War, was written, like Clausewitz’s Principles of War, for a royal prince to whom he was military tutor. Although long since retired, he advised Czar Nicholas during the Crimean War and Napoleon III during his Italian campaigns. Even during Jomini’s lifetime, however, there were many prominent military men who viewed Jomini with great skepticism. The Duke of Wellington considered him a pompous charlatan.*11

In his maturity, Jomini grew wary of the revolutionary passions that had originally inspired him to take up the sword himself. Perhaps his dependence on the czar, one of the most conservative rulers in Europe, had some influence on his attitude. It is one of the ironies of history that Clausewitz, an officer of the conservative king of Prussia, should be the one to base his theories on the most radical legacy of the revolutionary period, while Napoleon’s own staff officer and interpreter, Jomini, should aim his theories at the professional officer corps of essentially eighteenth century­style armies.

Jomini’s military writings are easy to unfairly caricature: they were characterized by a highly didactic and prescriptive approach, conveyed in an extensive geometric vocabulary of strategic lines, bases, and key points.*12 His fundamental prescription was simple: place superior power at the decisive point. In the theoretical work for which he gained early fame, chapter XXXV of the Traité de grande tactique, he constantly stressed the advantages of interior lines.

Jomini was no fool, however. His intelligence, facile pen, and actual experience of war made his writings a great deal more credible and useful than so brief a description can imply. Once he left Napoleon’s service, he maintained himself and his reputation primarily through prose. His writing style–unlike Clausewitz’s–reflected his constant search for an audience. He dealt at length with a number of practical subjects (logistics, seapower) that Clausewitz had largely ignored. Elements of his discussion (his remarks on Great Britain and seapower, for instance, and his sycophantic treatment of Austria’s Archduke Charles) are clearly aimed at protecting his political position or expanding his readership. And, one might add, at minimizing Clausewitz’s, for he clearly perceived the Prussian writer as his chief competitor. For Jomini, Clausewitz’s death thirty-eight years prior to his own came as a piece of rare good fortune. 


Aside from their differing relationships to Napoleon, the fundamental differences between Clausewitz and Jomini are rooted in their differing concepts of the historical process and of the nature and role of military theory.

Clausewitz saw history in relative terms, rejecting absolute categories, standards, and values. The past had to be accepted on its own terms. The historian must attempt to enter into the mindsets and attitudes of any given period, the “spirit of the age.” History was a dynamic process of change, driven by forces beyond the control and often beyond the comprehension of any individual or group. This historicism is particularly obvious in two key themes of On War that are missing in the 1812 Principles of War. These are the famous notion that “War is a continuation of politics with an admixture of other means” (i.e., organized violence) and the recognition that war can vary in its forms depending on the changing nature of policy and of the society within which it is waged.

In contrast, Jomini’s view of history and of war was static and simplistic. He saw war as a “great drama,” a stage for heroes and military geniuses whose talents were beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. He saw the revolutionary warfare in which he himself had participated as merely the technical near-perfection of a fundamentally unchanging phenomenon, to be modified only by superficial matters like the list of dramatis personae, technology, and transient political motivations. He drew his theoretical and practical prescriptions from his experiences in the Napoleonic wars. The purpose of his theory was to teach practical lessons to “officers of a superior grade.”

Accordingly, Jomini’s aim was utilitarian and his tone didactic. His writing thus appealed more readily to military educators. His later work, Summary of the Art of War (Precis de l’Art de la Guerre, 1838), became, in various translations, popularizations, and commentaries, the premier military-educational text of the mid-nineteenth century.*13

Much of the contrast between Jomini and Clausewitz*14 can be traced to such philosophical factors–and to the frequent abridgement of On War, which makes it appear much more abstract than Jomini’s work when in fact they often discussed the same practical subject matter. Despite his insistence that theory must be descriptive rather than prescriptive in nature, Clausewitz frequently provides instructive discussions of common military problems like contested river crossings, the defense of mountainous areas, etc


As the discussion so far has indicated, there were many parallels and many points of divergence in the personalities, military experiences, and underlying philosophies of these two men. There were also, however, some rather interesting points of intersection. Jomini and Clausewitz may have caught a glimpse of one another from opposite sides during the tragic crossing of the Beresina river during the French retreat from Moscow, but there is no evidence that they ever met. Nonetheless, they interacted intellectually, influencing one another’s thinking over a long period of time.

When the young Clausewitz wrote his Principles of War (1812) for his student the Prussian crown prince, he seems to have been rather taken with Jomini and his argument about interior lines.

“In strategy,… the side that is surrounded by the enemy is better off than the side which surrounds its opponent, especially with equal or even weaker forces…. Colonel Jomini was right in this….*15

He also used a great deal of Jomini’s geometric vocabulary of bases, lines, and points, and was, like Jomini, positive about the usefulness of mountains as defensive lines. Later, in On War, he would be quite skeptical on all these matters. The young Clausewitz also accepted Jomini’s fundamental strategic theme: “The theory of warfare tries to discover how we may gain a preponderance of physical forces and material advantages at the decisive point.” Even this early in his evolution, he then went on to stress something we think of as more typically Clausewitzian: “As this is not always possible, theory also teaches us to calculate moral factors: the likely mistakes of the enemy, the impression created by a daring action,… yes, even our own desperation.”*16

Given twenty years to think about such matters, however, Clausewitz became extremely skeptical of Jomini. InOn War, Clausewitz’s sweeping critique of the state of military theory appears to have been aimed in large part at the Swiss:

It is only analytically that these attempts at theory can be called advances in the realm of truth; synthetically, in the rules and regulations they offer, they are absolutely useless.

They aim at fixed values; but in war everything is uncertain, and calculations have to be made with variable quantities.

They direct the inquiry exclusively toward physical quantities, whereas all military action is intertwined with psychological forces and effects.

They consider only unilateral action, whereas war consists of a continuous interaction of opposites…. Anything that could not be reached by the meager wisdom of such one-sided points of view was held to be beyond scientific control: it lay in the realm of genius, which rises above all rules.

Pity the soldier who is supposed to crawl among these scraps of rules, not good enough for genius, which genius can ignore, or laugh at. No; what genius does is the best rule, and theory can do no better than show how and why this should be the case.*17

These passages immediately follow Clausewitz’s sneers at the “lopsided character” of the theory of interior lines, comments unquestionably directed at Jomini. As a result of these comments, some writers have claimed that Clausewitz was an advocate of concentric attacks, in contrast to Jomini’s advocacy of “interior lines.” In fact, Clausewitz spent more time discussing concentric operations in part simply because he felt that Jomini had already done so good a job explaining the opposite approach. The choice of either would depend, as always in Clausewitz’s reasoning, on the specific situation.*18

These critical comments by Clausewitz are a source of much confusion. Anyone who reads Jomini’s most famous work–and if you think few people actually read On War, there are even fewer who read the Summary–will notice quite readily that Clausewitz’s remarks seem unduly harsh and misleading. Jomini’s prefatory comments seem quite reasonable and entirely compatible with a Clausewitzian understanding of war, despite Jomini’s personal barbs at Clausewitz. The frequently forgotten reason for this confusion is that Clausewitz’s comments are aimed at Jomini’s Traité de grande tactique and other early works. The Summary was written after Jomini had read On War–and after Clausewitz was safely dead. Clausewitz’s comments therefore do not reflect Jomini’s modifications to his earlier arguments, for the Summary contains many adjustments clearly attributable to On War‘s arguments. These include Jomini’s comments on the importance of morale; the impossibility of fixed rules (save perhaps in tactics); the need to assign limits to the role of theory; skepticism of mathematical calculations (and a denial that Jomini’s own work–despite all the geometrical terminology and diagrams–was based on math); the disclaimer of any belief that war is “a positive science”; and the clear differentiation between mere military knowledge and actual battlefield skill.*19

Jomini acknowledged the truth of Clausewitz’s strong connection between politics and war. The Summary is full of references to “politique”–the same term as Clausewitz’s Politik. However, this similarity is hidden by the standard English translation, which substitutes the term “diplomacy”–i.e., only the politics that occurs betweenstates, not that within them as well. One example of a direct borrowing from On War: “[T]he first care of a commander should be to agree with the head of the state upon the character of the war.” Compare this with Clausewitz: “The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish … the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.”*20

These direct but unacknowledged borrowings from On War convince many readers that the two theorists were thinking on parallel tracks. Simultaneously, the two writers’ overt mutual insults tend to make other readers–those who are not familiar with both works–assume a basic contradiction in their views. However, Jomini’s recognition of the validity of many of Clausewitz’s points did not lead him to genuinely adopt Clausewitz’s philosophy, for at least three reasons. First, he correctly distinguished his own work from Clausewitz’s by pointing to its explicitly instructional (i.e., doctrinal) purposes. Despite his agreement that war was essentially a political act, he pointed to the practical implications of this different focus: “History at once political and military offers more attractions, but is also much more difficult to treat and does not accord easily with the didactic species….”

Second, and in common with a number of Clausewitz’s later detractors, he found the Prussian’s approach intellectually arrogant, overly metaphysical, and simply too damned difficult to digest. Jomini stressed simplicity and clarity over a “pretentious” search for deeper truths. Further, he objected to what he saw as Clausewitz’s extreme skepticism (“incrédulité“) of all military theory–save that in On War. For Clausewitz to reject Jomini’s approach to theory while defending his own seemed somehow hypocritical.

Third, there was a strong personal element in Jomini’s critique of Clausewitz. Clearly, he did on some level greatly admire Clausewitz’s work. He regretted that the Prussian had not been able to read his own Summary, “persuaded that he would have rendered to it some justice.” He was thus deeply wounded by the criticisms in On War. He expressed his bitterness in a number of sneers (e.g., “The works of Clausewitz have been incontestably useful, although it is often less by the ideas of the author than by the contrary ideas to which he gives birth”) and in accusations of plagiarism (“There is not one of my reflections [on the campaign of 1799] which he has not repeated”). These insults, because they refer to the Prussian by name, have more meaning to readers unfamiliar with On War than do the Summary‘s concessions on theoretical issues. 


The significance of all this, aside from whatever antiquarian interest it may arouse, lies in certain recent attempts to revive Jomini. These attempts are part of a reaction against the predominance of Clausewitzian theory in this country since the Vietnam war. Over the years Clausewitz has periodically been declared obsolete, only to reemerge more influential than ever. Such arguments often focus on the problem of nuclear war, but it seems increasingly likely that it is the nuclear theorists, not Clausewitz, who have been rendered obsolescent.*21 There have also been complaints by military traditionalists about the excessive influence of “Clausewitz nuts” and by theoretical purists of the “the prostitution of Clausewitz since 1981, particularly in [the U.S. Army’s] FM 100­5 and its various degenerate offspring.”*22 Both complaints have some justification. The eclecticism of Anglo-Saxon military thought is rooted in the same spirit as the Latin warning, “Cave ab homine unius libri” (“Beware the man of one book”): a narrow reliance on Clausewitz is inconsistent with the philosopher’s own teaching. On the other hand, using On War as a mere stockpile of juicy quotes in support of this doctrinal position or that is also an abuse.

In large part, however, criticism of the new Clausewitzianism is simply reaction. Would-be competitors have little choice but to seek to dislodge the Prussian philosopher from his post-Vietnam primacy. And, of course, some people are simply tired of hearing about this long-dead genius. As David Chandler has put it, “Clausewitz’s airy Kantian generalizations have held sway long enough.”*23 It is also possible that in a world seemingly freed of fundamental ideological (though obviously not nationalist) conflict, in a period in which some would seriously suppose an “end to History,” Clausewitz’s strife-driven world view might come to seem less relevant.*24 Chandler’s suggestion that “Baron Antoine-Jomini’s rival (and more prosaic) approach … is under serious reconsideration” may be a symptom of such a trend–though one may well ask, “by whom?” Such a trend may be further encouraged by what seems to some–in forgetful retrospect–to have been the un-Clausewitzian “simplicity” of the Persian Gulf War. Perhaps the very Clausewitzian complexity of that war’s aftermath will squelch the effort to renew Jomini’s claim to Guru status.

My own argument is that most of what Jomini had to contribute that was of real value–which was a great deal–has long since been absorbed into the way we write practical doctrine. Clausewitz’s contributions, on the other hand, have not.*25 Indeed, given the brilliance and subtlety of many of Clausewitz’s concepts, it is hard to see how they could ever become the “conventional wisdom.” Jomini is important in a purely historical sense. In cultivating our own understanding of war, past, present, and future, we must turn to Clausewitz.

See also Christoph M.V. Abegglen, “The Influence of Clausewitz on Jomini’s Précis de l’Art de la Guerre,” Dissertation for an MA in War Studies King’s College London, 2003.  [Superviser: Dr. Jan Willem Honig]


1. Lincoln’s chief of staff General Henry W. Halleck is generally considered a Jominian. He was also definitely aware of Clausewitz and presumably had some notion as to his ideas. His greatest source of inspiration may, however, have been neither Jomini nor Clausewitz, but the Archduke Charles. See Thomas L. Connelly and Archer Jones, The Politics of Command: Factions and Ideas in Confederate Strategy (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1973, 27­28, 30, 104, 176. Russell F. Weigley adopts this view of the Archduke Charles’s influence on Halleck in his article “American Strategy from Its Beginnings through the First World War,” in Peter Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 416­17; it did not appear in his earlier chapter on Halleck in Towards an American Army: Military Thought from Washington to Marshall (New York: 1962), in which he saw Halleck as a more original thinker, albeit heavily influenced by Jomini.

2. Mahan had become familiar with at least the broad outlines of Clausewitz’s thought by the 1890s. This is the view of two naval historians, Captain (USN) William Dillworth Puleston, Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1939), 295, and Spector, Professors of War, 121. The editor of Mahan’s papers, however, is not sure that Mahan ever read Clausewitz, and if he did, places it around 1910. See Robert Seager, Alfred Thayer Mahan: The Man and his Letters (Annapolis: US Naval Institute Press, 1978), 552, 683,n.11. I am inclined to agree with this assessment, although this does not eliminate the possibility that Mahan knew the broad outlines of On War at an earlier date. Mahan’s interest is further evidenced by his marginal notes in a copy of Major Stewart Murray’s 1909 condensation of On War,The Reality of War (London: Hugh Rees, 1909). Mahan’s own copy has been lost, but his marginal notes were transcribed into a copy donated to the Naval War College by Puleston, Mahan’s biographer.

3. Alfred Thayer Mahan, Naval Strategy Compared and Contrasted with the Principles and Practice of Military Operations on Land: Lectures Delivered at the Naval War College, Newport, R.I., between the Years 1887 and 1911 (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1911; reprinted Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1975), contains two explicit references to Clausewitz. One is a footnote reference (120) to Clausewitz’s sarcastic discussion of “keys,” (Book VI, Chapter 23 of On War). The other (in which Mahan refers to Clausewitz as “one of the first of authorities”) is a reference to Corbett citing On War on the relative strengths of defense and offense (279). This is part of an extended discussion of some importance, in that Mahan is comparing the naval and land aspects of strategy, and he is clearly discussing the Clausewitzian interpretation without identifying it as such. [He used virtually the same phrasing in his discussion of some naval wargames in a letter to Raymond P. Rogers, 4 March 1911, in Alfred Thayer Mahan, eds. Robert Seeger II and Doris D. Maguire, Letters and Papers of Alfred Thayer Mahan(Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1975.)] Mahan also discusses “ends and means” at some length (esp. p5), in a manner strongly reminiscent of Clausewitz.

4. See Puleston, 295; Spector, 121.

5. While he thought that the equally great British Clausewitzian Julian Corbett was wildly wrong in his interpretations.

6. Michael I. Handel, Masters of War: Sun Tzu, Clausewitz and Jomini (London: Frank Cass, 1992).

7. Carl von Clausewitz, trans. Hans W. Gatzke, Principles of War (Harrisburg, PA: The Military Service Publishing Company, 1942); reprinted in Stackpole Books, Roots of Strategy: Book 2, 3 Military Classics. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1987. [Originally “Die wichtigsten Grundsatze des Kriegfuhrens zur Erganzung meines Unterrichts bei Sr. Koniglichen Hoheit dem Kronprinzen” (written in 1812; trans. from the 1936 German edition).] Another translation appears as an appendix to J.J. Graham’s 1873 translation of On War.

8. On Jomini, see Crane Brinton, Gordon A. Craig, and Felix Gilbert, “Jomini,” in Edward Mead Earle, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1944); Michael Howard, “Jomini and the Classical Tradition,” in Michael Howard, ed., The Theory and Practice of War (New York: Praeger, 1966); John Shy, “Jomini,” in Peter Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986).

9. The best English-language discussion of Jomini’s military career can be found in John R. Elting, “Jomini: Disciple of Napoleon?” Military Affairs, Spring 1964, 17-26. Unlike most biographical discussions of the Swiss, which are based on his own highly colored reminiscences to people he wished to impress, Elting’s study is based on Xavier de Courville, Jomini, ou de le Devin de Napoleon (Paris, 1935). “Written by Jomini’s descendants, from his personal papers, it is the most impartial of his biographies.”

10. Elting, “Jomini: Disciple of Napoleon?”

11. [Francis Egerton, Lord Ellesmere], “Marmont, Siborne, and Alison,” Quarterly Review, v.LXXVI (June and September 1845), 204­247, a joint venture of John Gurwood, Egerton, and Wellington himself. See Archives of the John Murray Company, manuscript index to v.LXXVI, Quarterly Review; J.H. Stocqueler (pseud.), The Life of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington(London: Ingram, Cooke, and Company, 1853), v.II, 330.

12. See, for example, Articles XVIII-XXII of the Summary.

13.. For Jomini’s theoretical writings in English translation, see Antoine­Henri Jomini, trans. Col. S.B. Holabird, U.S.A., Treatise on Grand Military Operations: or A Critical and Military History of the Wars of Frederick the Great as Contrasted with the Modern System, 2 vols. (New York: D. van Nostrand, 1865); Baron de Jomini, trans. Major O.F. Winship and Lieut. E.E. McLean,The Art of War (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1854). Important derivative works include Dennis Hart Mahan’s instructional works for West Point; Henry Wager Halleck, Elements of Military Art and Science (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1846); Edward Bruce Hamley (1824­93), The Operations of War Explained and Illustrated (London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1866).

14.. Most discussions of Jomini compare him to Clausewitz. For explicit efforts to do so, see Department of Military Art and Engineering, USMA, Clausewitz, Jomini, Schlieffen (West Point, 1951 [rewritten, in part, by Colonel [USA] John R. Elting, 1964]); J.E. Edmonds, “Jomini and Clausewitz” [a treatment extremely hostile to the German], Canadian Army Journal, v.V, no.2 (May 1951), 64­69; Joseph L. Harsh, “Battlesword and Rapier: Clausewitz, Jomini, and the American Civil War,” Military Affairs, December 1974, 133­138; Major [USAF] Francis S. Jones, “Analysis and Comparison of the Ideas and Later Influences of Henri Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz,” Paper, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Air Command and Staff College, April 1985; Colonel [USA] Richard M. Swain, “`The Hedgehog and the Fox’: Jomini, Clausewitz, and History,” Naval War College Review, Autumn 1990, 98-109.

15. Gatzke, Principles of War, 49 (p39 in Cochenhausen, Grundsatze).

16. Clausewitz, Gatzke ed., Principles of War, 12; Cochenhausen, Grundsatze, 9. See also pp 22/17).

17.. On War, Book Two, Chapter 2.

18. In later versions of the Treatise, Jomini dropped his insistence on interior lines, acknowledging á la Clausewitz that the value of interior or concentric lines depended on the situation. (Holabird, 450-451).

19.. These points are most easily found in the bibliographical essay which opened the original French edition of the Summary, “Notice: sur la théorie actuelle de la guerre et sur son utilité” (“On the Present Theory of War and of Its Utility”). This essay is missing from (or severely edited in) most English language editions, although it is present in the 1854 American translation.

20. Jomini, trans. Mendell and Craighill, Summary, 66; Clausewitz, On War, 88-89.

21. John E. Shephard, Jr., makes a recent case for Clausewitz’s partial obsolescence in “On War: Is Clausewitz Still Relevant?” See also Bruce R. Nardulli, “Clausewitz and the Reorientation of Nuclear Strategy,” Journal of Strategic Studies, December 1982, 494-510.

22. Achenbach, “War and the Cult of Clausewitz,” quoting Colonel (USA, retired) Arthur Lykke, a senior professor of strategy at the Army War College; Colonel [USA, ret.] Lloyd Matthews, editor of Parameters, letter 17 July 1989.

23. David G. Chandler, in an enthusiastic review of Weigley’s Age of BattlesJournal of Military History, April 1992, 294-295.

24. Martin van Creveld attempted in The Transformation of War (New York: Free Press, 1991) “to construct a different, non-Clausewitzian and non-strategic, framework for thinking about war.” He argues that war in the post­Cold War era is driven by forces outside the nation-state system and beyond the rational boundaries allegedly emphasized in On War. The pattern of conflict in the post­1945 world no longer yields to the “Clausewitzian assumption that war is rational.” In this view, the “Clausewitzian universe” is obsolete because it is centered on warmaking by the “state”; Clausewitz’s alleged trinity of government, army, and people is therefore not applicable to Europe before the Treaty of Westphalia nor to the world emerging from the Cold War era.

25. Bernard Brodie often made puzzled references, e.g., “The Continuing Relevance of On War,” 50, to the failure of modern military thought to incorporate and supersede Clausewitz, in the manner in which, say, Adam Smith’s contribution to economics has been. 


Brinton, Crane, Gordon A. Craig, and Felix Gilbert. “Jomini.” Edward Mead Earle, ed. Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1944.

Clausewitz, Carl von, trans. Colonel J.J. [James John] Graham. On War. London: N. Trhbner, 1873.

Clausewitz, Carl von, trans. Hans W. Gatzke. Principles of War. Harrisburg, PA: The Military Service Publishing Company, 1942; reprinted in Stackpole Books, Roots of Strategy: Book 2, 3 Military Classics. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1987. [Originally written 1812: Carl von Clausewitz, General Friedrich von Cochenhausen, ed. “Die wichtigsten Grundsatze des Kriegfuhrens zur Erganzung meines Unterrichts bei Sr. K`niglichen Hoheit dem Kronprinzen. Berlin: Jhnker und Dhnnhaupt Verlag, 1936.] Another translation appears as an appendix to J.J. Graham’s translation of On War.

Clausewitz, Carl von, eds./trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret. On War. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.

Courville, Xavier de. Jomini, ou de le Devin de Napoleon. Paris, 1935.

Department of Military Art and Engineering, USMA. Clausewitz, Jomini, Schlieffen. West Point, 1951. [Rewritten, in part by Colonel [USA] John R. Elting, 1964.]

Elting, John R. “Jomini: Disciple of Napoleon?” Military Affairs, Spring 1964, 17-26.

Edmonds, Brigadier General Sir J.E. “Jomini and Clausewitz.” Canadian Army Journal, v.V, no.2 (May 1951), 64­69.

Harsh, Joseph L. “Battlesword and Rapier: Clausewitz, Jomini, and the American Civil War.” Military Affairs, December 1974, 133­138.

Hattaway, Herman, and Archer Jones. How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983.

Hattendorf, John B. “Sir Julian Corbett on the Significance of Naval History.” The American Neptune, v.XXXI, no.4, 1971.

Hittle, Brigadier General [USMC] J. D., ed. Jomini and his Summary of the Art of War: A Condensed Version. Harrisburg, PA: 1947; reprinted in Stackpole Books, Roots of Strategy: Book 2, 3 Military Classics. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1987.

Howard, Michael. “Jomini and the Classical Tradition.” Michael Howard, ed. The Theory and Practice of War. New York: Praeger, 1966.

Jomini, Henri. Traité de grande tactique, ou, Relation de la guerre de sept ans, extraite de Tempelhof, commentée at comparée aux principales opérations de la dernière guerre; avec un recueil des maximes les plus important de l’art militaire, justifiées par ces différents évenéments. Paris: Giguet et Michaud, 1805.

Jomini, Le Baron de. Précis de l’Art de la Guerre: Des Principales Combinaisons de la Stratégie, de la Grande Tactique et de la Politique Militaire. Brussels: Meline, Cans et Copagnie, 1838.

Jomini, Baron de, trans. Major O.F. Winship and Lieut. E.E. McLean [USA]. The Art of War. New York: G.P. Putnam, 1854.

Jomini, Baron de, trans. Capt. G.H. Mendell and Lieut. W.P. Craighill [USA]. The Art of War. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1862; reprinted, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1971; reprinted, with a new introduction by Charles Messenger, London: Greenhill Books, 1992.

Jomini, Antoine­Henri, trans. Col. S.B. Holabird, U.S.A. Treatise on Grand Military Operations: or A Critical and Military History of the Wars of Frederick the Great as Contrasted with the Modern System, 2 vols. New York: D. van Nostrand, 1865.

Jones, Archer. “Jomini and the Strategy of the American Civil War: A Reinterpretation.” Military Affairs, XXXIV, December 1970, 127­131.



Jones, Major [USAF] Francis S. “Analysis and Comparison of the Ideas and Later Influences of Henri Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz.” Paper, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Air Command and Staff College, April 1985.

McGinnis, Major [USA] Thomas M. “Jomini and the Ardennes: An Analysis of Lines of Operation and Decisive Points.” Fort Leavenworth, KS: School of Advanced Military Studies, May 1988.

Shy, John. “Jomini.” Peter Paret, ed. Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.

Swain, Colonel [USA] Richard M. “`The Hedgehog and the Fox’: Jomini, Clausewitz, and History.” Naval War College Review, Autumn 1990, 98-109.

Williams, T. Harry. “The Return of Jomini: Some Thoughts on Recent Civil War Writing.” Military Affairs, December 1975, 204­206.



Kautilya’s Arthashastra is an excellent treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy. it is said to have been written by Kautilya, also known by the name Chanakya or Vishnugupta, the prime minister of India’s first great emperor, Chandragupta Maurya.

In Arthashastra, Kautilya mixes the harsh pragmatism for which he is famed with compassion for the poor, for slaves, and for women. He reveals the imagination of a romancer in imagining all manner of scenarios which can hardly have been commonplace in real life.

Centrally, Arthaśāstra argues for an autocracy managing an efficient and solid economy. It discusses the ethics of economics and the duties and obligations of a king. The scope of Arthaśāstra is, however, far wider than statecraft, and it offers an outline of the entire legal and bureaucratic framework for administering a kingdom, with a wealth of descriptive cultural detail on topics such as mineralogy, mining and metals, agriculture, animal husbandry and medicine. The Arthaśāstra also focuses on issues of welfare (for instance, redistribution of wealth during a famine) and the collective ethics that hold a society together.

Table of Contents

Kautilya. Arthashastra. Translated by R. Shamasastry. Bangalore: Government Press, 1915.