LAST month we asked our readers to suggest a name for our new blog, covering defence, security and diplomacy. The very first suggestion, from a user called Tzimisces, also proved to be clear favourite among other readers: Clausewitz. Carl Philipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz was, of course, a great Prussian military strategist of the early 19th century and the author of "On War", a classic book on strategy that is still studied today. Clausewitz perfectly fits the bill as the name for this blog because of his famous observation that one way to consider war is as "the continuation of politics by other means". But that is not the only way to think of it: Clausewitz declared that war should be considered from an instinctive, an analytical and a political point of view in order to be understood properly. Similarly, this blog will consider a range of interconnected defence-related subjects, from the technical details of new weapons to spy spats and diplomatic negotiations.
Some readers thought Clausewitz was too obvious a choice of name; but sometimes the obvious choice is the right one. Others objected that Clausewitz's book is more owned than read, because it is deeply tedious. But even if you are not a fan of his writing (and 19th-century German can be impenetrable to modern readers, including native German speakers), it is difficult to think of a more suitable alternative. Dreadnought was a popular choice, since dreadnought battleships were as much tools of diplomacy as weapons, but we felt it was too British. There was also support for Machiavelli (not military enough); various classical names (but only Athena, the goddess of warfare, wisdom and strategy, combined military and political aspects); and a selection of British generals and foreign secretaries (but we wanted a more international flavour). So in the end Clausewitz carried the day.
Update 9/2: Thank you for your comments. Several readers have pointed out that Clausewitz refers to war as "the continuation of politics by other means" in the course of his discussion of the nature of war, which he considers in several different ways before arriving at the rather more nuanced conclusion that war is the combination of a "trinity" of tendencies, of which politics is only one element. We stand corrected; the text above has been amended accordingly. Readers who wish to see the original context of the quote are invited to consult Clausewitz's original text (English translation).