2.2 Chapter Two: On the Theory of War
Clausewitz notes that given the problems a positive doctrine of war is unattainable. “[I]t is simply not possible to construct a model for the art of war that can serve as a scaffolding on which the commander can rely for support at any time… the situation will always lead to the consequences we have already alluded to: talent and genius operate outside the rules, and theory conflicts with practice.” (Book Two, Chapter Two, p. 140) This should not be a surprise to anyone, yet it is. In sports, games have specific rules. Yet it takes knowledge and talent to take advantage of the rules to one’s favor. For example, I know the rules of soccer well and I know how to kick the ball straight. But this will not make me (nor anyone else for that matter) a Cristiano Ronaldo or a Leonel Messi anytime soon. In war, the rules are even more amorphous and lacking in guidance.
A commander is faced with situations which are not part of the “manual” so he is without a set of rules which will provide a ready-made solution.