Down in the comments to neo’s post on Gen. Sherman, commenter takhallus and I had a small disagreement over the origins of the term ‘fog of war’.
I pulled out the original Clausewitz quote (which I think supported my position), and it seems like such a good thing to remind ourselves of that I thought I’d pull it up into a post. From ‘On War‘:
24. THIRD PECULIARITY.–UNCERTAINTY OF ALL DATA.
Lastly, the great uncertainty of all data in War is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight, which in addition not unfrequently–like the effect of a fog or moonshine–gives to things exaggerated dimensions and an unnatural appearance.
What this feeble light leaves indistinct to the sight talent must discover, or must be left to chance. It is therefore again talent, or the favour of fortune, on which reliance must be placed, for want of objective knowledge.
That want of objective knowledge is something we all have to deal with in this matter – the military, the media, the policymakers, and us in the public.