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Sunday, May 17, 2015

A History of Strategy chapter 1

A History of Strategy chapter 1 - ProProfs

The embed feature no longer works properly, so just follow the link above and click the big START button. Discuss it and ask any questions you might have in the comments below.

Keep in mind that the idea of the Voxiversity quizzes is not to catch you out or even test your knowledge, they are primarily designed to help you cement the basics of the book in question in your mind. The idea is that if you ace a series of Voxiversity quizzes, you possess the essential knowledge of the book required to understand it. I occasionally go back and retake some of the older Voxiversity quizzes just to ensure that I continue to retain the information involved.

The next quiz will be Chapter 2 on Saturday, 23 May.

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105 Comments:

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 7:44 AM  

Chapter 1 ends quoting Lao Tzu #35

Below is Lao Zi #35 (Mandarin version) from The Book of Lao Zi, Foreign Language Press Beijing 1993, translated by Ren JiYu. Could not find it online. Offered just for interesting comparison and a sample of the difficulty of translating Chinese.

Whoever holds fast to the great image* will become
that one to whom all people under Heaven will come

(Even if all the people under Heaven) come to him
they will not hinder each other

And all enjoy comfort, peace, and health

Music and dainties will make passing guests stop

(But) Tao, if spoken out, will be insipid and tasteless

Being looked at, it is imperceptible

Being listened to it is inaudible

Being utilized, it is inexhaustible


* “great image” refers to “the image without image” or the
“formless form” that is Tao

Blogger Rantor May 17, 2015 7:56 AM  

9/10, I did not see a way to sign in or track test scores... Otherwise quiz ran fine.

Blogger Student in Blue May 17, 2015 8:13 AM  

8/10, I completely forgot about the John Keegan part. Other than that, the most notable thing that stuck out in my head about the chapter was how true it was that Chinese seem to appeal to history/legendary figures as, I guess, an appeal to authority. "5000 years of Chinese history!" or something of the sort I remember being remarked.

Blogger Salt May 17, 2015 8:15 AM  

9/10 Forgot about Keegan.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet May 17, 2015 8:31 AM  

Concerning knowing one's enemy and morale with your own troops...

How does one recognize who is or may become an enemy?

How does one know which troops to trust to empower with the more effective tools, if they run the risk of defection?

Does one spy on one's own?

How does one foster loyalty to the death amongst one's brothers?

What if the King hasn't let Sun Tzu kill the wives?

Anonymous RTaylor May 17, 2015 8:46 AM  

8/10

Blogger Salt May 17, 2015 9:04 AM  

What if the King hasn't let Sun Tzu kill the wives?

Then ST would not have been truly in command, unable to do what the King had asked if he could. The King was caught. Is TS in command or not?

Blogger Patrikbc #0344 May 17, 2015 9:19 AM  

7/10, should have read it twice.

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 9:31 AM  

@ Northern Hamlet

>How does one foster loyalty to the death amongst one's brothers?

The military virtue of an army takes the form of strict discipline.



>What if the King hasn't let Sun Tzu kill the wives?

Then Sun Tzu would not be the Commanding General.

Blogger John S May 17, 2015 9:32 AM  

I DID read it twice, and still got 8/10. Missed Keegan and moral influence ...

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 9:39 AM  

@ Northern Hamlet

How does one recognize who is or may become an enemy?

How does one know which troops to trust to empower with the more effective tools, if they run the risk of defection?

Does one spy on one's own?


Patience, Grasshopper

The entire question of espionage requires the "Wisdom of a Sage"....(kindle location 184)

Blogger Hd Hammer May 17, 2015 10:11 AM  

Vox - "Keep in mind that the idea of the Voxiversity quizzes is not to catch you out or even test your knowledge, they are primarily designed to help you cement the basics of the book"

In this it succeeds. I read the book shortly after release and still got 9/10, the questions and answers were framed in such a way as to refresh my memory.
Full disclosure - I would have gotten only 8 had it not been for the spoilers in the comments above....thanks guys

Anonymous Ain May 17, 2015 10:12 AM  

"What if the King hasn't let Sun Tzu kill the wives?"

He likely would have resigned.

Blogger Foster May 17, 2015 10:22 AM  

The Castalia House Non-fiction page should be updated to include A History of Strategy.

Anonymous CunningDove May 17, 2015 10:38 AM  

The quiz worked fine from my smart phone.

8/10. I should have slowed down to read the answers more closely. Great quiz.

Blogger Tommy Hass May 17, 2015 10:54 AM  

6/10. Should've answered Flexibility and intelligence. -.-

Anonymous JRL May 17, 2015 12:21 PM  

zen0 - that is an eye opener. So the jar and the axle....are they in the original text or not?

Blogger maniacprovost May 17, 2015 12:28 PM  

Everything on the quiz is basically plain text for me.

Overall, I found it depressing that mainstream military thought is, at best, on par with the ancient Chinese. That's not really a fair assessment, but it's true enough to make one facepalm.

Blogger cavalier973 May 17, 2015 12:30 PM  

8/10

What value does B. H. Liddel Hart bring to the subject?

Blogger VD May 17, 2015 12:53 PM  

Everything on the quiz is basically plain text for me.

I don't understand that.

Anonymous BigGaySteve May 17, 2015 12:55 PM  

I did not see a way to sign in or track test scores... Otherwise quiz ran fine.

Tracking test scores is racist.

Anonymous 43rd Virginia Cavalry May 17, 2015 1:10 PM  

I only missed the question about Mr. John Keegan and I wish to take exception as the text actually reads"was conceived in consultation with the general editor, my late friend Mr. John Keegan," where as the question asked if he wrote it.

van Creveld, Martin (2015-03-25). A History of Strategy: From Sun Tzu to William S. Lind (Kindle Locations 57-58). Castalia House. Kindle Edition.

Anonymous Jack Amok May 17, 2015 1:11 PM  

Overall, I found it depressing that mainstream military thought is, at best, on par with the ancient Chinese. That's not really a fair assessment, but it's true enough to make one facepalm.

Why shouldn't it be the same? The basics don't change, war is still the process of using death and destruction (or the threat of them) to get one's way. And human nature hasn't changed either, the soldiers, civilians and leaders are subject to the same motivations and fears. The particular tools change, but the objectives and the men wielding the tools don't.

Blogger VD May 17, 2015 1:14 PM  

where as the question asked if he wrote it

No, it did not. I know who wrote it. I talk to Martin several times a week. I just thought it was interesting that the book continues the chain of intellectual influence from Keegan to van Creveld and wanted to highlight it for everyone.

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 1:19 PM  

JRL May 17, 2015 12:21 PM

zen0 - that is an eye opener. So the jar and the axle....are they in the original text or not?


It sounds like the one in History of Strategy is a more literal attempt at translation.
Their may a a character with a jar in it but the meaning is more subtle.

Blogger Stephen Ward May 17, 2015 1:20 PM  

6/10 I need to stop skimming

Anonymous Clay May 17, 2015 1:24 PM  

You should make an example, and verily disembowel this Amok boy, VD

Show him/her/it your DAO

Anonymous 43rd Virginia Cavalry May 17, 2015 1:27 PM  

I do not understand the part about "the enemy’s qualities be made to mesh, or synchronize, with our own. When I think about the words "synchronize" and "mesh" I think about the gears in an automotive transmission where everything fits together perfectly. That sounds like the exact opposite of applying your strengths against your enemies weaknesses and masking your weaknesses.

van Creveld, Martin (2015-03-25). A History of Strategy: From Sun Tzu to William S. Lind (Kindle Locations 189-190). Castalia House. Kindle Edition.

Anonymous Jack Amok May 17, 2015 1:38 PM  

Liddel Hart's Indirect Approach" is essentially a restating of Sun Tzu's preference for maneuver over battles. But it's worth noting that it's not like the British didn't try indirect approaches. Gallipoli was supposed to be that. There were various plans in both wars for amphibious landings on Germany's Baltic Coast, but the prospect of having an army cut off or of having the Navy crippled trying to keep the lines open were rather daunting.

The indirect approach also has the negative of generally failing to impose the logistics burden upon the enemy. I think an interesting and sometimes overlooked aspect of American military success in the 20th Century was how the U.S. became so damned good at logistics (and interdiction of the enemy's logistics) that we could fight on the enemy's doorstep and still have the a logistical advantage.

Anonymous Jack Amok May 17, 2015 1:40 PM  

You should make an example, and verily disembowel this Amok boy, VD

What the fuck are you talking about Clay?

Anonymous Phil Mann (#163) May 17, 2015 1:50 PM  

8/10 but was a victim to a bit of carelessness/haste on my part.

Glad that Voxiversity has returned. Always enjoyed these.

Blogger cavalier973 May 17, 2015 2:19 PM  

Thanks.

Anonymous Ecthelion May 17, 2015 2:54 PM  

Everything on the quiz is basically plain text for me.

Do you have NoScript, Ghostery, or something similar running in the browser you are using?

Anonymous MendoScot May 17, 2015 3:07 PM  

9/10

The last question - Sun Tzu put flexibility and intelligence ahead of morale and unity for strong and successful action. I interpreted the latter as Virtue and discipline. Good test, although I would have had to guess the Keegan question if I hadn't read him, and thus noted van Creveld's mention.

Thus the strongest, most successful action is at the same time the most economic one. To achieve this ideal, the two things are needed. The first is extreme flexibility which will enable one to take advantage of fleeting opportunities. Said Sun Tzu, “an army is like water which adapts itself to the configuration of the ground.” Plans must have many branches and be so arranged that alternate ones can be put into operation without undue disruption. Forces earmarked for one mission must be capable of switching to another, if necessary, at a moment’s notice, and without either commanders or troops missing a beat. In all this activity there can be no fixed routine, no unalterable modus operandi, but as many stratagems as there are enemies and circumstances.

Blogger Alexander May 17, 2015 3:12 PM  

10/10 but pure 50/50 guesswork on Keegan, so I fell into the same general blind spot many other ilk.

Anonymous JRL May 17, 2015 3:15 PM  

So logistics can be an advantage of insurgency. A large army can't really impose a logistical burden on insurgents so instead puts the logistical burden on its own populace. If the moral influence of the state is low, this could accelerate the increase of insurgency support.

Anonymous MendoScot May 17, 2015 3:16 PM  

I was sure you would ask about Sun Pin's four weapons and their uses, since this links to later Western military thought.

Blogger Colonel Troll May 17, 2015 3:42 PM  

9/10; missed the Keegan question.
Glad to see the return of Voxiversity. Thanks for taking the time and effort to bring it back again.

Anonymous AlteredFate May 17, 2015 3:55 PM  

9/10. I'm counting the question correct, "Who wrote the forward?," as I attempted to answer correctly but once again touch screen interfaces prove to be a very dull tool for just about everything. The difference between Real Gamers and Fake Gamers? There's one of the big ones.

Anonymous New at Kindle May 17, 2015 4:20 PM  

@ Mendo Scot

Thus the strongest, most successful action is at the same time the most economic one.

Mendo, how does one copy text from a kindle. I am not Kindle savvy.

Anonymous 43rd Virginia Cavalry May 17, 2015 4:22 PM  

Vox Day, you are correct sir. The question states "was responsible for" where as the text states "conceived in consultation with".

Anonymous MendoScot May 17, 2015 4:45 PM  

I am not Kindle savvy.

Nor am I. I'm using the e-pub version in Calibre which, as I understand it, will also read the Kindle mobi's.

Anonymous Jack Amok May 17, 2015 5:11 PM  

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword was an interesting bit in the intro. van Creveld used it to illustrate that it's debatable how often writings on strategy are actually used by the leaders in any given war, but considering Benedict was tasked with the study by a propaganda department (OWI) and not an intelligence department, it's probably a good thing if it was mostly ignored by wartime decision makers. And probably not a surprise it was more influential in shaping perceptions of Japan after the war than in shaping strategy during the war.

Anonymous Disoccidented May 17, 2015 5:51 PM  

10/10
The subtitle question caught me most off guard--I don't really know who Lind is so his name didn't stick in my head as the one mentioned in the subtitle.

The Keegan question was a bit of a curve ball, but the correct answer seemed to be the only plausible one.

My favorite tidbit from chapter one was that a Sun Pin manuscript had been discovered in a tomb in 1972. I love ancient manuscripts.

Anonymous MendoScot May 17, 2015 6:09 PM  

If I had to pick a favourite out of this chapter, it would be:

“Those that garner five victories will meet with disaster; those with four victories will be exhausted; those with three victories will become hegemons; those with two victories will be kings; and those with one victory will become emperors” (Wu Tzu)

Blogger Blackburn #0040 May 17, 2015 6:13 PM  

9 of 10, missed moral influence, and I knew that was the correct answer but the other list of weather, terrain etc. had stuck head.

Blogger Blackburn #0040 May 17, 2015 6:23 PM  

I do not understand the part about "the enemy’s qualities be made to mesh, or synchronize, with our own. When I think about the words "synchronize" and "mesh" I think about the gears in an automotive transmission where everything fits together perfectly. That sounds like the exact opposite of applying your strengths against your enemies weaknesses and masking your weaknesses.

I may be wrong, but my take on that is knowing your enemy so well that you can use their predictable actions to help you defeat them. In a sense they become a part of your own operations. See SJWs responses to the Rabid Puppies. The SJWs did far more damage to their own side with their histrionics than the puppies could have done alone.

Blogger SirThermite May 17, 2015 6:35 PM  

8/10 - would've been higher if I'd read the chapter twice or hadn't made a dumb oversight answering the question about the date range when the Chinese generals started writing

Blogger HickoryHammer #0211 May 17, 2015 7:24 PM  

8/10 - Only publishing house editors pay attention to the forwards : P

Blogger maniacprovost May 17, 2015 7:52 PM  

9/10... I went to the quiz a 3rd time and realized that my brain edited out the"start" button. It's between two random pictures on my phone browser.

Jack Amok.. War... War never changes. However you'd think that people would have learned not to throw a hastily gathered mass of power directly at the enemy, managed by politicians, with inadequate reserves.

Also we have made progress toward characterizing different types of conflict, and the emphasis on different strategies / principles of war each require. But it seems to me that there are blatantly obvious lines of inquiry that haven't been followed.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet May 17, 2015 8:07 PM  

Jack Amok,

The indirect approach also has the negative of generally failing to impose the logistics burden upon the enemy

Could you explain logistics? I'm fairly new to military strategy. Thanks.

Blogger VD May 17, 2015 8:15 PM  

Could you explain logistics? I'm fairly new to military strategy. Thanks.

The production, transportation, and delivery of food, equipment, ammunition, etc. to the actual fighting troops, as well as the transportation and management of the troops themselves.

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 8:27 PM  

@ 43rd Virginia Cavalry

I do not understand the part about "the enemy’s qualities be made to mesh, or synchronize, with our own. When I think about the words "synchronize" and "mesh" I think about the gears in an automotive transmission where everything fits together perfectly. That sounds like the exact opposite of applying your strengths against your enemies weaknesses and masking your weaknesses.

I had some trouble with that also. I think it is awkwardly put, given the context. Unless your goal is a stalemate.

In Chinese medicine which is based on Taoist principles, one regulates excess (blunts strength of the pathogen) and tonifies deficiency ( of the patient).

This is a defensive posture. If one is concerned with an offensive posture, one would defend against aggression while waiting for an opening to attack, while one would attack the enemies weakness, but in a measured manner, so as not to be caught in an error. This is more like chess, but in harmony with the Tao of the situation.

I think this is what is meant, or should be. Needed more exposition there. Economy of action is an ideal.

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 8:31 PM  

But it's worth noting that it's not like the British didn't try indirect approaches.

One doesn't just try an indirect approach. An army is a very rigid thing. A new strategy, especially one that INCREASES individual freedom and responsibility, has to percolate as a military culture through the entire organization, right down to the soldier. The soldier needs to have an instinctive understanding on how much initiative is allowed and expected. When in doubt, the soldier will do whatever he thinks has less risk of "shit pouring down on him" as we used to say.

An army that was built in an Oriental military culture will be well equipped to do it. An Army that is built in a rigid, bureaucratic culture, will probably do it even worse than it does blind obedience to organization.

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 8:35 PM  

As for meshing, I thought of it like a dance. You don't make a rigid plan, and then execute it regardless of what the enemy does. But rather, you make a vague plan of what you want to achieve in a longer term, and then you factor in every enemy action as they unfold. I don't mean in a reactive way - you always want to get one step closer to your strategic goal with every action you take. But you CONSIDER every move, if perchance it should cause you to do something different.

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 8:46 PM  

Tao in Clash of Clans: There is a member who is kind of a loose cannon, but who attacks really well and reliably gets maximum stars in clan wars. But he is erratic in whom and when he attacks, and often causes little fights to happen between the members. In other words, he does his own thing really well, but it is not what you want to build as the clan culture. Where everyone knows his place, and very little micromanagement is required.

Tao says: Kick the player. Always choose less needed administration over slightly better skills. You might be able to live with it when it's just this guy, but soon it's going to be the NEXT guy. And eventually, running the clan becomes a total nightmare, tempers flare often, and best players leave because they no longer like it there. And then there is no going back.

When the clan runs itself most of the time, and all you need to do is to get new members to acquire the clan culture, then it is Tao.

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 8:49 PM  

@ Markku

But you CONSIDER every move, if perchance it should cause you to do something different.

The flexibility factor, sychronized to the movements of the Enemy. Well put.

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 8:55 PM  

@ Markku

When the clan runs itself most of the time, and all you need to do is to get new members to acquire the clan culture, then it is Tao.

You were doing so well til then.

The Tao that can be spoken of is not the eternal Tao...

Lao Zi

Anonymous NorthernHamlet May 17, 2015 9:00 PM  

Thanks, Vox. Are there still brainstorm slots available? I can't sign up until tomorrow or so.

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 9:11 PM  

zen0, only because your barbaric language doesn't have the Partitive. It is not the entirety of the Tao, it is OF the Tao.

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 9:24 PM  

@ Markku

zen0, only because your barbaric language doesn't have the Partitive. It is not the entirety of the Tao, it is OF the Tao.

Would it have killed you to put a simple "of" in there, you know, for the barbarians?

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 9:32 PM  

In your barbaric language, the concept is expressed with the lack of the definite article. "This is Tao" vs. "This is the Tao".

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 9:35 PM  

For example, when you say "show me the money", it is not adequate to show a dime. "The money" is the entirety of the sum being discussed.

But if someone says "show me money", then a dime will do.

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 9:48 PM  

ok, let me correct the Chinese expert translator:

The Tao that can be spoken of is not Tao...

Are we there yet?


Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 9:56 PM  

That is not how they apply it. A Taoist can always say if a particular action is Tao, or if it is not Tao. But what they cannot do is define the Tao in such a way, that you can then deductively determine an action's status from the definition. It comes from experience, especially collective experience.

Quote:

https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/chinese_taoism.html

The paradox is that by talking about the Tao, and by attempting to define the Tao, we ensure that the reader does not actually grasp the concept. At its heart, the Tao is nonverbal in its essence, beyond the confines of language. The Tao is an experience rather than definition.

Anonymous HardReturn¶ May 17, 2015 10:01 PM  

8/10; quiz worked fine or me
Thanks for relaunch of Voxiversity. Enjoyed first chapter and was surprised I retained as much as I did.

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 10:03 PM  

At its heart, the Tao is nonverbal in its essence, beyond the confines of language. The Tao is an experience rather than definition.

Is that not what "The Tao that can be spoken of is not Tao" expressing?
Only with less words?

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 10:06 PM  

Here's an example that wrf3 would like: Knowing Tao is like the way a neural network performs a task. Nobody, not even its programmer, can answer that question, "how does it do it?". Because the answer doesn't reduce. The answer is all the possibly millions of connections that is the current configuration of the network. The only way to answer the question would be to exhaustively define the configuration, and that answer wouldn't be useful to anyone.

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 10:07 PM  

The Tao that can be spoken of is not Tao

Speaking OF something is not the same as speaking OUT something. Just simply describing if something is, or is not, Tao, is speaking of Tao. But what is outside the confines of language, is the essence of Tao itself.

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 10:14 PM  

" But what is outside the confines of language, is the essence of Tao itself". = The Tao that can be spoken of is not Tao


I am sticking with Lao Zi here.

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 10:20 PM  

No, your quote clearly says "spoken out". That is such an odd constuct that my linguistic spidey sense tells me that there is a construct in the original, similar to the distinction between the nominative and the partitive in Finnish. It is not attempting to say you cannot say anything that touches the general concept of Tao, like one might understand "spoken of". Rather, it says that the thing itself cannot be defined, but is rather discovered inductively.

Anonymous MendoScot May 17, 2015 10:23 PM  

Put it back in your pants, Markku. We haven't got to the Finnish way of war yet.

Or the question of whether the Germans lost WWI because the ranks couldn't speak Hochdeutsch.

However, the question of whether the systematic application of torture as a tool of policy works has been raised, albeit in passing. My recollection is that is was a characteristic of dynasties in collapse, but perhaps others have more knowledge about the timelines.

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 10:40 PM  

> Rather, it says that the thing itself cannot be defined, but is rather discovered inductively.


I have to disagree. Something that can be discovered deductively can then be spoken of, and we know where that goes.

The purpose of contemplating the indescribability of the indescribable is a way to short-circuit the rationalizing obsession of the brain.

For a brief instant, insight can be had.

And then back to square one.



Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 10:41 PM  

Again I have to point out that you are constantly trying to switch the "out" in your own quote, to "of" - your own invention.

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 10:51 PM  

> Again I have to point out that you are constantly trying to switch the "out" in your own quote, to "of" - your own invention.

If one speaks "of" something, are they not speaking "out" about something?
How is this not the same? It is merely different phrasing.

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 10:53 PM  

Now you are smuggling in "about". Because you don't like what it really says. "Speaking out the Tao". That is clearly trying to define it.

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 11:01 PM  

Smuggling? I don't think English speaking peoples talk about speaking out a particular thing. They talk about Speaking Out, which is an end in itself, but not speaking out something. One speaks out ABOUT something.

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 11:04 PM  

That's why I said "That is such an odd constuct". Do try to keep up. Clearly it doesn't refer to the concept of "speaking out on something", that would be nonsensical in the context. It is obvious that it is trying to capture a linguistic construct in the original that cannot be translated in a natural way to English. That happens constantly when you choose the literal way as opposed to the dynamic way. Especially in the Bible.

Anonymous Jack Amok May 17, 2015 11:08 PM  

But it seems to me that there are blatantly obvious lines of inquiry that haven't been followed.

What lines of inquiry did you have in mind?

Anonymous zen0 May 17, 2015 11:08 PM  

Ok . You have given me much to contemplate. I will have a hot lead enema and then to bed.

Til next time....

Anonymous Disoccidented May 17, 2015 11:10 PM  

This bit befuddled me:

"To make use of rewards but issue no punishments is the height of instruction; to impose punishments but issue no rewards is the height of awesomeness"

Does Martin have middle school aged children? Because I can't read "height of awesomeness" without my brain applying a Kung Fu Panda voice-over.

Surely that is not the effect he was going for?

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 11:13 PM  

Just in general, unless a translator is really incompetent, when there is something that sounds really odd linguistically, it's there for a reason. It's because none of the natural translations would work. At this point, the translator has two options: The dynamic way, where he tries to find an equivalent but different expression for it, but then he has to pin it down to his own interpretation of it. And he could be wrong. That's the liability of the dynamic.

Or, he could just force the words to the target language (literal way), thereby not having to interpret it himself, but leave it to the reader. But that often produces very cumbersome language.

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 11:14 PM  

It was a direct quote, Martin was not at liberty to change it. But yes, I grinned too.

Awesome: "extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring awe"

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 11:26 PM  

"We torture our prisoners. It's the height of awesomeness."

Anonymous Jack Amok May 17, 2015 11:28 PM  

One doesn't just try an indirect approach. An army is a very rigid thing. A new strategy...

Do you really mean strategy, or are you talking about doctrine? Doctrine has to filter down, but if it's any good, it works for various strategies. A doctrine that is only applicable to one specific strategy would mean loss of flexibility (and probably the war).

Regardless, my main point about the British and Liddel Hart is that the indirect approach may be desirable, but that doesn't make it easy to achieve. Certainly a good general wants to flank his opponent. Likewise a good general wants to avoid being flanked.

An army that was built in an Oriental military culture will be well equipped to do it.

I wouldn't say either the IJA or their Chinese opponents were very flexible in WWII.

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 11:43 PM  

Yes, doctrine. And I don't know how well the modern Chinese army would do with it. My guess would be, not too good. Communism has corrupted the people by cutting all the "long stalks".

Blogger Markku May 17, 2015 11:55 PM  

...by which I refer to this:

----
The concept originates from accounts in Herodotus' The Histories (Book 5, 92f), Aristotle's Politics (1284a), and Livy's History of Rome, Book I.

[Periander] had sent a herald to Thrasybulus and inquired in what way he would best and most safely govern his city. Thrasybulus led the man who had come from Periander outside the town, and entered into a sown field. As he walked through the wheat, continually asking why the messenger had come to him from Cypselus, he kept cutting off all the tallest ears of wheat which he could see, and throwing them away, until he had destroyed the best and richest part of the crop. Then, after passing through the place and speaking no word of counsel, he sent the herald away. When the herald returned to Cypselus, Periander desired to hear what counsel he brought, but the man said that Thrasybulus had given him none. The herald added that it was a strange man to whom he had been sent, a madman and a destroyer of his own possessions, telling Periander what he had seen Thrasybulus do. Periander, however, understood what had been done, and perceived that Thrasybulus had counselled him to slay those of his townsmen who were outstanding in influence or ability; with that he began to deal with his citizens in an evil manner.
—Herodotus, The Histories, Book 5, 92-f

Aristotle uses Herodotus' story in his Politics, (1284a) referring to Thrasybulus' advice to Periander to "take off the tallest stalks, hinting thereby, that it was necessary to make away with the eminent citizens".

Anonymous Jack Amok May 18, 2015 1:38 AM  

s he walked through the wheat, continually asking why the messenger had come to him from Cypselus, he kept cutting off all the tallest ears of wheat which he could see, and throwing them away, until he had destroyed the best and richest part of the crop. Then, after passing through the place and speaking no word of counsel, he sent the herald away

yes, and I've just recently read a variation of that, but having to do with poppies. Can't remember where. Damn I'm getting forgetful. Does Gibbon re-use that in Decline and Fall?

Anonymous VFM.0157 aka Forrest Bishop May 18, 2015 4:32 AM  

zen0 May 17, 2015 8:27 PM @ 43rd Virginia Cavalry

I do not understand the part about "the enemy’s qualities be made to mesh, or synchronize, with our own. When I think about the words "synchronize" and "mesh" I think about the gears in an automotive transmission where everything fits together perfectly. That sounds like the exact opposite of applying your strengths against your enemies weaknesses and masking your weaknesses.

I had some trouble with that also. I think it is awkwardly put, given the context. Unless your goal is a stalemate.
==================

In a different take, the meshing of gears is a good example- where one gear is 'strong', or 'present', the other is 'weak' or 'absent'. The tooth of one gear engages in the valley between two teeth of the other gear. Truth, honor, and integrity 'mesh' with SJW lies, betrayals, and depravity.

Anonymous VFM.0157 aka Forrest Bishop May 18, 2015 4:41 AM  

To paraphrase Sun Tsu, we want to move our armies across the enemy's landscape like water would move across it- the ultimate 'meshing'.

Anonymous VFM.0157 aka Forrest Bishop May 18, 2015 5:21 AM  

The Quiz at http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=a-history-of-strategy-chapter-1 is pretty basic. I can answer at least half of it without having read the book- but it does add value to the book and looks to be a good marketing practice. I'd look forward to a second and third tier of quizzes on each chapter.

My curiosity is killing me: I will shortly saunter over to Castalia House and buy this book. It was already on the short, sadly deferred list but the Voxversity and Quiz got the better of me. Oops, no direct link.

Here: http://www.castaliahouse.com/downloads/a-history-of-strategy

Anonymous jSinSaTx May 18, 2015 5:44 AM  

"If I had to pick a favourite out of this chapter, it would be:

“Those that garner five victories will meet with disaster; those with four victories will be exhausted; those with three victories will become hegemons; those with two victories will be kings; and those with one victory will become emperors” (Wu Tzu)"

I am less enamored of the Asian military legacy as transcribed in the texts. While they certainly turn pithy phrases, it is hard to correlate any of it to proactively sought military success. Take the case above, while there is a truth to war being an exhausting endeavor and at some point strength will be diminished, the world order has always been governed by states who have successfully managed serial conflicts.

Additionally, the most fearsome expansion from Asia, in terms of military success (outside of the Red Army) would have been the Mongols who certainly did not balance Dao as much as they balanced the heads of their enemies in piles outside of city gates.

For those interested in military logistics, I would recommend highly Van Creveld's book, Supplying War. Very well put together and engaging. Well beyond what you would expect for a book on the subject.

Blogger VD May 18, 2015 6:24 AM  

Thanks, Vox. Are there still brainstorm slots available? I can't sign up until tomorrow or so.

Yes, there are 20 left.

"If I had to pick a favourite out of this chapter

Mine is the bit about knowing yourself as well as your enemy. We see the utility of this in our conflict with the SJWs. You must know BOTH.

Anonymous Clay May 18, 2015 7:12 AM  

Jack Amok May 17, 2015 1:40 PM
You should make an example, and verily disembowel this Amok boy, VD

What the fuck are you talking about Clay?


My profound apologies, Mr. Amok.

Blogger maniacprovost May 18, 2015 12:16 PM  

What lines of inquiry did you have in mind?

Well, let's start with knowing thyself and thy enemy. There are plenty of variables that can be qualitatively described. Organizational theory says that you should centralize information gathering and dissemination. This means passing useful information up the chain and stopping divarication... Have one policy, one field manual, one size of rifle ammunition. Decision making should be decentralized as far as possible, to reduce OODA loop time. Also because the local commander has the best idea of what's going on. This is 3GW but also 4GW. Communications should be decentralized.

So, by quantifying these, you can estimate how long the enemy takes to react. It also reveals weak points. You plug all these arbitrary numbers into a discrete time version of Lanchester's equation to figure out which of the enemy's capabilities would be most worthwhile to degrade.

Then you go after it. Essentially applying the Theory of Constraints to his operations.

Now.. What about that garbage corporate cult, Six Sigma? You should be able to determine the optimum points to attack to cause maximum chaos in his logistics.

Going another way.. Formalize the game theory behind your disinformation efforts. Irrationality and psychology play a big role here. You can't assume the opponent will logically minimax the situation and fall into a trap, but you can optimize your efforts to make the enemy hesitate.

Blogger Jason Marianna May 18, 2015 1:43 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Jason Marianna May 18, 2015 1:44 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger jmarinara May 18, 2015 1:46 PM  

7/10. Bad, but I didn't take notes and read it over 72 hours ago. Still, I should have done better. I enjoyed it; it made me want to read "The Art of War" again.

The quiz site is a little annoying, but what can you do, really?

Looking forward to the next one.

Anonymous Legatus May 18, 2015 7:03 PM  

There could be one problem with this test, does it test easily made answers, like names/dates/places, or does it test ideas that I want to remember, important ideas, instead? I wish to remember how to crush my enemies, drive them before me, and here the lamentations of their...their...say, what are those things, anyway?

In other words, I want to be reminded of the important and useful strategic concepts, not mere details like names or dates. I can't use a name or date to crush, now can I? Or, another way to put it, does this test question aid me in crushing my enemies, is it important and useful for that goal?

Making a test with lots of names and dates is easy, but useless (or at least less useful) than making a test about ideas.

Strategy, not a trivia contest.

Note, if you stick with the goal of reminding the testee if important strategic concepts, this may mean more or less than 10 questions.

Anonymous MendoScot May 18, 2015 8:04 PM  

I just found this:

Chinese strategy is not so much to win without fighting (à la Sun Tzu), but to put itself into the more favorable position to control its destiny and shape its environment via information, legal, and psychological campaigns (the so-called “three warfares”) combined with an indirect approach when it comes to military defenses.

So relating it back to classical Chinese thought:

We are in the midst of an intensifying competition in Asia. The main driver of this competition is an ever-more powerful China determined to set the rules of engagement around its vast periphery; the South China Sea is the locus of rivalry.

Weakness masquerading as strength? Distracting the enemy through fake deployment? Feints and disinformation?

While China wishes to assert greater control over its periphery, it is not an enemy of the United States. It seeks not to invite war, but rather to set the conditions of and exert influence over a contested peace. Its first objectives are rooted in economic and political stability: the preservation of economic growth and of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The dao. Avoid war, maintain authority (harmony).

This is not to say that the Chinese perfectly execute classical Chinese strategy. I have attended many conferences where the same Chinese official or expert simultaneously declares that no one can stop China’s actions and that China is being bullied by one of its smaller neighbors.

This seems to be an application of the formless, but it could have more to do with dirty tricks.

Broadly speaking, China seeks to engender certainty of its future power, with the corollary that crossing China now would be an imprudent course of action.

Heaven smiles on us, and then there are the four factors.

Throwing that out there, for consideration.

Anonymous MendoScot May 18, 2015 8:46 PM  

Almost forgot...

The Three warfares summary (linked in the article above), seems to not only miss the concept, but to misrepresent it in terms of Western propaganda. Looking at it, it could also be described as Lao Tzu's virtue or Sun Tzu's discipline

Blogger Markku May 19, 2015 5:16 AM  

Strategy, not a trivia contest.

That is just too difficult to do, while isolating the questions to a single chapter. It is commonly accepted that Voxiversity quizzes do not measure understanding of the text, but merely provide external motivation for lazy people to read the text carefully. The discussions are where the interesting stuff is supposed to happen. That is a community effort.

Anonymous Jack Amok May 19, 2015 6:24 AM  

Organizational theory says that you should centralize information gathering and dissemination. This means passing useful information up the chain and stopping divarication... Have one policy, one field manual, one size of rifle ammunition. Decision making should be decentralized as far as possible, to reduce OODA loop time.

But there is an inherent contradiction in centralizing information but decentralizing decision making. If the information gatherers are not providing the decision makers the right information, the decision makers are flying blind. If the decision makers have to go through the bureaucracy to obtain the needed information, then decision making will become centralized as the bureaucracy will through sheer habit and temperment impose conditions on the decision makers. And if the decision makers are free to gather their own information, then information is no longer centralized.

Blogger maniacprovost May 19, 2015 4:08 PM  

If the information gatherers are not providing the decision makers the right information, the decision makers are flying blind. .... And if the decision makers are free to gather their own information, then information is no longer centralized.

Well, that's why decision making is not only decentralized, but decentralized correctly. So the guy who sees the enemy is the same guy who makes the decision to shoot, and he's the same guy who pulls the trigger and deals with the consequences. Meanwhile he has reported enemy contact up the chain. His squad leader can decide how they're going to maneuver. The company commander decides to call for air support, and the brigade commander adjusts the overall strategy.

Centralizing information requires it to pass through all the intermediate steps, but it doesn't have to go all the way up and back down before a decision is made.

Anonymous Valiant May 24, 2015 2:56 PM  

90/100. Missed #1.

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