Saturday, August 29, 2015

 

Scharnhorst

Ignorance of French national character was for Scharnhorst the major reason for the Allied defeat [in the War of the First Coalition]. He found it inconceivable that the princes accepted without any verification the false reports of French opinion by the Émigrés ... "It seems at first sight incredible that such a great and important enterprise could be launched on the basis of such partisan witnesses as were the Émigrés."

Source: Charles E. White, The Enlightened Soldier: Scharnhorst and the Militarische Gesellschaft in Berlin, 1801-1805 (New York: Praeger, 1989), p. 61.

One wonders if Scharnhorst ever considered the possibility that "the princes" knew the reports of the Émigrés were bogus, it seems so. The case of Ahmed Chalabi and his sham Iraqi National Congress come to mind. Chalabi has been characterized as "the powerful source who ... succeeded in persuading the Pentagon that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that the Shiites would welcome the American forces with flowers and rice, and that in a twinkling the Iraqis would manage their country without Saddam and would free the U.S. armed forces from their commitment." However, I think it would be far more accurate to characterize Chalabi as a willing partner in the deliberately trumped-up 2003 war for Israel. The neoconservatives leading the Pentagon in the Bush administration were not deceived by Chalabi and they needed no persuasion to invade Iraq, they needed plausible cover and that was what he provided.

***

The belief that in war forces must be kept together, that it is a principle of the art of war not to disperse, is therefore false. On the contrary, it is a general rule—but only to the skillful—to disperse with caution and to force the enemy to do likewise, and then to fall concentrated on a single part.

Source: Gerhard Johann David von Scharnhorst, "Ueber die Schlacht bei Marnego," Proceedings, 1:54-55 as quoted in White, op. cit., p. 71.

See also: "Wrong Tzu"

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