Sundarrajk's Weblog

Archive for the ‘war’ Category

In the book Cuckold, at one point the prince is shown thinking the following about war.

“When I look at my peers, friends, colleagues, cousins and brothers, I realize what a dullard I am. They carouse together, they go out whoring, they are lively and full of fun and pranks. I would like to join them once un a while but am rarely invited since I am permaturely serious, and would very likely dampen their high spirits. But I am a plodder in other ways too. Even my elders find me a bore and a little too earnest. War is fun and games for them. They dress up, wax their moustaches, ride their steeds and charge blindly. They kill or get killed. Life is simple and far more exciting that way.

War is not my favourite pastime. I would resort to it only under exceptional provocation or if, after thorough planning, I was going for the big kill. The fact is, in the long run, most wars lead nowhere but back to where you started. If I am to fight, I want to make major and if possible, lasting changes in our political geography and fortunes. Otherwise I would rather sit at home and be at peace with my neighbours. I like to prepare myself before a confrontation. I need to do my homework. I want to know every single detail and fact I can lay my hands on about the enemy; the monarch, his generals and his army. I want to learn their likes and dislikes, peccadilloes and predilections; their mental make-up, their previous campaigns, what they eat, their notions of hardship, their sleeping habits and any other trivia you can think of. Most of all, I am interested in finding out how they think. What about contenders and pretenders to the throne? Why fight if you can help along a civil war and get someone else to do all the fighting for you? If internal jealousies and power equations are germane to the final outcome of any war and need to be exploited, it is just as relevant to know the state of mind of the ordinary citizenary. Are the common people tired of conflict or supportive? What was the harvest like, in the current year and in the previous three? Nor just the state of the economy, trade, too has an indirect but very substantial bearing on the enemy’s – or for that matter our own – capacity to fight a long war. None of these propositions are very original but I am perplexed by how reluctant most strategists and military commanders are are to follow even the most basic principles of preparing for war. I will grant you this, collecting information, more precisely reliable information, is laborious, time-consuming and a bore. Besides it is effective only if it is done in a sustained manner. Imagine studying the enemy’s economic, political and military abilities for months, sometimes years when all that the decisive battle itself will take is three, five or seven hours at most.”