Thursday, February 10, 2011

Victor Davis Hanson: Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

Dr. Victor Davis Hanson
Great piece by Victor Davis Hanson on military leaders (he calls them "savior generals") who turn impending defeat into victory.
"Radical changes in fortune during the course of a war often immediately precede a final verdict. Sometimes deliverance at the eleventh hour arrives from savior generals who manage to win — just when most at home deem the war irrevocably stalemated or lost. These are the few commanders who are asked to salvage a seemingly hopeless situation that others of often superior rank and prestige have created — a crisis in confidence in which the general public of a consensual society may already have favored retreat or even acceded to capitulation."
In this long piece, over 2,700 words, Dr. Hanson goes on to describe some of the main attributes of "savior generals". This is well worth the read for anyone interested in the type of military commander who can win despite utterly bleak prospects.

Hanson's conclusion:
"When we are safe, we value consensus and resent troublesome gadflies who claim the enemy is on the horizon, our strategies wrong and prescriptions for defeat, we are spending too little on defense, or that a dangerous complacency has set in among the populace. But when war is upon us, we blame yesterday’s timidity, borrow what we do not have — and in extremis seek out a different sort who can ensure us victory when few others dare."

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