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 Only That I Trust It...

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Only That I Trust It...   Tue 16 May 2017, 17:11

Elsewhere Priscilla has written - speaking of her success in overcoming computer problems that have baffled us all -

@Priscilla wrote:
Would that I could explain - much as I cook, garden or create anything, it's by instinct and I cannot explain that either only that I trust it.  



Instinct or intuition or gut feeling can no doubt sometimes be useful, but can it also be dangerous to rely on these nebulous feelings as a useful guide? What great historical personages have depended - for better or worse - on their "instinct"? Were they right to do so, or did they, by so doing, invite disaster? Do any examples come to mind?


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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Tue 16 May 2017, 17:31

Lots of losing generals, I imagine. Maxentius springs to mind - all he had to do was stay put a while longer in Rome and wait for his enemy's troops to desert their leader, but instead decided to bring the battle to Constantine on the basis of what he had gleaned from some sheep's entrails (what you might call the original "gut feeling") and a vague horoscope.

And that's why we have Christianity, folks! It doesn't get more fickle than that ...
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Tue 16 May 2017, 17:49

I'm thinking of Elizabeth I ...

Contemporary wisdom (whist ignoring some contemporary sucesses abroad) was of the opinion that England couldn't be successfully ruled by a Queen alone, but also that an English queen married to a foreigner, while especially remembering her sister Mary's marriage to Phillip of Spain, was also likely to be problematic. Nevertheless the mood throughout the country and in parliament, and indeed even in Elizabeth's privy council, was generally that she should still most definitely get married ASAP ... to beget a (male) heir and for the overall security of the realm. Various politically-acceptable suitors were found and some (eg the French Duc d'Alençon) were very seriously considered, not only by Elizabeth's advisors but by Elizabeth herself. But in the end it seems she largely trusted to her own instincts, judgement and experience, and so went her own way: a way that, she believed, put the overall good of the realm above any personal desires she may have had ... and so she decided never to marry at all. It was not at the time a widely-liked policy, but in the end, and admittedly given the benefit of hindsight, it does seem to have proven successful ... if only in that her reign was long, and generally one of peace and prosperity for her subjects.


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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Tue 16 May 2017, 18:20

@nordmann wrote:
And that's why we have Christianity, folks! It doesn't get more fickle than that ...


Honestly - he has to drag Christianity into everything, doesn't he?

Actually, I wonder what would have happened if Pilate had actually trusted his gut feeling and had released Jesus of Nazareth - perhaps invited him to the Big House at Caesarea to continue that most interesting discussion about the nature of truth? It would make a good play. But perhaps the original drama is best left as it was written...

You could imagine Pilate thinking to himself: "I've got an awful feeling this is a terrible mistake and one they're never going to let me forget..."
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Tue 16 May 2017, 18:35

Temp wrote:
Honestly - he has to drag Christianity into everything, doesn't he?

Constantine? Yes, unfortunately.

Pilate well may have gone with his gut, heart, brain and all the rest of his vittles. The only actual historical account we have of the guy though is of a man whose vittles were suspect with regard to gauging popular opinion, let alone that of posterity, as the statue story indicates. Other than that we've only fiction to go on so it's hard to know.

MM, I agree Elizabeth was often forced, probably more than any male monarch in her position, to go with her own instincts rather than take advice from her so-called peers. As the years went on she seemed in fact to prefer her own counsel, and whether down to fortune or acumen on her part (a large dollop of both I suspect), she certainly couldn't be faulted on her big policy decisions and tactics. Her instincts seemed to favour pragmatism and common sense, and only occasionally risk - her reaction to the Armada being a good example of the latter. But over all she certainly benefited from ignoring quite a lot of the advice she received over the years from those closest to her, be it in matters of religion, war, diplomacy or economics.
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Tue 16 May 2017, 18:42

@Temperance wrote:


Actually, I wonder what would have happened if Pilate had actually trusted gut feeling and had released Jesus of Nazareth....

Well ... in my opinion it's quite likely that we might never have heard anything more of him, Jesus, ever again. As a newly emerging cult it certainly got lots of propaganda miles - albeit only several decades later - from the tale: of the martyr's death; the royal ancestry; god's chosen killed and reborn; and a "unique" message, although in the end that rather disappointingly boils down to be being just the same, universally and well-understood ancient rule about treating others as you would like them to treat yourself? So nothing really radical there either.

But if Pilate had let him go, then there would likely be no great story at all  ... local firebrand, not deemed a risk to the state, let off with a caution, nothing further heard of him or his followers ... so no disciples, no gospels, no new testament, no Christianity .....etc.

Just a thought ...

But that's not really what you're after is it Temp.
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Tue 16 May 2017, 20:02

MM wrote:
But that's not really what you're after is it Temp?


I am not actually "after" anything, MM, other than an interesting and lively - and friendly - discussion. I am sure there could be much truth in what you suggest.

But religion can provide a good excuse for following one's "gut feeling" - or one's own desires - and then calling it "being guided by the Holy Spirit", can it not? There's no arguing with the Holy Spirit after all, and such "guidance" surely came in pretty useful in the past. I wonder how many leaders took actions that were less than wise because they genuinely felt prayer had enlightened them on the best course of action to take? I'm only asking. I was thinking of Oliver Cromwell actually, but probably quite wrongly.
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Wed 17 May 2017, 08:57

Others, of course, after quiet reflection or meditation - call it prayer if you like, or something else if that word is offensive - have been inspired to go against the grain and do great things - not in war or conquest, but simply to help others. I'm thinking of Elizabeth Fry this morning.
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Wed 17 May 2017, 09:51

Temp wrote:
What great historical personages have depended - for better or worse - on their "instinct"?

You were right to place inverted commas around the word, I think. The problem with "instinct" in the sense you want to discuss it is that it is only really reliable a concept in what might be called "decisions of the moment". Instinctive behaviour generally implies not waiting for all the intelligence to be gathered before acting, but this is also true of people who behave according to their principles, or behave according to their prejudices, or behave according to their "nature". In that sense Hitler could be said to have been an "instinctive" character in that little of what he believed or then did (often extremely impulsively) based on such belief really survived too much scrutiny for logic, let alone moral worth or even political value.

Your post today addresses almost the opposite extreme - people who reflect or meditate upon an issue before acting to influence it. In terms of political leadership, ideology and policy determination, one would hope that such reflection extends beyond just the introspective and includes as much intelligent input and germane data as can be assimilated into the process, but "instinctive" behaviour it isn't, except in that it may be construed as "instinctive" for the person not to behave purely and solely instinctively when contemplating "doing great things". Elizabeth Fry may or may not have suited this description. We can't really be sure how much contemplation she engaged in prior to throwing herself so thoroughly into her charity work, her prison reform campaigning and all the other causes she adopted and worked hard at promoting, and therefore we can't really comment on how "instinctive" her motivation may have been or the actions she was motivated then to take. Her views were definitely shaped by her commitment to Quaker principles, but she also went much further than your average Quaker in pursuing policies based on them.

Fry was an exceptional person. Her "An address of Christian counsel and caution to emigrants to newly-settled colonies" is a humanitarian blueprint document, published (initially with modest anonymity) in The Friend in 1841, which in a time of rampant imperialism should have - in a "humane" world - led naturally to a charter of behaviour for colonisers and colonists in the same way the Hague and later Geneva Conventions sought to impose humanitarian behaviour on aggressors during times of armed conflict. One could argue about how much of this was instinctive on Fry's part, or how much solely ascribable to her religious beliefs without which she would not have pursued the humanitarian path she chose, but there is no doubt that a lot of intelligence has been applied, and that the views expressed did not all land suddenly as a neat package in the woman's head from any one source or through any one process, including Quakerism and prayer. There is much more going on than that with Fry.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Wed 17 May 2017, 13:06

Yes, what you say about Fry - which I agree with, by the way - reminds me of what has been called "Napoleon's Glance" - the "coup d'oeil" - which I thought meant a sudden flash of insight. It does, but insight that only comes after careful study, reflection and thought. It's also the title of a book that was published several years ago by William Duggan, an expert on "strategic intuition". Here is blurb - only from Amazon, but interesting:

"When Napoleon's Glance was first published last spring, former NATO secretary general and now putative presidential candidate Wesley Clark declared, "This is a very important book." In Napoleon's Glance strategist William Duggan shows how Clark, along with ten other important figures in the fields of politics, war and culture, owed their success to coup d'oeil. But what is coup d'oeil? Carl von Clausewitz spent twenty years struggling to pin down the genius of Napoleon. In Chapter Six of what would become "On War" he discovered the secret of Napoleon's strategy: Napoleon's glance. Clausewitz called it "coup d'oeil" meaning a stroke of the eye, or "glance." A sudden insight that shows you what course of action to take, it comes from knowledge of the past, drawing on what worked in other situations in a new combination that fits the problem at hand"  (my emphasis).

So are wise decisions rarely the result of "gut instinct" or impulse, but are rather - even if they appear to be spontaneous -  the result of careful, intelligent and rational deliberation? Elizabeth I's successful policies were the result of years of disciplined study and understanding of the great masters of politics; her great rival, Mary, that warm, impulsive, foolishly reckless creature, never seems to have studied anything very deeply, and always followed her heart rather than her head. She failed in all she did. Yet it could be argued that, of the two, Mary was the more likeable and honest personality. Better to be feared than loved, of course; and, at least if you are a leader, better to think rather than feel? Gambles, if taken at all, should always be calculated ones?

I ramble dreadfully at times, I'm afraid, but will let this stand.

EDIT: MM has posted something and he has included a bit of my original message that I was embarrassed about - knowing nothing of the history I was talking about - and which I decided to delete. It was this:

I wrote:
And was Napoleon's decision to invade Russia, like Hitler's, not the result of coup d'oeil, but simply a stupid, strategic mistake? Hope this isn't a daft question - I know nothing about the invasion, only that it was a disaster.


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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Wed 17 May 2017, 14:03

In French, as you say Temp, a coup d'œil just means a glance, a quick, brief look, etc  ... and carries no further meaning about insight or creative intuition*. The reference to 'Napoleon's Glance' - Le coup d'œil de Napoléon - is that it was said generally (no pun intended) that he was uniquely able to appraise the enemy dispositions after just a very brief perusal. However he certainly wasn't the first military commander to have used almost exactly the same phrase: Frederick the Great of Prussia in particular often used a very similar expression. But that was surely as much a reflection of the fact that generals of that era usually all studied the same classic military texts, and so they usually deployed their armies in the same 'standard' manner. (There's also the factor that Napoleon, at least in later years, suffered terribly from piles and so never wanted to stay too long in the saddle, and so kept his pre-battle reconnaissance to the absolute minimum).

But surely more importantly than 'instinct' Napoleon had lots of experience - particularly at winning - and so his eponyous glance was never just about "intuition". It was usually in fact a cooly and calculated appraisal based on experience. Though Napoleon himself said, "There is a gift of being able to see at a glance the possibilities offered by the terrain ... One can call it the coup d'œil militaire and it is inborn in great generals." ... let's not forget that he wasn't averse to 'blowing his own trumpet' nor to spreading the idea amongst his enemies that he was almost divinely invincible.

William Duggan's book - based on his lucrative Columbia University Lecture series aimed at high-flying business executives looking for a quick way to make their mark - probably fails to explain that Napoleon's knack for winning was mostly based on a sheer bloody (literally) experience ... and that there is rarely a short-cut route to success, whether in business or on the battlefield, regardless of how much one is prepared to pay in course fees or for the book.


*[I felt sure that, had Duggan's book been translated into French, it would have had a very different title ... but it seems the book has only appeared in English, tant pis.]

Now,

Temperance (originally - now editted) wrote:

And was Napoleon's decision to invade Russia, like Hitler's, not the result of coup d'oeil, but simply a stupid, strategic mistake? Hope this isn't a daft question - I know nothing about the invasion, only that it was a disaster.

That I need to think about ... but even in Napoleon's time (ie well before Hilter's 'Mein Kampf' and its idea of Liebensraum) wasn't defeating/bringing enlightenment to the 'barbaric Russe' already an established cultural idea? Invading Russia was certainly a strategic mistake - more perhaps for Napoleon than for Hitler as, lacking railways in 1805 it's likely Napoleon's task was nearly impossible, whereas Hitler's in 1941 was just very difficult. So was there indeed a greater idea, a cultural 'instinct' if you like, that drove him, or indeed both of them, to try and attempt the impossble?


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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Wed 17 May 2017, 14:55

MM wrote:
...and that there is rarely a short-cut route to success, whether in business or on the battlefield...


or in politics?

MM wrote:
...regardless of how much one is prepared to pay in course fees or for the book.

Although the books can help - when combined with experience? Book-wisdom (theory) and a necessary dollop of street-wisdom (experience/careful observation of others' mistakes) makes, not just for survival, but for lasting success (see my edited bit about Elizabeth I)?

But of the two, street-wisdom -  experience - is probably the more important if we are talking about mere survival? Some would call it low cunning. But then Thomas Cromwell ended up on the scaffold, just like his more disciplined and learned opponent, More. (Anne of Cleves was Cromwell's Russia, so to speak!). And what, in our own interesting times, of Trump - certainly no respect for quiet reflection, books or the study of political theory there, just the unerring (?) "instinct" of a Mafia boss, playing on the "instinct" of the mob?
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Wed 17 May 2017, 20:19

Generally speaking Cromwell's religious inspirations don't seem to have got him into much trouble, even if religious factionalism sometimes brought him into conflict with those of a different persuasion.  His biggest goof (and to be fair it was a big one) was probably the Western Design against Spain in the West Indies in 1654.  It was in part the result of combining the nautical success of Sir Walter Raleigh (of whom Cromwell was a great fan) with Puritan zeal and a latent anti-Spanish feeling that Oliver seems to have inherited from his grandfather (who organised the defence of East Anglia during the Armada crisis).  The Design proved a farce (to put it mildly), although to be fair with better organisation, troops, commanders and more reliable information about the operational area it might have been, if not an Elizabethan-style success, at least something the Protectorate could have come out from with their dignity intact.

At the Siege of Clonmel in 1649 his military instincts, for once, let him down, but not for religious reasons.  He underestimated his opponent, Hugh O'Neill, and let his men waltz into a trap where according to some estimates 2000 were killed.  What's worse, when the town surrendered the following day Oliver discovered that O'Neill and his entire army had slipped away into the night.  Cromwell kept his promise to treat well those Irish towns which surrendered, although it seems with rather bad grace!  It's a stark contrast to a year later at Dunbar, where the exhausted, half-starved, disease-ridden, outnumbered 2-1 English crushed the Scots after Cromwell spotted a weakness and exploited it.  That was partly the fault of Scottish Ministers of the Kirk, representing General David Leslie's political and religious masters - they bullied him into attacking and so forced him to move his army off its strong position.  Leslie was a wily soldier who had tactically bested Cromwell so far, and had fought alongside him in the First Civil War, taking command of the Scottish half of the Allied Army at Marston Moor in 1644.  However, against his instinct he was bound to obey, and that opened up the fatal weakness.
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Wed 17 May 2017, 20:27

@nordmann wrote:
Lots of losing generals, I imagine. Maxentius springs to mind - all he had to do was stay put a while longer in Rome and wait for his enemy's troops to desert their leader, but instead decided to bring the battle to Constantine on the basis of what he had gleaned from some sheep's entrails (what you might call the original "gut feeling") and a vague horoscope.

Although the reasons he didn't were more to do with politics than instinct, in 1187 Guy de Lusignan likewise could have sat with his army in Jerusalem until Saladin's army withdrew, as it always did.  Instead he chose to go on the offensive and got the Kingdom of Jerusalem destroyed as a result (and, worse, allowed Ridley Scott to make a film about it).
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Thu 18 May 2017, 09:57

@Anglo-Norman wrote:
  It's a stark contrast to a year later at Dunbar, where the exhausted, half-starved, disease-ridden, outnumbered 2-1 English crushed the Scots after Cromwell spotted a weakness and exploited it.  That was partly the fault of Scottish Ministers of the Kirk, representing General David Leslie's political and religious masters - they bullied him into attacking and so forced him to move his army off its strong position.  Leslie was a wily soldier who had tactically bested Cromwell so far, and had fought alongside him in the First Civil War, taking command of the Scottish half of the Allied Army at Marston Moor in 1644.  However, against his instinct he was bound to obey, and that opened up the fatal weakness.

Cromwell was not outnumbered 2 to 1 at Dunbar as he liked to say. If anything, the Covenanter Army was the smaller of the two and was just as badly hit with disease. David Leslie was at best a brigade commander left in charge of an army, the man who had outfought Cromwell up to this point was the veteran Field Marshal Alexander Leslie, who spent the night in Edinburgh. Due to his age F-M Leslie has some excuse. The other officers who had absented themselves had no excuse. If they had been at their posts the result would have been different.
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Thu 18 May 2017, 14:30

Thank you for that information about Cromwell, A-N and Trike. I never imagined that our chief of men would ever have got himself involved in anything remotely resembling a "farce"; and that his absolute faith in himself and his God (in that order, or is that unfair?) would have made his instinct, certainly his military instinct, pretty reliable. Obviously not!

I mentioned Mary Queen of Scots above, describing her as a creature of impulse. She often relied on her "instinct" about men and about situations; her "instinct" unfortunately could usually be relied on to be wrong. Perhaps her most fateful judgement was in 1568. Fleeing Scotland in a fishing boat she gave orders - against all advice - to head for England, not France. Having the great fault of the generous-hearted, Mary's instinct told her that her "good sister" Elizabeth would act as she herself would have done had their situations been reversed: Mary would have offered hospitality, sympathy and help. Elizabeth's instinct, of course, told her to do the opposite.

Had Mary gone to France she would have been safe: Catherine de Medici would have been cold, but others would have welcomed the unhappy exile. Mary was a Dowager Queen of France and had been much loved in that country. More to the point, she had extensive dower lands in France, estates where she could have lived in honourable retirement as a tragic princesse malheureuse. Her pensions would have been paid regularly and in full - no need to fight for them as she had to from her English prison. No doubt she would have found love again (she was still married to Bothwell but, that marriage having been celebrated according to Protestant rites in Scotland, it could easily have been annulled) - probably falling instinctively, as was her wont, for another quite unsuitable man.
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Mon 22 May 2017, 10:29

@Anglo-Norman wrote:
@nordmann wrote:
Lots of losing generals, I imagine. Maxentius springs to mind - all he had to do was stay put a while longer in Rome and wait for his enemy's troops to desert their leader, but instead decided to bring the battle to Constantine on the basis of what he had gleaned from some sheep's entrails (what you might call the original "gut feeling") and a vague horoscope.

Although the reasons he didn't were more to do with politics than instinct, in 1187 Guy de Lusignan likewise could have sat with his army in Jerusalem until Saladin's army withdrew, as it always did.  Instead he chose to go on the offensive and got the Kingdom of Jerusalem destroyed as a result (and, worse, allowed Ridley Scott to make a film about it).

Oh that's very funny A-N - not about Guy de Lusignan, but about Ridley Scott making THAT film which I must be honest I haven't watched but what I have heard about it doesn't make me want to watch it.  Although I have to admit (I'm sure I've already admitted it on another thread or threads) that I have enjoyed some historically inaccurate stories - the film about Henry VIII with Charles Laughton is one case in point.

I'm singularly ignorant of battlefield strategies (I don't even play those type of computer games) - my limit is watching very occasional "scola gladiatora" YouTube videos - the man running the site sometimes comments on how realistic - or not - screen versions of (mostly medieval) battles are.
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Mon 22 May 2017, 17:00

@Anglo-Norman wrote:
@nordmann wrote:
Lots of losing generals, I imagine. Maxentius springs to mind - all he had to do was stay put a while longer in Rome and wait for his enemy's troops to desert their leader, but instead decided to bring the battle to Constantine on the basis of what he had gleaned from some sheep's entrails (what you might call the original "gut feeling") and a vague horoscope.

Although the reasons he didn't were more to do with politics than instinct, in 1187 Guy de Lusignan likewise could have sat with his army in Jerusalem until Saladin's army withdrew, as it always did.  Instead he chose to go on the offensive and got the Kingdom of Jerusalem destroyed as a result (and, worse, allowed Ridley Scott to make a film about it).


Yes that film was a disaster, like many Hollywood adaptations unfortunately. However on the bright side it did spark a fascinating biographical trilogy by Helena Schrader attempting to recify the mistakes of the film. I enjoyed it immensely https://www.amazon.com/Helena-P.-Schrader/e/B0024JCLUW

Back to Guy de Lusignan aside from losing Jerusalem he was also involved in that disasterous attempt on the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, if I remember correctly it was William Marshall who saved the day for Eleanor in that?

de Lusignan was truely a walking disaster area.
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Mon 22 May 2017, 18:12

@Islanddawn wrote:

Yes that film was a disaster ...

Are you all talking about 'Kingdom of Heaven'? That was dire. And to my eternal shame I actually bought it as part of a three DVD bargain pack, along with ... oh the embarrassment ... 'Braveheart', and the one DVD I actually wanted, 'Master & Commander'. After the first viewing - and for 'Braveheart' that was many years ago in a cinema - I can't actually watch either that or 'Kingdom of Heaven' again ... not because I'm a prissy historical purist, but simply because they are so badly made. But I still often watch and enjoy, 'Master and Commander', so at 5€ for the three DVDs, overall it wasn't really a bad deal really.

But back to Temp's OP ...

He has already been mentioned and, though I'm not an expert of WW2, I think Hitler must have had some sort of personal 'vision' or other personal 'instinctive belief' to have led Germany, often against all the advice of his, far from inexperienced Wehrmacht generals, into numerous disasterous engagements ...  and all supposedly for the sake of somewhat bizarre ideas of ayran racial purity and liebesraum.

By June 1940 France had been humbled, the Versailles treaty over-turned, Britain's hesitant fingers well and truly burned, and America with its prevalent isolationist policy was a very remote threat. Germans were happy that France had been beaten - and that the war was over. Yet Hitler, against most of his military advice, then decided, with winter approaching, to invade Russia ... and the rest is history, for it was the Russian campaign, and then later US involvement, that truely broke the Third Reich. Yet even in the last stages of the war Hitler, by then proven as no great military stategist, was still trying to impose his personal will over his far more competent subordinates - and even to the end they mostly acquiesced .... to the overall, longer-term detriment of the German nation.

Ironically Churchill also often displayed much the same single-minded vision, and he similarly considered himself a bit of a military expert. The fiascos in Dardenelles Campaign in WW1, and at Narvik in WW2 ... amongst several other badly planned actions, rather serve now to demonstrate Churchill's military incompetence or at least his military ignorance ... but in Churchill's case he did, at least eventually, listen to his generals and then accept their professional advice.
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Tue 23 May 2017, 21:32

@Temperance wrote:
Yes, what you say about Fry - which I agree with, by the way - reminds me of what has been called "Napoleon's Glance" - the "coup d'oeil" - which I thought meant a sudden flash of insight. It does, but insight that only comes after careful study, reflection and thought. It's also the title of a book that was published several years ago by William Duggan, an expert on "strategic intuition". Here is blurb - only from Amazon, but interesting:

"When Napoleon's Glance was first published last spring, former NATO secretary general and now putative presidential candidate Wesley Clark declared, "This is a very important book." In Napoleon's Glance strategist William Duggan shows how Clark, along with ten other important figures in the fields of politics, war and culture, owed their success to coup d'oeil. But what is coup d'oeil? Carl von Clausewitz spent twenty years struggling to pin down the genius of Napoleon. In Chapter Six of what would become "On War" he discovered the secret of Napoleon's strategy: Napoleon's glance. Clausewitz called it "coup d'oeil" meaning a stroke of the eye, or "glance." A sudden insight that shows you what course of action to take, it comes from knowledge of the past, drawing on what worked in other situations in a new combination that fits the problem at hand"  (my emphasis).

So are wise decisions rarely the result of "gut instinct" or impulse, but are rather - even if they appear to be spontaneous -  the result of careful, intelligent and rational deliberation? Elizabeth I's successful policies were the result of years of disciplined study and understanding of the great masters of politics; her great rival, Mary, that warm, impulsive, foolishly reckless creature, never seems to have studied anything very deeply, and always followed her heart rather than her head. She failed in all she did. Yet it could be argued that, of the two, Mary was the more likeable and honest personality. Better to be feared than loved, of course; and, at least if you are a leader, better to think rather than feel? Gambles, if taken at all, should always be calculated ones?

I ramble dreadfully at times, I'm afraid, but will let this stand.

EDIT: MM has posted something and he has included a bit of my original message that I was embarrassed about - knowing nothing of the history I was talking about - and which I decided to delete. It was this:

I wrote:
And was Napoleon's decision to invade Russia, like Hitler's, not the result of coup d'oeil, but simply a stupid, strategic mistake? Hope this isn't a daft question - I know nothing about the invasion, only that it was a disaster.


Temperance,

you don't ramble at all. And say, may I say, very thoughtful matter.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Only That I Trust It...   Tue 23 May 2017, 22:27

@Meles meles wrote:
In French, as you say Temp, a coup d'œil just means a glance, a quick, brief look, etc  ... and carries no further meaning about insight or creative intuition*. The reference to 'Napoleon's Glance' - Le coup d'œil de Napoléon - is that it was said generally (no pun intended) that he was uniquely able to appraise the enemy dispositions after just a very brief perusal. However he certainly wasn't the first military commander to have used almost exactly the same phrase: Frederick the Great of Prussia in particular often used a very similar expression. But that was surely as much a reflection of the fact that generals of that era usually all studied the same classic military texts, and so they usually deployed their armies in the same 'standard' manner. (There's also the factor that Napoleon, at least in later years, suffered terribly from piles and so never wanted to stay too long in the saddle, and so kept his pre-battle reconnaissance to the absolute minimum).

But surely more importantly than 'instinct' Napoleon had lots of experience - particularly at winning - and so his eponyous glance was never just about "intuition". It was usually in fact a cooly and calculated appraisal based on experience. Though Napoleon himself said, "There is a gift of being able to see at a glance the possibilities offered by the terrain ... One can call it the coup d'œil militaire and it is inborn in great generals." ... let's not forget that he wasn't averse to 'blowing his own trumpet' nor to spreading the idea amongst his enemies that he was almost divinely invincible.

William Duggan's book - based on his lucrative Columbia University Lecture series aimed at high-flying business executives looking for a quick way to make their mark - probably fails to explain that Napoleon's knack for winning was mostly based on a sheer bloody (literally) experience ... and that there is rarely a short-cut route to success, whether in business or on the battlefield, regardless of how much one is prepared to pay in course fees or for the book.


*[I felt sure that, had Duggan's book been translated into French, it would have had a very different title ... but it seems the book has only appeared in English, tant pis.]

Now,

Temperance (originally - now editted) wrote:

And was Napoleon's decision to invade Russia, like Hitler's, not the result of coup d'oeil, but simply a stupid, strategic mistake? Hope this isn't a daft question - I know nothing about the invasion, only that it was a disaster.

That I need to think about ... but even in Napoleon's time (ie well before Hilter's 'Mein Kampf' and its idea of Liebensraum) wasn't defeating/bringing enlightenment to the 'barbaric Russe' already an established cultural idea? Invading Russia was certainly a strategic mistake - more perhaps for Napoleon than for Hitler as, lacking railways in 1805 it's likely Napoleon's task was nearly impossible, whereas Hitler's in 1941 was just very difficult. So was there indeed a greater idea, a cultural 'instinct' if you like, that drove him, or indeed both of them, to try and attempt the impossble?


Meles meles,

"That I need to think about ... but even in Napoleon's time (ie well before Hilter's 'Mein Kampf' and its idea of Liebensraum) wasn't defeating/bringing enlightenment to the 'barbaric Russe' already an established cultural idea? Invading Russia was certainly a strategic mistake - more perhaps for Napoleon than for Hitler as, lacking railways in 1805 it's likely Napoleon's task was nearly impossible, whereas Hitler's in 1941 was just very difficult. So was there indeed a greater idea, a cultural 'instinct' if you like, that drove him, or indeed both of them, to try and attempt the impossble?"

I just watched before the kidney operation the Russian campaign of Napoleon on ARTE.
Seemingly you can still watch it on the +7. If you look tomorrow of so I guess you will be able to look at it for some days. it was on ARTE again on Friday I saw in the clinic.
http://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/048323-001-A/napoleon-la-campagne-de-russie-1-2
http://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/048323-002-A/napoleon-la-campagne-de-russie-2-2

"enlightenment to the 'barbaric Russe' already an established cultural idea?"

La Russie of that time was perhaps more cultural and enlightened than many other countries of that time. I read that many of the elite went  for instance to the Berlin Opern for one night from Sankt Petersburg out. Most of the elite were bilingual Russian-French or Russian-German or even trilingual. Of course there was still the gap with the lower ranks of people, but wasn't that in France too.
Napoleon wanted to negociate because the Russians undermined his Continental system: closing of the borders for trade with the British. When the Russian Tsar couldn't be convinced to do it the Napoleon way, he declared war. It wasn't perhaps not such a stupid idea in that time, but the Russians didn't act as foreseen. They played it dirty, as with the "scorced earth" method and a constant guerrilla that also was new I guess in that time. A constant harrassement from the Cossacks behind the lines of advance. They lurred Napoleon in Moscow, nearly completely emptied from its population and burned. Even after Napoleon arrived a "Fifth column" went on with the burning. That was not nice playing from the Russians...
See the two documentaries, it is all well explained.

Kind regards, Paul.
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