Sunday, November 12, 2006

Excerpt of the day

Similarly, in 1812 Napoleon viewed the French capture of Moscow as a step toward victory, where as Russain General Mikhail Kutuzov saw it as hastening French overextension and defeat, commenting when he ordered the retreat from Moscow that "Napoleon is a torrent which we are as yet unable to stem. Moscow will be the sponge that will suck him dry."

Man, I love war/diplomacy quotes. This one is from "Exploring the Bargaining Model of War" by Dan Reiter. For the record, the Russian guy turned out to be right. If I remember my A-Level History correctly (which is no sure thing), Napoleon went into Russia with something in the order of 4 billion men and 3 billion horses. He came back with something approaching 27 of each. As I recall reading, the Russians kept retreating and burning their own cities as they left them. This left Napoleon's men no food (the fields were ravaged) and no shelter (the buildings were destroyed) as they continued to follow the Russians further and further in. Plus, Napoleon in true Rumsfeldian fashion thought the war wouldn't last particularly long so wasn't prepared to spend winter in Russia (no warm clothes or anything like that). Well, as luck would have it, the war did last into the winter thanks to the Russian tactics, and half of his men simply froze to death. All of this goes to prove one thing: never pack light if you're planning on conquering all of Europe.

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