Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

HIST: Discussions about the last 4000 years of history, give or take a few days.

Moderator: K. A. Pital

User avatar
Stark
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 36169
Joined: 2002-07-03 09:56pm
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Contact:

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by Stark » 2013-02-16 08:45pm

You'd be less amusing if you weren't so smug. Keep it up.

Borgholio, it was an obvious reaction to the colonial history, but did Jefferson himself scheme a long term plan that drove fifty years of change and a thousand years of culture or politics? Was the purchase part of his scheme to reshape the world? Because that's the sort of thing people are talking about.

Oh that and mass murder. Gotta keep our 'he's funny because he honestly thinks he's smart' quotient up.

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 37389
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2013-02-16 09:14pm

Borgholio wrote:I'll throw out Thomas Jefferson. The Louisiana purchase was a huge land grab which set forth the ideas behind the Manifest Destiny. It's pretty much the start of the American global expansion.
The Louisiana purchase was also completely unplanned. The American diplomats were sent to France with instructions and authority only to attempt to buy the port of New Orleans and surrounding land. In fact Jefferson doubted that the French even had the legal right to sell Louisiana because he like many, didn't really accept the claim, or the French boundaries vs Spain. But when said diplomats were offered the whole thing for not much more then they had been authorized to pay for New Orleans itself they signed on the dotted line, came home and hoped Jefferson and Congress would go along with it. Calling this an act of grand strategy is absurd.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 30118
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by Simon_Jester » 2013-02-17 01:21am

I'd say the effects of the Louisiana Purchase were big enough that they could belong among the great acts of nation-building. But since it was unplanned and serendipitous that the US was in a position to buy all that land, from someone desperate enough for money to sell it in the first place... yeah, the credit doesn't go to Jefferson.

If Jefferson had planned the whole thing, though, and if he'd handled the other crises of the US's founding more gracefully, I'd at least say he was worth nominating.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

User avatar
madd0ct0r
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6205
Joined: 2008-03-14 07:47am

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by madd0ct0r » 2013-02-17 04:40pm

someone asked for more info on ashoka:
an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BCE to 232 BCE.[1] One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests. He is also sometimes referred as Alexander of India.[citation needed] His empire stretched from the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan to present-day Bangladesh and the Indian state of Assam in the east, and as far south as northern Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.The empire had Taxila,Ujjain and pataliputra as its capital. In about 260 BCE Ashoka waged a bitterly destructive war against the states of Kalinga (modern Odisha).[2] He conquered Kalinga, which none of his ancestors starting from Chandragupta Maurya had conquered. His reign was headquartered in Magadha (present-day Bihar). He embraced Buddhism after witnessing the mass deaths of the Kalinga War, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. "Ashoka reflected on the war in Kalinga, which reportedly had resulted in more than 100,000 deaths and 150,000 deportations."[3] Ashoka converted gradually to Buddhism beginning about 263 BCE at the latest.[2] He was later dedicated to the propagation of Buddhism across Asia and established monuments marking several significant sites in the life of Gautama Buddha. "Ashoka regarded Buddhism as a doctrine that could serve as a cultural foundation for political unity."[4] Ashoka is often remembered in history as a philanthropic administrator. In the Kalinga edicts, he addresses his people as his "children" and mentions that as a father he desires their good.
"Aid, trade, green technology and peace." - Hans Rosling.
"Welcome to SDN, where we can't see the forest because walking into trees repeatedly feels good, bro." - Mr Coffee

User avatar
General Mung Beans
Jedi Knight
Posts: 854
Joined: 2010-04-17 10:47pm
Location: Orange Prefecture, California Sector, America Quadrant, Terra

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by General Mung Beans » 2013-02-17 05:52pm

If you're going to go with American Presidents, I'll nominate James K. Polk who helped expand American territory to the Pacific by obtaining most of the Oregon Territory and seizing California and much of the Southwest from the Mexicns through both negotiations and war and unlike Jefferson, his actions were planned.
El Moose Monstero: That would be the winning song at Eurovision. I still say the Moldovans were more fun. And that one about the Apricot Tree.
That said...it is growing on me.
Thanas: It is one of those songs that kinda get stuck in your head so if you hear it several times, you actually grow to like it.
General Zod: It's the musical version of Stockholm syndrome.

User avatar
PainRack
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 7395
Joined: 2002-07-07 03:03am
Location: Singapura

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by PainRack » 2013-02-18 09:03am

ray245 wrote:Qin Shi-Huang. Unified China and reform the way China is governed, not to mention establishing a unified Chinese language.
That's quite dubious. The Qin Dynasty outlasted his death by only a few decades and the Han dynasty promptly reverted back to feudalism. Granted, he implanted the idea of a lasting Emperor with central power firmly into Chinese thinking but that's his impact.


Legalism definitely had an impact on ruling philosophy and those insitutions morphed and were copied by future governors, but that's not Qin Shi Huang, isn't it?

In terms of conquest, Qin Shi Huang inherited a state that had through decades of buildup, gained sufficient economic and military strength to overwhelm any individual opponent. Stuff like horseback cavalry vs chariots and other technological inventions were also not done during his era, the key crux is that while he was a capable ruler and military leader, he hardly ranks as a genius when compared to others like Julius Caesar......
Let him land on any Lyran world to taste firsthand the wrath of peace loving people thwarted by the myopic greed of a few miserly old farts- Katrina Steiner

User avatar
K. A. Pital
Glamorous Commie
Posts: 20809
Joined: 2003-02-26 11:39am
Location: Elysium

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by K. A. Pital » 2013-02-18 11:17am

Indeed, the collase of Qin Dynasty definetely signified that the attempt at introducing absolutism, a way more progressive order at the time, failed. If I was picking Chinese historical personalia, I would say that Cao Cao was pretty awesome.
Lì ci sono chiese, macerie, moschee e questure, lì frontiere, prezzi inaccessibile e freddure
Lì paludi, minacce, cecchini coi fucili, documenti, file notturne e clandestini
Qui incontri, lotte, passi sincronizzati, colori, capannelli non autorizzati,
Uccelli migratori, reti, informazioni, piazze di Tutti i like pazze di passioni...

...La tranquillità è importante ma la libertà è tutto!
Assalti Frontali

Dr. Trainwreck
Jedi Knight
Posts: 834
Joined: 2012-06-07 04:24pm

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by Dr. Trainwreck » 2013-02-18 12:29pm

Did anybody else say Alexander the Great? Yes, he died without heir and his empire broke up, but these kingdoms were still ruled by Hellenes for centuries thereafter and Hellenic culture was alive in Asia until the rise of Islam 1000 years later. So I'm mostly nominating him for the cultural changes he brought about.
Ποταμοῖσι τοῖσιν αὐτοῖσιν ἐμϐαίνουσιν, ἕτερα καὶ ἕτερα ὕδατα ἐπιρρεῖ. Δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης.

The seller was a Filipino called Dr. Wilson Lim, a self-declared friend of the M.I.L.F. -Grumman

User avatar
Isolder74
Official SD.Net Ace of Cakes
Posts: 6734
Joined: 2002-07-10 01:16am
Location: Weber State of Construction University
Contact:

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by Isolder74 » 2013-02-18 01:08pm

While we are tossing out Americans lets add to the mix General Dwight Eisenhower. He helped lead the Allies to victory in WWII and once president lead the effort to set up the US Interstate Highway infrastructure.

I'd toss out Jackson but he was more just a good general commander. I'd might think maybe Teddy Roosevelt but he was more of just a general badass.
Hapan Battle Dragons Rule!
When you want peace prepare for war! --Confusious
That was disapointing ..Should we show this Federation how to build a ship so we may have worthy foes? Typhonis 1
The Prince of The Writer's Guild|HAB Spacewolf Tank General| God Bless America!

User avatar
PainRack
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 7395
Joined: 2002-07-07 03:03am
Location: Singapura

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by PainRack » 2013-02-18 01:59pm

Stas Bush wrote:Indeed, the collase of Qin Dynasty definetely signified that the attempt at introducing absolutism, a way more progressive order at the time, failed. If I was picking Chinese historical personalia, I would say that Cao Cao was pretty awesome.
Hmm....... How much of this should be personal as opposed to the effects of leadership? Cao Cao achievements were VERY impressive, adept at both politics and military generalship, his civic adminstration also helped stabilised the then ruinous effects plagues and war had on the "core" territories of Han China.

However, in terms of adminstrative achievements, Sun Quan would had a much more significant and lasting impact. The region of Wu was dirt poor, uninhabitated and the equivalent of Transylvania. Under the Sun family, mostly exemplified by Sun Quan, they created an adminstration that allowed them to stand toe to toe against more powerful and prosperous regimes, first Jing Chou under Liu Biao and then Cao Cao.
Sun sponsership/alliance with Liu Bei created the whole tripod alliance system(a political machination that was actually desired and set forth by Lu Shu before Zhuge Liang presentation, with different leaders of course). Without her political and military influence, the 3 kingdoms era would never have taken place and Cao Cao attempts at reunifying the Empire would had been successful.
Sun Quan abilities at stabilising the region also inspired commerce, agriculture and the gradual population boom of the entire Riverland region, which would spark off the North South divide of China culturally and also signified the shift of China economic influence from north to South.
This shift also affected mercantilism since the South was historically more mercantile than the northern plains, although how much of this is an accident of history is anybody guess.

Lastly, the state of Wu resparked China naval attempts. Wu efforts at sustaining maritime adventures, including launching a military expedition up north to support Liaodong raiders, in the hopes of sparking a third front against Wei was the only time when China came close to matching Rome imperial expeditions to North Africia. Wu also re-opened trading links with communities in what is now Vietnam and possibly japan, although the last is disputed. This trading effort was matched similarly by her imperial reach, reopening the lost Han stations in Vietnam.

While none of this was due to the personal efforts of Sun Quan, it was his state which sparked all this which either signified or led the change of China which helped morph China into its current look.

There's also this guy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tian_Dan_%28Qi%29
A general of the State of Qi, Qi success at conquering other cities provoked a grand alliance that reduced her 70 cities/castles to just two. While beseiged for over a year, this general successfully maintained the defence and with other advisors, provoked a political reaction that broke the alliance, used burning straw on cattle to rout the siege forces and then successfully steamrolled the enemy back to reconquer 70 cities, singlehandedly reviving the state of Qi.

Granted, it doesn't fulfill the second portion of the OP but in terms of the first, that's pretty awesome.
Let him land on any Lyran world to taste firsthand the wrath of peace loving people thwarted by the myopic greed of a few miserly old farts- Katrina Steiner

User avatar
PainRack
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 7395
Joined: 2002-07-07 03:03am
Location: Singapura

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by PainRack » 2013-02-18 02:19pm

Hell...... how did I actually forget this guy?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Goujian

To summarise, after being defeated by the State of Wu, King Goujian of Yue was made a captive servant. Depending on how much you trust a propaganda influenced view of history, he then managed to convince Fuchai to let him withdraw back to Yue, so that he could plan his grand comeback.

As a vassal state, he created multiple economic and civic reforms aimed at refurnishing Yue strength, something VITALLY important when one considers that Yue was literally the boondeck of China at that point. Indeed, the State of Wu was a tribal group incorporated into China and unlike Yue, Wu had at least received colonists and intergration into the tributary/trade networks of that time........ well, barring further details since Yue is not mentioned in the histories UNTIL her defeat by Wu.

To remind him of his vow to crush Wu, he slept on a bed of hard wood, had a bitter gallbladder hanging by his bedside of which he would taste every day and essentially suffered hardship so that he would never lapse into a life of luxury and forget his vengence/suffering against Wu.

More practically, he then lapsed into a decades long entrapment scheme, including sending a beautiful concubine to bewitch the king, sending large amounts of timber as tribute so that Fuchai could spend more taxes on building large palaces, a somewhat unbacked claim that he borrowed from Wu a loan of seeds to help his state recover from famine and then screwed Wu over by paying back the loan in cooked seeds which when planted in the ground, obviously failed to germinate.... In an act of sheer Machivellian politics, Goujian managed to subvert key ministers of Fuchai court and created a political rift that ended up in Wu Zixu committing suicide. Wu Zixu, the actual general who secured Wu victories, the one who sent Sun Tzu into history by fighting the battles that Sun Tzu became famous for, who accurately warned Goujian about the dangers of Yue rearmament was made to commit suicide.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Zixu

He was also ultimately NOT a MCP, a remarkable thing in China as seen in his employment of Yue Nu.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuen%C3%BC
But then again, he sent his own wife and servants into the fields/spinning, so that just made him more of a practical tyrant I guess.

Goujian then ultimately backstabbed Fuchai by agreeing with him about his desire to reunite the Hegemons, when Fuchai sent his military up north to contest for hegemony, Yue sacked the capital and by this stunning reversal, eventually absorbed Wu into Yue.

Grand strategy on the very, very, long term basis,taking decades to finish, allowing a weakened, vassal state to ultimately end up the ruler.............
Let him land on any Lyran world to taste firsthand the wrath of peace loving people thwarted by the myopic greed of a few miserly old farts- Katrina Steiner

User avatar
thejester
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 1811
Joined: 2005-06-10 07:16pm
Location: Richard Nixon's Secret Tapes Club Band

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by thejester » 2013-02-19 10:36pm

Stark wrote:Since the OP asks about 'planning' and creating a 'geo political plan', Augustus is pretty clearly a candidate. He spent years securing the physical reality of the empire and setting in place plans and institutions that defined its future.
That's the interesting part to me - to what extent does someone like Augustus plan longterm, as opposed to respond to immediate events? One of the things that comes across in a lot of modern literature on grand strategy is the way it talks so openly about the formation of strategy, and yet examples often seem to indicate this wasn't the case; 'grand strategy' is an idea that only seems to have really been codified in the 20th century.
Image
I love the smell of September in the morning. Once we got off at Richmond, walked up to the 'G, and there was no game on. Not one footballer in sight. But that cut grass smell, spring rain...it smelt like victory.

Dynamic. When [Kuznetsov] decided he was going to make a difference, he did it...Like Ovechkin...then you find out - he's with Washington too? You're kidding.
- Ron Wilson

Scrib
Jedi Knight
Posts: 966
Joined: 2011-11-19 11:59pm

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by Scrib » 2013-02-20 12:53am

thejester wrote:
Stark wrote:Since the OP asks about 'planning' and creating a 'geo political plan', Augustus is pretty clearly a candidate. He spent years securing the physical reality of the empire and setting in place plans and institutions that defined its future.
That's the interesting part to me - to what extent does someone like Augustus plan longterm, as opposed to respond to immediate events? One of the things that comes across in a lot of modern literature on grand strategy is the way it talks so openly about the formation of strategy, and yet examples often seem to indicate this wasn't the case; 'grand strategy' is an idea that only seems to have really been codified in the 20th century.
Yeah, I thought the same thing, but I think that in Augustus' case,even if was thinking in immediate terms those problems happened to be the ones that would plague the "restored" Republic in the future. Okay, this province is a problem area today, so I'll deal with it, but that doesn't change the fact that it has or could be one in the future. Dealing with it is just good strategic practice. IT doesn't change the fact hat it's the good strategic move.

User avatar
Stark
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 36169
Joined: 2002-07-03 09:56pm
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Contact:

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by Stark » 2013-02-20 01:15am

I think when dealing with the 'now problems', there are short term and long term solutions. You can annex the Sudentenland, but this may not actually achieve what you wanted and may have negative consequences. When Augustus tried to solve what he saw as problems, he usually looked for long term solutions. He wasn't always successful (particularly with social policies, where he attempted to change the character of roman culture) but I think you could say he had a vision and set in place policies that were sound.

In the same way you could talk about how Napoleon had a much shorter horizon, even if many of the things done during his Smash and Grab Europe have also stood the test of time.

User avatar
Thanas
Magister
Magister
Posts: 30779
Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by Thanas » 2013-02-20 05:31am

Augustus to me is the ultimate longterm-thinker. Look for example on how he dealt with Parthia. Instead of waging a short (and almost certainly successful war) he brokered an agreement that ensured peace for over half a century.

Likewise, let us look at how he dealt with the northern tribes. If he felt he had the necessary resources and doing so would bring a profit, he would wage wars of conquests. But what is more interesting is what happened afterwards. Instead of a policy of enslaving the natives and propping up a colonial regime, Augustus tried to integrate the local elites and the local population. (granted that is a bit superficial and generalized and in some places where there was no native authority to be found he did found colonies but overall he focused on the building of local cities, which is a longterm, not a shortterm proposition). His success in those areas is easily seen considering the course of the empire in the first and second centuries.

Even more importantly, Augustus did not mess things up internally. He transformed the Roman institutions into an Empire. This is no small accomplishment considering those institutions were designed to prevent the rule of one and for over 300 years anybody who had tried to amass so much power failed in doing so. Augustus did not, most importantly by not rushing into anything but gradually amassing more and more power, gradually getting the people used to it etc.

He could easily have pulled a Sulla, executed half the aristocracy and declared himself Dictator for life. Instead, he coopted the surviving aristocrats with the consequence that we got the descendants of Crassus, Marcus Antonius, Cleopatra etc. all serving the Empire for several generations.

More importantly, he brought peace to the Empire. Italy, a country that was filled with weaponry and regularly engaged in civil wars, suddenly became almost demilitarized through his efforts. And he managed to disarm the various groups and cities without causing bloodshed and uproar.

This is why I rate Augustus as the best Grand Strategy thinker in history. Because while it is hard to prove he had a master plan (except in his conquests) the methods he chose were one of moderation and ensured the longevity of the Empire.

If you want to, I can elaborate more upon his grand plan in conquests, but I think the above should suffice for now.
Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
------------
My LPs

User avatar
Vaporous
Jedi Knight
Posts: 596
Joined: 2006-01-02 10:19pm

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by Vaporous » 2013-02-22 04:37am

Thanas wrote: He could easily have pulled a Sulla, executed half the aristocracy and declared himself Dictator for life. Instead, he coopted the surviving aristocrats with the consequence that we got the descendants of Crassus, Marcus Antonius, Cleopatra etc. all serving the Empire for several generations.
Weren't there proscriptions under the second triumvirate? I won't dispute your general point (because I agree with you), but between that and the death toll of the civil wars Augustus had security enough to be merciful. He was the last man standing.

User avatar
Thanas
Magister
Magister
Posts: 30779
Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by Thanas » 2013-02-22 07:56am

Vaporous wrote:
Thanas wrote: He could easily have pulled a Sulla, executed half the aristocracy and declared himself Dictator for life. Instead, he coopted the surviving aristocrats with the consequence that we got the descendants of Crassus, Marcus Antonius, Cleopatra etc. all serving the Empire for several generations.
Weren't there proscriptions under the second triumvirate? I won't dispute your general point (because I agree with you), but between that and the death toll of the civil wars Augustus had security enough to be merciful. He was the last man standing.
Yes but the senate was hardly neutralized in power. It still had enough power left to force Augustus to appoint noted Republicans as consuls and Augustus had to make a series of compromises, the most important of them being the second settlement. There also were a few conspiracies. Augustus handled all these crisis with a ruthlessness that nevertheless left the senate intact and managed to prevent any widespread rising against his authority.
Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
------------
My LPs

Flameblade
Youngling
Posts: 137
Joined: 2007-02-02 12:08pm
Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by Flameblade » 2013-02-24 04:41pm

Thanas wrote:If you want to, I can elaborate more upon his grand plan in conquests, but I think the above should suffice for now.
I would be very interested to hear more on that. Or, failing that, direction to a book that covers the matter better than pop-history/wikipedia. :)
"Saying science is retarded on the internet is like dissing oxygen out loud." --- Rye
The plural of anecdote is not data and the plural of datum is not proof.
The act of burning up in the Earth's atmosphere is simply your body's effort to dispute the Earth's insistence that you travel at the same speed. The ground is the Earth's closing argument.

Scrib
Jedi Knight
Posts: 966
Joined: 2011-11-19 11:59pm

Re: Best Grand Strategy Thinkers in History

Post by Scrib » 2013-03-09 06:27pm

Thanas wrote:Augustus to me is the ultimate longterm-thinker. Look for example on how he dealt with Parthia. Instead of waging a short (and almost certainly successful war) he brokered an agreement that ensured peace for over half a century.
.
Why didn't he wage a war? Did he not think that he could integrate Parthian territories or did he not want to let some general have the glory?

For that matter was his expansion to the Elbe stopped by Teutoburg or did he never plan it at all? Did he always plan to leave the land past the Rhine to vassal kings?

Post Reply