Today: Classical western period, provide counterpart to Sun Tzu, then jump to interwar years 1920-30,
to better understand one of the readings (which will likely be on the exam).
Last class: Statesmen using net assessment in a rational way. In both cases, one might conclude that
Spartans andAthenians find the transition between understanding their strengths and the enemy's and
finding a strategy that will actually work is not so simple.
Socrates.Athenian statesman. Subject of alternate dialogues byAthenian general named Xenophon. In
one of these dialogues, Socrates says something along the lines of “if you're a leading politician and
your city is about to go to war with another city, it behooves you to calculate your strengths and
weaknesses and compare them to those of your enemy so you can know if you should go to war or
not.” Clear enunciation of idea of net assessment. Rational, but may not necessarily work every time.
Romans and Carthaginians. Romans assume they can invade the Carthaginian homeland and quickly
win. One of the major Carthaginian leaders reads the tealeaves the same way and comes up with
surprise stemming from net assessment to catch the Romans off guard. Hannibal says “can't invade
Italy by sea as our navy is too weak, but can bring it into Italy by marching it through theAlps into
northern italy.” Hannibal examines the same evidence but uses it to arrive at different conclusion. Short
circuits Roman strategy for about a decade.Although Hannibal's strategy is shrewd, he's
underestimating the Romans as well. Thinks he can splinter Rome from its allies. Sun Tzu says to win
without fighting but failing that win by shattering their alliances, Hannibal's aim. Hannibal inflicts
greater damage on Roman than any other ancient society suffered, but Rome doesn't fall. Defeat
Hannibal, eventually.At grand strategic level, can see rational approaches to gathering information,
compiling net assessments, using it to guide strategy. Then as now, the problem was using that net
assessment to come up with a strategy that will work.
As far as intel or secrecy, in ancient mediterranean world these were a major tool. Best seen in ancient
use of political warfare. How does it work?:
Rome is harder to split than any other ancient city. Find that political warfare in terms of subversion is
Enemy fortifications – hard to take in the ancient world. Even if we look at ancient besiegers, a city can
tie down your army for the entire year. Wear to take towns is through psychology or political warfare.
One of the impacts of siege devices is that you can convince the people that you have the ability to take
the town. If you have a credible means to take a city, demonstrated by deployed siege forces, the other
side may surrender. The other way to take the city is by working with traders. Normally what happens
is it combines a successful army and large siege train with the ability to find local traders who will sell
the city out for you. Greek commanders able to make this happen significantly. Major collection by
greek academic, writing aboutAD 150, named Polyaenus, about all the feints and types of political
warfare that appear in historical texts. Single largest category of successes he mentions are instances
where you on the outside find traders on the inside who will sell out the city to you. Pattern we see
tends to fit in with what Kautilya and Sun Tzu talk about.
Field of battle.Areas where we expect to see intelligence matter are where you have operations –
armies or navies moving long distances, confronting an army in the confines of a country. Very rarely happens in the ancient world, but two examples come to mind:
395 BC, in Greece, major Spartan army north ofAthens is caught by ambush because letter sent by
command Lysander is intercepted. Matters a lot to the Corinthian war.
In late stages of Hannibal's campaign in Italy, his brother is forced to leave Spain, bringing a large army
through theAlps – trying to bring it down to join Hannibal and double his strength. Theatre-wide,
operational manoeuvre – takes army from central Spain, France, through the alps. 207 BCE, his brother
sends a letter to Hannibal explaining what he intends to do. Romans intercept dispatch rider, prevent
Hannibal from getting message, send troops to intercept Hannibal's brother in the way. His head is
thrown over Hannibal's palisade, which is how he discovers his defeat.
Generally speaking, from ancient western battles, operational intelligence doesn't really exist. Either
you know where the enemy is and where to find him, or you're wandering in the dark. The side with
light infantry automatically has superiority – can find the enemy without them finding you, allowing
Special category of problems at sea: no such thing as command of the sea, can't blockade a port. Very
difficult to find fleet at sea, and constantly in ancient western naval ops, a superior navy is rarely able
to stop an inferior navy from transporting troops. Most battles in the ancient world are “encounter
battles” - two navies bumping into each other.
On land, it's a matter of who has the better reconnaissance forces. WhenAlexander the Great invades
Persia, though his army is far better, the Persians have far better reconnaissance. Force him to fight
Hannibal gains his advantages over the Romans because his army is an experience regular force –
fighting experience in wild territory and he dominates cavalry. Builds uncertainty into his battle
formations (Sun Tzu's “keep you army formless). Three examples:
1.) Battle of the Trebia- 217 BCE. Hannibal convinces overconfident Romans to advance on his
forces across a river. Lures them to attack in the center, where he's put cannon fodder – local
allies who want to fight. Romans come forward, drive the locals backward – on the flanks are
the regular forces, and the Romans advance into a giant ambush. Set up formation knowing how
the enemy will fight. Men hidden in the forest come out and hit the Romans from behind.
2.) Second ambush at Lake Trasimene – Romans march through narrow valley, and at end of the
valley see Carthaginians – Carthaginians holding narrow position with heavy infantry, Roman's
in long stretched out column along shore of lake. Out of the mountains charges the entire
Carthaginian army, killing vitually every Roman soldier.
3.) Most famously: Hannibal outnumbered 2-1. Through net assessment, realized his strengths are
his infantry and number of cannon fodder, as well as number of cavalry. Means to fool them, let
them think they can deploy forces against him. Knows the two generals vary who's in charge,
one impetuous and one defensive. Basically teases the former into attacking. They push
Hannibal's infantry back, like at the battle of the Trebia river. Carthaginians pin the Romans in
the middle again. Carthaginian heavy cavalry charge, break the Roman cavalry, and then they
drive up and charge in the rear of the Roman cavalry's other flank. Carthaginian light cavalry
pursues the rest of the Roman cavalry, surrounds the force and kills them all. Famous butchery