Napoleon in Russia


  • Deny Them Targets: The Strategy of the Void. Remove any targets you have for your opponents. Do not create a front or make your front so broad that attacking it attacks their base. No targets will frustrate your opponents increasing the chance they will make a mistake.”

Robert Greene incudes embracing the failure to engage in battle as one of his “33 Strategies of War”. The failure brings both logistical and psychological advantages…

  • “The emperor [Napoleon], Alexander I saw, was an aggressive man who loved any kind of fight, even if the odds were stacked against him. He needed battles as a chance to put his genius in play. By refusing to meet him in battle, Alexander could frustrate him and lure him into a void: vast but empty lands without food or forage, empty cities with nothing to plunder, empty negotiations, empty time in which nothing happened, and finally the dead of winter. Russia’s harsh climate would make a shambles of Napoleon’s organizational genius. And as it played out, Alexander’s strategy worked to perfection…Make your void complete: empty negotiations, talks leading nowhere, time passing without either victory or defeat. In a world of accelerated pace and activity, this strategy will have a powerfully debilitating effect on people’s nerves. The less they can hit, the harder they will fall.”


Muhammed Ali’s ‘Rope-a-Dope’ is another example of a “void” strategy, as in ‘avoid’ engagement.


Greene also applied it to Franklin Roosevelt’s masterful political leadership…


  • “This strategy of the void works wonders on those who are used to conventional warfare. Lack of contact is so outside their experience that it warps any strategic powers they have. Large bureaucracies are often perfect targets for a guerrilla strategy for the same reason: they are capable of responding only in the most orthodox manner. In any event, guerrilla warriors generally need an opponent that is large, slow-footed, and with bullying tendencies.”