Battle of Austerlitz

 

In the battlefield, retreat is one step removed from total failure (ie. surrender), but can be embraced as a powerful manoeuvre. Robert Greene’s ’33 Strategies of War’ examines the advantages of tactical retreat appearance from a number of dimensions including one illustrated 207 years ago today…

 

  • The appearance of weakness often brings out people’s aggressive side, making them drop strategy and prudence for an emotional and violent attack. When Napoleon found himself outnumbered and in a vulnerable strategic position before the Battle of Austerlirtz, he deliberately showed signs of being panicked, indecisive, and scared. The enemy armies abandoned their strong position to attack him and rushed into a trap. It was his greatest victory.”

Conversely, on the other side of the battlefield, the best way to protect yourself against such feints is itself an embrace of failure…embracing the failure of understanding with vigilant scepticism that everything is as it appears.

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