The Genius For War and Legend of the Galactic Heroes

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A big part of my esteem for Legend of the Galactic Heroes is its portrayal of the conduct of warfare (and and related policy) by its characters. I highly appreciate both the successes and failures made by the various admirals and public servants in its cast.

Here I will concern myself mostly with the successes. The level of complexity of battles and warfare in general by far exceed most other works of animation, and the skill of the admirals provides much of the entertainment in the show, and make for the legendary status of its heroes.

Without going to specific analysis of tactics and decisions, I wanted to look into what makes the characters, especially the likes of Yang and Lohengram special in terms of warfare. Why is it tempting to call them geniuses? For this I turn to Col. Edward M. Collins’s work on Carl von Clausewitz’ Vom Kriege, specifically “On the Genius of War.”

Clausewitz begins,

Every special calling in life, if it is to be pursued with a certain measure of perfection, demands special qualities of intellect and temperament. When these are of a high order, and manifest themselves by extraordinary achievements, the mind to which the belong is accorded the term “genius.” […]

[…] We are not concerned here with the kind of genius represented by a very superior talent, or genius properly so called, for that is a conception that has no defined limits. We are, instead, considering all the combined tendencies of the mind and soul toward military activity […] We say “combined,” for military genius consists not of a single capacity for war, but rather of a harmonious combination of powers, in which one may predominate but none may be in opposition.

I will attempt to distill these powers and tendencies here as best I can, and look into the galactic heroes accordingly.

Dealing With Chance and Randomness

Clausewitz notes two things necessary to deal with the nature of chance in war:

Coup d’oleil – the rapid recognition of a truth which to the ordinary mind is not discernible at all or becomes so only after long examination and reflection. Yang Wenli is undoubtedly the prime example of this. During the course of his career, he has never been in a situation wherein he is fooled by any opposing admiral’s tactic. He sees through every feint. This trait is wholly of the intellect.

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Informal Rankings:

  1. Yang Wenli
  2. Reinhard von Lohengram
  3. Oskar von Reuenthal
  4. Wilhebald Joachim von Merkatz
  5. Alexander Bucock

The best example of an admiral seemingly devoid of coup d’oleil is Fritz von Bittenfeld. His successes do not come from the possession of this attribute.

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Courage d’esprit – the resolution to face responsibility, and therefore to a degree in facing moral danger. While Yang Wenli does not lack this, albeit his perpetual anguish over decisions he already made, it is Reinhard von Lohengram who is unwavering. While he often takes counsel (from Kircheis, Reuenthal, Oberstein, and Mariendorf) he is always resolute. His actions regarding Westerland is the primary example.

Informal Rankings:

  1. Reinhard von Lohengram
  2. Oskar von Reuenthal
  3. Yang Wenli
  4. Wilhebald Joachim von Merkatz
  5. Wolfgang von Mittermeyer

There isn’t an admiral who has experienced any success in LotGH by failing to be resolute. I also want to distinguish the ill-fated resoluteness of the likes of Prince Braunschweig (who gave it up as well as dignity), as well as Andrew Fork – both do not show show resolution informed by moral consideration.

The Four Components of the Atmosphere of War

Clausewitz lists them as danger, physical effort, uncertainty, and chance. He takes note that the historians and military chroniclers list four elements required to deal with these components: energy, firmness, staunchness, and strength of mind and character.

Energy

This “expresses the strength of the motive by which the action is called forth.” Reinhard von Lohengram’s promise to Sigfried Kircheism to “seize all space” is the best example of this. In two years of campaigning, Lohengram’s achievements are spectacular.

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Informal Rankings:

  1. Reinhard von Lohengram
  2. Sigfried Kircheis
  3. Paul von Oberstein
  4. Walter von Shenckopp
  5. Dusty Attenborough

I find it difficult to rank Alliance characters because they’re either on the defensive or on the run most of the time, but truly this is more my own deficiency than the source material’s or Clausewitz’ thought.

Firmness and Staunchness

[…] Firmness “denotes the the resistance of the will to the force of a single blow.” Staunchness pertains the ability to maintain resistance after multiple blows. I find difficulty taking the measure of LotGH characters in view of the fact that those who lose battles don’t get second chances.

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In this light I think Merkatz is the best example. His initial defeat against Lohengram did faze him, but after the crisis of his would be suicide he has shown incredible Firmness and Staunchness. He never wavered in the fact that he is a servant of the Goldenbaum dynasty and that even meant serving with the Alliance against the now very powerful Lohengram faction.

Yang Wenli is also a good example in the context of his resilience in the face of his republic self-destructing, declaring him an enemy, and all sorts of political debacles. He doesn’t have many military setbacks because he prevails in every engagement, even Vermillion – which is a loss that doesn’t impact his combat genius the same way it does his morale regarding his republic. There’s more to this than I discuss here.

Strength of Character

Clausewitz means this as tenacity of conviction, “whether that conviction is base upon our own or another’s judgments and whether it is based upon principles, opinions, momentary inspirations, or any product of the intelligence.”

I want to look at three examples.

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1. Lohengram listens to Mintz’s proposal.

At the end of things, Lohengram honors Yang through Mintz by hearing out the proposal, but only after letting Mintz earn his way through valor.

Lohengram had always been receptive to counsel. More than any other ‘genius’ I’ve seen in anime, he has considered the advice of many. A number of his victories can be directly attributed to the trust he’s placed on his advisers, from Kircheis to Oberstein to Mariendorf.

His listening to Mintz’s proposal is wholly within his character. Lohengram’s conviction here is that no matter who he listens to, his judgment is all his own. But even a stronger manifestation of his conviction is that his usurpation of the Goldenbaum dynasty is actually an usurpation of blood hegemony in itself.

Even if the proposal for a constitution and a parliament is never put into place, Lohengram’s vision is wholly of a meritocracy even within an autocratic regime. This played out in his policy regarding the children of the enemies he destroyed, and against Reuenthal himself. His conversations with Minci only further cement the perception for his conviction.

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2. Bucock’s rejection.

This encompasses Yang Wenli’s rejection of Reinhard’s invitation. The difference is Yang knows he will fight again. Bucock knows he is doomed. Bucock in his final moments saw it fit to lecture the Kaiser, and did so with dignity and respect at the culmination of the Battle of Mar-Adetta. This “last lecture” encapsulates the very essence of the democratic ideal that he and Yang fight for and how Lohengram’s desire to have them serve him can never be fulfilled as long as he is Kaiser.

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3. Obertstein’s entire career.

Wholly a servant of the Empire under Lohengram, no other is more willing to subject himself to dislike, disrespect, and distrust than Paul von Oberstein. This is the conviction that allowed his acute thinking to prevail over many crises.

It’s actually rather difficult to be conclusive with Oberstein, who is such a fascinatingly complex character. I maintain that his conviction is completely without question.

So what of these “Geniuses?”

I submit my analysis is as fallible as they come. I am no scholar of military science and Legend of the Galactic Heroes is such a large and rich work that I feel inadequate to discuss comprehensively. So instead of pretending to a conclusion, I invite you to consider the six attributes of ‘The Genius for War’ as Clausewitz professes then rank the admirals (3-5 examples) according to your own judgment:

  • Coup d’oleil
  • Courage d’esprit
  • Energy
  • Firmness
  • Staunchness
  • Strength of Character

As a bonus, you may consider characters outside of LotGH (e.g. Lelouche vi Britannia, Dusanyu Abriel, Aguille Delaz, etc.). It will be excellent if you substantiate your ranking choices.

Further Reading

Lower Mid-Table’s Blogging Legend of the Galactic Heroes
On Paul von Oberstein the consequentialist (Iknight 03/24/2009)
Executive Otaku’s excellent use of Realist thought as a lens to view Legend of the Galactic Heroes (Executive Otaku 08/18/2010)
Reflections at the end of LotGH [->]
Von Clausewitz, Karl, (Summers, Harry G. trans., ed). War, Politics, & Power: Selections from On War, and I Believe and Profess. Regenery Publishing. Washington, DC. 1965.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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27 Responses to The Genius For War and Legend of the Galactic Heroes

  1. Dliessmgg says:

    * Coup d’oleil
    1. Kyubey
    2. Kyouko
    3. Homura
    4. Madoka
    dishonorable mention: Mami

    * Courage d’esprit
    1. Kyubey
    2. Mami
    3. Homura
    4. Sayaka
    5. Madoka
    dishonorable mention: Kyouko

    * Energy
    1. Homura
    2. Kyubey
    3. Kyouko
    4. Sayaka
    dishonorable mention: Madoka

    * Firmness
    1. Kyubey
    2. Kyouko

    * Staunchness
    1. Kyubey
    2. Homura
    3. Kyouko
    dishonorable mention: Sayaka

    * Strength of Character
    1. Madoka

    • LOL. An excellent analysis of the character’s strengths and weaknesses… Well, QB is undoubtedly the kind of character that even the Borg will agree.

    • I appreciate the thought that went into this entry, but unfortunately Puella Magi are not Generals. They command no armies.

      Thus, it’s hard to extend whatever behaviors they show into attributes that describe individuals exemplifying them in the context of command.

      • Dliessmgg says:

        Sure, it’s not the intended use, but I think it’s easily adaptable. I’ve heard of people who (ab)use Sun Tzu to lead a better/easier life and I think what I did requires less brain wrapping.

        • The exercise is to explore military genius as identified by Clausewitz. Your analogy would work if we were imagining how Yang and Lohengram would fare as Magic Girls or something. But like I said, I appreciate the thought put into your exercise. It’s not like I get to talk about Madoka Magica very much.

  2. Marigold Ran says:

    Should add two other categories:
    Logistics, Organization, and Planning
    Leadership

    Alexander the Great was high on Leadership. His Organization and Planning needed work (“the end of the world is on the other side of the mountains, boys! Let’s go and get them!” – and the troops followed, until they realized it was false).

    Napoleon, who styled himself after Alexander, was similar (“let’s invade Russia with inadequate supplies! It won’t matter, we’ll win before winter.” His army followed him.)

    On the other end of the scale, Zhukov was an Organization genius, but his Leadership skills needed work. His tactics mostly consisted of artillery barrages followed by zerg-rushing German lines. However, he was very good at making sure his artillery and his army was at the right places at the right times and with the right amount of ammunition.

    • Leadership — how would you define it?

      Management “gurus” have conflated it with so many things that it basically means “Jesus,” only holier.

      In the one leadership course I trust (and my trust isn’t a lot to write home about) reduces it to, “getting others to say yes” — which is what’s evident in the Alexander example you gave.

      As for the technical aspects of command you gave, LotGH doesn’t give a lot of examples of that. And when it does, it’s usually something to be exploited (e.g. Andrew Fork’s fiasco).

      • Marigold Ran says:

        Charisma. That’s what Alexander and Napoleon had. The ability to get other people to follow you, and fight Persian armies several times your size. Back in those days, military leadership is equivalent to personal leadership. Alexander was a great actor, a beautiful man, and had an obsessive desire to be the best at everything. By proving among his Macedonians that he was THE Macedonian, it gave him the moral right to lead him. As a result, his troops would follow him to what they believed to be the end of the earth.

        A good example of leadership was right before the battle of Guagemala. In the morning before the battle, his counselors were all prepped for the battle, and nervous, but Alexander was still in his tent sleeping. Whether he was actually sleeping, we don’t know, but the act calmed and boosted the morale of his troops hours before the battle. Another example is at the first battle against the Persians, when Alexander won the battle by inspecting the enemy lines for a second, and then saying “Charge,” and his troops followed. You can’t do that without good leadership. John Keegan, one of the best military authors, gives other examples in his book, “Mask of Command.”

        Napoleon also had charisma similar to Alexander’s. His inspection tours before battle boosts morlae because he has a knack for remembering little details about the troops served under him. For example, in the middle of an inspection he could stop in front of a random conscript, and say, “so you did this and this in this battle, how do you feel about it?” And the conscript and everyone around him would be really happy, because the ruler of France is not talking to you, but remembers what you did.

        Furthermore, Napoleon also had an awesome propaganda machine, so for a long time people thought he was a liberator. This of course changed when he crowned himself Emperor. Simon Bolivar, the future Napoleon of South America, for example, really looked up to Napoleon up to that point.

        • Marigold Ran says:

          The book, “Mask of Command,” is about leadership. Alexander is heroic leadership. Wellington is anti-heroic leadership. Grant is non-heroic leadership. And Hitler is false leadership.

          Surprisingly, a lot of Union troops liked Grant. The reason was because under Grant they finally found a general who was willing to fight and didn’t run at the first sign of disaster. In contrast to, for example, earlier Union generals like Hooker or McClellan. Zhukov was looked up to in the same way. I guess this means they’re leaders too, but by leadership I mean “heroic leadership,” like the type shown by Lady Eboshi or Kushana.

          • Yes, charisma seems a good fit here. But as I hinted in a previous comment, leadership gets discussed so much in terms of a moral context. I do submit however, that Hitler’s leadership involved falseness in that he did not represent the best interests of his constituency, but pretended to do so.

    • KrimzonStriker says:

      I rather disagree with the assessment that Napoleon and Alexander had no Organizational skills/abilities, as that was the highlight of their ability to effectively wield their armies, and revolutionizing warfare in their era’s by doing so (the corps combined arms of Napoleon, and the Lance formation/heavy calvary use by Alexander) . If you specifically point out their strategic pitfalls in their long campaigns, which specifically stretched their ability to extend their supplies, then push that primarily to the logistical aspect of your criticism. You can’t win battles with incapable men even if you do have high leadership abilities.

  3. Marigold Ran says:

    1. Griffith (Berserk)
    * Coup d’oleil: Completely. He’s never fooled in battle. Always fools others.
    * Courage d’esprit: None. He has no fear. Thus, he has no courage. In fact, in some ways he’s quite inhuman.
    * Energy: Completely. He’s never tired.
    * Firmness: Untested. He never loses a battle.
    * Staunchness: Untested. See above.
    * Strength of Character: Completely. He stays true to his goal no matter what happens.
    *Leadership: Completely. His mercenary troops would die for him. LOL.
    *Organization and Planning: Good. I’ve never seen his troops starve or run low on food.

    2. Lady Kushana (Nausicaa, manga)
    * Coup d’oleil: Competent. Generally knows what the enemy is doing. Knows how to respond. The attack on the siege machines was a brilliant tactical move.
    * Courage d’esprit: Completely. She never gives up even in some really crappy situations. Makes quick decisions. Personally courageous and fights monsters with a sword as a rear-guard action.
    * Energy: Completely. She never gets tired.
    * Firmness: Completely (see below).
    * Staunchness: Completely (see below).
    * Strength of Character: Completely. Despite disaster after disaster, none of which is her fault, she keeps her army intact (albeit smaller) to the very end. This is not an easy thing to do in Nausicaa’s disaster-prone, poisonous, jungle world. Excepting Nausicaa, she is the only other one who could have done it.
    * Leadership: Hoo boy. Her men die for her too.
    *Organization and Planning: Where is she getting her food for her army? Regardless, her army is never seen starving.

    3. Lady Eboshi (Princess Mononoke)
    * Coup d’oleil: Very good. Granted, that her enemies are primarily animals, but they’re intelligent animals and she knows how to fight them.
    * Courage d’esprit: Gets in front of a giant god-wolf that’s tearing apart her column and shoots it down.
    * Energy: Lose an arm? No big deal.
    * Firmness: Take losses? Fine. A shame, but that’s part of war.
    * Staunchness: After Irontown is destroyed, they’ll rebuild. This is not in doubt.
    * Strength of Character: As strong as San’s. Stronger, actually (she’s more mature).
    * Organization and Planning: Her strongest point! She built Irontown from scratch, organized convoys to keep it supplied, protected the convoys from marauding giant intelligent animals, and then prepped a battlefield to destroy her enemies.
    * Leadership: Both sexes will die for her.

    • Matt Wells says:

      Personally, I would not regard sacrificing the troops and subordinates who have sacrifcied their lives and careers for you countless times as a sign of strength of character. Commitment to your principles, yes, not character ;)

      And neither is recruiting an army out of the aforesaid demons and monsters that you fed your old subordinates too, and giving them the same name. Or raping your lieutennant just to get back at your right hand man/man crush, and to facillitate your ressurection into mortal flesh. I call that in bad taste!

      In short Griffith is something of a dirty cheater, what with the whole “backed up at every turn by the personification of God and the current of fate itself”. No one else on these lists had those kind of advantages…

      Excellent comparisons though, and thanks for reminding me just how much ass Miyazaki’s female characters can kick. Kushana for Waifu status!

      • Marigold Ran says:

        Oh, I never said Griffith was a good guy. Just that he’s a genius!

        P.S. On an unrelated note, PAY YOUR TROOPS. Otherwise they go on STRIKE!!!! (My veteran praetorians!!! NOOOOOO…..) The only anime/manga that explored this topic in-depth is Vinland Saga. Troops will literally mutiny and go on strike if they aren’t paid on a regular basis.

        Which reminds me:

        4. Askeladd (Vinland Saga- possibly the best war manga out there. If you’re there, Ghost, READ IT. YOU WILL NOT REGRET THIS DECISION)
        ■Coup d’oleil: Yup, he’s got that. Attacking a base from its unprotected back? Check. Successful ambushes? Check. Owning kings? Check. Raiding villages without any problems? Check. Knowing how to retreat? Check. Machiavellian? Check. Successfully dealing with potentially mutinuous troops? Check. Owning the main character? Double-super-dooper-ultra check!!!!
        ■Courage d’esprit: Personally, he’s very courageous. Kills lots of people. Fights Thors one-on-one. But not suicidal (for example, he won’t fight Thorkell).
        ■Energy: The only people with more energy are Thorkell, Thorfinn, and Bjorn when he’s berserk. Generally keeps a tight lid on his emotions, but when he gets angry….
        ■Firmness: Defeat? No problem. He’ll get another army.
        ■Staunchness: See above.
        ■Strength of Character: Morally grey-black. Much closer to black, actually. But he never gives up on his goals and he dies for them.

        Organization and Planning: Almost always keeps his troops fed and paid.

        Leadership: A great mercenary leader! Keeps his trools fed and paid. Almost always. His troops almost always thinks highly of him. And by all appearances he thinks highly of his troops too!!!

        • Matt Wells says:

          Yes, absolutley. Vinland Saga is easily one of the better manga out there currently under publication. As far as war mangas go, it IS a historical one first and formost. Part of why I love it so much is its depiction of Viking England. As a Brit, it’s always good to see lesser known periods of our history get wider exposure.

          Cnute (or Knute) himself still endures in a legend known even to children: the story of how his advisors puffed him up on how cool he was, and tired of all the ass kissers, annonced he could command the seas themselves.

          He then proceeded to drag the entire royal court to the coast, plonk the royal throne on the shore and yell at the waves to recede. The entire court proceeded to get soaking wet, with a mock shocked Cnute saying something along the lines of “Well how about that! Guess I don’t command the oceans! In the future, how about you toadies and lackies give me good advice instead of kissing my arse and entertaining my psychotic delusions?”

          Man was a hell of a leader!

        • Vinland Saga is in the monstrous backlog of awesome. I will get to it this year!

    • Great picks, great breakdowns. I love your writeup for Lady Eboshi in particular.

      It brings me to this tangential, but important point about Ghibli narratives:

      Some people just fail.

      There are those who dismiss, flame, throw fits, rant, and/or troll re Ghibli films and complain about the boring, plain, uninteresting heroines.

      Sure, good people who stay good throughout are not very interesting. They are not the characters who make choices in the narratives. They are not the ones faced with moral uncertainty. If they are, their disposition/alignment makes the choices for them. Complaining about these characters reveals an inability to read stories, a lack of skill that is often inversely proportional to their own opinion of their taste and critical abilities.

      It’s not even unique to Ghibli films — heroes and heroines are often uninteresting.

      But sticking with Ghibli narratives, Eboshi and Kushana are interesting why? It’s because they’re worth saving. They are more skilled, talented, and experienced than the heroines. They can, when willing, convert their experience to “wisdom” — that is, adherence to the sense of “good” within the Ghibli stories. Viewers, who seldom think of themselves as malicious or evil, feel good when the enemy “turns.”

      I personally am a big fan of redemptive stories. It is my favorite kind of fantasy — “bad” people, especially talented villains “turn good.” Bill Murray plays one such character brilliantly in Groundhog Day, as does Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets.

      The villains often evoke the moral complexity in the Ghibli narratives, and Eboshi I think does it better than the “victimized” Kushana (though I am much fonder of Kushana more due to her royal bearing and larger-than-life behavior, not that I think little of the great Eboshi).

      I’ve been mulling this for some time now, your comment became my excuse to spell it out. I thank you.

  4. megaroad1 says:

    Delighted that you’ve done a LOGH piece Ghost! The most epic of all anime.

    My views from LOGH and a suitable example from another anime

    Coup d’oeil
    1. Yang Wen li- Head and shoulders above everyone else when it came to discerning at a glance the advantages (or disadvantages) of a certain terrain or situation.

    [UC Gundam Char Aznable- while this might be debatable since he is supposedly a Newtype, his quick sense and talent allowed him to face enormous odds and time and time again come on top ready to fight again and again.]

    Courage d’ esprit
    1. Reinhardt von Lohengramm- Unwavering and blessed with an otherwordly personal courage. Witness his attitude when rebel soldiers where about to kill him in the Urvasi incident.
    [Lelouch Lamperouge/Code Geass- Zero Requiem...nuff said]

    Energy
    1. Reinhardt again- Using the Clausewitz definition it’s impossible to find anyone to match him in LOGH. In fact, it’s this very ‘energy’ which contrasts with the lackadaisical attitude of the Alliance as a whole
    [I suppose Lelouch could again be an example here. His struggle against the Emperor mirrors Reinhardt's and might indeed be a template for him.

    Honourable mention: Kamina/Gurren Lagann- Seize the Heavens!! Talk about a burning ambition and drive.]

    Firmness
    1. Merkatz-Agree with your views.
    [SDFM- The entire crew of the Macross after the bombardment of the earth]

    Staunchness
    1. “Ironshield” Muller- The man time and time again suffers small defeats at the hand of Wenli and the Iserlohn and keeps on bouncing back.
    [UC Gundam- Noa Bright: Fights the Zeon, the Titans, the Neo-Zeon and he puts up with all them crazy kids.]

    Strength of Character
    You picked 3 great examples that I can’t argue with. Buckock’s speech in particular, that wonderful act of republican defiance is one of the most poignant moments in all of anime.
    [Monster-Kenzo Tenma: I know he's not a military man so maybe it's a bit unsuitable for this category, but I believe that he represents strength of character more than almost any character I can think of. He's relentless in his quest of finding and taking out Johan, his greatest mistake. He endures in spite of being chased by the police. Having said that, Tenma still genuinely cares about the lives of others and is willing to help people whenever he can.]

    • I find it rather difficult to come up with angles to read this show from, so it took me some time to come up with only my second post on LotGH though it’s been 2 years since I finished it.

      1. Re Char: it’s hard to pin this on Char, because he often lost… or, ALWAYS lost. It’s part of his charm–he’s always fighting at a disadvantage. His final defeat in CCA is due to his incessant need to fight as an underdog: leaking the Psychoframe tech so that Amuro would have a powerful Nv-Gundam; later on, dismounting from the Sazabi when he could’ve destroyed the abandoned Nv-Gundam, etc.

      2. Kamina is problematic because he got killed before he could achieve anything. Simon on the other hand, is a reluctant savior.

      3. Great job identifying the SDF-1 Macross crew for this. I wish I thought of it myself. This made my day.

      4. Tenma’s civilian status, and non-command position among his allies makes him ineligible but I get why you like him for this.

      Great job, thanks for taking this on!

  5. Aorii says:

    Very nice; I didn’t expect to come across an aniblogger whose actually read “On War”, I still haven’t even done that xD. I disagree quite a bit with some of the informal ranking, especially Reuenthal vs Mittermeyer, but (shrug) I guess that’s expected of opinional biases…
    I do want to point out that Clausewitz’s On War is also known for focusing primarily on the nature of war between nation-states, but not quite so within a nation-state, including conflicts within the state and organization itself. Given that military action is hopelessly tied in with political struggles, especially power struggles within a state, a “military genius” better also be politically careful lest they want to find themselves dead. LOGH didn’t have too much of this since Reinhard’s generals were remarkably loyal while Reinhard himself is strategically better than any of his subcommanders— this usually isn’t the real case though, and generals/admirals often *must* gauge their own ruler as much as the enemy. It throws a rather sizeable wrench into “what makes a military genius”. After all, the greatest brilliance won’t help if you your ruler doesn’t trust you— General Surena won the Battle of Carrhae, one of the most decisive world-change victories of all times, only to get beheaded by his own lord.
    As words go from Tang Dynasty Marshal Li Jing (rough translation of mine): “Not courage, not guile, but loyalty, is the most crucial trait of generalship.”

    • I read it because I got it for real cheap in some bargain bin… and read it precisely because I wanted to write a post on LotGH.

      I thought Yang Wenli’s troubles within the Republic informs your point of the lack of attention Clausewitz pays on the internal aspect of generalship — that is, to be a good politician.

      What I think, that Clausewitz didn’t have the wherewithal to undertake research on this particular aspect, and/or it wasn’t in his best interests to publish anything that intentionally espouses the officers to “game the system,” as things were.

      But back to Yang, and by extension, Bucock… and also related, Greenhill… wouldn’t you say these particular narratives exemplify what you say Clausewitz doesn’t acknowledge?

      • Aorii says:

        I didn’t want to lean too much towards Yang’s side on this since military in a Republic functions extremely different from how militaries work in an Empire and thus comparable to most of Clausewitz’s sources. LOGH definitely put quite a nice angle of the political side of military leaders, and Yang’s lacking in manipulating politics was pretty much his ultimate downfall imo. But playing public popularity and playing executive favor are, quite different things, and something many strategists disagree on. Some believe that professional soldiers should stay out of “public politics”, as the military is hardly a democracy, and involving themselves too much will only destabilize the chain of command; while othertimes military leaders are encouraged to drive PR as much as their supporting politicians back home… (shrug)

        • I wonder if you’ve read any of Colleen MacCullough’s “Masters of Rome” series of novels. I think you’ll enjoy applying your thinking to the great and entertaining array of Roman leaders and generals in the transitional epoch from Republic to Imperium.

  6. Dustin says:

    Wow; I just finished Legend of the Galactic Heroes last night (well, this morning since it was after midnight). Great series; I’m glad other people are (still) talking about it.

    • Congratulations on finishing this remarkable show! By all means feel free to just have it out on your impressions and thoughts. You can use this post as a place to start. I’m always up for talking a storm about it.

      Maybe an even simpler place to start is:

      Did you favor a side in the conflict? Who’s your favorite galactic hero?

  7. KrimzonStriker says:

    Since I don’t have enough time to sort out a list just yet, though I would like to see some form of categorization for the Bitten-fieldish characters, and the greater strategic machinations of individuals such as Lelouch and Reinhard. In the former it is often stressed how those who are able to take the initiative and dictate the action will often have the advantage, even taking into account the chance nature of war. This also somewhat spills into Lelouch and Reinhards ability to methodically plan out and predict the events outcomes of their conflicts on a much wider scale, which is often seen as being the one thing Yang was always unable to counter Reinhard at, even if he could predict and deduce what they were, due to a lack of resources, clout, and the lack of drive to seize either.

    • I’m very interested in what you have to say about this so by all means just spill it out here (or even write a blog post — you know I’ll publish it!).

      I also appreciate what you’re saying about Yang’s lack of both drive and resources. It seems a terribly obvious thing, but I suppose I’m not completely satiated by in-depth discussion about it and such.

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