Monday, January 02, 2012

Lessons from the War of 1812

I just finished C.S.Forester's The Age Of Fighting Sail which, while several decades old, offers an important lesson to serious students of military campaigns. In this account of the naval side of the War of 1812, Forester points out that British superiority at sea lead their frigate captains to offer battle so secure in the certainty of victory that they lost, five in a row, starting with Constitution's victory over Gueriere.

This gave us Americans great confidence and, in turn, our side started offering battle under foolish conditions, ending in several completely unnecessary and pointless defeats. Eventually both sides got tired of a war which neither could "win" in any meaningful sense (Wellington refused the leadership of the war against the Americans, on the grounds that while he could easily occupy all the cities, he could not control the countryside ... sound familiar?), signed a treaty and are now the best of friends.

We Americans all  need to learn and remember this lesson but I don't think our corporate leadership wants us to.

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