Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lessons from the Master, Part 3

"The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves" - George Washington
            George Washington won the American revolution by not losing. Most people think that winning is how to win a fight. Sometimes, not losing is the best way to win. George Washington only won a few battles in open combat with the British. The British were the most powerful nation on earth at this time. They had a navy that could supply them, and an army with veterans of the French and Indian war in their ranks. Most people are taught that the British did not know what they were doing, but that is nationalist pride on the part of Americans. The historian Andrew O'Shaughnessy touches on this in his book "The Men Who Lost America". The British were skilled fighters. Think about it! They had an Empire, which is not easily won! George Washington and his subordinates (such as Nathan Greene) knew that the British wanted to face them with superior numbers in open conflict. The Americans would be destroyed in open warfare. They also knew the British could not replace their numbers quickly. Granted, there were plenty of men out of work with the enclosure act kicking the peasants off the commons, but sailing armies across an ocean was expensive and England had a massive debt already. George Washington knew that he could not win a war in open conflict, but he could keep the British in the war. Every year in war and every battle ran up the cost. George Washington knew that the cost would break the British far before open battles would.
            Life is hard and injustice is everywhere. Most of the injustice in this world is done by people that believe they have nothing to fear from the person/people they are oppressing. Standing up to an opponent that can crush you is scary, and mostly leads to defeat before the conflict even begins. However, even giants have their weak points. George Washington knew that not losing was the key to winning. He could replace troops faster than the British. He could move around faster and knew the country with spies everywhere! George Washington only fought battles on his terms, and never on British terms. This gave him a few victories to keep the enemy frustrated and after him, but never let the British tempt him into a battle he could not win. Opponents that know they can crush you will want a swift fight and will bait you into conflict with them. They might even call you a coward for not "fighting like a man". This is a power play to bait you into making a mistake. Deny them that advantage, and make every battle on your terms and costly. This will frustrate them, but never give them anything solid to attack. Even bullies will retreat when the cost of battle grows too much. Basic human selfishness teaches us that everything has a cost benefit balance. Bullies pick on easy prey that are already defeated in the mind, which will make you an easy slave for those bullying you. Fighting the person head on will just be a wonderful opportunity to make an example of you to the rest of the world.
             They will bring everything against you to make you an example of what happens to those that oppose them! However, conflict is expensive and time consuming. This is why a war without a solid battle is horrible. All the expenses of war are there, but nothing is gained. They know they can crush you, which enrages them to keep chasing you. They may lose interest, which is why they must be kept infuriated and chasing you. Washington also knew that never engaging would cause his own army to lose moral and stop fighting. He kept engaging with the British to keep them believing he was a real enough threat to keep a large army in North America. The more annoying he became, then the more they wanted to break him. However, he never fought on their terms and kept them chasing him. He knew they would eventually make a mistake and the cost would become to much for the British to withstand. The growing cost of war would do all the work for him. Support and moral for the war went through the floor. The British eventually made their mistake at Yorktown, and that was it. The British could have sent more troops and another army, but they were financial breaking. Merchants were screaming for an end to the war and for trade to get back to normal. The moral was broken. The British retreated and gave America it's freedom from the Empire. George Washington did not view the size of his opponent as a problem, but its weakness. He realized that their superiority was amazing, but was also a drain on their national debt. All he had to do was keep the giant annoyed and chasing him, and the belief in British superiority (their ego) would do the rest.  

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