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Lost Arts of WarAncient Secrets of Strategy And Mind Control
By HAHA LUNG
CITADEL PRESS BOOKSCopyright © 2012 Haha Lung
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHannibal's Five Rules for Revenge
While several of the "99 Truths" Hannibal left us can, in one way or another, be applied to the subject of "revenge," five specific "truths" stand out as "Hannibal's Five Rules of Revenge":
1. The wine of a true friend is fine indeed. But some thirsts can only be satisfied by the blood of a foe! (Truth LIII)
This is the reply Hannibal gave King Prusias of Bithynia when the latter gave the former Carthaginian commander sanctuary from his Roman pursuers following his fleeing Carthage in the face of a Roman warrant for his arrest.
The king assured Hannibal he was welcome to spend the remainder of his days in peace in Bithynia if he so chose.
In hindsight, Hannibal's words ring ironic, given that Roman bloodlust (born of fear) of their aging Carthaginian foe could, in the end, likewise only be sated by blood.
Here then is the first reality (and so "rule") of taking revenge: Sometimes you can't "just let it go."
2. Revenge should wait until both your sword and your wits have been sharpened. (Truth LV)
Between the end of the First Punic War and Hannibal's deliberate launching of the Second Punic War, Hannibal and his brothers grew up, grew strong, and grew into their warriorhood, helping Carthage conquer the Iberian Peninsula—a rich but "barbaric" land not yet under Rome's heavy thumb.
All this time, thoughts of eventual revenge against hated Rome never left the sons of Hamilcar.
Nineteen hundred years later, on the other side of the world from Carthage, in 1701 Japan, Lord Kira, the Japanese Shogun's minister Master of Ceremonies devised a plot to rid himself of his longtime rival, Lord Asano. Knowing Asano to be a man easily brought to anger, Kira deliberately provoked Asano into drawing his sword while the two were guests on Imperial ground.
For this grievous breach of etiquette, Lord Asano was ordered to commit ritual suicide—seppuku.
At the time, Lord Asano had forty-seven Samurai knights serving him. As was Samurai custom at the time, many expected that at least some of Lord Asano's forty-seven knights would commit hari-kiri and follow their Master into The Void. At the very least, to "save face" and guard their honor, many argued that the forty-seven should have immediately launched a bold—albeit suicidal—attack against the numerically superior Samurai guarding Lord Kira.
But instead, the forty-seven went their separate ways, choosing to become Ronin, "masterless Samurai," akin to what in the West would be out-of-work gunslingers.
For two years thereafter, wherever one of these forty-seven Ronin ventured in Japan, they were reviled as the scum of the earth. Fathers pointed out the forty-seven as examples to their sons how not to be a Samurai, of what happens to a Samurai when they lose their honor....
But then, on the second anniversary of their Master's death, all forty-seven Ronin returned from all over Japan, secretly gathering outside the walls of Lord Kira's castle.
As one, the forty-seven Ronin breached the castle walls. Caught by surprise, Lord Kira's Samurai quickly fell beneath the blades of the forty-seven.
As dawn found them, all forty-seven Ronin knelt in silence as they placed the head of Lord Kira on the grave of their Master, Lord Asano. Then, one-by-one, all forty-seven Ronin committed seppuku, finally joining their Lord in The Void.
This example fits Hannibal's insight that revenge should not be taken until both your "sword" and "wits" are sharpened. In modern parlance, we'll call that your collecting the (1) means and (2) intelligence sufficient to accomplish the task.
3. Revenge demands a steady hand and a steadier eye. (Truth LVI)
A "steady hand" means the determination to carry through the act of revenge you have planned. Just as important, Hannibal advises we must have a "steadier eye."
Think of "steadier eye" as your intelligence gathering, i.e., the more information you have about your target, the easier it is to hit that target.
An excellent example of this principle is depicted in Edgar Allen Poe's The Cask of the Amontillado (1846), where, though not revealed until the closing lines of the story, the narrator reveals that decades before he had successfully taken revenge after suffering "a thousand insults" from his tormentor-turned-victim, and is only now finally sharing his "confession" with his readers. Patience indeed!
But what is of most importance is the fact that he successfully lures his enemy to his doom in the catacombs beneath the city by promising the one thing his enemy would be unable to resist—in this instance, a large cask of rare wine.
This kind of "insider" information comes only after studying your intended target with a "steady" eye.
Just as the dagger is nothing without the determination to use it, so too the greatest of genius comes to naught without the method and means to turn belief into a blade.
4. Revenge demands a long blade ... and a longer memory. (Truth LVII)
Just because we can reach our enemy—a long blade—doesn't mean we have to do it today.
The forty-seven Ronin had "a long sword," the means by which to avenge Lord Asano. But, in the face of overwhelming odds, they would not have accomplished their mission had they rashly attacked on the day of their Lord's death.
The successful avenging of their Lord's death meant that "a longer memory" was called for.
It is often hard for Westerners to understand the risk those forty-seven Ronin took in waiting those two long years to get revenge.
Their greatest risk was not the possibility of their being killed. Death walks beside a warrior every day of his life. No, the greatest risk was to their honor. Had any of the forty-seven died—even by accident—during those two years, that man's honor—as well as the honor of his family, clan, and ken—would have forever been besmirched.
But, for the forty-seven, their giri (duty) demanded that they risk waiting—that they place justice for their Master above even their own honor.
In the West, this is sometimes called "eating crow," backing down from an immediate challenge because bigger stakes are at risk. This is often a bitter pill to swallow but sometimes necessary ... feathers and all!
The fledgling army of the newly declared Republic of Texas faced ridicule from both friend and foe for their failure to "actively engage" the enemy. In fact, Mexican Dictator Santa Anna chased Sam Houston all over Texas, trying to trap the "rebel" into a stand-up fight.
Houston would have none of that.
Following the successful examples of Hannibal refusing to fight Roman legions face-to-face, and the way American Colonials refused to give British "lobsterbacks" a "sporting" fight, so too Sam Houston knew his ragtag force would be no match in a toe-to-toe tussle with the veteran Mexican army. Instead, Houston continued his "strategic retreat" until finally—literally—he caught Santa Anna with his pants down at the telling Battle of San Jacinto.
Thus, this Rule for Revenge blends seamlessly into Hannibal's final Rule for Revenge:
5. Revenge, like fine wine and royal blood, takes time to ferment properly. (Truth LVIII)
Read The Count of Monte Cristo (1845), the best fictional revenge story this side of Hamlet.
Study Puzo's The Godfather, the book and the movie(s).
Look up a wily Sicilian Greek named Gelon of Gela.
"The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive, but do not forget." —Thomas Szasz
Chapter TwoHannibal's Six Movers of Men
Hannibal's father, Hamilcar, who had been Carthage's much-heralded military commander during the First Punic War, not only taught his sons, Hannibal, Mago, and Hasdrubal, the art of war, but also instilled in them an abiding hatred for all things Roman. Reportedly, with the bitter taste of defeat from the First Punic War still fresh in his mouth, Hamilcar took young Hannibal to Carthage's main temple, where he made the boy swear on his father's sword undying enmity with Rome. Hannibal kept that vow till his last day.
"Revenge is the purest emotion." —Mahabharata
Later in life Hannibal would also prove himself an able administrator, diplomat, and—when need be, though much to his disliking—politician.
But Hannibal is, of course, best known to history for his brilliant battlefield exploits and insights. Today he continues to impart his hard-won wisdom to us through The Ninety-nine Truths. Like Sun Tzu's masterwork Ping-fa, Hannibal's Ninety-nine Truths are universally applicable, capable of fitting into any time and place, capable of dominating any time and place, as applicable in the boardroom as they are on the battlefield. For example, in his Truth LX, Hannibal gives us "The Six Movers of Men," the six basic motivations he saw as (1) naturally influencing man's actions, and (2) basic motivations that could—in the right or wrong hand—all too easily and effectively be used by one man to influence—control!—his fellows. Truth LX reads:
He who fights for blood soon finds it dripping from his own heart.
He who fights for glory never lives long enough to hear the victory songs.
He who fights for gold is already blinded by the glitter and glare of his own greed, all too soon led astray by all things shiny.
He who fights for sport seldom finds The Gods in a sporting mood.
He who fights for love must leave the one he loves the most behind so he can dance with the one he hates the most.
But he who fights for honor cannot be led astray.
The first thing we notice is that all six of Hannibal's "Movers of Men" possess the positive attribute of "focus." That's because these are all six prime motivators, those things—one or the other or several together—we all obsess over to some extent.
No surprise then that positive "focus" in extremis all too easily becomes negative "obsession." For example, while we might, especially in our modern, politically correct, oh-so-sensitive times, eschew fighting for morbidly attractive topics like "blood" and "glory," and "gold" and cruel "sport," few would or could successfully argue against fighting for such high-minded virtues as "love" and "honor."
Yet even when these two highly esteemed motivations (excuses often used to justify whacking our fellow man on the head with a rock!) are taken to extremes, when we lose focus of our original chivalrous quest or, worse yet, when we allow love and honor—or any of the previous four "movers" for that matter—to become "obsessions," even they can become liabilities, and invite indictment:
Blood attracts two types: (1) The revenge-minded (admit it, like we all were immediately following Nine-Eleven), and (2) serial-killer types who get off on seeing the red stuff. It's obvious Hannibal is speaking here of the former, though he undoubtedly ran into more than his share of the bloodthirsty latter during his admittedly sanguinary campaigning.
Hannibal was well aware that, like any good knife, revenge cuts both ways.
Down through the years revenge has gotten a bad rap. People try to soften it up by using euphemisms like "justice" and "karma," but the truth is, there's an innate desire/compulsion within us to seek "balance"—lex talionis, an eye for an eye. When we've been wronged, the Universe feels out of whack, off balance. The only way to right that balance is for the perpetrator of our suffering to suffer an equal (or perhaps greater) proportion of the suffering and loss he has inflicted on us. Admit it, we'd have all liked to see Osama bin Laden's head on prominent display on a pole at Ground Zero ... after we'd had a really long—leisurely—"talk" with him.
The desire—need—for "rebalancing" is basic to the human animal and is thus found in all cultures, as previously mentioned usually under the euphemisms as "justice," "karma," and, occasionally, "God's Will."
More personal, one-on-one, hands-on "rebalancing" we call "payback" and "vigilantism."
The man out for revenge, out for blood, is, if nothing else, focused. Since before Hannibal's time we've written ballads and told tales of wronged men (and women) who focus and take to the blood-trail, seeking righteous revenge—justice: Scotland's William Wallace (at least Mel Gibson's version) and Gotham City's Batman.
All societies condone revenge (under the heading of "justice") to one extent or the other. Though societies generally frown on vigilantism, preferring instead a general consensus, usually requiring a blessing by The Elders before embarking on revenge, the following events would seem to contradict this consensus:
Dinah is raped and, days later, a group of Israelites first trick and then slaughter all the men of the rapists' tribe.
The assassination of the entire Romanov dynasty.
The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The invasion of Afghanistan.
So, as a society, we do condone bloody vengeance, uh "justice," so long as at least 51 percent of [AM1] us are in agreement.
The other type of "blood" motivation—spilling blood simply because we like seeing "oh, the pretty color!"—is generally not sanctioned by civilization. When not fed by some "Mama made me wear her old dresses to school" psychological glitch, this kind of rogue "vampirism" usually bubbles up in someone already predisposed to anger.
Once a Black Science adept recognizes that their targeted person is prone (i.e., vulnerable) to anger, they will either (1) fan the flames of the target's already existing anger, or else (2) engineer a scenario designed to "bring out the beast," i.e., deliberately enrage that person—timing/ coordinating their target's outburst for the most inconvenient, most embarrassing, and career-damaging time possible for that person.
Whenever possible, further influence your already angry target by providing the enraged person with a convenient scapegoat to blame, thus encouraging (i.e., "justifying") the target's newfound thirst for revenge.
One might imagine that soldiers out for vengeance would make the best soldiers, but this is not necessarily the case. A wily commander like Hannibal understood there are times when inflaming your soldiers' anger and need for vengeance is useful for galvanizing them against the common foe. But, too much of a lust for vengeance can turn an otherwise disciplined force into a lynch-mob. Thus at other points in The Ninety-nine Truths, Hannibal touched on both the need for revenge, and the need to reign in—or at least more finely hone—one's need for revenge.
Recall how, fleeing from Carthage with a Roman bounty on his head at the conclusion of the Second Punic War, Hannibal was given asylum by King Prusias of Bithynia who, during a banquet, assured his honored guest that he was welcome to live out his days in peace in Bithynia if he chose—even though both men knew the Carthaginian would never rest in his quest to bring down Rome. Reportedly Hannibal toasted his gracious host with what became Truth LIII:
The wine of a true friend is fine indeed. But some thirsts can only be satisfied by the blood of a foe!
In hindsight, Hannibal's words ring ironic, given that Roman bloodlust (fueled by fear) of their aging Carthaginian foe could likewise only, ultimately, be satisfied by blood.
Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage (1893) tells the universal tale of a young man who naïvely soldiers off to war in search of "glory" only to discover that the truth of war is men left broken and bloody and buried, the medals pinned to their chests scant recompense for the metal lodged in their hearts.
Excerpted from Lost Arts of War by HAHA LUNG Copyright © 2012 by Haha Lung. Excerpted by permission of CITADEL PRESS BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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