Fighting Economically

What is the Perfect-Economy strategy?

Although Defensiveness might sound like a sign of weakness, Defensive warfare is the height of strategic wisdom. Wasting neither energy nor time, like a cat with its economy of motion. Let the enemy make the first move and wait for them to hang themselves or their moment of exhaustion to launch a vicious counter-attack.

Defensive warfare

  • Essentially leveraging our weaknesses and limitations into victory 
  • Basics:
    • Resourcefulness – The economy of means
    • Lie low under aggressive attacks 
    • Counter attacks
    • Intimidation, and deterrence
    • Retreating skillfully – Luring the enemy into an imprudent attack
      • Must know when to accept losses and quit 
      • Know when to stop
  • Engaging only in necessary battles

In 281 BC, war broke out between Rome and Tarentum(Italy’s east coast), Long story short, the strategist Pyrrhus made a terrible mistake during the war. Although Pyrrhus managed to win the battle with his elephants, his advisors told him: ” If we defeat the Romans in one more such battle, we shall be totally ruined” – and that’s what happened – Pyrrhus couldn’t recover from his victorious battle!
The term ” Pyrrhus Victories” was coined – a triumph that is as good as victory, but that comes at a great cost.  We unconsciously see what we want to see, more possible gains and fewer difficulties ahead.

In the utilization of a theater of war, as in everything else, the strategy calls for an economy of strength. The less one can manage with, the better; but manage one must, and here, as in commerce, there is more to it than mere stinginess – CARL VON CALUSEWITZ


Perfect-Economy Strategy:

  • Acknowledging our Limits -Over-extending is dangerous and exhausting 
    • Knowing our limits will expand them
  • Making the war expensive for the enemy, and cheap for us 
  • The level at which your blows count but do not wear you out 
  • Calculating costs of warfare 
    • Time
    • Political goodwill squandered
    • Embittered enemy on revenge 
    • Exhaustion – leads to more mistakes 
    • New unforeseen problems 
    • Meaningless victories along the way 
    • Debt to allies 
  • Fighting on our terms – especially if the battle is inevitable 
  • Aiming at the enemy’s Weaknesses – Hit their Achilles heel over and over 
    • A place left unprotected or undeveloped 
    • Big Size itself 
    • Low morale 
    • Internal political problems 
    • Shaky finances 
    • Overly Centralized control
    • Leaders Megalomania 
  • Patience 
    • Covertly undermine the enemy
    • Always be ready for the next inevitable battle.
    • Wait for a better time 
  • First steps
    • 1. Deception – Low cost with powerful results 
      • Propaganda 
      • Information gathering 
      • Spread of misinformation
    • 2. Look for beatable corners – Avoid enemies with nothing to lose as they will work to bring you down at all costs 

Over-economizing will wear you out more, you must spend on the growing costs of war, and deliver the knockout punch.

The value of a thing sometimes lies in what one attains with it but in what one pays for it – what it costs us – Nietzche 


Inspired by The 33 Strategies of War

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