mlah The “culture” that has evolved here isn’t conducive to sissies

September 13, 2007


Filed under: Quotes — mlah @ 8:05 pm

In every circle, and truly, at every table, there are people who lead armies into Macedonia; who know where the camp ought to be placed; what posts ought to be occupied by troops; when and through what pass that territory should be entered; where magazines should be formed; how provisions should be conveyed by land and sea; and when it is proper to engage the enemy, when to lie quiet and they not only determine what is best to be done, but if any thing is done in any other manner than what they have pointed out, they arraign the consul, as if he were on trial before them.

These are great impediments to those who have the management of affairs; for every one cannot encounter injurious reports with the same constancy and firmness of mind as Fabius did, who chose to let his own ability be questioned through the folly of the people, rather than to mismanage the public business with a high reputation. I am not one of those who think that commanders ought at no time to receive advice; on the contrary, I should deem that man more proud than wise, who regulated every proceeding by the standard of his own single judgement.

What then is my opinion? That commanders should be counselled, chiefly, by persons of known talent; by those who have made the art of war their particular study, and whose knowledge is derived from experience; from those who are present at the scene of action, who see the country, who see the enemy; who see the advantage that occasions offer, and who, like people embarked in the same ship, are sharers of the danger.

If, therefore, any one thinks himself qualified to give advice respecting the war which I am to conduct, which may prove advantageous to the public, let him not refuse his assistance to the state, but let him come with me into Macedonia. He shall be furnished with a ship, a horse, a tent; even his traveling charges shall be defrayed.

But if he thinks this too much trouble, and prefers the repose of a city life to the toils of war, let him not, on land, assume the office of a pilot. The city, in itself, furnishes abundance of topics for conversation; let it confine its passion for talking within its own precincts, and rest assured that we shall pay no attention to any councils but such as shall be framed within our camp.

Lucius Aemilius Paulus Macedonicus (229 BC-160 BC) Roman General


  1. Did you steal this from Tigerhawk?
    Or somebody else?

    In any case, I don’t like what you are so snarkily attempting to imply about George W Bush with this quote.

    Comment by Gus — September 13, 2007 @ 9:01 pm

  2. I think that’s a very good quote.

    Comment by medium john — September 13, 2007 @ 11:35 pm

  3. What Mlah quoted was a quote from Paulus of Rome. I saw nothing in there regarding Bush. You are reading that into the quote because of your own cognitive filters.

    So what is this charge of yours that Mlah “stole” this quote from Tigerhawk? Does Tigerhawk own a copyright on the sayings of dead Roman generals? Given the great antiquity of the writings of Livy, and its availability in various publications and fora, is it not fair to presume that the Paulus quote is in the public domain — especially since this particular quote is posted on Wikipedia, your favorite source of information, which is based on public domain materials? Beyond that, is the blogosphere under the same constraints as, say, academia and its rigid rules on plagiarism (yet where the likes of Ward Churchill can sue in federal court if they are punished for plagiarism)? Moreover, if Tigerhawk mentions the Paulus quote, and Mlah likes the Paulus quote, and subsequently posts the Paulus quote on his own website, did Mlah de facto “steal” Tigerhawk’s intellectual property? Because the Paulus quote as posted by Mlah does not have any additional commentary, that “value added” part of an analysis which would tend to convey intellectual property rights to Tigerhawk. Where do you get your assertion of Mlah’s theft?

    Gus, perhaps you are subconsciously feeling guilty of doing exactly what Paulus despised and are being very defensive about it? Or do you think that only the Roman generals were justified in denigrating the “armchair generals” of Rome, and the same condition cannot be granted to a modern commander in modern society — unless, of course, he is fighting under a Democrat President and the armchair generals happen to be Republican?

    Comment by yup — September 14, 2007 @ 3:31 am

  4. Oh, shut your yippy little yap, Yup.

    “is the blogosphere under the same constraints as, say, academia and its rigid rules on plagiarism…?”
    It is customary for bloggers to acknowledge the sources of their inspiration with a simple “tip of the hat”. It’s a matter of politeness and honesty (lest we think that Mlah is more erudite than he deserves to be seen as).

    “I saw nothing in there regarding Bush. You are reading that into the quote because of your own cognitive filters.”
    And you are reading something else into it because of your own cognitive filters. Bravo for both of us!

    “Gus, perhaps you are subconsciously feeling guilty of doing exactly what Paulus despised and are being very defensive about it?”
    No, I haven’t offered any tactical military advice. I’m sure our officers on the ground in Iraq are doing the best they can under the circumstances. But it is the civilian leadership that got us in there and is keeping us in there, and anyone can have a valid opinion about that. Iraq requires more than military solutions.

    Comment by Gus — September 14, 2007 @ 8:15 pm

  5. gus, contrary to your claim, yes, you have offerred tactical military advise. withdrawing is a tactical move. larger leadership may see long term strategic implications, but to the officers in command of the troops, movement in any direction is tactical.

    Comment by mlah — September 15, 2007 @ 4:38 am

  6. “Oh, shut your yippy little yap, Yup.”

    Alliterative gold.

    Comment by medium john — September 15, 2007 @ 3:47 pm

  7. Mlah: “withdrawing is a tactical move.”
    Whatever, dude. That’s not what Paulus was complaining about. He was complaining about on-the-ground advice, not whether to withdraw or not.
    All we’re doing by staying is keeping a lid on things– we’re not solving the basic problems.

    Comment by Gus — September 17, 2007 @ 9:19 pm

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