The Field of Battle is the Human Mind:
The Lessons of Xenophon and Alexander

by Kevin Pearl

Printed in The American Almanac, May 12, 1997.

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The following report is adapted from a class given by the author to a Baltimore area chapter meeting of the LaRouche movement.
Lyndon LaRouche recently declared an all-out war to annihilate the International Monetary Fund, and to destroy the oligarchical familes behind it. In fact, the LaRouche movement has recently taken huge strides in that direction: Helga Zepp LaRouche's call for a New Bretton Woods Conference has been echoed around the world, from Italy, to Poland, and most emphatically to Ukraine, where it has been endorsed by more than fifty Parliamentarians; More recently, the call has been taken up by many African leaders, as well. China is forging ahead with the Eurasian Land-Bridge, an outgrowth of Lyndon LaRouche's proposals for the European Triangle infrastructure projects.

Yet, in spite of these developments, even among our political allies, any talk of victory is often met with disbelief. ``How on earth do you guys think you can win against such powerful enemies?'' the person asks incredulously. ``Don't they control the media? Don't they control the courts?''

The larger question, of course, is, ``how can any, apparently weaker force, defeat a seemingly more powerful foe?'' Certainly, we know that such an outcome is not impossible. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and the forces they led, organized the defeat of the British Empire at the height of its power. Gandhi and Mandela achieved similarly ``impossible'' victories in India and South Africa.

More recently, on a smaller scale, the LaRouche movement destroyed the ``unbeatable'' Senate candidate in Virginia, that ``Son-of-a-Bush,'' Ollie North. How then might we shape our strategy today to insure equal success?

Military history is replete with examples of small forces overcoming overwhelming numerical disadvantage, by outflanking their enemies.

Lyndon LaRouche referenced the method of victory that Alexander the Great learned from Xenophon, in a campaign speech given in Austin, Texas, last September.

``Go back to the case of Alexander the Great,'' he said. ``How did Alexander the Great, with a small army, destroy the Persian Empire, in a single battle? With a few tens thousands of Greek and Macedonian cavalry, up against a horde of millions, on the plains outside Arbela? How did he do that?

``Well there was written, some time before then, by a friend of Socrates, who got back to Athens after Socrates had been killed; matter of fact, if he'd gotten back sooner, Socrates wouldn't have been killed. He'd have fixed that! It was a bunch of traitors that killed Socrates.

``His name was Xenophon. He wrote a book called Anabasis, which is otherwise known as ``The March of the Ten Thousand.'' The 10,000 Greeks who had been hired as mercenaries, to fight in a war over succession to the throne of the Persian Empire, found that the guy that they'd supported had lost the civil war. And they decided to march back from Mesopotamia, back to Greece. And they marched through--10,000 men, Greeks--marched through the Persian Empire, just marched through it like a knife through soft butter. And he wrote the book."

Vulnerability of the Persians

''And the Greeks, who understood the Persian Empire said, 'This is the vulnerability of the Persian Empire.' In the Persian Empire you have a small group which is called the 'Immortals'. They had these wicker basket-type shields, and so forth, they were trained fighters; they wouldn't give up. They were called the 'Immortals;' they were the hard core of the Achaemenid/Persian forces. But around them, the great horde were not good fighters; they were mercenaries, unreliable allies, simply a horde, which could throw a sword or a spear, or archery, but they really didn't have the stamina to stay in there and win a war, if it was seriously contested.

``That's how the Greeks had defeated the Persian Empire, again, and again, and again. When it came to the 'Immortals,' the Greeks had a hard time; but they found they could slaughter the auxiliaries.

``Now the way that Alexander, who was advised by Plato's Academy--Plato was dead--but, Plato's Academy at Athens, were the people who put him into power, by their assistance, to the throne of Macedon when his father was assassinated, and they guided him all the way through his expeditions. And when it came to dealing with this, they advised him on how to defeat the Persian Empire. And he simply flanked the auxiliaries, routed the auxiliaries, created confusion throughout the entire horde by routing the flanks of the auxiliaries, where they turned in on themselves, they were stumbling over each others feet, running in different directions, and the whole horde was dissipated. The whole force was gone.''

Xenophon: Student of Socrates

Xenophon (430-c.|355|BC) was an Athenian, and a friend and student of Socrates (469-399|BC). He was not a regular soldier, but was convinced by Proxenus, a general who had served in the Peloponnesian Wars (431-404|BC) with Socrates, to join a mercenary army under Cyrus the Younger, in an attempt to put Cyrus on the throne of the Persian Empire.

Babylon, at that point, was the seat of hard-core, oligarchic evil in the world. The circles around Socrates and Plato, clearly understood the necessity of defeating this cancer, but did not possess the political power to rally Greece, or even just Athens, to openly confront the power of the Empire. Cyrus provided them another means to challenge the oligarchy.

Cyrus was the brother of Artaxerxes, the Persian King. In order to shore up his power, and eliminate any possible rivals for the throne, Artaxerxes imprisoned his brother for a time, and then plotted to have him assassinated. In response to this, Cyrus, after gaining his freedom, began to seek allies elsewhere, and was picked up by Socrates' networks. He became a willing student of, and advocate for, their approach. A plan was formed, to use the more advanced military techniques of the Greeks, to destroy the evil of the Empire, by overthrowing the ruthless Artaxerxes, handing the reigns of power to Cyrus.

In contrast to the relatively untrained, disorganized Persian forces, the Greek troops were highly disciplined. They were divided into two types of forces: ``peltasts'' or light, mobile forces protected only by leather jackets and armed with bows, javelins, or slings; and ``hoplites'' or heavily armored troops. Protected by iron or brass breastplates, greaves and helmets, and armed with heavy spears 12-15 feet in length, these soldiers, though difficult to harm, individually represented little offensive threat. However, organized shoulder-to-shoulder in a ``phalanx,'' they were a virtually-unstoppable steamroller. Even a cavalry charge against a phalanx was a difficult proposition, as you risked turning your horses into pincushions for the Greek spears. Simply seeing a phalanx on the march was usually enough to send less ordered forces fleeing the battlefield. The only forces that the Greeks needed to be wary of, were the crack troops protecting the King, the so-called ``Immortals.''

Proxenus and Cyrus organized a force of 10,000 Greek hoplites, which together with 40,000 of Cyrus's Persian troops including peltasts and cavalry marched against the Persian King Artaxerxes. They were met at Cunaxa--a suburb of Babylon, the capital of the Persian Empire--by approximately 250,000 Persian troops, outnumbered five to one. [See Map 1 of Cunaxa]

As the opposing lines formed, with Artaxerxes at the center of the Persian line, yet far beyond the left flank of the forces under Cyrus, Cyrus called upon Clearchus, the commanding General of the Greek army, to make an oblique charge against the King, Artaxerxes.

Clearchus, who failed to appreciate the weakness of the Persian auxiliaries, did not obey this command because he feared exposing his right flank to attack if he pulled his forces from along the river.

At the onset of the Greek Phalanx, the auxiliaries on the left side of the Persian line fled. Only some cavalry under Tissaphernes managed to cross the Greek line, though they suffered heavy damage at the hands of the peltasts.

Cyrus, at that point, became aware that the core Persian forces around the King had not been engaged, and were, in fact, attempting to envelop his left. At that point, he personally led an assault against his brother, whom he wounded before he himself was killed by the ``Immortals.''

The remainder of the Greek forces, unaware of Cyrus's fate, then discovered that the forces of Artaxerxes and Tissaphernes had rejoined to the rear of the Greek lines, and had looted the baggage camp, so they turned to meet them. [See Map 2 of Cunaxa]

Artaxerxes, afraid to directly challenge the Greek lines, despite his overwhelming numerical superiority, tried to flank the Greek right. Clearchus's troops turned to meet them, and advanced. For the second time, the Persian Army, faced with the march of the Greek phalanx, fled the battlefield in disorder and defeat. Even the Persians' most fearsome weapon, the Scythe chariot, proved of little consequence. This gruesome machine, with razor-sharp blades jutting out from under the seat, and spinning from the axles, was designed to turn opposing foot soldiers into hamburger meat.

The highly-disciplined Greek phalanx simply responded, by opening a gap in the ranks, whenever one of these chariots approached, thus allowing it to pass through, with minimal damage.

The Greeks were then faced with a problem: Cyrus, the man they had hoped to put on the throne was now dead; they had no suitable replacement for him, and while the 10,000 were enough to defeat the Persian Army, they certainly were not sufficient to rule the whole of the Persian Empire. In other words, they had won on the battlefield, yet lost the war at the same time.

Clearchus had made the fatal mistake of worrying more about his own survival than about achieving victory. Had he obeyed Cyrus, and led the assault, instead of allowing Cyrus to lead the Greek forces into battle, Cyrus would have survived to become King of Persia!

As difficult as their situation was at that point, it was about to get worse. Tissaphernes was sent, as an emissary of the king, to offer a truce and safe conduct home. After the Greeks accepted, Tissaphernes invited all the Greek Generals to a dinner to ``dispel their mutual suspicion.'' He used the opportunity to kidnap, torture and kill the entire Greek General Staff.

If ever an army was faced with a totally hopeless situation, this was it: thousands of miles from home, just outside Babylon, itself, with no money and no supplies, surrounded by the hostile territory of a king they had just tried to overthrow, and now, their entire leadership had been slaughtered. The reaction of the troops was total despair; that night, they didn't even post sentries.

Xenophon, as he reports in the Anabasis, like the rest of the soldiers, couldn't sleep, but as he lay there, he thought to himself, ``What am I lying here for? The night is passing and at dawn the enemy will probably be here. If we fall into the king's hands, there is nothing to prevent us from seeing the most terrible things happen, from suffering all kinds of tortures and from being put to death in ignominy. Yet so far from anybody bothering to take any steps in our defense, we are lying here as though we had a chance of enjoying a quiet time. What city, then, do I think will produce the general to take the right steps? Am I waiting until I become a little older? I shall never be any older at all if I hand myself over to the enemy today.''

He then gathered the few captains and other officers left alive to rally them saying, ''Let us not wait for others to come and call upon us to do great deeds. Let us instead summon the rest to the path of honor.'' When they agreed, he went on (speaking of the regular troops):

``At the moment, I expect you realize, just as I do, how dispirited they were in handing in their arms for the night and in going on guard. In that condition, I cannot see how any use can be made of them, whether by night or by day. But there will be a great change in their spirits if one can change the way they think, so that instead of having in their heads the one idea of 'what is going to happen to me?' they may think 'what action am I going to take?' [empahsis added]

``You are well aware that it is not numbers or strength that bring the victories in war. No, it is when one side goes against the enemy with the gods' gift of a stronger morale that their adversaries, as a rule, cannot withstand them. I have noticed this point too, my friends, that in soldiering, the people whose one aim is to keep alive, usually find a wretched and dishonorable death, while the people who, realizing that death is the common lot of all men, make it their endeavor to die with honor, somehow seem more often to reach old age and to have a happier life while they are alive.''

This is precisely that state of mind that enabled Xenophon to make the discoveries that insured the Greeks successful journey home.

The March of the Ten Thousand

The battle of Cunaxa clearly taught Xenophon how easily the Persian auxiliaries could be routed, but their trip home--many thousands of miles through Persian territory--was at least as valuable for the lessons learned. Even the demonstrated superiority of Greek military organization was not sufficient to meet the series of completely new, challenging circumstances encountered on the return journey. Innovations were made in many areas, completely revolutionizing how war fighting would be viewed for centuries. Travelling through narrow mountain passes, which exposed the army to ambush, forced a shift in marching order. Long distance hit and run attacks demonstrated the absolute necessity of cavalry and slingers, or other highly mobile fighters, which Xenophon created from among his regular forces.

Of even more lasting impact, he was apparently the first commander to hold forces in reserve, so that fresh troops could be brought to bear at a crucial point in a battle--a technique later used extensively by Alexander.

By these means, Xenophon successfully guided the Greeks home. However, their return to Athens, in 400|BC, came too late to prevent the judicial murder of Socrates. Thus, since their faction had been defeated, they were greeted less-than-enthusiastically, and Xenophon was exiled to Sparta, until 373|BC.

Xenophon, who had only recently accepted the responsibilties of a General of the Greek armies, now took on a new role: that of historian. Unable to return to Athens, he nevertheless undertook, in conjunction with Plato's Academy, to educate others on how to defeat the Persian Empire. As a writer, although Xenophon is known for his numerous histories, including his Reflections on Socrates (or, Memorabilia), his most celebrated work is the Anabasis, which recorded his military exploits during the Persian expedition.

For the next 60 years, this book would be studied extensively in both Persia and Greece, and was fundamental in guiding Alexander the Great in his conquest of Asia. Xenophon's methods are equally important for us today.

The Importance of the Anabasis

In a speech, to the Labor Day conference of his philosophical association last fall, Lyndon LaRouche discussed the importance for Alexander the Great, of Xenophon's Anabasis:

``Now, because of the Persian host composition of the British Empire, its satrapies, its auxiliaries, and its allies, it is vulnerable to the same thing which Xenophon's Anabasis documented for Plato's Academy at Athens, in the return of the Ten Thousand: that the Persian Empire was a rotting piece of melting butter, which could be cut through.

``And a few years later, when the choice of Athens, the choice of Plato's people, Alexander the Great, won the factional struggle in Macedon, which came out of the untimely death of Philip, the Academy of Athens, advising Alexander on how to fight the Persian Empire, relied upon the analysis provided, in large degree--if you've read the book--by Xenophon's Anabasis....

``We face the same thing. We have a British Empire, an oligarchy which around the edges, you may have observed, is a little bit flaky. But, there's a nasty, evil, hard core to those forces. The 'Immortals' of the British Empire, or the Venetian system. They, we can defeat, if we can get at them. The problem in getting at them, is the fact that they're surrounded by hordes of auxiliaries and satrapies.

``Therefore, what we need to do, is to find a condition, a choice of field of engagement, or field of battle, upon which we can, by flanking maneuvers, hit these guys in the flanks, at the moment they are a little bit off balance, mentally and otherwise. By hitting them in the flanks, the way that Alexander used his cavalry, and the way that Hannibal used his cavalry at Cannae, to hit them on the flanks, we turn them into rout against each other, and they become an eminently defeatable force, even though a physically superior force.

``In this case, the field of battle lies not in the field of arms, in the clash and clang of weapons; the field of battle is the human mind. It's a struggle for the soul of the United States. Its a struggle for the soul of the human race. And we must fight the war, as a war, but in the battlefield for the mind.''

The point is, that the true principle of the flank, is not simply hitting the enemy on his sides, but understanding his strategy, and undercutting it. This is done Socratically.

Alexander and The Socratic Method of War-Fighting

Educated by Plato's Academy, Alexander of Macedon (356-323|BC) represents a case study for applying the Socratic method to the battlefield. Alexander rose to the throne of the Macedonian Empire at the age of 19, after his father, Phillip, was assassinated. Alexander's reign represented the opportunity to reverse the repression that had characterized his fathers rule; but to do so, he had to build a base of support, completely independent of the Persian-manipulated, warring factions in Macedon and Greece at the time.

Alexander decided that the progress of civilization required that the Persian Empire be either completely destroyed or entirely taken over as his new power base. It was this strategic understanding that guided him from start to finish of his Asian campaign.

Alexander's conception of conquering and reshaping the Persian Empire is easily seen. His purpose was clearly not just to seize the wealth of a neighboring region. Along the entire route that Alexander followed through Asia, he founded dozens of cities, often surveying them himself. (The most important of these was Alexandria, Egypt, home of the famous library where Eratosthenes [c.|275-194|BC], the chief librarian, proved the earth a sphere, and accurately measured its circumference.)

Each of the sites was selected to play a specific role in the development of the region. While some were intended primarily as military outposts, most were situated as ports, or along existing or potential trade routes. In fact, Alexander was so focused on transforming the region, that he was constantly, even on his deathbed, dictating plans for water management along the powerful Asian rivers.

Alexander and the ``Gordian Knot''

Most people who were taught anything about Alexander in school recall two ``facts:'' first, Alexander was a student of Aristotle, and; second, the story of the ``Gordian Knot,'' both of which are easily cleared up.

An ancient story claimed that peace had been brought to the region of Paphlagonia by a man riding an ox-drawn cart. This cart was worshipped, almost as a holy relic, to the point that the myth arose: whoever could undo the knot that had attached the cart to the yoke would become ruler of all Asia.

The knot was very intricate--it was probably what is known as a ``Turk's Head''|--with the ends of the rope not visible. The followers of Aristotle insist that, since obviously no knot could be untied without finding a loose end, Alexander must have severed it with his sword. In truth, although Alexander had been tutored by Aristotle, he did not think like him, and, therefore, was able to do what no Aristotelian could.

Rather than searching fruitlessly for the ends of the rope as countless people before him had done, he simply ``broke the rules'' by pulling out the pin around which the knot had been fastened. The ropes then fell loose.

What Alexander Learned from Xenophon

Both the Greeks and Persians learned much by studying Xenophon. The Persian King Darius, employed many Greek mercenaries in his military, while Alexander took many of his military ideas right out of the Anabasis -- so much so, that Arrian, the most insightful historian of Alexander, entitled his history of the Asian campaign the ``Anabasis'' as an indication of the debt owed to Xenophon.

Most telling was his practice of holding forces in reserve when going into a battle; even more important was his use of the Socratic method. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Alexander did not achieve his victories through sheer military might and will. Rather, he demonstrated an ability, echoing Xenophon, to see and correct his own errors, and to use his enemies' most basic assumptions against them.

It is instructive to look at how three different generals responded to Xenophon's account.

Parmenio, Alexander's top commander, was worried about becoming isolated in hostile territory, cut off from traditional means of supply, as had happened to the 10,000. Thus, he was too timid and defensive to take the bold steps that could achieve crucial victories.

Darius, the Persian King, clearly saw how vulnerable the Persian foot soldiers were to the better organized Greek troops, and responded accordingly by focusing his strategy on highly mobile cavalry and chariots, avoiding a repeat of the faults at Cunaxa. He had correctly figured out how the Persians could have won the previous showdown against the Greeks.

Only Alexander however, understood how to win the next war; that victory must be achieved psychologically, by subjectively determining the battlefield, before a single weapon were used. He also realized that no victory in any single battle meant true victory. One must completely annihilate the enemy's ability and will to wage war.

The true principle of the flank involves the battlefield of the mind. Few better examples of this exist than the sieges that Alexander laid upon the Persian strongholds. Tyre, a walled city, on an island, half-a-mile off the coast, was the trading center for the Phoenician oligarchy, similar to Venice or the City of London today. It took seven months to subdue, and this was accomplished because Alexander ``broke the rules'' that Tyre assumed he would follow.

First, he called upon his battle engineers to build a mole (a massive pier or breakwater), from the coast to the city upon which to bring his land forces. As described in the Arrian's Anabasis of Alexander:

``Certainly, the seige of Tyre appeared to be a great enterprise; for the city was an isalnd (about half-a-mile from the mainland, and about a mile in length) and fortified all round with lofty walls. Moreover naval operations seemed at that time more favorable to the Tyrians, both because the Persians still possessed the sovereignty of the sea and many ships were still remaining with the citizens themselves. However, as these arguments of his [Alexander's] had prevailed, he resolved to construct a mole from the mainland to the city. The place is a narrow strait full of pools; and the part of it near the mainland is shallow water and muddy, but the part near the city itself, where the channel was deepest, was about eighteen feet in depth. But there was an abundant supply of stones and wood, which they put on the top of the stones. Stakes were easily fixed down firmly in the mud, which itself served as a cement to the stones to held them firm. The zeal of the Macedonians in the work was great, and it was increased by the presence of Alexander himself, who took the lead in everything....''

Next, he had them construct huge battle towers, with catapults mounted on top that were capable of surmounting the defense walls. Finally, when none of this proved sufficient against Tyre's unbeatable sea power, Alexander, the greatest land general of his day, recruited the Cypriot Navy to his side and was able to take the ``untakeable'' city.

Immediately after defeating Tyre, the Macedonians set their sights on another walled city, Gaza. This was an incredible fortress with walls 100 feet high, 25 feet thick, and 25 miles around the town. Furthermore, it had been built with a huge, deep trench dug along the entire base of the wall, rendering traditional artillery out of range. Gaza was, however, not impervious to assault. After constructing earthworks that brought his siege engines to bear upon the walls, Alexander threw his troops against the main gates of the city. With the inhabitants of Gaza completely occupied in defending their city from this attack, Alexander quietly dispatched a contingent of men armed only with shovels to dig saps under the fortifications. Whole sections of Gaza's defense works simply collapsed under their own weight as the solid ground upon which her rulers had based their defense was undermined. was also a master of psychological warfare. The Rock of Soghdiana was the only site that he encountered which was completely immune to military attack. The Rock was a spire of ice capped stone, with a walled fort at the summit which had been provisioned for a two-year siege. When the Macedonians called upon the people to surrender, they laughed, responding that, unless Alexander had soldiers with wings, there was no cause for fear. Most commanders would have given up on the idea of capturing such an inaccessible place and simply isolated it. However, Alexander was not so easily dissuaded, especially since he well understood the wider propaganda benefit that would be derived from accomplishing such an ``impossible'' feat.

He recruited from among his men those who had most distinguished themselves for their ability to scale walls during previous conquests and offered rewards to the first men to the top. After dark, 300 men with iron tent pegs and flaxen ropes set out to climb the steepest, and thus least defended, part of the tower. By dawn, they had reached the summit and signaled the success of their ascent, as they had been instructed, by waving sheets of white linen from the tops of the walls. As Arrian describes it, a crier was instructed to shout to the enemy:

``that they might now surrender without further delay, as the men with wings had been found and were already in possession of the summit ... Alexander pointed to his men, where they stood on top of the Rock. The unexpectedness of the sight was a severe shock to the inhabitants; indeed, they were so much alarmed by the handful of Macedonian troops they could actually see, that, imagining a much larger force, and fully armed at that, must be in possession, they surrendered.''


LaRouche has used the German term, Entschlossenheit, to describe the quality of mind required for successful, decisive military, or political, action. This he has defined as: being right, knowing you're right, and doing it. Throughout the entire campaign, one of the things that distinguished Alexander from the rest of his generals, even his top commander, Parmenio, was his complete focus on total strategic victory. Alexander's goal was not merely to conquer territory to expand his own empire, but to destroy the evil that the Persian Empire represented. This meant that he never looked for the short-term victory. Two examples, the first from Plutarch, the second from Arrian, will suffice to illustrate the point.

After the battle of Issus, where the Macedonians first achieved a limited victory over Darius, the latter offered what appeared to be very generous terms for peace: 10,000 talents of gold, control over the Empire west of the Euphrates River, and his daughter's hand in marriage (meaning of course also a claim to succession to the throne.) Parmenio reacted to the offer by proclaiming, ``were I Alexander, I should accept such an offer.'' To which Alexander replied, ``and were I Parmenio, I should accept such an offer. But, since I am Alexander and not Parmenio, I shall give a different answer.'' He told Darius's envoy that he was claiming the entire empire for himself, not just half of it or some gold. Furthermore, since the emperor's daughter was now his prisoner, if he wanted, he could marry her with or without permission. In other words, nothing short of total victory was acceptable.

Clear and Convincing Victory

Victory, to Alexander, meant more than simply winning on the battlefield. It meant becoming the clear successor to the throne. This is why he again rejected Parmenio's advice at Gaugamela. The seasoned general counseled that in facing such overwhelming odds, the only strategy with a hope of succeeding would be to capture the element of surprise by launching a nighttime attack. ``I will not demean myself by stealing victory like a thief'' came the response. ``Alexander must defeat his enemies openly and honestly.'' This is usually dismissed as bravado; however Alexander had more important concerns. The victory at Issus, while decisive on the battlefield, was not politically sufficient to convince the previously subject population that Alexander was the new ruler, nor did it persuade Darius that it was hopeless to cling to power. The next head-to-head confrontation had to totally break any Persian will to resist; victory had to be absolutely clear and convincing, or the war would drag on, costing many more lives on both sides.

The Battle at Gaugamela

The battle of Gaugamela, where some 50,000 Greek and Macedonian troops defeated a Persian force over one million strong, was the crowning achievement of Alexander's military genius. Having been previously defeated by Alexander at Issus, Darius took great care in preparing for the next encounter. He amassed a force of over a million combatants, including over 50,000 cavalry and hundreds of war chariots. Convinced that his loss at Issus was caused by lack of room to maneuver, Darius carefully selected a battlefield, ideally suited to his strategy of relying almost exclusively on chariots and cavalry; he even had all obstructions removed and the ground leveled. Further demonstrating his study of Xenophon's account of the earlier battle of Cunaxa, Darius revived the use of the brutal Scythe chariot, employing 200 of the killing machines.

Alexander knew that, outnumbered fifty to one, and facing a Persian line that extended fully a mile beyond his own, no amount of will, discipline or training could have ensured a Macedonian victory. They had to win by outsmarting the Persians. Alexander's extensive surveillance of the enemy camp gave him the insight he needed. First, contrary to Parmenio's expectations, Darius fully anticipated a sneak attack and braced his forces to meet it. Alexander encouraged this delusion by setting up a false front line and spreading disinformation through the Persian ranks while he rested the main body of his own troops. The Persians had their strength and will sapped, waiting for an attack that never came. Second, surveying the meticulously manicured battlefield revealed to Alexander, Darius's entire battle plan. In fact, Alexander understood Darius' mind, the very axioms of his thinking, and thus his total strategy, far better than Darius himself understood it. The next morning, Alexander was so confident of his plans for victory that he overslept!

As the armies approached on the field of battle, neither side wanted to initiate a full engagement. [See Map of Gaugamela] Alexander knew he would easily be outflanked because of the sheer difference in size of the two militaries. He staggered his wings back at 45-degree angles, and held his heavy infantry in reserve, doing both to minimize the risk to the Macedonian rear. Yet, these defensive measures were far from sufficient; he still had to shake Darius from his fixed battle plan.

As soon as fighting erupted on the Macedonian left, Alexander, on the right, sent a small cavalry force directly toward the foothills, an area filled with the rocks, stumps and other obstacles that Darius's chariots needed to avoid to be able to maneuver. Thus, by going beyond the area that Darius had cleared for his chariots, Alexander shifted the entire geometry of the encounter; the battlefield was now determined by him, not Darius. Knowing this would wreck his ``set-piece'' battle plans, Darius was forced to respond by sending some of his frontline horsemen to try to intercept Alexander's cavalry.

Alexander continued to send reinforcements into this flanking skirmish, until he had drawn out enough Persian cavalry to open up a gap in their front line. Alexander was poised to deliver a lightning strike through this opening into the hard core of the Persian forces, but at that crucial moment, he received an urgent message from Parmenio, requesting reinforcements at the rear to defend the baggage camp. ``Ask him if he has lost his mind, and forgotten that the victors in a battle keep their own baggage, as well as that of their enemies,'' Alexander responded. Ignoring this diversion, Alexander personally led the Royal Companion Cavalry, the most superior fighting force of the time, directly into the Persian center. The Macedonian wedge, including the heavy infantry, followed, driving the less organized Persian forces in on themselves. The rapidly growing piles of dead Persian auxiliaries completely immobilized Darius' chariots and cavalry. The King was forced to abandon his war chariot and flee for his life. After Alexander pulled back to help the left side of his forces, the rout was complete.

Parmenio's Fatal Flaw

A few words about Parmenio may be helpful here. It would be too easy, not to mention, just plain wrong, to simply dismiss him as an incompetent commander. Parmenio was, in fact, indispensable to Alexander's victories. It was he who shaped the Macedonian Army into the most disciplined, maneuverable fighting force in the world at the time. It was he who was able to meet the almost impossible logistical tasks involved in moving, feeding, and arming a military of that size in hostile, and often infertile, territory.

Yet, he would have lost every crucial battle had his strategies been followed, because he would have always based his decisions on how previous battles had been fought, rather than creating a new means of defeating his enemies. Parmenio was necessary, but not sufficient for victory. Excellent at following Alexander's orders, Parmenio as commander would never have seen the opportunities, nor generated the openings that were crucial to Alexander's successes.


Today, the stakes are even higher than those faced by either Xenophon or Alexander. Failure in the war to eliminate the virus of oligarchism, that has plunged the world into the worst depression in this century, means a decent into a Dark Age. The horrors seen in central Africa, and in Albania, would become the rule.

Yet, if we learn from these brilliant strategists who have come before us, we can, despite our small numbers, not only reverse that descent, but unleash a new Renaissance. Doing so will require mastering the battlefield of the mind; we need to free ourselves, and those we intend to mobilize, from the shackles that bound Parmenio: for one, the assumption that experience or precedent, rather than creativity, should be our guide. All of our efforts must focus on achieving total victory by creating new openings and exploiting them.

Take the example of the fight for LaRouche's exoneration; his enemies had intended that we fight, as every other target of the corrupt Justice Department apparatus has, from the standpoint of victims. Instead, we changed the shape of the battlefield by refusing all of the deals and plea bargains offered. We opted to fight politically, by making the political hit squads in the Justice Department the issue. Because we fought in this way, the entire geometry has changed. Others have gained the courage to fight, and Mark Richard and Jack Keeney, the leaders of the crooked ``permanent bureaucracy'' in the Justice Department, are now themselves under investigation for political targeting and fabrication of evidence.

Now that we have created this opening, we must abandon whatever baggage we have been protecting and throw everything into the fight for total victory.

Selected Bibliography:

  • Arrian, ``The Campaigns of Alexander'' trans. by Aubrey de Selincourt 1958 Viking Penguin, New York, 1971

  • Green, Peter, ``Alexander of Macedon, 356 - 323 B.C.'' University of California Press, Berkeley, 1974

  • Plutarch, ``The Age of Alexander'' trans. by Ian Scott-Kilvert, 1973 Penguin Books, U.S.A., New York, 1973

  • Xenophon, ``The Persian Expedition'' [Anabasis] trans. by Rex Warner, 1949 Penguin Books, New York, 1972

Appendix: The Fraud of the Afrocentrists

One lie often put forward about Alexander is absurd on its face. Afrocentrists allege, variously, that Alexander slaughtered Africans and burned the library at Alexandria, or that he brought in Aristotle, who stole the African knowledge from the library and claimed it for the Greeks. First of all, a simple look at a calendar suffices to demonstrate that the city hadn't even been founded when Alexander reached Egypt in 331 B.C. In fact the library wasn't built until after both Alexander and Aristotle had died.

Furthermore, the intent of this slander is to imply that Alexander was a brutal conqueror, savage in his treatment of the Egyptians and out only to loot and destroy. The opposite was true. The Macedonians didn't shed a drop of Egyptian blood during the expedition. Egypt had been enslaved to the Persian Empire and viewed Alexander as a liberator from this brutal bondage. Unlike Darius, Alexander allowed the Egyptians, and the people in virtually every other region he conquered, to live under their own rule, governed by their own leaders. Rather than destroying the Temple of Ammon in Siwah (in modern day Libya), Alexander was welcomed by the high priest who crowned him Pharaoh, or Son of Ammon. This is not so surprising, as his mother, Olympias, was a Priestess of the affiliated cult of Dodona, and Alexander himself was quite dedicated to Zeus Ammon, the god the Greeks associated with reason.

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The preceding article is a rough version of the article that appeared in The American Almanac. It is made available here with the permission of The New Federalist Newspaper. Any use of, or quotations from, this article must attribute them to The New Federalist, and The American Almanac.

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