Thursday, May 31, 2012
As a Kemalist myself, and following the recent developments in Turkey intensively, I am very curious what drove a retired US Colonel to write this book. Bay acknowledges Atatürk being a military genius. Atatürk's achievements have always been acknowledged. In 1997, Time Magazine called Atatürk Person of the Century and McLaughlin Group declared in 2000 that the award for "the Person of the Full Millenium goes to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk". I have read many books and articles saying Atatürk being a genius, both as a military leader but also as a statesman. But in Austin Bay's book I found what exactly is meant by genius, explained by Prussian general and strategic theorist Carl von Clausewitz.
By "genius" Clausewitz meant "a very highly developed mental aptitude for a particular occupation". Surveying "those gifts of mind and temperament that in combination bear on military activity," he emphasized that courage "in the face of personal danger, and courage to accept responsibility" are required. "The highest kind of courage is a compound" of "indifference to danger" and positive motives as ambition, patriotism, and enthusiasm." Clausewitz believed that war requires intellect of a special type, for "during an operation decisions have usually to be made of a special type, for "during an operation decisions have usually to be made at once; there may be no time to review a situation or even to think it through." For the combat leader, "if the mind is to emerge unscathed from this relentless struggle with the unforeseen, two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect, that even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead.
The first of these qualities is described by the French term, coup d'oeil; the second is determination." Clausewitz's coup d'oeil referred to both the "physical" and "inward eye," but, "stripped of metaphor,...the concept merely refers to the quick recognition of a truth that the mind would ordinarily miss or would perceive only after long study and reflection."
In Clausewitz's other words: it really is the commander's coup d'œil, his ability to see simply, and at a glance, the possibilities offered by the terrain.