Fighting under a Democratic culture Essay
Former US President George Washington stated, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. ” President Washington believed that without the privilege of freedom of speech or expression, as a nation are vulnerable to captivity thus would be letting foreign countries the chance to govern because of the lack of credential leadership. Given the situation in which western military have somewhat a democratic form of government, citizens were entitled to speak their minds.
When faced with an enemy of greater strength and smarter tactical strategies it gives westerners a better defensive standing because of the deliberating and inputs from a number of leaders. Raised as a child on the small tropical island of Pohnpei in the Pacific ocean, one of the primary lessons that my parents constantly reminded me of was the fact that there were rules and if I were to live under their roof or shelter, their rules had to be followed. Abiding by the island’s way of culture, whenever I violated a rule, my parents made sure that I knew what I did wrong.
This would include being chased around with a belt or stick as a punishment. My siblings and I always felt like we had the freedom we needed, not what we wanted. Our freedom was limited. This is not as frightening as a military discipline but the same concept applies. If you do not follow and comply to what is commanded of you, you will be dealt with harshly, especially in military settings. Hanson argued that western culture portrays discipline as being predominately one of the purposes in which the battle at Poitier was won by western military.
Yet on the other hand he also mentions that freedom is also why westerners are able to overpower their enemies because of the idea that they fight for their families and country willingly. Discipline and freedom are two completely opposite concepts and therefore cannot be intertwined. Dealing with western culture, I would consider Freedom or individualism to be more profound and beneficial military wise, and thus Hanson should have not mentioned discipline as being an essential trait for western victory. Hanson exemplifies each trait in different ituations of which victory was obtained for western military. Hanson claims that during the war at Salamis, September 28, 480 B. C. freedom or democracy played a key role in triumphing over the massive Persian power and attaining victory for the west. Freedom in the book identifies one Greek as having freedom to speak, right to vote and possess and profit from the land. Hanson mentioned whenever a sailor from western culture is asked what freedom meant to him, this soldier will most likely give four chief explanations, “First, freedom to speak what he pleased”.
Greeks had two words for freedom of speech; the right to speak in public settings without being underrated and speaking what was on their minds, “free men had free tongues” (51). The fact that the government did not have total control or power and that leadership was to be voted on by the citizens gave them a sense of peace. The meaning of freedom to Greek sailors gave them certainty that they had purpose for fighting under chosen power. Hanson mentioned, “Men fight better when they know what they have had the freedom to choose the occasion of their own death”() such as the 300 Spartans at Thermoplyae.
If you think of it at the battle of Salamis, the Greeks were enormously outnumbered and weighing twenty times smaller than Persian troops however never retreated. Why is that you would think? Greeks or the Athenians felt the need and obligation to fight for what was rightfully theirs. This was the case with the battle of Salamis, Athenians had already lost their homeland so this battle was an effort not to save, but to reclaim, ancestral grounds.
In most battles, western military usually had a disadvantage of having fewer men and inadequate firearms however westerners always manage to pull off a more effective and surprising counter attack on Eastern power. Freedom is indecisive in western culture because of the Spartans whose children were to be trained to kill at a very young age. This is where culture jumps in situations of preparation of young men to fight in bloody and gruesome battles. Men were still considered free to choose discipline to serve and defend their country.
At the battle of Salamis without the brave 300 Spartan infantry holding back or stalling the great Persian Empire westerners would have never won the war. The brave 300 stood shoulder to shoulder similar to the Athenians hoplite shield wall to defend the Persians from advancing. This was not of forced doing yet the Spartans were defending their people and avenging their name or honor. The main thing to remember here is that the Spartans infantry chose to remain in Thermopylae with the knowledge that they had no chance against Persians.
Whereas with the Persians under the command of their king Xerxes had no choice whatsoever, if they tried to display freedom of speech or opposition against the will of their king, they would most likely be decapitated in an instant. Also Charles Martel won at Poitiers with the idea installed in each of his troops that they were fighting for their homes. Hanson states, “This freedom to explore different strategies, debate tactics, and listen to complains of sailors was raucous and not pretty, but when the battle itself got underway, the Greeks, not the Persians, had at last discovered the way to fight in the strait of Salamis” (43).
Westerners exercised their rights with the democratic government they had where leaders would assemble and deliberate to which tactic proved more profitable. Their individualism allowed instant initiative performing crucial operations that largely contributed to the battle in a whole. Despite the efforts to adapt to westerners way of war having the advanced and far more developed efficient aircrafts and naval war ships, the Japanese could not measure up to the skills and individual knowledge in which western forces portrays.
Japanese military already had discipline intergraded into their system as being part of the Japanese culture. Whereas Americans were much of an adaptable race who could easily examine situations in a battle and adjust their forces to their advantage. Even though the Japanese established one of the best armed, disciplined and organized of non-western forces that determined cultural traditions still existed by nature, Japanese were more decisive to defeat.
Hanson identifies Japanese commanders as not flexible in this case “Admiral Yamamotos’ grand tactical plan at Midway was inflexible. Few, if any of more astute subordinates made any sustained effort to convince their admiral that the imperial fleet’s assets would be far too widely dispersed, that precious planes and ships would be wasted in the Aleutian operations, and that the entire contradictory strategy of destroying the American fleet was absurd”(375).
Nevertheless Japanese commander Yamamoto ignored the obvious facts and held his ground to the strict plan and commands of leaders. Individualism was the prime reason that Americans won the war at Midway, the open-minded commanders in their outdated devastator airplanes following their intuition flying into enemy territory without airfare scouting and fighters. Breaking the Japanese naval code, restoration function to the Yorktown vessel, effective commands and initiative behavior from US naval pilots were all possible because US displayed features of individualism.
Persians, Carthaginians, Zulus, Japanese and Vietnamese were part of a disciplinary culture whereas a Greek at Salamis, a Roman at Cannae, a Venetian at Lepanto, a British soldier at Rorke’s Drift, and Americans at Midway and Vietnam were under democratic decrees and had the privilege to freedom of speech and voting. More than half of the book discussed how Western culture successfully overthrows non-western nations in lack of characteristics which are learned through depts. Herodotus makes this point “free citizens are better warriors, since they fight for themselves, their families and property, not for kings, aristocrats, or priests.
They accept a greater degree of discipline than either coerced or hired soldiers”(47). This shows that in Western forces in terms of the Greeks, discipline had an entirely different sense in contrast to non-westerners way of discipline. Non-western forces were disciplined and intergraded fear as a source of obtaining the disciplinary results they expected their soldiers, infantry, cavalry and naval troops. When fighting for precious land and family men tend to have the adrenalin rush of fighting with every ounce of their strength to protect what is rightfully theirs.
Courage does not individually depend on solely acting under a disciplinary command. British infantry at the battle at Rorke’s Drift were part of a democratic society however displayed characteristics of bravery and courage by maintaining their position in spite of the drawback they encounter. The idea that Western nations recover and dominate battles that are fought because of the freedom and individualism in which is learned through culture is intensely exercised throughout history with these landmark battles.
Western cultures have a freer and democratic intuition that allows them to adjust war tactics when faced with a threatening situation from opposing forces. Addition to this Hanson also mentions “In the next century Japan’s scientific progress in arms will not hinge entirely on foreign emulation, but be powered by the engine of its own free and liberal society-if it continues to encourage individual talent and initiative to a degree unknown at any time in its long and war-like past”.
This supports the idea that western armies won because of freedom of speech and individualism rather than strict discipline and now non-western militaries are slowly trying to adapt and implement these traits in their own military forces. Hanson states, “Freedom the Americans fought for, and free they were who fought” (428). Western nations were part of a free nation and fought for same reason, which was keeping that freedom.