This could be note from America’s diary:
My power proceeds from my reputation, and my reputation from the victories I have won. My power would fall if I were not to support it with more glory and more victories. Conquest has made me what I am; only conquest can maintain me.
Friendship is only a word; I love nobody … I know perfectly well I have no real friends. As long as I remain what I am, I shall have as many as I need so far as the appearance goes. Let the weak whimper, that’s their business, but for me, give me no sentiment. I must be firm, have a stout heart, or else leave on one side war and government.
In fact this is from Napoleon’s diary, 30 December 1802. From The Corsican: A Diary of Napoleon’s Life in His Own Words, by R. M. Johnson (1910), a composite of Napoleon’s writings.
What an eerie correspondence between his words and the American spirit of today. Truly worth pondering.
Two changes were made in the text: “weak” substituted for “women” and “I” for “men”.
Please share your comments by posting below. Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post. Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).
For information about this site see the About page, at the top of the right-side menu bar.
For more information from the FM site
To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp interest are:
Other notes from the past on the FM site:
- Our futures seen in snippets of the past, 16 June 2008
- President Grant warns us about the dangers of national hubris, 7 July 2008
- de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile, 21 July 2008
- Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008
- Can Americans pull together? If not, why not?, 29 August 2008
- A wonderful and important speech about liberty, 23 July 2009
- A warning from Alexis De Tocqueville about our military, 7 August 2009
- Another note from our past, helping us see our future, 16 September 2009
13 thoughts on “A note from America’s diary: “My power proceeds from my reputation…””
“In fact this is from Napoleon’s diary, 30 December 1802”
No it’s from President Petraeus 2012.
RIP the republic
I don’t personally know any heads of major corporations or banks, but I have some experience in country clubs and other places where similakr people hang out, and I believe this is the general attitude of those on the top. Part of being on top is showing that you ARE on top, by the closed you wear, the limousines you’re driven to work in, the disdain you demonstrate for those below you, and so forth. Part of America’s power is its image of dominance, and part of that is its military power. Not just its passive military potential, but its actual use. As a Bush administration figure said (paraphrase): “sometimes we have to knock some crappy little country up against the wall to show who we are.”
“No it’s from President Petraeus 2012.”
The analogy fails. Reason: Courvoisier has been the “Brandy of Napoleon.” Where, precisely, can we obtain the “Opium of Petraeus”?
As a further note, Napoleon himself therefore misunderstood his own situation.
If, in fact, his reputation depended upon his winning victories, then neither his successful return from Elba following his post-Moscow defeat nor the subsequent emergence of Napoleon III following his Waterloo defeat would have been possible.
Fabius Maximus replies: These things do not work like toast popping from your toaster. Napoleon’s was fatally wounded by his defeat in Russia, the rest merely the working out of that. I don’t see the relevance of Napoleon III to this. It was just an echo.
I don’t see the relevance of Napoleon III to this. It was just an echo.
Napoleon’s reputation survived despite these defeats such that Napoleon III could bank on it to rise to power.
Napoleon managed to secure tremendous support within France despite his reverses.
As a humorous aside but also for a taste of how remarkable his support continued to be read Richard Whatley’s 1819 essay Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Bonaparte. In this masterpiece Whatley replied to arguments that Christ never existed by using those same arguments to assert that Napoleon never existed. Eg:
Fabius Maximus replies: While NIII’s appeal to regain France’s former glory was one element in his rise to power, it was widely seen as an echo — a somewhat comic or poignant one — even at that time. Nor did it bring him anything remotely like NI’s power in France — and nothing in Europe outside France.
When asked about presidential ambitions, Petraeus quoted William T. Sherman “If nominated, I would not run, and if elected, I would not serve.” Even though Sec. Gates will remain a fixture of the defense establishment, as he has for the last few decades, he will not seize power, and neither will any other professional soldier. If indeed there is an attempt to subvert the office of the president from within the bureaucracy, it will not come from the DoD. The closest we got was when a high-ranking official in the FBI undermined Nixon as ‘deep throat’.
Ironically, Napoleon’s defining strategy was to choose one’s battles wisely, to never engage his enemies where they were strong, but rather to select a contest he knew he could win, plan assiduously, and then win big. The result was a reputation for invincibility, which became a sort of self fulfilling prophecy. Where’s the U.S. version of that?
It was said of Napoleon I, that when he marched through a city, “he looked as if he wished to rive new war material out of the wombs of the mothers”. (quote, “War, Peace, and the Future: A Consideration of Nationalism and Internationalism, and of the relation of women to war.”, by Ellen Key)
The quote reminds me of “Back to School: Military Recruiters Increasingly Targeting High School Teens“, Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now!, 4 Sept 2009.
“Ironically, Napoleon’s defining strategy was to choose one’s battles wisely, to never engage his enemies where they were strong, but rather to select a contest he knew he could win, plan assiduously, and then win big.”
Until that ‘land war in asia.’ Oops, missed it by THAT much.
unfortunately, we have forgotten this solid rule. victory brings credibility and respect. defeat brings contempt. this is one of the reasons that AQ sees us as a paper tiger. we don’t start with victory in mind nor do we pursue it ruthlessly.
For bonus credibility and respect, help us do something about all this plight. Tee hee!
The saying, “Every day is Ashura, every land is Karbala,” is a reminder to live one’s life as Husayn did on Ashura, with total sacrifice to Allah and for others. This saying also signifies “We must always remember, because there is suffering everywhere”.