WILSON LEE FLORES: THE GAME OF THE GENERALS
MANILA, November 23, 2004 (STAR) By Wilson Lee Flores (Soldiers usually win the battles and generals get the credit for them. – Napoleon Bonaparte, French general and emperor)
(It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience. – Julius Caesar, great Roman general and Latin writer)
(There is nothing impossible to him who will try. – Alexander the Great, Macedonian general and emperor)
(Those who are skilled in combat do not become angered, those who are skilled at winning do not become afraid. Thus, the wise win before they fight, while the ignorant fight to win. – Zhuge Liang, great Chinese general, 3rd century A.D.)
One of this writer’s favorite pastimes is studying the exploits and aggressive leadership styles of the greatest generals who shaped world history – Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Gen. Zhuge Liang, Gen. Yue Fei (whose fealty to the nation and to his mother is taught to kids all over Asia and China), Genghis Khan and others.
It is distressing to read the headline-grabbing foibles of some military and police generals due to alleged jueteng, smuggling, kidnap-for-ransom crimes, reselling of arms to rebels and skullduggery. We shouldn’t generalize that all generals are corrupt, inept and craven, in the same way it is unfair to condemn all our politicians as hopeless.
Lessons From The Generals
In the recent arraignment of AFP Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia for corruption charges, the Philippine STAR was invited by Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) officers led by national president Joel Cadiz to join in the front-row seats reserved for the IBP Monitoring Team. The military officers we informally surveyed inside the court martial hall said that the best Filipino generals for them were Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, his slain political rival Gen. Antonio Luna, Gen. Gregorio del Pilar (the youngest general in the country’s history), West Point graduate and Japanese military victim Gen. Vicente Lim, Katipunero Gen. Macario Sakay, and former President, Gen. Fidel V. Ramos.
Despite the controversies raised by his political foes like Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, Ramos worked hard and inspired investor confidence. Thus, becoming the most effective Philippine President in the post-Marcos era. In Asia, some outstanding generals who had presided over "economic miracles" in their respective nations were Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek of Taiwan and Gen. Park Chung Hee of South Korea. Gen. Pervez Musharaff seems to be a much better leader than the many political riffraffs who had earlier misruled Pakistan. Retired US Gen. Collin Powell also served with distinction as Secretary of State and his name is being mentioned as a future Republican presidentiable.
In contrast, the despot Indonesian General Suharto was one of the world’s most corrupt political leaders. Nowadays, the generals who rule Myanmar are accused of corruption, but they have maintained political stability in a multi-ethnic nation wracked by incessant conflicts. Former generals Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo became South Korean presidents mired in non-stop corruption scandals, and were publicly prosecuted and punished. These two Korean generals publicly expressed contrition and even voluntarily secluded themselves in a Buddhist monastery.
Unfortunately, in our fiscal crisis republic, the generals accused of corruption are often shamelessly belligerent, bellicose, self-righteous and even publicly lash out at media or congressional critics. It is infuriating to hear tales of underpaid foot soldiers risking their lives to help our democracy obliterate such pests like the Abu Sayyaf bandits, MILF insurgents or communist terrorists, while their pension funds were allegedly emptied or their supplies compromised by sordid deals.
Why don’t our generals learn a lesson or two from their Korean peers? Come out with the truth, confess to allegations by disgruntled young officers and the prosecutors, turn over their ill-gotten wealth to the so-called Bayanihan Fund, and voluntarily cloister themselves in some Catholic monastery in Tawi Tawi or the boondocks.
A top general told this writer: "I agree with your criticisms, but do not forget that we are now holding this court martial trial of General Garcia just two months after your newspaper started this scandal with your reports. Look at our civilian political leaders and the courts. It has been years but there’s still no trial date for ex-President Estrada. How is this so?"
A General VS. An Emperor
In China’s Sichuan province, an ancient temple stands in honor of General Zhuge Liang (181-234 AD), also known as Kong Ming. He was a legendary military strategist in the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD) and the hero of the classic novel San-Guo Yan-Yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), which is well-loved throughout Asia. Zhuge Liang was 26 when he pledged loyal service to Liu Pei and later to his son, distant descendants of the Han imperial house.
At the end of the western Jin Dynasty (265-316 AD), the original temple was built by a certain King Li Xiong in Shaocheng of Chengdu City. The temple to Zhuge Liang was transferred in 1368 during the Ming Dynasty to another part of the city and combined with the temple to the Emperor Liu Pei, which was also his burial place. Why did they move the temple of a famous general to that of an emperor? One account goes this way: Centuries later and under the Ming Dynasty, scandalized by the fact that Zhuge Liang’s temple has more visitors than Emperor Liu Pei’s, a member decided to demolish the statesman’s temple and move him into the Emperor’s temple. The people, however, didn’t like this, so they not only built a special hall for Zhuge Liang, they also called the new combined temple as Zhuge Liang’s Temple instead of Liu Pei’s Temple.
Zhuge Liang’s legacy was just awe-inspiring and the people genuinely loved him. In 1672, an additional Hall of Zhuge Liang was built. The current site contains statues of Zhuge Liang, as well as those of his son and grandson. This temple of Zhuge Liang also has many tablets with poems and accounts of the inspiring life of the legendary general. No amount of multimillion dollar Swiss bank deposits or New York real estate properties can equal the unblemished public service record of an honorable general in history!
Try to ask media-shy billionaire Lucio Tan or any other taipans in East Asia about Zhuge Liang, and they would enthusiastically spend hours recounting his chivalry, fearless exploits and superb tactics. Even China’s revolutionary supremo Mao Zedong loved the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. A former Vietnamese ambassador told this writer that when the TV drama series on the Three Kingdoms and Zhuge Liang was shown in his country, almost all the streets were deserted due to public enthusiasm for this military hero’s exploits.
Leadership Secrets Of Alexander
The Great It would be tragic if moviegoers will watch director Oliver Stone’s forthcoming movie Alexander just to see Irish actor Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Sir Anthony Hopkins or the battle scenes. An admirer of Alexander the Great since his G.I. days in the Vietnam War, Oliver Stone recently outflanked rival filmmakers and finished this project first. Another big epic film on Alexander the Great now being made stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman as his mother. Let us study this Greek general’s incredible career of discipline and excellence. Let us learn his leadership lessons.
Then in his 20s, Alexander the Great was a youth of phenomenal intellect and courage, and was out to conquer the world – from Macedonia, Europe, Persia, Egypt to the mountains of India. He was so great that he even believed that he was a god. If we study his life and works, all business executives, professionals or even politicians can immeasurably profit from strategy secrets of Alexander the Great for robust competitive edge in the tough business arena.
Alexander the Great was the last military leader to successfully conquer Afghanistan nearly 2,500 years ago. The cities and cultures he built still exist today, and places where he had passed still have legends about him. Considered by the West as the greatest military strategist, tactician, and ruler in western history, Alexander the Great has inspired countless international business, military and political leaders for thousands of years. CNN founder Ted Turner keeps a bust of him in his office. US General Norman Schwarzkopf said Alexander’s superb tactical strategies directly inspired his troops’ attacks in the Desert Storm in Iraq, including the "Hail Mary" flanking move that inflicted the final defeat on Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army.
Three centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, the leadership and war strategies of Alexander the Great provided us lessons ideal for business or other fields – how to build a successful organization, the requisites of visionary and inspirational leadership, the importance of creating a winning philosophy, how to motivate your generals and foot soldiers, how to overcome seemingly impossible odds, how to master the element of surprise, how to prepare for the unexpected, how to leverage your inherent strengths to gain the advantage, learning when to advance and when to retreat.
To all generals, to all our datus in politics, all the captains of business and industry – emulate the inspirational leadership of Alexander the Great. Although he died at the young age of 33, he lived life to the fullest and with unerring devotion to excellence. He was admired. He showed us the importance of leaving behind a legacy of lasting value.
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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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