STRIKE A VITAL POINT STRONGLY
“The principles of war,” said Napoleon, “are the same as those of a siege. Fire must be concentrated on a single point, and as soon as the breach is made the equilibrium is broken and the rest is nothing — the place is taken.” Strike a vital point with great force, and you will make a breach.
Napoleon also said: “There are in Europe many good generals, but they see too many things at once. As for me, I see only one thing, the enemy’s main body. I try to crush it, confident that secondary matters will then settle themselves.” Secondary matters do settle themselves, once the main body is crushed.
You strike strongly by striking with a strong point. Napoleon’s “highest rule of war” was this: “Try to put your strong points as to time and space against the enemy’s weak points.” Though Napoleon would often have far fewer men than did his opponent, he would always have more at the decisive point of attack: “Strategy consists in always having, in spite of an army of inferior strength, a larger force than the enemy at the point attacked…”
You should try to strike your opponent in such a way as to place him between a Scylla and Charybdis. In Greek mythology, the Scylla was a sea-monster, the Charybdis a whirlpool; the avoidance of one increased the risk from the other. No matter what the opponent might do, he is lost.
Strike creatively. The German historian Christian Meier said of Caesar: “One is struck by his rich imagination, his immense technical and tactical inventiveness…”
You must also strike with precision. Napoleon said: “It is not sufficient that the soldier should shoot. He must shoot well.”
I now illustrate all the principles discussed thus far with the story of how Talleyrand struck at Napoleon, how he hastened his downfall (because Napoleon was turning Europe into a police state). I explain the context, Talleyrand’s objective, his studying his opponent (Napoleon), and how he struck Napoleon’s vital point.