Wanted: A Stupid-Proof Strategy For America

. “Hadrian’s wall at Greenhead Lough” by Velella,Image Source: Wikimedia In a recent War on the Rocks piece Iskander Rehman argues that the United States should not favor a foreign policy of retrenchment because United States policy makers are simply too daft and out of touch with the world to play the part of a modern day Castlereigh: […]

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Why the Mongols Conquered the World, According to the Mongols

Illustration of Rashid-ad-Din’s Gami’ at-tawarih. Tabriz (?), 1st quarter of 14th century. Source: Wikimedia. “One day after the suppression of the Sambyeolcho rebellion, the two comrades in arms, Koryo general Kim Pang-kyong and Mongol general Hsintu enjoyed a moment together in Kaeyong. Presently, Hsintu caught a young sparrow and, after playing with it awhile, he clubbed […]

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ISIS, the Mongols, and “The Return of Ancient Challenges”

Joe Posner’s “Isis Control in Iraq and Syria” Source: Max Fischer and Zack Beauchamp, “14 Maps that Explain ISIS,” Vox.com (25 September 2014) A few months ago Small Wars Journal published an essay by Gary Anderson titled “Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and the Theory and Practice of Jihad.“[1]  Al-Baghdadi, of course, is the leader of […]

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What Edward Luttwak Doesn’t Know About Ancient China (Or a Short History of Han-Xiongnu Relations), pt. 2

This is Part II of a two part series. We strongly recommend reading Part I before reading another sentence of this post. A modern depiction of Huo Qubing’s cavalry charging a surprised Xiongnu  force. Image Source. Edward Luttwak is wrong. The Han did not corrupt, bribe, or culturally weaken the Xiongnu Empire into submission. If […]

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What Edward Luttwak Doesn’t Know About Ancient China (Or a Short History of Han-Xiongnu Relations), pt. 1

A Mongolian stamp depicting Maodun, founder of the Xiongnu Empire.Image source.   A few weeks ago a friend passed along one of the least correct essays I have ever had the misfortune to read. It was written by  Edward Luttwak, secret agent  author of classic titles in the field of strategic studies like Coup D’état: […]

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Smallpox on the Steppe

Image Source: “Chinese Smallpox Inoculation” (or. image c. 1911), The Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, History of Vaccines Project (2012). Few diseases have caused as much misery and death as smallpox. Smallpox has a 30% mortality rate in normal conditions, but in populations unexposed to the plague the death toll […]

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The Nomadic Survival Strategy: Salzman’s 20 Observations

  A Taureg nomad in the Sahara.  Photograph by Carsten Peter, National Geographic. Β© “The nomadic strategy is one means by which people adapt to thinly spread resources and to the variability of the resources across space and over time. It is also a strategy for avoiding other deleterious environmental conditions, such as extreme heat […]

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Introducing: The Mongol Project

The world before the Mongols. Map Created by Thomass Lessman for Wikimedia “I will now tell you all about the Tartars and how they acquired their empire and spread throughout the world.” – Marco Polo, The Travels [1] I suspect the Mongol Empire needs no introduction to the readers of The Stage. No conquests so […]

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Not Everyone Likes Sunzi

The Great Kangxi. Source: Wikimedia. Born Aixin-Jueluo Xuanye and styled Kangxi, his reign was the longest of any emperor. To this day no Chinese scholar has followed in the foot steps of Arthur Schlesinger Sr. and gathered China’s best historians together to rank all of China’s emperors, but if the task ever is completed, we […]

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