The Instigator
Atheist-Independent
Pro (for)
Losing
2 Points
The Contender
imabench
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

Best Military Leaders of History

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
imabench
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/26/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,414 times Debate No: 67552
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (2)

 

Atheist-Independent

Pro

This is not designed as a regular debate, per se. Instead we will be choosing three military leaders from any point in history who were most succesful and/or influential militarily (NOT culturaly). For each of the chosen military leaders we will give a picture of them, time period and wars in which they fought in, a short biographical note, and then why you think that this person qualifies as one of the greatest military leaders in history.

Note that there will be no rebuttals in this debate. We are merely presenting our military leaders individually and then letting the voters decide who gave the better argument for their leaders. Also, the first round is for acceptance only so that we all have an equal amount of rounds.

I am going to leave this debate open, so anybody is allowed to accept. Good luck!
imabench

Con

A debate where you don't have to offer rebuttals appeals strongly to the lazy half of me.

I accept :D
Debate Round No. 1
Atheist-Independent

Pro

#1: Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
Famous Wars: First Italian Campaign, Egyptian Expedition, War of the Third Coalition, War of the Fourth Coalition, Peninsular War, War of the Fifth Coalition, Invasion of Russia, War of the Sixth Coalition, Waterloo.



Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica in 1769 into a well-off bourgeoisie family. In 1785 Napoleon was sent to mainland France to a military academy in Brienne. After joining the army early in 1786 as a lieutenant, Napoleon eventually joined the resistance against the tyrannical rule of Maximilian Robespierre, and after the overthrow of the dictator in 1795, Napoleon was appointed commander of the Army of the Interior by the new Directory government. In 1796, just a year after rising to his prestigious post, France went to war with Austria and Prussia. Napoleon took command of the Italian Army, just 30,000 strong, and won victory after victory in Austrian Italy despite numerical disadvantages and lack of supplies. Following his great success in Italy, Napoleon undermined the great British Empire by successfully invading British Egypt. Soon thereafter Napoleon led a military coup and announced himself Emperor of France. Napoleons reign proved to be greatly successful as a great number of wars allowed France to establish loyal puppet governments in Holland, Italy, Naples, Sweden, Spain and Westphalia. However, politics soon caught up to the great Emperor as nearly the entirety of Europe joined into a Coalition to defeat France. However, even after he was captured and exiled to the Italian island of Elba, Napoleon managed to escape and regain much of his empire until he was defeated by Duke of Wellington at Waterloo, and was exiled to the island of St. Helena. There he remained until his death in 1821 [1].


Contemporary historian Owen Connelly stated that Napoleon was "probably the greatest commander of all time" [2]. This, in a nut shell, describes the brilliance of Napoleon. When looking at some of the specifics about his many wars, his feats appear almost super-human. For example, at the Battle of Rivoli, Napoleon and 23,000 were attacked by an 28,000 strong Austrian army lead by Field Marshal Josef Alvinczi. The French had been besieging the crucial city of Mantua for months, and the Austrians were desperate to relieve their forces. Despite having the advantage of the terrain, along with a numerical advantage, Napoleon defeated the Austrians. His forces received just 3,200 casualties while the Austrians lost a gargantuan 14,000. What makes this even more impressive is that this was the fourth, and final, Austrian attempt to relieve Mantua. All of these attempts were unsuccessful [3].

Another was the Battle of Austerlitz, or the Battle of the Three Emperors. Napoleon headed 61,000 French forces and he attacked over 80,000 forces headed by the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II and Russian Tsar Alexander I. Napoleon brilliantly utilized similar tactics of the 4th and 3rd century battles of Guagamela and Cannae. Alexander planned a decisive flank attack, yet coincidentally it left his central army weak. Napoleon realized this and sent the majority of his army to defeat the army up the middle. Napoleon stated that the attack was "One sharp blow and the war is over" [4]. At the conclusion of the battle France had only 8,000 casualties (only 1,000 of which deaths) and the German and Russians had over 27,000 casualties (15,000 of which deaths). The battle effectively dissolved the Third Coalition and destroyed the over 10,000 year old Holy Roman Empire [5].

While it is true that eventually lost and was exiled to the remote island of St. Helena, the fact still remains that it took over twenty years for the Coalition of Europe's greatest powers to defeat him. The impact of Napoleon's brilliant military strategies is enormous as well. Today, armies still utilize the Napoleonic staff model and corps structure to organize their much larger armies. He brought France back into power in the European theatre dominated by powerful empires and kingdoms, and kept it there essentially until World War II. His decisive offensives and counter offensives led to a new defensive strategy throughout Europe called Post-Napoleonic Warfare which stressed the importance of fortified structures. Finally, he indirectly planted the seeds of nationalism throughout Europe, furthering Europe's technological advance towards the modern era [6].

Sorry that this was so short, I am somewhat rushed for time. Back over to you imabench.

Sources

[1] http://www.biography.com...

[2] http://www.napoleon-series.org...

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[4] Andrew Uffindell, Great Generals of the Napoleonic Wars. p. 21

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[6] http://www.flowofhistory.com...
imabench

Con

(Dammit I was gonna pick Napoleon......)

My #1: Russian General Georgy Zhukov

http://t3.gstatic.com...

Famous Wars: World War 2, World War 1

Claim to Fame: Having grown up as a peasant who was conscripted to fight in World War 1, Georgy Zhukov would rise through the ranks to eventually become the most decorated general in Russian history who also played the most pivotal role in leading the Red Army back through Eastern Europe to defeat the Nazis. Amongst many notable generals in World War II, Zhukov was placed at the top due to "the number and scale of victories" [1] Even other WW2 generals such as Bernard Montgomery and Dwight D. Eisenhower recognized Zhukov's great contributions in many important victories in the Second World War.

In the march back through Soviet territory all the way to Berlin, he became known as "the man who did not lose a battle." [2]

Since 80% of all Nazi Germany casualties occurred on the eastern front with Russia. the eastern front of the war that ended up being won under Zhukov's actions has been argued to be "the single most important chapter in modern military history" [3].

Having won the Order of Victory Twice, the Hero of the Soviet Union four times, the Order of Lenin 6 times, the Order of the Red Banner three times, and even presented a sword bearing a gold emblem of the Soviet Union, Zhukov played a tremendous role in orchestrating the victory of the the allies in World War II. Victories under Zhukov's watch included the Siege of Leningrad, the Battle of Moscow, the Battles of Rzhev, Case Blue, the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk, the Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive, the Kamenets-Podolsky Pocket, Operation Bagration, the Vistula–Oder Offensive, Operation Solstice, and finally the Battle of Berlin [4]

Zhukov's popularity following World War II was so immense in Russia that Stalin himself began to fear the man as a potential opponent. But rather then send him to a camp or place him under house arrest like so many other perceived foes had been, Zhukov was simply delegated to administer the Odessa Military District. Zhukov was so powerful and cunning that even Stalin himself could not beat him or dispose of him, and Zhukov regained a spot in the Russian military leadership after Stalin passed away. [5]

Sources:

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk...
[3] http://www.nytimes.com...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://ww2db.com...
Debate Round No. 2
Atheist-Independent

Pro

#2: Erwin Rommel (1891-1944)
Famous Wars: World War I, World War II


Erwin Rommel was born in Heidenheim, Germany in 1891 to a middle class family. In 1910 he joined the German army and by World War I he had been promoted to Lieutenant. Despite there being wide spread support for him to be promoted further, possibly even to the rank of general, Rommel refused to leave the regular infantry and remained a lieutenant. By 1940, however, World War II began and Rommel was granted command over the 7th Panzer Division. Following great success with the 7th Panzer, Rommel was quickly promoted up the ranks. In 1941 he was given complete control over the German expeditionary corps to Italy in North Africa, the Afrika Korps. In Africa, Rommel earned the nickname the 'Desert Fox' due to his tenacity in the deserts. Although Rommel experienced great successes with the Afrika Korps, namely retaking Tobruk and advancing into British Egypt towards the Suez, he was eventually recalled from Africa to fight in the European theatre. There the Germans suffered enormous defeats due to lack of supplies, low moral, and an ineffective Nazi government. In 1944 Rommel was supposedly caught conspiring against Adolf Hitler and the Furher forced Rommel to commit suicide as a result. Rommel to this day remains as one of the most talented and respected military leader in history [1][2].

When considering who the best German military leader was, much less the best in the world, people generally denounce Rommel because eventually his victories meant nothing as he was thoroughly defeated in the European theatre by Allied forces. However, this is not true in the slightest. As generally is the case, the Germans, and Rommel, lost in Europe not due to tactical reasons, yet for political ones. The primary reason why the Italians under Rommel in Southern Italy gave in so quickly was due to the lack of supplies from the Italian government and the extremely low moral. This is both the fault of Mussolini's fascist government. For one, Mussolini was foolish to invade Greece while still fighting the British in North Africa because Italy simply did not have the industrial capacity to create the supplies needed for such a campaign. Therefore when the Allies invaded Sicily the supply lines were to thin and spread out for the home command to hold back the well supplied Allies. As for D-Day and the Liberation of France, Hitler gave orders to the German troops in France that directly contradicted Rommel's propositions. That is Hitler was insistent that the Wermacht not lose any ground whatsoever to the Allies and that they stay and fight in Caen. Rommel had wanted to retreat further into France and regroup his shattered army. However, Hitler's foolish order overruled Rommel's and as a result the Allies were able to defeat Rommel. Therefore it is clear that Rommel is not to blame for these losses and therefore it cannot be held against him [3][4].

Therefore the only way to truly see how great of a commander Rommel was is to see how her performed when there was no political influence. This can best be seen in his adventures with the Afrika Korps. By the time Rommel arrived, the Italians had been pushed back to Algeria and had lost nearly all of their previous colonial possessions in Libya. This was a huge issue for the Italians because they had lost two essential ports in Benghazi and in Tobruk. Without these they were forced to operate on even mores so limited supplies. Therefore Rommel's successes are even more incredible. After the arrival of the 15th Panzer Division, he ordered a limited offensive on Cyrenaica, the region in which the port of Benghazi lay. After a few victories Rommel proposed a bold invasion of all of Cyrenaica, despite the lack of supplies and numerical disadvantages. In April Rommel had managed to regain Benghazi and from then on the German and Italians were able to roll back through the Libyan desert. The port of Tobruk remained in British hands until 1941, however that fell when Rommel returned to Africa in 1942. Although the Allies occupied Benghazi again in 1942, Rommel managed another surprising counter-offensive against much stronger Allied armies to retake the essential port. After this success Rommel was ready to launch an invasion of Egypt. Again, despite numerical disadvantages Rommel was able to drive nearly towards the Egyptian port in Alexandria. Unfortunately for the Axis, the Allies finally began to take Rommel seriously and the British sent their Marshal Montgomery and the US deployed General Patton to crush the puny, yet surprisingly effective Afrika Korps [5].

Rommel's impact on warfare was enormous. He was a master at maneuverability and getting the maximum efficiency out of any force, no matter how small. His book Attacks was published in 1937 and it greatly advanced the quality of the German Wermacht, along with the Allied armies. In fact, had it not been for Rommel's very own book, US General Patton would have most likely been unable to win in North Africa. Patton reportedly read and reread Attacks until "...he knew it by heart" [6]. Therefore in a very indirect way, we could say that we should be thankful for Rommel's brilliance as it helped the Allies modernize and eventually win the war. Today, Rommel's brilliant advances in military maneuverability are still taught and utilized today in what is called the Rommel Model.

Back over to you, imabench


Sources

[1] http://www.biography.com...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[3] http://us.macmillan.com... [BOOK]

[4] http://www.dailymail.co.uk...

[5] http://www.topedge.com...

[6]
http://www.killology.com...
imabench

Con

I figured a Nazi would somehow end up on this..... Ah well, glad to see its not hitler though :P

#2) Genghis Khan.

http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net...

For those of you who dont quite remember who Genghis Khan is, he's the guy who only kickstarted the creation of the largest continuous empire the world has ever seen.

http://upload.wikimedia.org...

While he was only alive up until the year 1227 in that gif ^, he still managed to create an empire from nothingness that soon stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Pacific ocean.... No small feat sure, but what is amazing about it is that he did it as a mongol.

Mongolia at the time of Genghis Khan had very little manpower to muster to go out conquering, yet Genghis Khan managed to take down CHINA despite this handicap. (China existed as three different countries at this point, Jin in the north, Xia in the west, Sung in the south. Jin had the Capital city of Beijing and was more populated, and Xia China was the first thing that Genghis Khan captured ater uniting the Mongol tribes). Jin China was several times over more populated than Mongolia was at the time, and the size of the armies reflected this. Genghis Khan invaded with around 100,000 men, yet he still managed to "smashed the Jin armies, each numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and broke through Juyongguan Pass and Zijingkou Gap by November 1213....."

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Genghis Khan defeated SEVERAL Jin armies, each of which was larger than his own, and not only did he win, he smashed them, going on to conquer all of Jin China. After taking Jin and Xia China (along with some space in between the mongol homelands and the Caspian Sea) Ghengis Khan then led his mongol horde to conquer the Middle East, taking over Iran, Afghanistan, and everything north from there up to Russia.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

While the siege on China took about a decade, the conquest of the Middle East took only TWO years, even though Genghis Khan's armies were outnumbered roughly 400,000-450,000 to 100,000-150,000. He overcame his constant handicap in numbers by developing immensely complex and adaptable battle strategies to every situation he faced. Genghis Khan also pioneered heavy use of intelligence-gathering to vividly dissect how strong and resistant that cities/potential-targets would pose to him.

"Also, the Mongol intelligence network was formidable. The Mongols never invaded an opponent whose military and economic will and ability to resist had not been thoroughly and completely scouted. For instance, Subutai and Batu Khan spent a year scouting central Europe, before destroying the armies of Hungary and Poland in two separate battles, two days apart"

http://en.wikipedia.org...

The largest empire to EVER exist in human history was started by Genghis Khan, and it continued to grow long after he had died by his successors who had used his brilliant strategies to win battles. Genghis Khan conquered territories several times larger and more populated than the Mongol homelands he came from, and did so despite being routinely and even horrendously out-manned, an ailment that can cripple even the best military generals. The Mongol empire would go on and expand into parts of Europe, all of China and Korea, and several other parts of the world. If you measured the greatness of military leaders purely by the amount of territory they conquered, than Genghis Khan is your undisputed champion as best general.

Between 1206 and his death in 1227, the Mongol leader Genghis Khan conquered nearly 12 million square miles of territory—more than any individual in history.

http://www.history.com...

Not only that, Genghis Khan was so dominant, he conquered more than twice as much land as any other person in history

http://www.history.com...

Genghis Khan is undeniably one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, military leaders of history.

(Quick note, the Mongol failure to invade Japan happened under Kublai Khan in 1280, not Genghis Khan, who died half a century earlier in 1220.)
Debate Round No. 3
Atheist-Independent

Pro

Due to the fact that my opponent is unable to post an argument for his round 4, I will be leaving my round empty as well. I ask the voters to vote based on the arguments we presented in rounds 2 and 3.
imabench

Con

imabench forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Conspiracy_Solver 2 years ago
Conspiracy_Solver
I really liked this debate and I think it would be fun to do something this only Most famous wars in your opinions, and I would love to debate someone on that.
Posted by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
Atheist-Independent
@ Jingle Bombs did you not read my entire argument for Rommel? I thoroughly explained how his military abilities were not the hampering the German armies, yet it was solely for political reasons that the Nazis lost.
Posted by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
Atheist-Independent
@ Jingle Bombs did you not read my entire argument for Rommel? I thoroughly explained how his military abilities were not the hampering the German armies, yet it was solely for political reasons that the Nazis lost.
Posted by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
Atheist-Independent
OK, I'll leave R4 blank.
Posted by imabench 2 years ago
imabench
I'll be forfeiting the last round due to a temp ban
Posted by That1User 2 years ago
That1User
This win goes to imabench for Genghis Khan, unless Atheist-Independent can pick a better general than Genghis Khan.
Posted by Subutai 2 years ago
Subutai
But... but Subutai.
Posted by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
Atheist-Independent
Rommel was not a Nazi. He was just part of the Wermacht.
Posted by imabench 2 years ago
imabench
I think the last round will be a toss-up between Caesar and Alexander the Great unless Pro has a wildcard he plans to use
Posted by XLAV 2 years ago
XLAV
Hitler sucks, lol.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Gabe1e 2 years ago
Gabe1e
Atheist-IndependentimabenchTied
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Total points awarded:24 
Reasons for voting decision: Both had great leaders, Napoleon was an excellent leader, but General Georgy Zhukov actually did MAJOR impact in WW2, and it helped them win the war. So Round 2 to imabench. Didn't know much about Erwin so I needed to look him up to get more background knowledge. But, Genghis Khan was probably one of the best leaders of all time. Not to mention Erwin also lost the war. Round 3 to imabench. No conduct taken off because Pro asked not to. I didn't really judge the leaders on if they won the war or not, but that does take a major toll. Grammar to Con because I saw some mistakes on Pro's part, such as "Back over to you Imabench." which should have a comma. (Correction: Back over to you, Imabench.)
Vote Placed by Jingle_Bombs 2 years ago
Jingle_Bombs
Atheist-IndependentimabenchTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: The debaters were suppose to choose military captains who were the most successful or influential in history, yet every one of Pro's picks was a bonafide loser who ended up losing the war. In contrast to Pro, both of Con's picks were winners. And because loosing a war is sort of the worst thing a commander can ever do, and winning the best thing, Con gets my vote.