[It’s like the Robert Burns’ poem] “Of Mice and Men.”
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane In proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft a-gley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain For promis’d joy.
Still thou art blest compar’d wi’ me! The present only toucheth thee: But oh! I backward cast my e’e On prospects drear! An’ forward tho’ I canna see, I guess an’ fear!
We can’t see what’s going to happen, but we can be afraid—lights out, this sort of thing. This is the best laid plans of mice and men, famous line of Burns. This is so, more than anywhere else, in war where you can very well guess it would occur. Clausewitz says, “Differences of opinion are nowhere so great as in war.” Look what it did when Mark Clark wanted to take Rome out of pure vanity, and General Alexander wanted to catch and trap the German Tenth Army up in northern Italy. Clark had to have his satisfaction and take Rome, which was not defended. The Germans promised they wouldn’t defend the holy city, and they didn’t. He had his glory, but it let the whole Tenth Army get up there to Normandy. It was a very foolish thing to do, but it was because the two generals disagreed and the vanity of it. [Then there was] Monty versus Ike and Monty versus Patton as much as anything.
This is an interesting thing. I have a quotation here from B. H. Liddell Hart, who is by far the best known military commentator of our times. He has written more and he has been quoted more than anybody else—all through World War II, as well as World War I. He goes way back there. He says, “I used to think the causes of war were predominantly economic.” Well, there’s a lot behind that too—they are economic. Everybody profits by them, except the poor civilian who fights them. He goes on, “Then I came to think that they were psychological. I am now coming to think that they are decisively personal, arising from the defects and ambition of those who have the power to influence the current invasion.”
This is certainly the Book of Mormon position. Behind every war there is some powerful personality. In this case it is Amalickiah and in another one Moroni. It’s a personal duel. It becomes so personal between Amalickiah and Moroni that it becomes a matter of drinking blood and this sort of thing. That’s what it is, he says, after all these years. He has been writing for fifty years on military affairs. Liddell Hart, an Englishman, has finally come to the conclusion that it is derived from the personalities. It is personal ambition, etc. That’s an interesting reflection. I just came across that the other day.
So we have this: “The strength of character leads to a degenerate form of obstinacy.” We have a beautiful case of it here. We are on Alma 49 and 50. When we read them presently you will see that all these cases are well illustrated, like when they refuse to give up the fort until all the officers of the army are killed off—utterly stubborn, this sort of thing. [During World War II] in the rain after Bastogne they fell south to straighten out the line and remove a bulge. General Taylor was ordered to fall back a mile. He said, “Gentlemen, the 101st only advances; it never goes back.” He immediately turned on his heel, stomped out of the room, went back and ordered an advance of another mile. It completely threw things off, but this is the stubborn will and character that gets people promotions. But it “leads to a degenerate form of sheer obstinacy,” he says. “Arguments among the staff are terrible.” (Moroni versus Pahoran; Patton versus Monty and Eisenhower). General Bradley said, “I never knew a general who was happy,” because when you get up there it’s all fierce competition and everybody is shooting for the top spot. Everybody is out gunning for everybody else. The feelings run very high up there—the things they say about each other, etc. Then they write books afterward, because it is so highly competitive. They never agree on any plan or project or anything else. On that subject Clausewitz concludes, “We shall soon feel what a dangerous edifice war is, how easily it may fall to pieces and bury us in its ruin.” [This happens] even up to the moment when you think you are winning. After Moroni settles everything, then bingo comes a terrific counterattack, like the Bulge, that catches them completely off guard. It’s a dangerous thing. We mentioned Agincourt last time.
This is of extreme importance: Clausewitz says, “Decisions are based on reports, all of which have been lies, exaggerations, and errors. Most reports are false, and the timidity of men gives fresh force to lies and untruths.” The fog of war includes misreports of what happened, etc. What [you say] happens is what you want to have happen, because you want to believe in the untruth. I could give many examples of that. He’s frank and honest in this. He says, “This difficulty of seeing things correctly is one of the greatest sources of friction in war among the commanders.” Thus Moroni has no idea what is happening to Pahoran, and Pahoran the same way, you see. What does a general do in a case like this? He says, “War in its plan is so often thwarted by the unexpected.” Of course, that’s the nature of it. Napoleon said, “The first duty of a general is never to be surprised.” But you are always being surprised. You can’t help it. You don’t know what’s going to happen.
“War . . . is so often thwarted by the unexpected that it must be left to talent.” It must be left to a person who has the talent for it. Frederick the Great and Napoleon had genius, of course—and Eugene, Marshall Saxe, and so many of them like that. The great generals were all eccentric geniuses. In fact, they only won wars by breaking rules. The most prestigious metal in Europe is that which was given by the Austrians in the middle of the seventeenth century, and it remained right down through World War I. It was the Maria Theresian, the medal of Maria Theresa, which you got for some brilliant achievement and success while you were breaking rules. So there was a catch to it. When you got the Maria Theresian, you had to be shot afterward because you disobeyed the rules. This is military thinking and it’s true. So don’t covet the Maria Theresian, because after you get it you have to be taken out and shot. It’s a great honor, of course, but you shouldn’t have done it. It was against orders that you won the battle. That’s the way we have to follow the rules. We’re so often thwarted by the unexpected.
Then he says this: “For that reason there is no other business in which a theoretical guide is more useless.” Less use can be made of a theoretical guide [in war] than in any other business. You can’t use the vade mecum [guide]. I must tell you another one. I’m sorry but this must come out. I notice that Camp Ritchie is in the news today. It has now been exalted to Fort Ritchie. That’s where we trained very secretly, up in the Blue Ridge Mountains right at Camp David. There I was for many months. There was one fellow who had come from Washington who was always slightly drunk. His name was Mr. Tucker. He came to brief us on absolutely top security, the most secret things of all. He talked about a wonderful woman by the name of Miss Crawford, who knew all the answers. She knew more about the war than anybody in existence. If you could only know what Miss Crawford knew . . . We heard a lot about the mysterious Miss Crawford. Then months passed and I went to London to the war office. I went to Hyde Park Corners which was the military intelligence headquarters there with the British. From Hyde Park Corners we were reassigned, and where did I get assigned to? I got assigned to the great Miss Crawford. So I turned up at Whitehall first thing in the morning with my pass, all my identification, and everything. At nine o’clock in the morning I went up to Miss Crawford’s place there and waited. She didn’t show up until ten o’clock. Then she bawled me out. “Well, I know nine o’clock is the hour, but we don’t come at that time.” That wasn’t the proper time to come in the British way of doing it. Then at eleven o’clock everybody would go up to the roof and stand in a long queue clear around the building to wait for their tea. You waited and had your tea at eleven o’clock. Then at twelve o’clock you would come down, and it was time to go to lunch. This was the way they ran it. Well, do any of you watch “Yes, Minister” that comes on Sunday nights over Channel 7? It’s very good, and it’s exactly the way they do that. It’s just as crazy as “Yes, Minister.” It’s a British comedy, a running spoof on the high government in Britain—not only how human they are, but how silly they are. Well, this is the sort of thing that went on.
Miss Crawford bustled in. She had a huge mop of frizzy red hair. She was an old maid and very, very fussy. She said, “Now what did I do with that?” Our job was to compose the vade mecum which was the British handbook. It had to be used by everybody. It was a bright red book but very top secret. They made it as conspicuous as possible with a brilliant red cover. They called it Invade Mecum. It was a pun on vade mecum “Come with me.” Invade mecum means “Invade with me.” It was supposed to give you all the essential data. What we were working on was the place, positions, and strength of the German units. You could follow them best by following where their commanders were vacationing, or where they were moving, or when they went to a meeting. You could follow the high brass of the Germans if you could follow the newspaper reports and the popular magazines with their pictures in them. That was our sole source of information. She would just go through the newspapers and the magazines. She would clip them out, and all her information was kept in a shoe box. It was all messed up, and she would go through trying to find things. She had no filing system or anything. This is the way we composed the vade mecum. This is the way we kept our thumb on the pulse of the German army—little Miss Crawford there with her red frizzy hair going through a shoe box full of scraps. It’s too funny for words.
So Clausewitz says, less use can be made of a theoretical guide than in any other business. No, you can’t have a handbook for war, and yet there are manuals for everything in the army, as you know. But for this you can’t have a manual, though they try to use them. So Clausewitz says throw away the rule book. It depends on the genius of the commander. Here’s a thing that just came out in the paper on Friday. “Warriors Keep Fighting Edge in Peace Time.” It talks about that, because an army’s purpose is to [be aggressive]. You’re not big, tough and strong just to defend yourself. You have to have some purpose for that. We have to keep flexing our muscles and exercising all the time. The army will go to pieces unless it has activity. As Brigham Young says, just as surely as we have those weapons we are going to use them. There’s only one way to use them, and that’s the real thing. They just itch for that sort of thing. We won’t talk about that now. It’s what you learn in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, that wars go on. Clausewitz says the thing that is most surprising about war is that it’s surprisingly simple. [This just keeps taking me back to the Book of Mormon all the time. He’s got it all in; he’s got the spirit of it too.] . . . and that it [war] fools everybody. He says the most intelligent person is not going to be the greatest general. You want a man with a steady character who thinks very simply and very directly, like Suvarov or U. S. Grant. They were not complicated, nervous, ambitious men like Max Taylor or Frederick the Great. They are the ones who get through the long wars. They have an instinct for what is the right thing to do.
Here’s another of Clausewitz’s main doctrines, a central doctrine of strategy and tactics. This is basic. He says it’s hard for people to believe this, but the defense is a stronger form of making war always. “It’s contrary to the prevalent opinion, but the defensive form of war is the abstract stronger than the offensive. Absolute defense completely contradicts the conception of war.” If you are just on the defensive, you are not waging war. You are just sitting there. To wage war is to go forward and wage war. Marshal Forbench was the one that would always go forward. And General Foch was losing everything, hand over foot. He would say, “We’ve lost another ten divisions. My plan is to attack.” So he would attack every time. With that policy they wouldn’t have any army left. “All the time that elapses falls into the scale in favor of the defender.” Any lawyer knows that. If you can draw out the case longer, the better it is. Put off the confrontation as long as you can, but, of course, every defensive, according to experience, will have to change to the offensive sometime because that’s what war is. It’s extremely important always to bear in mind that the only advantage which the offensive possesses is the effect of surprise. If you are on the offensive you must effect surprise, because he is ready for you otherwise. Of course, that’s the great trick that was pulled by the two thousand sons. They surprised the daylights out of the Lamanites who were following. They never expected them to turn around like that. You have to be the innocent aggressor, yet you must make a surprise attack on someone else. It’s a very interesting thing, a contradiction here.
I have to refer to Max Taylor because he was the general of the division. Not only that, he later became chief of staff of the whole Army, Navy, and everything else. His grand passion was the “reverse slope,” as if it were a new discovery. I had to preach “reverse slope” morning, noon, and night or the general wasn’t satisfied. The reverse slope was that you wouldn’t dig in on the top of a hill, like Bunker Hill, and look over the approaching enemy, giving you an advantage. He was coming up at you. Not at all. What you would do is get at the bottom of the hill and wait for him to come across the ridge. Especially that was so with armor, because they make a fine profile against the sky. That paid off magnificently. That’s what saved the day at Bastogne, because in one morning they were able to knock off forty-four tanks as they came across the hill. There was no way they could escape. They had to come down into Bastogne there on this bare hill. As soon as they would pop up [we would hit them]. In the 327th artillery we had the new imported 44 anti-tank guns with long barrels. They were effective against anything. We just knocked out all their tanks. It was the same thing with troops. You can’t hide your profile on the top of a hill. It sounds contradictory, but it’s remarkable how well it worked. Of course, in Holland it didn’t work too well. Everything was dead flat.
Another conclusion from Clausewitz, “A negative effort must prefer a bloodless decision.” The less blood shed the better. That was Moroni’s feeling. “The only advantage of the negative object though is to delay a decision.” That’s cold war. He says there’s no point to cold war unless it leads to hot war, which it will always do. “It’s a game to switch to war after all. You can stall all you want, but everything is subject to the supreme law, the decision by arms. When it is actually demanded by the enemy such an appeal can never be refused. Accordingly, among all the objectives which may be sought in war, the destruction of the enemy’s forces always must be the one that overrules all the others.”
So no matter how you spar, no matter how you wait, no matter how long you delay, no matter how strong your defensive position, this will be your objective. Sooner or later, you must destroy the enemy. For Moroni destroy meant they would just agree to go back home again. This is the idea of the war. The personal war is the game of chess. Once the king is taken, nobody is particularly loyal to him. Nobody was particularly loyal to Amalickiah at all. They were suspicious of him yet. He got himself in that position, but as soon as he disappeared the people had no objection to giving in. Moroni said, “Well, go back home and promise you’ll be good after this, and they all went back.” That happened after the last war. We didn’t worry after the armistice was signed. The Germans and the Japanese didn’t bother us. This leads to a policy adopted by the Generalstab in World War II, which is the Blitzkrieg. You must get it over with and get it over completely. And it came from Clausewitz. “No conquest can be finished too soon. Don’t drag it out.” But wars always do drag out. Six-week wars always turn out to be five-year wars. They say, “This will be over in six weeks.” They always say that at the beginning. At the Battle of Bull Run they said, “This will finish that off.” Well, it just started four years of war. They always say the same thing. When it began in August 1914 they said, “This will be over by fall.” It always turns out to be years. He said, “No conquest can be finished too soon. Spreading it over a greater period of time makes it more difficult [of course it does]. A speedy and uninterrupted effort toward a decision is essential to an effective war [go and just keep going until you have finished it off]. Until it takes place nothing is decided, nothing won, and nothing lost.” You may be winning up until the last minute. Then something will happen and you’ll be defeated. This happens in the Book of Mormon too. “The end crowns the work. War is an indivisible whole, so how often defeat has been snatched from the jaws of victory.”
He said it must be an uninterrupted effort, and there is the catch. If it drags on beyond a certain period, it can’t be uninterrupted. You have to stop and take your breath. You have to stop and regroup. You have to stop and resupply. You have to do something. So unless you win that first blow then you are in for a long haul. And nobody has ever yet won the first blow. That’s what they tried at Pearl Harbor. But there are always the slip-ups, always the delays. They didn’t finish off the navy; they didn’t know that two carriers were still out to sea, etc. That was a great blow. That was the nearest thing to the blitzkrieg that the Germans and Japanese were practicing at that time.
At Cumorah both sides lost, and it was a long war. This would be inconceivable to Clausewitz who said, “Once the great victory is gained, there should be no talk of rest, pausing for breath, or consolidating, but only pursuit.” Well, the Nephites were chased for fifty-five years. The Lamanites never let up that relentless pursuit, but was an off-and-on sort of thing. That’s the fatal flaw. Every campaign has to slow down somewhere, as everybody did in World War II, etc. We could have pressed the attack to an early finish, but we ran out of supplies. Patton was going great guns. Nothing was stopping him, but then there was no gas. Everything ground to a halt and that was that. You can’t get very far with tanks that way. Patton couldn’t get gas because Monty wanted it. There’s your clash of personalities. Monty wanted it for his northern campaign. He wanted to go through Belgium. He got it and stalled down there. [Clausewitz says], “Beware of confusing the spirit of army with its morale. The highest spirit in the world changes only too easily at first check to depression.” Nobody knew that better than Moroni. He saw that no matter how great the fury of the attacking enemy there was a time when there was hesitation. Then immediately he would propose conditions, and usually they would take him up on it. Zerahemnah didn’t; he said we will go on fighting. There is always a check that comes in the Book of Mormon when the tide turns suddenly. You have to sense when that time has come, and some men can do it.
Clausewitz’s last principle is important. “War is never an isolated act. In the real world war never breaks out suddenly and does not spread immediately.” Here we are going to have to disagree with him. He saw this in the princes’ wars and the gentlemen’s wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries fought by professional armies. But the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with the nation in arms, beginning with Napoleon, is something different, and for a good reason which he applies, “Human organizations have, because of their inefficiency, always fallen short.” This is the answer. It’s the human factor that is always going to spoil everything. You are not going to get your ideal war or anything else because human organizations always fall short. Well, that’s an understatement. We are seeing that a lot recently. What about this fall in the market on Friday? Which of the geniuses foresaw that. We weren’t warned about a 200-point drop in the market. Human organizations always fall short. There is bungling, misunderstanding, and deficiency. You never get things mobilized instantly. He said, “These deficiencies operate on both sides and become a modifying influence.” Hitler won D-Day for us because he refused to mobilize and send his armor to Normandy. He wanted to send it to LeHavre.
But war is a raid. When Zoram went out, he said it was to obtain those who had been carried away captive into the wilderness. Wars are raids anyway. Zoram’s original purpose in going out was a raid to bring back captives in the wilderness, as Abraham went against the four kings. Lawrence’s whole war was a ghazw. The Arabs call it a ghazw. Our word raid is from the Arabic ghazw. “As long as we live we shall ghazw,” they say. It was a matter of raids, but it was effective war. You strike, loot and take what you can. But Zoram’s whole purpose was to get them back, as we read in Alma 16.
Clausewitz has something to say that amuses us here, I think. This is good and sounds almost comical today. He said, “If wars of civilized nations are far less cruel and destructive than those of uncivilized nations, the cause lies in the social conditions of these states internally and their relation to each other.” We didn’t just destroy cities wantonly or things like that, the way the barbarians used to do. No, we would never burn a city or palace. That’s out of the question. Or just kill citizens. We’d be very careful never to shoot a civilian or anything like that [irony]. Well, civilian loss is far greater in war than anybody else now.
The various documentaries on TV show us that “primitives” and animals do fight. They fight all the time, but they know when to stop. It’s a sort of exercise. They never badly hurt each other, because that would spoil the game. They know when to stop, but we don’t. That’s the difference. Neither did the warlords of the steppes. They are what Clausewitz had in mind when he talked about the barbarians and how they wage war. But we are civilized; we wage civilized warfare today. As I said, that’s humorous. Good joke. We should all be rolling on the floor. He was thinking of certain wars in Russia. He said, “They are unthinkable in our society because you can’t exterminate a whole nation. A thing like that is out of the question.” People have tried to do that. That’s exactly what Genghis Khan and Kubla Khan did, exterminated whole tribes and whole nations. That’s the expression used in the Book of Mormon. When the time comes that the voice of the people shall choose iniquity and fall into transgression, they would be ripe for destruction. When the cup is full they shall be swept off from the face of the land. Ye shall become extinct is the prophecy that is given after one of their happiest wars. Then Clausewitz says, “Since Bonaparte [the people in arms were unknown before him] it has approached much nearer to its real nature, to its absolute perfection.” The Napoleonic wars were real wars. He burned everything in the way; he didn’t spare anything. Then he is in ecstasy about this: “The most violent element of war, freed from all conventional restrictions, broke loose with all its natural force.” This is the way it should be.
Mormon said, “And from this time forth did the Nephites gain no power over the Lamanites, but began to be swept off by them even as a dew before the sun [Mormon 4:18].” A very powerful expression. There’s nothing left. Everything is swept away as the dew before the sun, combing the land. It wasn’t just a spot engagement here and there that would lead to a conference between the rulers, or something like that. No, it was a total thing. The most violent element of war, like a violent natural force, like a plague sweeping a nation, appears when, “freed from all conventional restrictions, it [breaks] loose with all its natural force. It is a natural phenomenon. There are no more artificial or other restraints. War is much nearer to real nature in absolutes,” he says.
Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 was when Hitler entered Russia, and they were to destroy absolutely everything. Within two weeks they had taken a third of Russia, the most vast country in the world. The gobbled up a third of it with total destruction, as fast as they could go. Clausewitz was wrong too because he didn’t have the nuclear bomb. He couldn’t conceive of the scale of wars today or the arms production or the nature of some weapons. He said this, “In the great combats we call wars there is usually no hostile feeling of individual against individual.” That’s very true. I told you last time that General Taylor wanted to invite the colonel who was defending Carentan to tea. He said, “I admire him. I admire what he has done. I want you to go and invite him to tea.” Well, we called that off. The Germans resented that sort of thing. The colonel didn’t get the point. The first person we interrogated was a person who was very badly wounded. He refused to say anything. He was very proud and just died.
He is going on here. We were talking about emotions being wrought up. “National hatred becomes more or less a powerful substitute for personal hostility of individuals. Where this is absent the hostile feeling is kindled by the combat itself where an act of violence will excite us to the desire to retaliate and be avenged.” Well, the violence starts, but you have to whip it up first. You know that wonderful passage where he tells us how Amalickiah had special speakers go to all the towers throughout the country and whip up emotional resentment against the Nephites, to get the people worked up until they were willing to go to war. They were very reluctant after a long war, but this time he used that technique just like using TV. He kept hammering away at it with these speakers from the towers [Alma 48:1–3].
Here’s an interesting statement from General MacArthur. Now there’s a great personality. We have him to thank more than any other person for the sensible, amicable settlement of the Japanese question after the war. This is General Douglas MacArthur writing in 1957 when that tension was on: “Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear, kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant sums demanded. Yet in retrospect these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.” Well, you can make them happen—that’s the point. It’s a self-fulfilling sort of thing, as in the case of Amalickiah when he set up the towers and got the people all whipped up into a passion. So the Book of Mormon is right on track here, isn’t it? Once [war] starts, then there’s the desire for revenge. This is the big thing. And the Book of Mormon ends in an orgy of revenge. “Vengeance is mine [saith the Lord], and I will repay [Mormon 3:15]. In Mormon 4, against all the Lord had taught, they went out for revenge. He said, “But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished.” You will not [get] revenge. That was the theme. Remember, Mormon said, when I saw that against all the Lord had taught them they were determined to avenge themselves upon their brethren, from that time I did utterly refuse to go against mine enemy. I became an idle onlooker to record these things for your benefit. So they must be for our benefit.
The good guy sees his friends cut, and so he seeks vengeance. That’s the dominant theme by far on TV every night now, as you may notice. You have to have a motive for going. You can’t just go out and shoot somebody. That would be very bad. You have to have some reason for shooting so the [viewer] is all excited and wants to see these people get their comeuppance. They must do something very wicked at first. The pattern is to start out with some grave crime being committed against the innocent, crimes of violence. The private eye’s best friend gets shot. It’s a routine they work over and over and over. Then the rest of the play is seeking for vengeance. That’s what keeps us interested. Will he get the vengeance? Will it catch up with him? That’s what makes all the great tragedies interesting from Oedipus to Macbeth. Is this going to catch up with him? Revenge is the whole thing. Mormon said in Mormon 3:9: “And now, because of this great thing which my people, the Nephites, had done [when they won a great victory against all expectations], they began to boast in their own strength, and began to swear before the heavens that they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren who had been slain by their enemies.”
Well, what nobler motive can there be than to avenge the blood of their brethren? With that Mormon lays down his arms. He resigns as commander and says he will have nothing more to do with them. He utterly refuses to be avenged on his enemies. For one thing the Lord has absolutely forbidden them to go seeking vengeance. So Mormon said in Mormon 3:14–15: “. . . behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying: Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.” Well, where does that leave us today, short of Zion?
Turn to Alma 49:6. There’s no better known maxim than that generals always plan the next war in terms of the last war. They always fight the last war because that’s where their experience is. That’s where they can correct their mistakes. They talk it over and endlessly argue what they would have done, what this person should have done and that person should have done. The English are great on that. That’s exactly what happened here. Notice this neat touch here in the verse 6: “. . . they supposed that they should be privileged to come upon them as they had hitherto done; yea, and they had also prepared themselves with shields, and with breastplates [they were getting ready for the other war, the war that they had hitherto been victorious in];; and they had also prepared themselves with garments of skins, yea, very thick garments to cover their nakedness.” Notice, they had matched the Nephites’ armor. All the things they had hitherto done they were doing now, but that wasn’t enough because Moroni was ahead of them. Moroni was a real military genius. In verse 10 it tells us that Amalickiah stayed back at the base, confident in a quick and easy victory. “He didn’t care for the blood of his people. That happens too.
Notice the insight of verse 11. You don’t just go to war by improving the army that way and by improving the defenses. That wasn’t it at all. He shook up the whole administration of the government. Notice, he was given plenary powers here to do this thing in this crisis. So he shook up the government from top to bottom and got things moving. “. . . for Moroni had altered the management of affairs among the Nephites.” It wasn’t just the military preparation. He altered the management of the affairs. It was a government shakeup, probably from top to bottom. That is very important if you are going to be efficient. Once you have lost a war you can’t have the same duds back home. “. . . the Lamanites were disappointed in their places of retreat and they could not come upon them.” They retreated back into the wilderness; they always had this nice wilderness to fall back on. Then his chief captains thought they could make the city of Noah an object lesson in verse 13: “. . . they marched forward to the land of Noah with a firm determination; yea, their chief captains came forward and took an oath that they would destroy the people of that city.” They were so mad because they had been turned back.
That’s exactly what the Germans did in 1914. They were going to make an object of Antwerp. That slowed them down long enough for the French to make some resistance and set up the battle of the Marne. The Germans are great on swearing oaths, and they will destroy something [in that way]. In Lidice, a village in Czechoslovakia, every man, woman and child was killed just in revenge because one of the SS personnel was killed there. This is what they are doing here in verses 13–17. They took an oath that they would destroy the city. The man says here, “The supreme test of generalship is to have the enemy play the game your way.” Moroni was very good that way. He made Amalickiah do just the things he wanted him to do, while Amalickiah thought it was his own idea. That’s generalship when you can do that. This is possible to have the enemy play your game, making just the moves you want him to make under the impression that he is being very smart on his own. Moroni did just that. The attack on the city of Noah was according to his desires. They were drawn off. The city of Noah looked weak, and this is the one they would attack to take their vengeance and make an example of it. That’s exactly what Moroni was counting on. He knew his psychology, a very shrewd man here. Verse 15: “And now, behold, this was wisdom in Moroni; for he had supposed that they would be frightened at the city Ammonihah; and as the city of Noah had hitherto been the weakest part of the land, therefore they would march thither to battle.” And [Moroni’s] two generals were Teancum and Lehi, and they were “terrors.”
The Lamanites came to the city of Noah and they were again disappointed. That was terrible. He had devised a new ingenious type of defense for the city, a new type of gate for the Lamanites. They [had taken] their oath to wipe out the inhabitants of the city of Noah, so they made these savage, repeated assaults on the city. It was silly. There’s a description of siege and fortification. Verse 20: “Thus they were prepared, yea, a body of their strongest men, with their swords and their slings, to smite down all who should attempt to come into their place of security by the place of entrance.” They got trapped there because it was an L-entrance. You couldn’t go in directly. At the place of entrance Moroni had devised a clever kind of gate. This is the arch perversity of attacking strong places that can’t be held. Arnheim is the classic example there in our war, I think. “. . . but behold, they were driven back from time to time, insomuch that they were slain with an immense slaughter.” They began to dig down their banks and they were swept off by the arrows. All the chief captains were slain, and more than a thousand Lamanites were slain. What stubbornness! “. . . there was not a single soul of the Nephites which was slain.” They had the advantage of that battle.
This happened. Going over to Holland it was discovered that the Germans had a number of panzer divisions there. They had armored divisions resting, recouping, and rearming at Arnheim. It was the worst place for light airborne troops to assault. They were to take that bridge. General Browning was the British commander there. He asked Monty, who was living in his trailer house way back in Brussels, how long will we have to hold that bridge? He was to go in suddenly and hold the bridge. Montgomery snapped at him; he was always mad at him. He said, “Twenty-four hours or two days the most. We’ll be up there before that if you can hold on.” He said, “We can hold on for two days or four days, but I think you have chosen a bridge too far.” That’s what gave the name to the movie. That made Monty very mad. But General Sir Miles Dempsey came down and gave us a little pep talk. He came to headquarters and we all stood around him. He said, “As soon as you land, get off the road as soon as you can. I’ll be coming down those roads with my tanks two abreast, forty miles an hour.” There were these little narrow Dutch roads with big ditches on either side to drain them. One tank might get by. All you had to do was have one 88 and you could block the whole thing, which is exactly what happened. Two weeks later we hadn’t seen a British tank; they hadn’t come in at all. That was Sir Miles Dempsey. He was the husband of Daphne Du Maurier who wrote that famous novel Rebecca. These were illustrious people, you see. They had to be; they were aristocracy. But they had that confidence. “Get off the road as quick as you can. We’ll be coming down two abreast, forty miles an hour.” Two weeks later a British tank lumbered in, and we kidded the guys. It was a communications tank. It had no weapons or anything else. The fellows with it had browning guns, and they were all filled with mud and sand. They said they just used them for effect. It was much later that any more tanks came in.
There we were up at Arnheim. We had only five miles to go then. It goes back to the most famous British guy who was called “Ultra.” That was Sir Stewart Menzies who became the boss in the James Bond novels, 007. He was a real man. He was getting information at this time, and he sent back reliable information. But Monty gave orders that the information should only come to him, that Eisenhower should not find out about it because he might call the thing off if it looked too bad. It did look much too bad, so we were not supposed to get it. The night we were to leave we hopped into the jeep with Captain Kipnis. He was the nephew of Alexander Kipnis, the famous bass. Everybody is related to everybody in genealogy. We dashed down to Southhampton to SHAEF, to the big headquarters, to find out about the information we had heard. Actually, there was the Ninth Panzer armored division, the Tenth Panzer, and the Second SS Panzer—three big armored divisions right where this group of paratroopers was to land. And they were supposed to take a bridge against that opposition. We didn’t know they were there. We didn’t know what was there, and we wanted to find out. We dashed down late in the day and came in. A typical Oxford don was sitting at the desk there at SHAEF headquarters. We said, “We have to know where we are landing; we are going tonight.”
He said, “Well, I can give you the information, but you will have to ask it through proper channels. I’m not going to give you that now.”
The captain said, “Yes, but we are going tonight. We have to land there tonight. We want to know what’s there.”
“No, these things have to be done in proper order. We have to do this. We haven’t been given any order to let this material go. You’ll just have to wait for it. We can let you have it in a week, two weeks maybe. If you put in your request now, we can let you have it in a week.”
While Kipnis was arguing with him, I slipped around and went through the door into the map room. An old friend of mine from Camp Ritchie was there. He let me take what I wanted. I got these maps and photographs, stuffed them under my coat like this, and buttoned the coat. That was the information we wanted. That’s the only way you could get it. This is the way things are done. It’s right out of that scene “Yes, Minister.” The same sort of thing is done. There they were with all this. They had an SS division. They had everything under the sun resting up there. They didn’t want to let anybody know, because if we knew we’d call it off. Monty always wanted this dagger thrust at the heart of Germany. We would just go through there. General Sir Miles said, “Two days at the most and we will have it all won.” Two days! It went on until about December 10. It began September 16 and was still going on in December. We were beaten. We just had to pull out. Nothing came of it. It was a complete collapse. So I know what it’s like to be on the losing side.
This is very good stuff here. They were swept off by stones and arrows. Then the Lamanites fled and went to inform their king. Back at headquarters Amalickiah had a tantrum. Heads would roll. Boy, those high level tantrums are something. The general enjoys the luxury of getting very, very mad. They absolutely become purple with rage. Verse 27: “Yea, he was exceedingly wroth, and he did curse God, and also Moroni, swearing with an oath that he would drink his blood.” Notice the psychology of that is like the Medell’n, the Ayatollah, the Hezbolla. This is the type of psychology we never had until today—the idea of going all the way. The only solution they have is to murder. This man is insanely obsessed with this sort of thing. Until we got tangled up with the Moslems we didn’t really know what that meant, to get so bloody minded as that. But we have it today in the world.
Believe it or not, he [Moroni] won the war, and they had great peace and prosperity after because of their “diligence which they gave unto the word of God . . .” I’d say we’ll come down to earth next time, but I’m afraid we won’t. We’ll just dig in deeper. This next chapter is marvelous because this takes us back home during the war—how people not in the military behave during times of great stress.