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Visions of Empire

15 Januar, 2010 (16:14) | History, Politics | By: pooq

In his book „The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire“ the writer Edward Luttwak is describing the strategical measures of Byzantine to survive more than a millenium in eternal war. Based on this book this post describes the basic situation.

Byzantine always have been a comparibly weak empire as it lacked of large human resources and was facing many strong enemies at all times during it’s existence. The only way to survive such a difficult military situation was to adjust the strategical aims in the ongoing conflicts. So Byzentine could not plan to annihilate their enemies as it was too weak, had no secure homeland and borders and had so many upcoming enemies as they were existing during the peak of the migration period in Europe and Asia.
So there strategy became to never seek a deciding war but to always keep conflicts as small as possible and to see enemies not just as enemies but as potential future allies. To get allies they used the full range of diplomatic options including spying, bribery and tolls. On military level they decided to focus on cavalry troops which allowed them to make quick but no decisive strikes.

I really enjoyed this description as I did not know all these facts before. I just wonder how many and what kind of sources of the era exist and how much is just interpretation.

In the end the author tries to point out what America might learn from the Byzentine strategies: „If America should learn one thing from Byzantium, it is that war is eternal; to exert strenuously against a particular enemy is only to hasten decline, for a new enemy is always on the horizon.“