Greatest Military Leader of all time?

I came across this question on another board and thought I’d throw this out to the dopers. Who is the greatest military leader of all time? I’ve seen Hitler, Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and more thrown out.

Saddam Hussein. I mean he totally faked out all US and British intelligence.

Subedei Bahadur.

  • Tamerlane

p.s. - Actually there are a number of contenders. It’s actually rather hard to evaluate leaders across time and space because the requirements and specific circumstances of particular ages can confound comparison. It’s like the old Alexander vs. Hannibal comparison ( and both are contenders ) - even though both fought in what many would consider similar conditions, they really weren’t.

At any rate I think you could put forward a number of top rank figures for consideration. Subedei just happens to be my particular favorite ( and if someone wants details I can go into why much later tonight ). But Hannibal or Alexander would be fine choices from my standpoint as well.

Hitler, however, would not be. A few of his generals were top-notch, but Hitler was a occasionally lucky amateur, about the best of which can be said about him as that he was unconventional enough to occasionally hit on/accept unconventional ideas. More often he was a deluded idiot.

Here’s most of the list that’s been compiled so far:

Julius Caesar
Tadeusz Kosciuszko
Adolf Hitler
Joan of Arc
Genghis Khan
Atilla the Hun
Alexander the Great
Napoleon Bonaparte
Marcus Arelues
Peter The Great of Russia
Robert E. Lee

I dunno about that list. It includes some who were primarily political leaders and only ocassionally, or briefly, field or theatre commanders (which A.H. never was at all), whose victories came more out of being able to marshal the resources of the nation, inspire the people, and gain the following of good loyal officers, than from their own tactical or strategic talent.

I’d like to add Belisarius to the list.

And, frankly, if you’re going to include Ike and Peter the Great on the list, US Grant should be there, too. Each man used their industrial and population advantages ruthlessly to defeat their enemies. Personally, I don’t think any should be on the list. Each one is a good and competent military leader, but greatness is something more, I think.

Now, if you want to talk about leadership off the battlefield, I think Adm. King deserves a lot of kudos. He was a son-of-a-bitch, but he made the two front strategy in WWII work.

My vote is for Robert E. Lee.

He took a ragtag, underarmed, mostly untrained army and came very close to creating a new country.

How about Erwin Rommel?

Well, he’s a far better pick than Hitler, anyways. Not sure he ranks near the top of the greatest of all time list, but he’d be up near the top of the greatest of the 20th century list.

“I am Shutruk Nahunte, King of Ashand and Susa, Sovereign of the Land of Elam. By the Command of Inshushinak, I destroyed Sippar, took the Stele of Nirah-Sin, and brought it back to Elam, where I erected it as an offering to my God, Inshushinak. Shutruk Nahunte 1158 B.C.”

Lee was good, don’t get me wrong.

But if you want a confederate general who brought an almost pathological genius to the field you want Thomas Jonathan ‘Stonewall’ Jackson. I think the north should be damn happy he died at Chancellorsville. It might not have turned the course of the war…but imagine if he was at Gettysburg.

Yes, yes … but are you happy?

Emporer Palpatine.

I mean he held together and entire galactic empire for 20 years until his upstart apprentice got all goody goody on him.

How did Gustavus Adolphus get left off the list? The man was a military genius.

And why is it that you often see military leaders like Hannibal, Napoleon, Lee, and Rommel on these lists and you so rarely see their contemporaries who defeated them on the battlefield? Isn’t the guy who defeats a great general a greater general?

The obvious example being Wellington, who defeated Napoleon.

Citing ADOLF HITLER as a great military leader and not including Horatio Nelson, who was obviously the greatest sea warrior to ever live, and Wellington, a no-questions-asked genius who beat Napoleon, is kind of like building a list of the greatest basketball players of all time and citing Manute Bol while leaving out Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.

If Gary Kasparov spots me a queen, two rooks, and a bishop, and I beat him 5 out of 7 matches, would that mean I’m a better chess player than he is?

Rommel got beat in Africa because Monty had vastly better logistics backing him up, likewise for Lee, and even more so for Hannibal. Napoleon got whipped fair and square at Waterloo by Wellington, but otherwise had a more impressive career than Wellington. Don’t get me wrong, the Iron Duke was an exceptionally good general, and I’d stack him up with the likes of Lee or Rommel any day. I don’t think he’s quite up there with the Alexanders and Napoleons, though.

Hannibal. Hannibal Smith.

If he took them to a new galaxy to escape the cyklones (whatever), he’d be Commander Adama.

I second this. I was expecting that I would have to suggest him, because even though he was a veritable genius, you never really hear about him.

Another strong suggestion is Sun Tzu. He could take a band of mistresses and turn them into an army.