Originally Posted by Alcibiades
Is it not one of the key rules of Total War that both sides need to be dedicated to that mentality?Certainly,one of the main advantages of Mongols was that none of their enemies had that mentality of a Total War(same goes for Romans).
I have several problems with what has been held as the inception and applications of Total War throughout history. Mainly, Total War per-se is a modern term that can be misapplied to some of the wars or invasions of history. To be sure, the concept of Total War itself, can be identified in a few historical instances, but I think it was really more of a cultural based method of war combined with the unique mentality of a particular leader of a people gone to war. The occasional glimpses of Total War like campaigns in our history ususally suffer from a modern prejudice, being looked upon as barbaric or blood thirsty cruelty for the sake of the doing.
Alcibiades mentions the Mongols and the Romans. It is absolutely true that the opponents of Temujin were completely unprepared for his methods. Yet his way of war was the way of his people for generations. It is how they fought each other, tribe against tribe, long before unification. As Genghis, he had the brilliance and strength to transform the Mongol way of tribal war into a doctrine of a nation and modified the tactics meant for a couple dozen warriors, into the virtually unstoppable tactics of tens of thousands, all working in concert. What can be viewed as butchery by the Mongols is really practicality in face of the make up of their opponents. With the Jin and Chin they routinely faced armies of 100,000. In defeating these armies time and again, the Mongols simply could not afford the tens of thousands of battle survivors to reform in their rear, or escape ahead of them to join up with other forces. Ruthless slaughter of these survivors, the laying waste of the surrounding countryside that could provide sustanance and support to them was only a practicle application to the Mongols. The sacking and burning of cities served the purpose of sustaining his armies and eliminating resistance in the future. If they defied him to his front, they would defy him in his rear. Problem solved. Yet he spared some cities and towns, but only if he was sure in his mind they would be no threat, and served the overall purpose of his conquests. There was a great deal of benefit to the psychological aspect of war by instilling terror in his opponents and their people. But this was not something new. Still, many battle losses to his army were avoided by the judicious pushing of terrified survivors ahead of him. As ruthless as Mongol warfare has been percieved, even they knew when to back off where appropriate. If conquest is the aim of your war, you might want to leave something to rule while you do the conquering.