Why don't we see a military genius of the likes of Napoleon, Caesar, or Alexander nowadays anymore?

Sep 2017
United States
War is fundamentally a lot different now.

We'll never know if General Mattis was a modern-day Caesar, because while Caesar could go conquer Gaul at his own determination, Mattis couldn't take a bunch of U.S. troops down into Mexico to sack, loot, or conquer it. The public outcry, governmental backlash, and foreign responses would pretty much crucify him.

Also, war is now a lot more bureaucratic, technological, and logistics-based. You don't have battles like the times of Caesar where he'd ride up to the front lines to boost the morale of a wavering cohort in a bloody melee or secretly station his infantry amongst his riders to counteract his enemy's cavalry superiority. Now, warfare is a lot more about the numbers and systems in place. Each soldier and officer is trained to be able to manage the scale of the situation they're in; Mattis won't be rolling up in a motorcycle to boost the morale of a patrol in Afghanistan. Weapons like remote rockets and drones can hit the enemy without requiring any physical presence. How much a military can field is a lot more important.

There is nowhere for these generals to test themselves anyway. Big set-piece battles don't happen anymore, nor do intensive manuever campaigns of conquest and defense. It's mostly security and counter-terrorism operations now. And if war came between big powers... I think nukes trump genius.