Thursday, April 23, 2015

"That’s what happens when you’re 'a sleepless malice'"

JRR Tolkien, WWI
For James Holmes, the Professor of Strategy at the Naval War College, "the chief takeaway from Tolkien has always been: despair not." But he thinks Tolkien also shows significant miscalculations in Sauron's war plan:
.... The alliance of elves, dwarves and men arrayed against Mordor had no incentive to parley. Why would they? The Dark Lord offered nothing except slavery and death. If there’s zero chance your enemy will capitulate, you’d better crush his forces, put your boot on his neck and impose what terms you will. Otherwise you may find yourself in a quagmire—or even suffer defeat.

...[T]he Dark Lord guaranteed that the allies would fight to the finish. They had no other option. His forces’ assault on the fortress at Helm’s Deep—an attempted genocide—built an alliance rather than demolishing one. It proved that Mordor had not just the malice but the power to overcome a Western kingdom. A common, mortal threat unites the threatened against it. ....

If Sauron was guilty of self-defeating behavior, why was he guilty of it? He accepted few interviews after the hobbits flung the One Ring into the Cracks of Doom—and brought about Mordor’s downfall—but we can speculate. The Dark Lord was like the scorpion in the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog: he did what his nature made him do. ....

That’s what happens when you’re “a sleepless malice” stirring in the east. Hubris must’ve also been at work. Like the Napoleons or Hitlers of the world, that is, Sauron believed his own hype. ....