The three Great military heroes- Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte. The first named concurred most of the world as it was known in that period. Caesar, along defeating Egypt, also annexed Britain and Gaul and Napoleon conquered most of Europe. Victories of great generals had to be measured in relation to the strength of their armies. Alexander won battles thanks to the intense numbers and strength of his army. He was not defeated by anyone, battles to fight and was brought down by his 'friends' who feared he was too ambitious.
Napoleon did not learn from history and unsuccessfully tried to challenge the horrors of the Russian winter. Generals by themselves can not win wars. They needed inspired leadership. In world war 2, despite great bravery and patriotism, Britain and its allies, would not have been able to defeat Nazi Germany but for the timely and huge military effort by the US. After stunning victories during the early part of war, Hitler's war strategy turned whimsical, he repeated the mistakes of Napoleon and attacked Russia with disastrous results. Hitler ignored advice from brave honest generals like field marshal Rommel, saw conspiracies everywhere and made one blunder after another even during the final phase of the war. Allied Generals like Eisenhower, MacArthur, Patton, Bradley and others were bolstered by the intense military support from the US. Flattering biographies and technicolour war films from Hollywood further boosted their 'heroism'.
Yet, Generals did win wars despite being outnumbered both on land and air. They did so through inspiring leadership, setting personal examples and upholding a right and just cause. It did not matter that such generals belonged to small nations and often had to rely on primitive weapons. But they were inspired by flaming patriotism and were able to defeat some of the strongest nations in the world.
General Von Guyen Giap, the legendary North Vietnamese leader, who died last week at 102 in Hanoi hospital would certainly go down in history as one of the all-time greats in military strategy, leadership and personal valour which enabled his small nation to defeat two of the largest colonial powers, France and US.
Giap and his political leader, Dr Ho Chi Minh will never get their due in history, having been portrayed as some kind of monsters, who joined hands to spread international communism in south east Asia. They were further accused of selling their and their nation's soul to china. Most people particularly our right wing and pro-US 'intellectuals' had systematically condemned the North Vietnamese freedom struggle because they continued to be brainwashed by the western propaganda which painted china as 'yellow peril' and North Vietnam as its willing stooge. And this, despite the fact that Gandhiji advised and respected Dr Ho and acknowledged there was merit in how he deserved for freedom. How else could a medical doctor, unable to bear the pangs of brutal colonialism, arouse his poor people and lead them to defeat the strongest nation in the world.