Monday, April 19, 2010

An Analysis of the Jaredite Civil War, Part III

What follows is the last section I was able to work on. Again, this a rough draft that is without notes which I am hoping to receive feedback about. Thanks for reading:

Practice of War
We read in that same verse that Coriantumr was studied in “all the arts of war” as well. We don’t have many details from the text what this art is. Based on several stratagems used later in the Jaredite Civil War, the immediate application of both the arts in cunning in “giving battle” to his enemies we can appropriately use the example of the General Zhang Fang from The War of the Eight Princes.

Zhang Fang was the leading general from one of the Eight Princes who led his troops with energy and vigor. Early in the war he led a surprise attack on the enemy forces. A short time later, trapped, he led a successful and daring night operation to supply his army. Later in the war he argued for a decisive military attack using the language of classic Chinese theorists. And subsequent historians blamed his “cruel and violent” behavior as one of the sources for China’s endemic conflict. Final, rival leaders “collaborated in a conspiracy to murder Zhang Fang, then sent his head as part of a peace offering to [a rival leader], who kept the head and kept on fighting.”

Zhang Fang’s career during The War of Eight Princes calls attention to the nature of military practice included within the “art of war”. This practice included a heavy use of stratagem and ruses to psychologically undo their opponent. Military practice was also intimately linked to both contemporary political strife and subsequent moralizing from historians.

We see this connection in Jaredite political society as well. The “arts of war” are explicitly forbidden from being explicated according to religious leaders in The Book of Mormon. In Ether chapter 8 the daughter of Jared suggests they consult the “secret plans” to “obtain kingdoms and great glory.” This includes a use of sexual temptation obtain power. Later, a contender in the civil war that guts the Jaredite kingdom increased the strength of his army due to his secret combination. And another contender for the throne assassinated the current ruler to obtain the throne.

The military practices are no less subversive than the political practices that precede them. At the start of the civil war we are informed that “every man with his own band” fought for they desired. The brother of Shared led a night attack in his fight for the throne.

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