B. H. Liddell Hart

If you find your opponent in a strong position costly to force, you should leave him a line of retreat as the quickest way of loosening his resistance. It should, equally, be a principle of policy, especially in war, to provide your opponent with a ladder by which he can climb down.

The more closely [the German army] converged on [Stalingrad], the narrower became their scope for tactical manoeuvre as a lever in loosening resistance. By contrast, the narrowing of the frontage made it easier for the defender to switch his local reserves to any threatened point on the defensive arc.

For if we merely take what obviously appears the line of least resistance, its obviousness will appeal to the opponent also; and this line may no longer be that of least resistance. In studying the physical aspect, we must never lose sight of the psychological, and only when both are combined is the strategy truly an indirect approach, calculated to dislocate the opponent’s balance.

It is folly to imagine that the aggressive types, whether individuals or nations, can be bought off … since the payment of danegeld stimulates a demand for more danegeld. But they can be curbed. Their very belief in force makes them more susceptible to the deterrent effect of a formidable opposing force.

The principle of compulsory service, embodied in the system of conscription, lias been the means by which modem dictators and military gangs have shackled their people after a coup d’état, and bound them to their own aggressive purposes. In view of the great service that conscription has rendered to tyranny and war, it is fundamentally shortsighted for any liberty-loving and peace-desiring peoples to maintain it as an imagined safeguard, lest they become the victims of the monster they have helped to preserve.