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  • Geopolitical Intelligence and Strategies of War
  • E. F. Ricketts, August 1942


People must be sick of war. Yet like poverty we have it with us still. Twelve hundred years ago Li Po wrote: “We have learnt [sic] that soldiers are evil tools, but wise men have not accomplished the ending of war, and still we employ them.”

Like many other peaceful Americans, thrown into this ageless pattern of war too suddenly for comfort, I have been working off my maladjustment by trying to find out how things are in this and other wars. Since wars we must have. Or do have anyway. And since, having them, we must accept them. I have been doing this for myself, for my own fun if you could call it that, and as a cure for the curious malady, the war jitters. But if it may be valuable to others, I cannot see why it shouldn’t be shared. Furthermore, if there is any truth at all in the old saying about knowledge being power, then the more we know about these things, the more fitted we’ll be to fight the good fight and to make philosophically what sacrifices we must make.

I started by reviewing books already famous in the present war: Berlin Diary, Mein Kampf, and such. Many of these already will have been cited in various lists of the hundred best war books, etc, such as Joseph Henry Jackson’s “Understand the war and withstand it” published in “This World” section of The San Francisco Chronicle, March 1, 1942.

Among other things, I was attempting to clarify for myself some of the ideas of internationalism which I hope we shall all be thinking about soon. That is, if we win. And we must. Otherwise there will be no internationalism for us or for anyone else to think about, and we’ll have Hitler’s or Japan’s nationalism to worry us, not ours.

I haven’t gotten very far. Obviously. It’s a big job, and my time is limited. But already I have seen glimpses that may be worth recording. I have looked into a few very illuminating accounts. And I seem to be incidentally compiling quite a reference list of sources. Even in itself, a carefully considered and annotated list of this sort may prove convenient. My experience has been that [End Page 50] when a person gets interested in an unfamiliar subject, his first and often the most difficult step is to determine where to find out about it. So here is “where I found out where to find out about” World War II, together with some of the things I found out.

It starts off with Germany, with Germanic philosophy, psychology and nationalism, going thence to Japan with it curiously intense nationalism, and finally into a few generalities.

It seems to have worked out that I have become more interested in books by enemy writers, from enemy countries, and on many subjects, than in our own authors. This is readily understandable. We know well enough how we think, what we are doing, and what plans we have. But we still have to get to know how our enemy is thinking—who so often outthinks us. And this we must do, surely and intimately and swiftly, if we expect to outthink and outplan him. To become familiar with Nazi or Japanese dialectic, as in the past we will have picked up the various types of thinking then current—religious, scientific, Communist, Spenglerian, Jungian—is a task both difficult and necessary. The hope is that, as a dialectic is achieved, it can be applied to any specific problem. And the strategist so equipped will arrive at a conclusion not unlike that reached by the enemy utilizing his nationalistic thinking. Since thinking is the basis for action, we may in this way foretell the enemy’s actions, or any of several probable courses of action under a given set of circumstances, with some probability of accuracy.


As prime movers in the present mischief, Hitler and modern Germany have been much written about. It seems to me essential that we shall get to understand these figures so important...


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pp. 50-62
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