The White Flag Principle: The beginning

[.........] I thought that if there was a chance, however slim, that defeat might be better than a victory, there was an urgent need for a manual to teach military men how to be defeated. There are many manuals of how to win wars. Almost every retired general writes one. But there was not one for how to lose wars. Since I had a very strong feeling that a war is already on its way, I sat down immediately to write one before it was too late.

People may rightfully ask about my qualifications to tackle such a subject. I had little military training myself. Actually I had no military training whatsoever. [.......]. To make the first step one needed a method. Pascal had one and I had another. My method started with making a list. I put a new, clean sheet of paper in my typewriter and typed out in capital letters, on top of the sheet and in the middle of the first line: How to lose a war? By the time I wrote the sentence and underlined it, it became clear that losing a war was not just a military matter. Losing, like winning, is a political, social, economic and even a culinary matter. The most important thing one has to have in order to lose a war is to know clearly the difference between defeat and victory. One might think that it's easy to make a distinction about the two. Well, if one looks back at history, it is immediately apparent that many distinguished leaders and politicians, not to mention great military commanders, could not tell one from the other. Just to give some recent examples: was the great American invasion of Somalia a victory or a defeat? Was the Serbian invasion of Bosnia a victory or a defeat? Is the American and British invasion of Iraq a victory or a defeat?

Another important requisite, in order to be defeated, was to have an enemy. This is not in the least a military matter. This is a political or even a geographical matter, something to do with foreign policy. The aim of a blooming, successful foreign policy is to acquire allies, not enemies. In order to be defeated we need enemies, at least one. If this is what we need, we cannot run a successful foreign policy. We have to run a bumbling, unsuccessful or even a disastrous foreign policy. How does one conduct a disastrous foreign policy?

Even this is not enough. We might have an enemy, but if our economy is strong, successful and flourishing, there is little chance of us losing a war. The same goes for a united, strong and stable society. It's not impossible, but it is much easier to lose a war if the economy is in a crisis and the society is divided.
After brooding for some time on my original subject, I made a list of chapters, as follows:


  1. How to tell defeat from victory
  2. How to manage a bad, disastrous foreign policy
  3. How to ruin a flourishing economy
  4. How to disunite an united society
  5. How to recruit bad soldiers
  6. How to train an army for defeat
  7. Strategy, logistics and tactics that lead to defeat or surrender
  8. How to recover from an accidental victory
  9. Raising the white flag and, in case there is no white flag, how to make one from other flags
  10. Exercises for being able to keep your hands up without getting tired.
  11. Marching into captivity with pleasure
  12. Defending oneself on charges of war crimes in international courts of justice
  13. Life under foreign occupation

Once the idea matured, it became important to publish it as quickly as possible. In Israel you never know when a war might flare up. The sooner such a manual was published, the better, since it might prevent another victory. As everybody already knows, the trouble in Israel does not stem from defeat, but from too many victories. Since there was no time to write a full-blown manual, because I still had to learn about many of the subjects, I wrote a rudimentary manual, a synopsis actually, with the intention of expanding it later. Once this was written, I had to find a way of publishing it. At this stage my synopsis was no more than an essay, a few pages long, not enough for a book. The quickest way was to publish it in a magazine. I decided to publish such a magazine myself, a one-off literary magazine in Hebrew.

I had no difficulty in collecting material for this magazine, which was called Dapim Tzehubim (Yellow Pages). Everyone I approached contributed. The list of participants included Amos Keinan, Nathan Zach, Dalia Rabikovitz, Harold Shimel and Meir Vizeltir. Painters like Uri Lifshitz and Ygal Tumarkin contributed drawings. These names may not mean much to an English reader but these were (and still are) leading names in the Hebrew cultural scene. I also included translations that had never before seen the light of day in Hebrew, like The Bank of Curses by Jonathan Swift and the Dying man and the Priest by Marquis de Sade. Wallase Ting's poetry appeared here also. The climax of the magazine, from my point of view, was the first publication, in a rudimentary form, of the new manual: How to lose battle and be defeated at war. The magazine was a yellow paperback in an A5 format, designed to look like the magazine ANARCHY, the famous journal of anarchist ideas that is no longer with us.

This was not a commercial publication. This was an attempt to spread the spores of anarchy in a militarist and over disciplined society, and to give it breathing space.