A Pirate’s take on Strategy vs. Tactics

Diogo Monica:

Are strategy and tactics really different concepts, or just different levels of the same thing? If different, in what do they differ? Should they be handled differently? The goal of this blog-post is to describe strategy and tactics from the point of view of the Captain of a pirate ship, in the hope that the analogy will be sticky enough to allow remembering the concepts the next time this topic comes up. Let us first set up the context, and then clarify the concepts.

A Pirate’s conundrum

In March 1699, after a years-long voyage as a privateer, Captain Kidd found himself in the Caribbean commanding a captured, undermanned, treasure-laden vessel (the Quedagh Merchant). There, he learned that he and his crew had been declared pirates and were to be arrested. The accusation of piracy stemmed from having captured two ships (the Quedagh being one of them), which led to an immense diplomatic and political upheaval. However, Kidd had in his possession the French passes presented to him by those ships, which made the captures legal (at least technically), and thus constituted his proof of innocence against the piracy accusations.