Forcing Peace by Promoting Trade
The revolution basically started when the monarchy declared bankruptcy and called the estate general to levy new taxes. So, from a terrible financial situation to a terrible financial situation France limped along. What is fascinating is that in the economic world, no form of government flourishes more than a well established Republic which Napoleon did set up right off the bat with unified taxation laws, civil laws, criminal laws, etc. If Napoleon could have had a decade or so of peace, the Republic would have boomed beyond anything a neighboring kingdom could have handled. Napoleon decided that an effective strategy for fighting the Brits was to establish a continental embargo. This hyper-controlling and masochistic policy for intents and purposes was his downfall. This not only led to a massive hurt to his own economy, it also led to elective wars surrendering the moral high ground ending peace instigating double front wars, strengthening the cause of the coalition against him and creating a state of endless conflict. If he would have promoted trade with his enemy as well as his friend, then his own economy would have boomed and all elective wars would have at least been deferred to the future.
The Right Wife
To put this one in perspective, can anyone imagine George Washington being so successful with an ill-tempered, adulterous, thieving, conspiring and disreputable wife? Probably not! Josephine was well past her prime child bearing years when she married the future emperor and this proved to be disastrous preventing the legendary general from having posterity. She was unfaithful at his most innocent, romantic and youthful time in life causing him true heartbreak and leading him to a life of adultery furthering his loss of moral high ground. Lastly, she was poor at running an estate and great at finding nefarious ways to bring in money on the side. She was solid dead weight and had Napoleon been able to marry a young, madly in love woman able to give him her full devotion, children, support and council, he might have been able to stem the rise of hubris natural to his early successes.
Remaining First Consul for Life
In all reality, the battle cry Viva La Emperor was a major downfall of Napoleon. The battle cry as perpetuated by Napoleon should have been Viva La Republic. Also, by promoting his position as the head of a true Republic, he could have enlisted Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in helping to fight the British especially in 1812. The idea that neighboring royalty would respect his title was overplayed and ambition got the best of him yearning for the title and glory. If he had stayed first consul for life, he would have of necessity been able to change the constitution to allow him to be the commander in chief yet this role would have fit the ideals of his republican beliefs and those that got him to his position. Avoiding hereditary rule and the trappings of royalty would have shown him to treasure his people over himself christening him as the greatest man of all-time solidifying the moral high ground and removing momentum and battle cries of his detracting kingdoms.
Focusing on a Navy
A super power Navy was not in the cards for the Napoleonic era. A super power Navy over a mighty army would have allowed for trade un-imagined, disruption for his enemy’s ability to trade, strengthened the Spanish colonies which he controlled and saved his own colonies. It would have been an incredible boost in his diplomatic abilities. England was simply not afraid of an invasion because of the lack of navy and they were able to not honor their treaty as it was advantageous given Napoleons lack of Navy. Granted, he was not a sailor or admiral and shifting military power to a navy would have given other great men much power but this threat is lessened by the fact that great admirals do not have ground forces at their control. Had he used his Navy properly, he could have saved the army he abandoned in Egypt which would have boosted his image that much more in the eyes of his countrymen.
Liberating Conquered Territory
So often country’s such as the Netherlands thought that the French were going to be liberators and just as often found that they were new oppressors. If the French could have honored their republican beliefs and possibly gone the route of union and not hierarchy, they could have had some successful and economically powerful nations to independently been part of their own coalition protecting them from the coalitions that in the end brought him into bondage.
The Right People in the Right Place
In the famous business book “Good to Great”, the author outlines how a great leader is one who not only has the right people on the bus, but has them sitting in the right spot on the bus. Having the right people in the right position could have saved Napoleon. As marshals and family began to fail him, he failed to remove them or move them around. In the beginning his self awareness and critique of those around him allowed for a great system of meritocracy and achievement and of having truly great men in leadership yet once he became loyal to a man, he stayed loyal to a fault. In a true republic, merit not connections should rule and if he had been able to follow that path, his governors, vassals, and marshals would have been all top notch talented men.
More Time in Paris, More Time Building
It was his domestic and civil reforms that had the most profound impact on France even to this day. He annihilated the debt, build infrastructure, promoted education, increased public works, increased free enterprise, coined sound money, and instituted a fair, equitable and effective civil code. Had he spent more time in Paris, had he had more men from the army home and working, had he been able to promote the domestic situation with as much vigor and drive as he did in the beginning, France would have become a super power of the ages. It was the infidelity, perpetual war and absence that so greatly hindered this dream among many other factors but time in the seat of the government, with the same pathway of libertarian reform would again been the thing to mimic the world over.