Recall the Battle of Waterloo was Napoleon's last ditch effort at holding onto power in the face of a coordinated attack by British and Prussian forces in Belgium in 1815. It was a pitched three day clash of the grand armies of Europe involving epic charges, huge personalities and high strategy. When it was all over, there was a clear winner and a loser. With a clear outcome and happy ending, no wonder the tale evokes such lust from political strategists.
Contrast the Waterloo allegory with Napoleon's earlier 1812 star-crossed invasion of Russia and the taking of Moscow. The British were preoccupied by a war with the U.S., Spain refused to submit but was contained, and conquering Russia, for a variety of economic and military reasons, looked like a good idea at the time. Backed by a huge coalition with considerable treasury and hundreds of thousands of soldiers, the French Empire crossed into Russia in June. What followed was a long drawn out campaign of Russian retreats in an increasingly inhospitable terrain with occasional battles and, as the months went by, the arrival of winter. Napoleon's Pyrrhic victory was consummated by a horse ride through the Russian capital's deserted streets. What followed next was a disasterous slow withdrawal through an unpacified countryside. It certainly didn't ''break' Napoleon but it turned out, even though Moscow was taken, to be an epic disaster.