July 12, 2012

Entertainment Review Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”

Lance Cpl. Bill Waterstreet
Desert Warrior Staff

Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.Winston Churchill

The above quote has been the prevailing thought in western military strategy since World War II, but before this, war resembled the killing fields of the Great War, where the price of lives paid was astronomical. All war costs a terrible price; it’s more acceptable when embarked on with the ideal of sparing as many lives, civilian and military, as possible.

These ideals are the essence of sound strategy and tactics, and were outlined about 2,500 years ago in The Art of War in ancient China by the general Sun Tzu. Unfortunately these teachings didn’t reach the West until shortly before the French Revolution and didn’t gain widespread acceptance until the 20th Century.

Sadly, western thought was governed by the often misunderstood philosophies of Carl von Clausewitz outlined in On War. Clausewitz preached the ruinous practice of total war, the utter destruction by any and all means of one’s enemy. Due to the proliferation of Clausewitz’s ideas, the West, as it had for centuries, continued waging war on a scale of mass attrition, culminating in the World Wars. Had the teachings of Sun Tzu been propagated and given due weight, millions upon millions of lives could have been saved.

Because western culture achieved dominance throughout the world as globalization occurred, peoples who took the ideals of The Art of War to heart began to abandon them in favor of Clausewitz. It took two World Wars and the deaths of millions for us to see the light.

Sun Tzu, in a time which would appear ancient and uncivilized to the modern observer, outlined the most expansive and in-depth treatise on the theory and conduct of war that has ever been written. Sun Tzu’s writings, often referred to as the “Thirteen Chapters,” display the aspects and practices of war with such wisdom they can only described as the veritable general’s Bible.

However, Sun Tzu himself might never have existed. It has been concluded through the study of history in relation to the text that Sun Tzu did not live in the time or situation canonically ascribed to him. The traditional story is false. This is not to say Sun Tzu was not real. He quite possibly could have lived at a later time, about 300 years later than originally thought, in the latter 400s B.C., under the same or a different name. Authors of the time frequently credited their works to popular figures of old to lend them credence. Nevertheless, the Thirteen Chapters are no less enlightened, correct or important.

The Art of War is essential reading not only for military commanders, but also enlisted personnel, coaches, teachers, businessmen, politicians, and everyday people.

All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


Courtesy photograph

POW recalls ‘hidden treasure’ in lessons learned

Courtesy photograph Retired Col. Lee Ellis, a prisoner of war who spent five and a half years in the “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War, spoke at the Air Force Academy’s National Character and Leadership Sy...

Drivers continue to find road bumpy after answering automobile ads

An individual or individuals claiming to be “Exchange Inc.” have been placing advertisements in auto magazines and commercial newspapers, leading Army & Air Force Exchange Service shoppers to believe they’...

The not-so-great American gun-grab

YUMA, Ariz. – In the wake of a recent tragedy, everyone from politicians to the talking heads in the media to the average Joe on the street has been talking about gun control. So far, the one measurable result of all this talk has been an explosion in the sales of firearms people fear may...


Listening to Superiors

There is something to say about a lower enlisted Marine with an opinion, and that is they should have a limited one especially when time is of the essence. For most young Marines in the Corps words like, “We don’t pay you to think,” have been said to them on more than one occasion. There...

5 Questions: Lt. Daniel Chung

1.) What services do chaplains offer to military personnel? We offer spiritual guidance and advice but also counseling. So if Marines or Sailors come in with marriage problems or stress at work they can come and speak with a chaplain. Some of us have professional degrees but most don’t so it’s not like talking to...

Chaplain’s Corner: Christmas

What is Christmas to you? For me it is my favorite time of the year! As a Christian, I do celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The greatest gift the world has ever or will ever receive. But, not everyone believes as I do. So, what does Christmas mean to you? Too me, I love...


Be the first to comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>