The 4th Century B.C. Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, wrote what is believed to be the first treatise on war and military science, entitled Ping-fa, or "The Art of War." The most widely known of Tzu's precepts is "Know yourself and know your enemy, and you will never lose a battle." My brother's father-in-law, Ken Murphy, sent me this piece comparing our foreign policy over the past 25 years with Tzu's strategies. I don't know who Tom Adkins is.
Art Of War: Sun Tzu and Four American
by Tom Adkins
Over two-thousand years ago, an ancient Chinese warrior wrote a brief book on warfare. His name was Sun Tzu. His book, The Art Of War, is now a staple for virtually any military strategic training. Sun Tzu barely mentioned weaponry. Instead, he focused on strategies... strategies that convert to winning and losing. His insights into the nature of competition, battle and diplomacy apply to virtually every aspect of life, from the battlefield to the boardroom, from the football arena to the global arena. Within this context, let's briefly examine the greatest challenges of our four most recent American presidents.
Kumbaya Diplomacy: Jimmy Carter versus Leonid Brezhnev 1976-1980.
I say: Know your enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are sure to be defeated in every battle. -- Sun Tzu
From the end of World War Two, United States foreign policy towards the Soviet Union was essentially a "keep up with the Jones-ski's." If the Soviets made a bomb, we made a bomb. If the Soviets built a tank, we built a tank. Essentially, we treaded water. Jimmy Carter was the first president to buck that trend. Carter slashed our military and proposed we become buddies with the Soviets. The Soviet Union promptly took over ten countries. When the USSR marched into Afghanistan, Carter responded by withdrawing from the Olympics. Carter didn't understand that leaders bent upon world domination usually aren't concerned with track and field events. During Carter's term, world leaders smelled his weakness. The OPEC nations pulled back production of oil, driving prices to four times their 1976 level. This created "Stagflation," when energy prices skyrocketing regardless of economic conditions. The cost of everything rose overnight, crushing the American economy. But Carter wasn't done. He decided that it would be wonderful to put virtually the entire nation on the dole. All sorts of government entitlement programs were created and expanded. Few worked and most of them caused heavy damage. Taxes rose. The economy slumped. Interest rates quadrupled. Poverty rose. The economy staggered. All because Carter wanted to play horseshoes with the Soviet Union, who essentially wanted to destroy the United States. Carter invited them to a tea party. The Soviets showed up and played smash-mouth rugby. Our military was toothless, our intelligence organizations were hollow, and our nation was floundering. Carter left office with America on its knees. Nobody respected us, and we were powerless to show them otherwise.
It is a doctrine of war not to assume the enemy will not come, but rather to rely on one's readiness to meet him; not to presume that he will not attack, but rather to make one's self invincible. -- Sun Tzu
Demanding Victory: Ronald Reagan versus Mikhail Gorbachev 1980-1988.
To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. -- Sun Tzu
Ronald Reagan inherited a terrible economy, a nation with no international respect, and a bold, expanding Soviet Union. He tossed away the old concept of military parity along with the Carter concept of capitulation and took it upon himself to defeat the Soviet Union. Reagan recognized that a socialist economy barely functions. By rebuilding American armed forces, Reagan challenged the Soviet Union to keep up. They obliged. Our military spending increased to 27% of our federal budget. But the Soviets needed 60% of their budget to keep up. That's math didn't work well for the USSR. But the Soviets were willing to bleed their people dry.
Nothing is more difficult than the art of maneuvering for advantageous positions. -- Sun Tzu
Reagan had a stroke of brilliance. The Soviets relied upon hard currency to maintain their straining military budget. And there was only one source of Soviet hard currency; Oil. Reagan tripled the foreign aid to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to about 3 billion each, but under the following conditions: 1-They stop fighting, 2-They buy American military hardware, and 3-Saudi Arabia increase oil production to meet American demand. The Saudi's opened up the oil spigots. Overnight, the price of oil dropped below $20 per barrel. In one fell swoop, Reagan brought peace to the middle east, boosted the American economy with lower energy prices, and eliminated the only source of money to fund the Soviet army. It actually became more expensive for the Russians to pump oil than it was worth. The USSR was on its knees, ripe for defeat. Shortly after, Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative. The USSR tossed in its hand. Within 24 months, the USSR was no longer in existence. To this day, our economy benefits from lower oil prices and less military spending. All because Reagan won the Cold War. That victory wasn't the sum of efforts from previous presidents. Reagan alone won the Cold War. Without firing a shot. Few give him credit for his utter political brilliance. When Reagan left office, America held unprecedented prestige and strength. The victories won by a master of war gain him neither reputation for wisdom nor merit for courage.
How subtle and insubstantial, that the expert leaves no trace. How divinely mysterious, that he is inaudible. Thus, he is master of his enemy's fate. -- Sun Tzu
Herding Cats: George Bush versus Saddaam Hussein 1990-1992.
A speedy victory is the main object in war. -- Sun Tzu
Sometimes, diplomacy is as delicate as gossamer. Sometimes diplomacy is a sledgehammer. And sometimes, it's both. The first serious challenge to George Bush's "New World Order" was issued by Saddaam Hussein. Everyone knew Reagan didn't take any crap from anyone. Like all bullies, Hussein was anxious to test the mettle of this new president the press labeled as "Wimp." Big mistake. Every world leader should know better than to believe the American press. Not only did Bush have iron balls, he had brilliant diplomatic skills. He actually knitted the whole world into a blanket of agreement against Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. This political accomplishment was like herding a hundred cats. Except cats with nuclear claws, bad attitudes, and who often hated one another.
While we have heard of stupid haste in war, we have not yet seen a clever operation that was prolonged. -- Sun Tzu
The armed forces Reagan had built were ready, and this coalition was armed with American equipment and training. When Hussein's army was crushed in 100 hours, the world collectively took notice. Few challenges followed. American liberals whined that this was a war over oil. No kidding. And who suffers most from high oil prices? We can guess Ross Perot isn't starving when his oil bill goes up 50 cents a gallon. But poor people do. Thus American liberals -- as always -- were willing to sacrifice their constituents as political pawns, proving once again that naiveté, stupidity, arrogance and power lust are the backbone of the Democratic party. Unfortunately, that represents about half the nation. When the Gulf War was over, the United States enjoyed its peak influence in the world. Nobody doubted any facet of our nation whatsoever. In less than ten years, Reagan and Bush took America from laughing stock to absolute respect. Say what you want about Bush. He was uncomfortable. Boring. And he didn't discuss his underwear on MTV. But diplomatically, he was brilliant, perhaps better than Reagan. He knew what had to be done. He knew it was a monumental task. He knew how to do it. And he did it. Bush left office with America unquestionably the only world superpower, allies all over the globe, and very few enemies.
The general who in advancing does not seek personal fame, and in withdrawing is not concerned with avoiding punishment, but whose only purpose is to protect the people and promote the best interests of his sovereign is like a precious jewel to the state. -- Sun Tzu
Diplomatic Graffiti: Bill Clinton versus China.
Appraise war in terms of the fundamental factors. The first of these factors, is moral influence. -- Sun Tzu
Befuddled Americans think Bill Clinton's major war is in Yugoslavia. Actually, Clinton's war is with China. And he already lost. Under Clinton's watch, China has successfully stolen, bought, or was simply given the blueprints for every modern American nuclear weapon -- and the guidance systems to accurately deliver them. Like Reagan's brilliant victory over the Soviet Union, China never fired a shot. They simply waited until we had a corruptible president, and simply corrupted him.
One who is not acquainted with the designs of his neighbors should not enter into alliances with them. -- Sun Tzu
Bill Clinton's political prostitution has never been questioned... it's always been a matter of price. Wise world leaders have long recognized Clinton as an egotistical political charlatan, capable of being elected in a nation enamored with personality and ignorant of wisdom. Such leaders aren't spun by James Carville and Dan Rather. Instead, they laugh at Clinton's bumbling and self-aggrandizement. Then take advantage of him. No wonder the Chinese wanted Clinton to be president.
All warfare is based on deception. There is no place where espionage is not used. Offer the enemy bait to lure him. -- Sun Tzu
The political greed of Clinton and his Democrats drove them directly into the Chinese espionage trap. Like all nations, China has been snooping around for years, picking up a snippet here, a spoonful there. But under Clinton's watch, China got the entire bag of goodies. It wasn't even expensive. For a few million dollars to the DNC, China gained complete access and even protection via Janet Reno's Justice Department. When Clinton's people discovered the damage, they did nothing. When the damage came to light, Clinton's administration tried to blame everyone else. What could they do? Admit their treason?
Those who excel in war first cultivate their own humanity and justice and maintain their laws and institutions. By these means they make their governments invincible. -- Sun Tzu
Led by his pathological ego, Clinton breaks rules and laws at his leisure, victimizing friends and foes alike. In the meantime, he stumbles from one manufactured crisis to another, all designed to cover his tracks. He distracts the nation by flinging bombs across the world, converting sleeping dogs into resentful enemies. Meanwhile, China picked our pockets and built coalitions against us while Clinton parades around, a team of flakes shilling for him. Clinton inherited a world that respected America, and like a drunken gambler, parlayed American prestige into the gutter. He managed to destroy the careful coalition of nations aligned against Iraq. He ruined world confidence in NATO. He managed to weaken Russia as a state, yet strengthen their diplomatic presence. He strengthened China's hand unimaginably, creating instability in the region. He simultaneously stoked the nuclear fires between India and Pakistan, two wary but previously contented enemies. Now, rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran are stretching their claws, armed with Chinese missiles which can reach America. And Taiwan is just a bit edgier today. When Clinton leaves office, America will have less friends than his first day as President. Thanks to Reagan and Bush, the United States isn't on her knees. But Clinton proved America is willing to turn a few tricks for the right price.
When the leader is morally weak and his discipline not strict, when his instructions and guidance are not enlightened, when there are no consistent rules. Neighboring rulers will take advantage of this. -- Sun Tzu
Every nation is perpetually at war. For a president, every move, every word, every action has consequences to the entire nation from that moment well into the future. The concepts behind successfully leading a nation are not new, but the naive, arrogant and power-hungry seem to create endless varieties of how to commit the same mistakes. The less we pay attention, the greater damage each mistake creates. On this Memorial Day, remember those who fought for our nation, especially those who gave their lives so we may be free. Consider how easily their sacrifice can be squandered. And how often it has happened. And whether you will ever let that happen to another American son or daughter.
War is a matter of vital importance to the state; a matter of life or death, the road either to survival or to ruin. -- Sun Tzu
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