Never interrupt an enemy in the process of destroying themselves.
Sun Tzu’s philosophy on war and strategy has placed him high in the annals of leadership history. As a matter of fact, it’s widely conceded that this General of ancient China is the premier example of what any war leader or strategist should aspire to, as his iron-clad discipline assured victories against surprising odds. Even graduates of West Point Military Academy (Donald Trump) admit to study of Sun Tsu as well as many other military geniuses. They also learn philosophy, engineering, history, psychology, ethics, physics, writing, political science, chemistry, and other related topics.
In light of Canada’s (and the world’s) current Zeitgeist, (Spirit of the age) it’s interesting and informative to compare our own leadership to this master. Let’s begin with (to my thinking, and in no particular order) the most important strategies.
The best battle is the one that’s avoided. Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. Think modern day Ukraine, Donbass Union, Putin’s strategy. Now, look at Ottawa, and ask yourself if, offers by government, of calm negotiation with those they are meant to serve, might have been a better starting point. Instead, the city population itself, now energized and angry, will protest long after the convoys have moved on to their next venue.
Attack where the opponent is unprepared, appear where you are not expected. Consider the surprise and rotating border blockades. The truckers have committed their opposition to a carnival game of Whack-a-Mole, as is soon to be demonstrated by our southern neighbors as well. This expends the opponents’ resources and tends to make them reactionary to convoy whims as opposed to their own enforcement expectations.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. Think of the Venturi Effect, and how truckers have coaxed those of the ‘eddy’ (Venturi Effect) in the cities themselves, into the ‘flow’. . . even after they have gone.
Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Think the Vietnam War where the Viet’s wisely creeped so close to invading re-con patrols as to render mass bombing runs redundant, in fear of killing their own troops.
Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak. If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them.
Thus, we may know that there are five essentials for victory: 1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. 2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. 3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. 4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. 5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign. Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.
A leader leads by example, not by force. You have to believe in yourself. If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things.
Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can? Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy. Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern, and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.
Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate. There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard. There are not more than five primary colors, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen. There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.
Opportunities multiply as they are seized. When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move. Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain. When strong, avoid them. If of high morale, depress them. Seem humble to fill them with conceit. If at ease, exhaust them. If united, separate them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Know yourself and you will win all battles. All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.
Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley. When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard. Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.
There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.
All warfare is based on deception.
And to repeat the most important of Sun Tsu’s teachings: “Never interfere with an enemy in the process of destroying themselves.”
Maurice St. Jean, Managing Editor Parrhesias.com 2022-02-25