The Art of War in Practice in 2009

Just a quick note. Watch for practice of Sun Tsu's philosophies in the world around you.

Perhaps our President Obama has read The Art of War, as suggested by his push to put strategy before resources in Afghanistan.

Apparently I’m not alone in this thought.


Pitching a No-Hitter

So, to recap our journey to-date:

In Chapter 1 – Making of Plans, You learned to not hasten into war in a fit of anger. Take the necessary time to analyze Your 5 Fundamentals against those of Your Enemy. Only when complete, exhaustive and honest analysis proves beyond a doubt that You will be victorious, and only after you have designed and tested infinite strategies, should You make the final decision to wage war.

In Chapter 2 – Waging of War, You learned to not under estimate the prohibitive cost of war. It is an ongoing cost, piling up daily, and borne by You – unless You can shift the cost to The Enemy. A supersonic, wicked strong and single-minded war will end quickly and inexpensively, leave Your reputation intact and Your allies still Your allies. Reward Your supporters and bring the battleground back to normal quickly.

Chapter 3 – Strategic Offensive

Master Sun said:

In War,
Better take
A state
Than destroy it.

Better take
An army,
A regiment,
A detachment,
A company,
Than destroy them.

Ultimate excellence lies
Not in winning
Every battle
But in defeating the enemy
Without ever fighting.
The highest form of warfare
Is to attack
Strategy itself;

The next,
To attack

The next,
To attack

The lowest form of war is
To attack
Siege warfare
Is a last resort.

In Strategic Offensive we return quickly to the Taoist concept of The Way – inherent and unexplainable rightness – in stating that it is better (The Way) to take a State intact than to destroy it. It is much more honorable and ethical – not to mention the positive spin that could be generated on worldwide cable TV and at the United Nations – to simply render The Enemy impotent… to seize control and leave the infrastructure intact.

Regardless the size of the organism being battled, Your reputation and esteem will suffer less – could actually be enhanced if your gripe serendipitously follows The Way – by diminishing the damage during initial occupation.

The Mother of All Strategies – The Way to the nth! – would be to win the battle without ever fighting, employing the Taoist ideal that the most Skillful Warrior is never warlike.

Ultimately the goal of waging war is to control or overpower The Enemy. This can be achieved using the exhaustive planning and testing from Making of Plans. Duplicity and deception, as we mentioned in “Two Negatives Make a Positive”, can be a means to this end. Psychology or espionage can also lead to pitching a no-hitter. The use of firepower is an immediate detour off The Way.

There is a hierarchy which can be followed so as to diminish the damage of conflict. Attack at the point of strategy – while Your opponent is still planning. Next, break the ties of Your Enemy – isolate him from allies. If you must engage, have your professionals fight their professionals. And never, ever, ever attack The People.

Next time, how does all this relate to the Cube Dweller.


Bearing the Cost

The killing of an enemy
Stems from
The fighting for booty
Stems from
A desire for reward.

In chariot fighting,
When more than ten
Enemy chariots are captured,
The man to take the first
Should be rewarded.
Change the enemy’s
Chariot flags and standards;
Mingle their chariots
With ours.

Treat prisoners of war kindly,
And care for them.
Use victory over the enemy
To enhance your own strength.

In War,
Prize victory,
Not a protracted campaign.

The wise general
Is a Lord of Destiny;
He holds the nation’s
Peace or peril
In his hands.

As our discussion equates both The Nation and The Wise General to You, the Cube Dweller, a single individual, You must possess and use the required wisdom. And You will bear all associated costs.

If you are determined to cause this conflict, take care of your health and your reputation - drain those of the enemy. Integrate spoils into your own empire. Reward those who help you. Avoid collateral damage. Make the War as swift as possible. And bring the work place environment back to normal as quickly as possible.

Next time: Chapter 3 – Strategic Offensive


The Cost of War

Chapter 2 – Waging of War

Master Sun said:

In War,
For an army of
One thousand
Four-horse swift chariots,
One thousand
Hide-armored wagons,
For one hundred thousand
Mail-clad soldiers,
With provisions for
Four hundred miles;

Allowing for
Expenses at home and at the front,
Dealings with envoys and advisers;
Glue and lacquer,
Repairs to chariots and armor;
The daily cost of all this
Will exceed
One thousand taels of silver.

In War,
Victory should be
If victory is slow,
Men tire,
Morale sags.
Exhaust strength;
Protracted campaigns
Strain the public treasury.

If men are tired,
Morale is low,
Strength exhausted,
Treasure spent;
Then the feudal lords
Will exploit the disarray
And attack.
This even the wisest
Will be powerless
To mend.

I have heard that in war
Hast can be
But I have never seen
Delay that was

No nation has ever benefited
From a protracted war.

Without a full understanding of
The harm
Caused by war,
It is impossible to understand
The most profitable way
Of conducting it.

The Skillful Warrior
Never conscripts troops
A second time;
Never transports provisions
A third.

He brings equipment from home
But forages off the enemy.
And so his men
Have plenty to eat.

Supplying an army
At a distance
Drains the public coffers
And impoverishes
The common people.

Where an army is close at hand,
Prices rise;
When prices rise,
The common people
Spend all they have;
When they spend all,
They feel the pinch of
Taxes and levies.

Strength is depleted
On the battlefield;
Families at home
Are destitute.

The common people
Lose seven-tenths
Of their wealth.
Six-tenths of the public coffers
Are spent
On broken chariots,
Worn-out horses,
Armor and helmets,
Crossbows and arrows,
Spears and bucklers,
Lances and shields,
Draft animals,
Heavy wagons.

So a wise general
Feeds his army
Off the enemy.
One peck
Of enemy provisions
Is worth twenty
Carried from home;
One picul
Of enemy fodder
Is worth twenty
Carried from home.

Analysis accomplished, the decision to attack behind You, now it’s time for The Warmonger to understand the cost of his endeavor.

Sun-tzu was perhaps the first military strategist, and his skill and insight led to his being sought by overlords and kings who wanted to expand or save their dynasties – we may imagine he was a Blackwater consultant. At the beginning of my reading of The Art of War, I acknowledged that Sun-tzu’s methods were created for an audience with different goals than You, Gentle Cube Dweller. After some reflection I’ve concluded that Your goals are probably the same – expanding or saving Your dynasty – the difference being that Your dynasty is distinctly smaller.

Master Sun, in advising Warriors, spoke in material financial terms – for x-number of battle-ready soldiers, the king must plan for y-number of humvees, z-number of tanks, and zzzzzzzz-number of dollars per day – for soldiers and officers and bribes and spies and repairs and VA hospital care of wounded GIs and whatever else. He makes it very clear that war is expensive – every day – a black hole into which you pour cash.

But what would be the currency paid by the Cube Dweller who wages war in the office space? I believe he would pay on an external level, and an internal level. Externally, the Attacker would lose job productivity due to exhaustive analysis and surveillance required; he would potentially lose political capital in the office if his war is carried out clumsily or without deception; he could ultimately lose his reputation and his job. Internally he faces burnout, paying with his health, his stability, his peace of mind.

A war which has been analyzed and decided, and which is prohibitively expensive, should be swift and powerful, The Enemy put out of his misery quickly and humanely – lest the all too familiar domino effect Sun-tzu describes happen to you, (as we’ve experienced our own Homeland) toppling your regard, degrading your mental and physical health.

“No nation has ever benefited from a protracted war.” Boy, don’t we know that?

"Without a full understanding of the harm caused by war, it is impossible to understand the most profitable way of conducting it."

Understand the enormity of the cost of battle. Supply Your own hardware -- only what You need to bring with You from home. Do not pay for nourishment -- take Your perishables from The Enemy. Deplete The Enemy, drain the enemy.

Next time, the end of Chapter 2.