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Both human desires dictate that they enter a battle hoping to succeed rather than lose. Tsu Wu Sun, one of the greatest military scholars to ever graze on soil, wrote the book "The Art of Battle" in 500 BC. He emphasizes the strategies that must be followed before going into battle. Sun states in the book the dos and don'ts for commanders and their troops while planning for or even in a battle. He further mentions that war can be used only after any possible means of resolving conflicts have failed and the adversary seems to be about to strike (Tzu 5). Then one should stage control the war, have his army well prepared, the enemy well spied on, and have good knowledge of the battlefield. The essay is aimed at examining a number of questions that are centered on book, The Art of War.
Analysis of Book
The authors comment on when to head to war makes me like the book. Tzu says that war is detrimental to the country as it's not cost-effective. He, therefore, advises that we rather avoid war if there is any possible way of ending the conflict should then be applied. He makes this comments not because he fears war but he seemed to consider the effects that come with war, the aftermath of war, the costs it leaves, and the economy of the country when it's in war. He further gives an example when Confederate army lost a war because of the duration the war took to end, yet they were not prepared well financially.
Additionally, Tzu says the commander should be human enough not to command his army to destroy enemy`s land. This makes me like the book as this advice if put in place there would be no much effect after the war. Besides that, at least there will be shelter, food and other essentials need to be left for the survivors. The statement also acts as a portrayal of the human nature of soldiers through emotions and feelings for other people irrespective of the enmity. Furthermore, the general advises that we should not engage in the war that we would lose, as he gives his formula of winning wars, "if slightly inferior in number, we can avoid the enemy: if quite unequal in all aspects, we should flee from the enemy" (Tzu 40). This shows that the author is being realistic by advising never to engage in a losing battle.
However, am not in agreement with the author's moral law. The law states that, what the commander or a senior soldier in rank says is to be followed by the troupe to the later and unquestionably (Tzu 67). According to this law, even if the he commands without following the law, no one should object. Besides that, the law given by the commander might be leading the soldiers into a trap and a junior commander knows it but because he cannot question those in authority he leaves the troupe and himself to head blindly into a trap. In addition that, the author is quick to advise his clients not to engage in war but he does not give better options. I do not like this because when you are giving out advice one is supposed to highlight at least all possible options. Unlike Tsu Sun WU`s case where he says either you don't engage in war or head to war. Therefore, his advice leaves one in dilemma on what to do because the options of following when you do engage in war are not given.
I acknowledge the work done by the author of the book. The book covers almost everything that one needs to do before heading into a war. However, the author does not capture the type of weapons the warriors, soldiers are going to use. Therefore, I would add this into one of the points that spies should look for in the enemy's camp. An enemy whose troop is well equipped with say modern and hi-tech weapons one should consider the tactics of engaging such a troupe in a war. For instance, it will be suicidal to engage an enemy who uses modern guns while the only weapon your army has is machetes or arrows. This is leading your people into death traps. As such, the types of weapon, the technology level used in the war and the number of soldiers as he has said if they outnumber you flee from the battle.
Secondly, despite covering the most important points in the book, Tzu forgets to talk about one's allies that might come to help him in the battle. This is very important as most kingdom used to have close allies that would bail them out in case they were being overpowered by an enemy in a battle. This is also the case with current states having allies and treaties signed to help each other in case a pandemic occurs. As a result, there is the need for spies to capture all details involving treaties signed between the two or more groups. In addition, it's also important to note who the enemies of your enemy are and who friends of your enemy are in order to avoid falling into a trap of your enemy unknowingly. This can also help you win the battle without engaging your troupes by inciting your enemy with the other groups who are his enemies, or rather you can decide to merge up with the other group and fight your common enemy as one troop.
A stable country or region characterized by peace and no political turmoil acts as a good hatching ground to develop business. In chapter three of the book, the author talks about the soldiers living the city in good condition as they found it (Tzu 89). This is the most abused advice as the author himself acknowledges. As such, when a city is under an attack or under siege no business takes place. Most people remain indoors for fear of their lives and the loose of their property through looting and destruction by the enemy. However, this is not the case when everything is normal and there is no danger of an attack, as it's during this period that business is normally is at the peak.
Furthermore, war depletes resources. Resources in terms of finances, human lives lost, time, and equipment used in war. For instance, the author says one of the major reasons why the Confederate army lost in a war was because of not preparing well financially before heading into war. Therefore war is likely to make the economy of the country unstable as resources that could have been used elsewhere get channeled into funding war.
Additionally, business enterprises and investors only invest where there is peace and they are sure of making profits. The book talks about war, where there is war there is never peace. Therefore, such aground cannot nurture business. The place cannot also attract business investors, as they all fear losing either or both their lives and investments in such a hostile environment. Therefore the book relates to business by showing how devastating effects the war can cause to business in a region.
The book has acted as an eye opener in my life. Through the book, I have learned to predict the likely outcome of the war by looking at the 7 major points Tzu mentions in his book. These are the: the troop that adheres to the moral law, the capabilities of a general, the side that is favored by heaven, earth, weather and terrain, the largest and strongest army, the disciplined army and finally the sides that constantly rewards and punishes. Through these points, one is likely to make a concise prediction that in most cases is likely to turn out to be true.
Also, I have learned that the commander should be an epitome of wisdom and courage (Tzu 68). Wise for him to make decisions that will lead his troop to victory, similarly he should be wise to acknowledge the strength of his enemies and consider ways of winning the battle. The commander should be aware that the decision he makes affects in one way or another even those people back in their homes. I have learned that the commander should be courageous, able to lead his troops into a battle without showing any sort of fear as the troops look upon him, that fear and doubting of victory is a measure to welcome defeat.
War should only be resolved into when there is no other way out. As we have seen war leads to loss of property, lives and better grounds to nurture businesses. However, the soldiers heading into war should be well prepared, have a good knowledge of the battleground and the enemy. As such General Tzu`s advice should be upheld by any state or armed forces that are heading into a war.
Tzu, Sun. The art of war. Shambhala Publications, 2005.
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