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Note:  The intent of these quotes and comments is to provide ideas to contemplate and debate.  The information to assess these ideas as fact or speculation is and was necessarily held in secret at the time by those making the decisions.

Continued by popular request - Quotes were discontinued shortly before the declaration of victory in Iraq but return, by Web visitor request, due to current events.

Quotes Pertaining to the Iraq Insurgency Situation

August 7, 2003 - To Save, Invent Your Destruction

Chapter XI - 32.  Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare, there are no constant conditions.

The one key rule in the war against terrorism is that there are no rules, and therefore, no constant conditions.  Constant conditions lead to knowledge which leads to vulnerability on the part of the known.  An intelligent opponent adapts to conditions to find new ways to reach an end.  And on the dark side of the philosophy, "what man can conceive, man can achieve," selective destruction is very much a creative process.    As such, one of the ways to stay ahead of terrorism is to apply the creative process to destruction and deliberately invent how to destroy in order to know how to defend.  Such invention keeps in mind that the terrorist with the means to destroy depends on three things:  1) that the terrorist's enemy cannot protect everything because of the sheer size of the task.  2) that the terrorist's enemy will not conceive of a new approach to get around even that which is defended.  3) that the terrorist's enemy, even if he can conceive, accepts the risk of not defending.  It's very much a war of the minds as much akin to a police operation as a war, particularly in that the true masterminds of terrorism have no interest in blowing their own selves up in a car, and certainly do not want a compromised action leading to their doorstep.

July 30, 2003 - Cat and Mouse

Chapter XI - 61.  By persistently hanging on the enemy's flank, we shall succeed, in the long run, in killing the commander-in-chief.

News reports show us the visible elements of the conflict in Iraq, but the elements that are occurring that would bring victory are necessarily invisible.  Such would be the case in the search for Saddam.  Flank, in the above quote, can be understood to mean the vulnerable point in an enemy's defense, for armies in a line as per the traditional battlefield, this being the actual flank or side of the army itself.  In the more subtle pursuit of Saddam, no doubt special operations units are stepping from weakness in Saddam's evasion to weakness as they draw nearer, with the understanding that it takes time because, after decades of maintaining Saddam's government in inherently hostile conditions, Saddam's network is very skilled at protecting its leader.  To our advantage, if we make a mistake in our pursuit, our pursuit is delayed.  If Saddam or his people make a mistake, it's game over.  The stakes are always higher for the mouse. 

July 25, 2003 - Matter of Ideas

Chapter X - 31.  If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt;...

Bear no doubt the importance of fixing the Iraqi infrastructure to secure the peace, and bear no doubt the importance of finding key Iraqi leaders of the old regime, but also bear in mind the importance of recognizing what is a symptom and what is the root cause.  The root cause lies in the field of ideas.  What and how people think determines how they act.  What and how people think as a collective whole also has much to do with the leadership they allow to come into power.  No matter the apparent benefit, resentment will always exist within a people liberated from themselves when fundamental ideas they hold dear are challenged.  Even thought the benefit seems obvious from the outside, resistors choose to fight, and our logic for doing otherwise may mean nothing to them.  Key to winning is understanding the cherished ideas of others and working around and with them.  Changing them completely is nearly impossible, but they can, if understood, be rendered more harmless than otherwise.  Keep in mind that even the open society of the U.S. has not resolved all the issues pertaining to its civil war in the 1860s, and to this day those differences do lead to violence most of U.S. society will not tolerate.         

July 23, 2003 - Good Riddance

Chapter XIII - 6.  Knowledge of the enemy's disposition can only be obtained from other men.

No amount of technology can replace informed knowledge of people on the ground.  No people can better serve to provide that information than Iraqi nationals who are a part of their community network.  Granted the tip that bagged Hussein's sons may have required a huge reward, but the potential damage caused by destroying the Hussein dynasty would appear well worth the price.  Ultimately the Iraqi people will decide whether U.S., British, and other national forces succeed in Iraq.  Affording the incentive to do so whereby the Iraqi people leave no place for guerillas to hide is a key.  The other side of things is to deny the guerilla's a purpose for fighting.  To the degree the fighting is driven by the Hussein dynasty and its possible return to power, killing the sons certainly has an impact.  Next question, the impact on the guerillas involved.

July 15, 2003 - "The Buck Stops Here"

Chapter I - 5,6.  The Moral Law causes people to be in complete accord with their ruler and to follow him regardless of any danger to their lives.

This verse is considered by many one of the most important verses from Sun Tzu on the Art of War.  An army that fights in accord with the moral law can achieve incredible successes.  In this light, there is also little a nation or its leaders can do to endanger the lives of its soldiers in war zones than to cause them to doubt to the moral purpose behind their fight.  The purpose for a fight does make a difference to the soldier.  They will always rally behind each other, but they also rally around their country and their Commander in Chief.  As Harry Truman said, regarding decisions of national importance on the Office of the President, "The buck stops here."  If the Commander in Chief appears to waver, the affect will endanger soldiers because it will effect moral, particularly as the conflict lengthens.  It is important that he be completely straight with them just like it is important that any leader on the battlefield itself tell it like it is.  The soldiers are listening and it is important what they hear.   

July 11, 2003 - Far From a Unique Situation

Chapter XII - 15. Unhappy is the fate of the commander who strives to win his battles and succeeds in his attacks without exploiting their success and purpose; for the result is a waste of time and general stagnation.

The military took Iraq with professional excellence.  We won the battle.  We did not yet win the war.  The enemy was not defeated.  No terms of surrender were ever signed.  Now the military must depend upon decisions made for exploiting the success and purpose of the battle.  The danger is clear.  Guerilla warfare can last for years.  Ireland has had problems with England for about 300 years.  Central and South American conflicts have lasted decades.  The Arab - Israeli conflict has been going on since Israel's inception in the 1940s.  Our involvement in Vietnam was a part of an insurgency that essentially began when Japan invaded the region in the 1940s.  Similarly, the guerilla campaigns of Mao Tse Tung took root in 1919 and did not succeed for Mao's Red Army until 1949.  Last of note, our now allies the Russians advanced on Kabul in Afghanistan with ease in 1979, but the aftermath of ten years of guerilla fighting afterward proved quite devastating to the military and national moral.  This is the danger staring us in the face.  It should not be a surprise to anyone in a position of authority, and certainly bears no reflection on the competence and professionalism of the soldiers involved.  Such conflicts do not end in victory until the guerillas are wiped out or until the population of the people involved effectively brings them to an end. 

July 9, 2003 - Bring em' on

Chapter IX - 19. When he acts aloof and tries to provoke a battle, he is anxious for his enemy to advance.

Dealing with guerrilla tactics can be very frustrating to a straight forward type A personality such as George Bush.  The essence of the guerrilla strategy is to steer clear of direct engagements in order to avoid destruction plus to prolong a low-intensity conflict to wear out enemy resolve.  Type As tend to want to fight right her, right now, with everything you've got.  With absolutely no wish here to compare the Iraqi fight on moral grounds, England's King George might have said his version of "Bring 'em on" to our own colonists when they employed guerrilla tactics in the American Revolution.  No doubt Bush's remark, echoed by General Franks, represents the wishes of most Americans that if there is going to be more fighting that it take place and conclude so we can move on.  An intelligent guerrilla force would likely ignore the remark because such a fight is not in their interest and would indeed likely lead to their destruction. 

July 7, 2003 - Something's Happening Here

Chapter VI - 13. By discovering the enemy's dispositions and remaining invisible ourselves, we can keep our forces concentrated, while the enemy's must be divided.

This quote frequently appears in guerilla fighting manuals.  It means that to protect everything, the defending force in Iraq, now primarily the U.S. Army, must divide itself among many places to protect those many places with the result that it becomes easier to isolate and attack those smaller parts without facing the rest of the U.S. Army.  By the guerilla fighter's further staying amongst the population, the guerilla fighters create the effect that any action by the U.S. Army to find and root them out will tend to alienate the population and spur the guerilla fighter's cause.  The ease with which guerilla fighters can leverage religious fervor in this situation to further turn the population against U.S. forces, plus the ease with which imbedded guerillas can terrorize the rest of the population into not helping or even harming the U.S., means that the U.S. Army faces some real difficulty going forward.  In an environment with more potential guerilla fighters from Iraq and abroad than the U.S. Army can kill or capture, the only way to succeed is to create the effect whereby the population of Iraq itself quells the guerilla movement.  That is not an easy task, and certainly not a task the conventional U.S. Army is trained or equipped to do.   

Quotes from the War During the Iraq War

April 17, 2003 - True Measure of Excellence

Chapter IV - 9. Neither is it the peak of military excellence to fight and conquer and have the whole Empire says, "Well done!"

Crisis brings people to our attention and makes careers.  This best leaders know how to avoid those crises or defeat them before they grow noticeable.  By so doing, however, they remain invisible.  The military action that take place was executed brilliantly.  Now those observing the leadership of this country will now watch two things very closely.  One, will the weapons of mass destruction used to justify a military solution show up.  Two, how successfully will the leadership exploit this military victory to obtain other objectives without further such operations.

April 15, 2003 - French Connection

Chapter IX - 26. Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn treaty indicate a plot.

A French veto of the war no matter what would make a lot of sense if that government had something to hide.  Recent discoveries of French weapons and chemicals would seem by many to point in that direction, particularly since France supplied nuclear technology to Iraq, albeit with the intention to monitor its use for civilian purposes only, in the 1980s.  (France also supplied Israel with vital information needed to destroy that first Iraqi attempt when Iraqi intents became clear, though the question still begs why else an oil rich country would have needed a nuclear reactor in the first place.) 

April 13, 2003 - Looting and the Violation of a Key Sun Tzu Principle

Chapter III - 1. Sun Tzu said: In the practice of the art of war, it is best to take the enemy’s country whole and intact. 

So who is to blame, the U.S. military or the Iraqi people?  According to news reports, everything from  hospitals to schools to museums have been looted by people the coalition came to liberate.  This begs the question of whether democracy can flourish where so many of a country's own citizens are willing to destroy the roots of their nation's well being.  Does such a society force upon itself the need for heavy-handed autocratic rule to keep order?  In any case, the costs of rebuilding escalate, and artifacts that survived other wars and upheavals for thousands of years are gone forever.     

April 11, 2003 - Is there a Benefit from Looting?

Chapter IX - 20. When you plunder a countryside, let the spoil be divided amongst your men; when you capture new territory, cut it up into allotments for the benefit of the soldiery. 

Sun Tzu, after all, did write his book 2,500 years ago when the spoils of war were often a soldier's compensation.  Anyone who has raided the unguarded office of a recently departed rival for the better chair or computer monitor knows the practice is alive and well.  Those who saw the movie Lawrence or Arabia will also note that T. E. Lawrence allowed Arab soldiers to loot trains and the like after attacking then in order to find a worthy trophy to show their victory.  T. E. Lawrence allowed this practice since it was part of the traditional culture.  Uncontrolled, it bears risk because looters are unlikely to stop with government buildings alone.

April 10, 2003 - Presidential Advantage

Chapter XIII - 4. Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men is foreknowledge. 

The presidential advantage in decision-making is and should always be foreknowledge.  The ability to have foreknowledge depends upon the strength of the intelligence organization.  Taking the initiative to act on foreknowledge takes courage and the careful management of those who do and cannot have the intelligence so afforded to the office yet still attempt to claim an equal opinion. 

April 8, 2003 - Wildest Dreams

Chapter V - 12. The onset of troops is like the rush of a water torrent which will even roll stones along in its course. 

13. The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim. 

14. Therefore, the good fighter will be overwhelming in his assault, and deliberate with his timing. 

15. His energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; his timing to the release of a bolt by the trigger.

Could Sun Tzu have even dreamed, 2,500 years ago, that men flying from the skies could make his versus so true.  The F-16, even bears the name "falcon."  With 2,000 pound GPS bombs and the reconnaissance to target them, the quality of decision is precise like the real falcon.  The assault on the target is overwhelming.  So the world waits to see if Saddam himself ended up in the crosshairs.    

Chapter XI - 57. Confront your soldiers with a task itself; never let them know your design.  When the outlook is bright, bring it before their eyes; but tell them nothing when the situation is gloomy.

Could Sun Tzu have ever dreamed, 2,500 years ago, that a real time war would be projected not only to soldiers, but to entire populations.  Nonetheless, all outside observers did and do not have the information military planners are using to make their decisions.  Whether the situation ever became "gloomy" to the leadership we will not know for some time.  Certainly not during the course of this conflict.  On the other hand, the leadership is quick to bring the "bright" spots before all our eyes.

April 6, 2003 - Exploiting an "unfair" advantage

Chapter I - 24. Attack your enemy where he is unprepared, appear where he does not expect you. 

Media reports and all other indications showed by coalition forces was that they planned to pause again and regroup around the Baghdad airport and otherwise.  The last thing the Iraqi defenders expected was an incursion deep into the city by an armored column.  The surprise of this maneuver would have much to do with aiding its success.  Iraqi forces will now prepare for the next time except the coalition will likely do another variation on the theme that the Iraqi defenders will again not expect. 

Chapter V - 21. The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals.  Hence his ability to pick out the right men and focus military force on a favorable situation. 

To fight, the Iraqi defenders can choose only ground forces that are inferior to the ground forces of the coalition.  The coalition, on the other hand, has superior ground forces plus an array of air support and artillery support from which to choose.  On top of that, the coalition has an array of intelligence devices ranging from satellites to spies on the ground that the Iraqi defenders, for the most part, lack.  The strategic effect is not unlike playing the game "paper, scissors, rock" where the Iraqis have only one choice, must declare that choice, and automatically lose the tie.

April 3, 2003 - Why Rescue a Private?

Chapter X - 25. Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you in the face of death. 

In purely practical terms, does it make sense to risk the lives of commando teams, each member of which can cost over a million dollars to train and may have years of valuable experience, in order to save the life of a single private whose total training, at that point in her career, would be a fraction of the cost?  Of course it does.  If each soldier knows his or her leaders will afford such risks to rescue them, then across the board the entire military will stand stronger. 

April 2, 2003 - The Plight of the Iraqi Soldier

Chapter X - 15. Other conditions being equal, if one force is hurled against another ten times its size, the result will be the flight of the former. 

Technology creates what is known as a "force multiplier."  This means that although Coalition forces are outnumbered Iraq, the combat effectiveness of Coalition forces produces the results above whenever the Iraqis fight through conventional means.  An Iraqi attack on or defense against a Coalition mechanized force has almost no chance of success outside a city.   

Chapter III - 12. There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:

13. (1) By commanding his army to advance or to retreat, while ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey.  This is called hobbling the army. 

14. (2) By attempting to govern his army the way he governs his kingdom while ignorant of the conditions that face his army.  This causes confusion in minds of the soldier. 

15. (3) By employing officers in his army for reasons other than their military ability, ignoring what it takes to be a military leader.  This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.

16. When the army is hobbled, the soldiers are confused and their confidence shaken, rival leaders will surely bring trouble.  This brings further disorder to the army and eliminates any possibility of victory.

George Bush has thus far allowed his generals to run the war in Iraq with competent officers that have attained their positions by rising up through the ranks.  Even though Rumsfeld's grand strategy has come under fire, to include rumblings from the generals, the generals have been allowed to run the war on the ground with the forces on hand.  Coalition forces may have run into more resistance than expected, but they show no signs of being hobbled, confused, or shaken.  This runs in stark contrast to the plight of Iraqi soldiers who, on top of technical inferiorities and heavy bombardments, are subjected to all three of the above misfortunes. 

Chapter XI - 16. When the enemy’s men were scattered, they prevented them from concentrating. Even when their forces were united, they managed to keep them in disorder. 

17. When it proved to their advantage, they advanced; when otherwise, they stopped still. 

A key role of the current bombing campaign is to destroy Iraqi forces and keep those forces not yet destroyed in disorder.  This action fulfills verse 16 above.  Communications are being cut and concentrations of Iraqi resistors destroyed.  Gen. Franks and his field commanders, by waiting until the moment is right to attack, fulfill verse 17 from a military standpoint.   

March 31, 2003 - Patience and Control

Chapter VII - 30. To maintain discipline and calm in an army and await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy: —this is the art of retaining self-control. 

Time has become a critical factor in the strategic play between the Coalition generals and the Iraqi generals.  Patience, while bombardments and special operations undermine the structure of the of the Iraqi forces, will ideally make an eventual advancement easier.  This will depend upon the condition of moral Iraqi moral as Iraqi forces are subjected to the Coalition's physical and psychological attacks.  Iraqi generals in turn will try to maintain the discipline and moral of their troops in the hopes that world and national unrest will cause "disorder and hubbub" amongst Coalition forces.  This means that any news that gives the Iraqi leadership and resistors hope to believe they can win necessarily puts Coalition troops in greater danger than otherwise.  Probably for this reason, Coalition forces have started to target Iraqi television; and NBC, whether asked by the military or on their own accord, fired Peter Arnett for stating his belief that the Iraqi resistance was succeeding.       

Chapter I - 18. All warfare is based on deception.

Imagine playing a poker game with running commentary aired in the open by reporters from both sides.  It changes the dynamics of the game considerably.  It does not change the fact that bluffing deception will occur and is necessary to win.  Imbedding reporters so they share the risk that any of their comments may bring to soldiers is one way to add the necessary controls.  The media is the arch enemy of deception, and as such, the military has effectively followed the philosophy - not from Sun Tzu - of "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." 

March 28, 2003 - A Difficult Win

Chapter III - 2. To make yourself invulnerable to defeat lies in your own hands, but the enemy himself must provide you with the opportunity to defeat him. 

Republican Guard forces from Iraq have apparently learned, for the most part, how to avoid making themselves easy targets.  They now know not to expose their military vehicles to aerial attack through movement, even in a sandstorm.  They have also learned that the best way to move about and fight without becoming obvious targets is to look like civilians and operate near civilians.  This presents a Catch-22 for coalition commanders since by shooting at an enemy so arrayed they also kill civilians with the ultimate result that they win the war the stated objective after all is to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction yet lose the peace.  If, however, the coalition does not shoot at the enemy, they lose the war and the peace since the enemy otherwise shows no propensity to stop fighting, will be emboldened to keep fighting elsewhere, and the coalition cannot disarm Iraq.  This means that coalition commanders must find some other error for which this site will not hypothesize in some other aspect of the Iraqi defense that somehow makes them vulnerable.   

If the Iraqi army does not offer this vulnerability, than coalition forces must determine if they place more value on their own soldiers/citizens than on the citizens of Iraq and win the war in the way such wars have traditionally been won.  If history holds true, that does not bode well for the citizens of Baghdad in particular.  Now committed, however, a coalition withdrawal is an even worse outcome than the destruction that might prove necessary.     

Chapter VI - 7. You can ensure the success of your attacks if you only attack undefended places.  You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.

For the most part, coalition forces have succeeded by adhering to the first sentence of this phrase, and Iraqi forces have avoided destruction by adhering to the second.  Fighting has occurred on the periphery of the two positions.   

March 25, 2003 - Three ways to lose the war in Iraq

Three potential pitfalls follow:

1.  Failure to know the enemy:

Chapter III - 18. Hence the saying:  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 be defeated in every battle

A friend of mine from Belarus once told me that "a country has the government it deserves."  This was shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Her statement was enlightening because she looked at the people as a collective whole, which made sense to someone who had come of age under communism.  I, as an American, tended always to focus on the plight of the individual.  As a people focused on the plight of the individual, Americans also, for the good and bad of it, have the government Americans deserve.

If you ascribe to the idea that a country does have the government it deserves, then only upon having a government imposed upon the collective will of the people from an outside source can a country actually be liberated.  Otherwise, like a pack of captive wolves that have never known freedom, the people will likely set upon the hand of those who come to free them, and then stay in their cage on their own accord.  What results is a guerilla war and chaos that only ends when the well meaning occupation ends.  And regardless of how the people got there, they will again end up with the government they deserve. 

It appears that though the coalition forces know themselves, some question arises as to how well the coalition truly knows the enemy or the philosophy by which their culture chooses to live.  If this is the case, then according to Sun Tzu, this means the coalition only has a 50-50 chance of success. 

2.  Devastating the economy

Chapter II - 10. Contributing to a distant army impoverishes the state treasury.    Contributing to maintain an army at a distance in turn causes the people to be impoverished. 

11. On the other hand, an army nearby causes prices to go up and provisions to be depleted; and this steals from the people’s ability to sustain themselves. 

12. When the local population is impoverished and its ability to sustain itself drained away, the people will suffer even as the government must exact more from them. 

13, 14. With this loss of substance and exhaustion of strength, the homes of the people will be stripped bare, and three-tenths of their income will be dissipated; while government expenses for broken chariots, worn-out horses, breast-plates and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, protective mantles, draught-oxen and heavy wagons, will amount to four-tenths of its total revenue. 

Vietnam contributed to the runaway inflation the U.S. experienced in the 1970s.  The invasion of Afghanistan served to accelerate the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1980s.  Further back in history, the protracted war in America into the 1780s proved too much of a drain on the British economy for its government and people to bear.  Guerilla warfare has proven a tried and true method to create a prolonged war and drain an occupier's economy and will.  Many Americans have already seen vast proportions of their finances devastated by recent economic events.  History has shown no nation to be immune to the costs of war Sun Tzu describes and therefore no reason to assume U.S. or British immunity now.  Such a drain could also be exacerbated by the following.

3.  Besieging defended cities

Chapter III - 4. Do not besiege walled cities if you can possibly avoid it.  The preparation of siege weaponry; mantlets, movable shelters, and various implements of war; will take three whole months; and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take another three months. 

5. The general, unable to control his rage toward his besieged enemy, will be tempted to launch his men to the assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the city still remains untaken.  Such are the disastrous effects of a siege. 

6. Therefore, the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field. 

7. With his forces intact he will attain supremacy in his domain, and thus, without losing a man, will achieve a total victory.  This is the method of attacking by stratagem. 

War delivers uncertain outcomes, and the fact that we are fighting at all means we risk bad turns in fortune.  Throughout history, both the besieger and the besieged suffer severely in war, and so Sun Tzu said to avoid sieges.  It took nine months for Grant to dislodge Lee from Petersburg in the American Civil War.  During World War II, Leningrad never fell to the Germans though the population literally starved.  Stalingrad was reduced to ruble during the same war when both sides chose to fight.  The coalition could lose the war in Iraq in two ways if it must besiege Baghdad.  If it attacks and the population does defend itself Mogadishu style, world public opinion and coalition casualties could make even a victory a Pyrrhic victory.  If the coalition decides to wait it out and starve Baghdad and other cities, a traditional means for winning a sieges, the humanitarian crisis could again cause strategic defeat, even if the coalition wins tactically.  Bottom line, if an enemy fights, there will be devastation, period.  Note, for example, that when unwelcomed German occupiers took over poorly defended Holland during the Blitzkrieg in 1940, Holland's population centers remain relatively unscathed.  During its welcomed liberation by Allied forces in 1944 and 1945, the country was devastated because the Germans chose there to resist.  That is the historical nature of war. 

March 23, 2003 - The following Sun Tzu quotes pertain to continuing action in Iraq:

Chapter VII - 19.

19. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall upon your enemy like a thunderbolt.

Part of keeping an enemy off balance is to make yourself elusive so it is difficult for him to know how or where to fight you.  When you fall upon the enemy, you do so with speed and force.  You do not want an enemy to survive the encounter unless he surrenders.  Those Iraqi units that are confronting U.S. and British, particularly outside the cities, are apparently being crushed.  Advanced detection tools for seeing through darkness, smoke, over hills, etc., give U.S. and British units a tremendous advantage outside of the cities and a significant advantage inside the cities.

Chapter IX - 23.

23. Throw your soldiers into positions where the have no escape, and they will prefer death to flight.  If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve.  Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength. 

To ensure their soldiers fight, particularly after the mass surrender experience of 1991, the Iraqi leadership has reportedly put loyal individuals into regular army units to kill any soldier attempting to desert or surrender.  There is little reason not to suppose that the government has also threatened the family members of key officers and NCOs meaning that if they or their units do surrender, the regime will kill families left behind.  There's also little reason not to suppose that national or religious pride will survive in many Iraqi soldiers, regardless of their feelings about the regime, particularly if they have any hope they can win. 

March 21, 2003 - The following Sun Tzu quotes pertain to the first actions:

Chapter III - 1. 2.  

1. Sun Tzu said: In the practice of the art of war, it is best to take the enemy’s country whole and intact.  To shatter and destroy his country is inferior to this way.  So, too, it is better to capture an army intact than to destroy it, better to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company intact than to destroy them. 

2. Hence to fight and win in all your battles is not the foremost excellence; to break the enemy’s resistance without fighting is the foremost excellence. 

Military operations succeed through means both physical and psychological.  To accomplish the goal of winning with your army and the objective intact, U.S. and British forces appear to be concentrating on two elements with the objective to win with little or no fighting between ground armies.  The first of these on the physical side is an affects based strategy which involves identifying critical targets that allow you to achieve the desired strategic effect with the minimum effort and ordnance possible.  The idea can be conceptualized by thinking about how you would prevent someone from driving a car.  If you crush the car, the driver certainly will not go anywhere with it, however, if you only cut the right wire, or perhaps just take away the keys, you could still achieve the desired strategic effect of preventing that person from driving the car, plus it will be much easier to fix the car when the reason to prevent that drive is rectified.  You also, perhaps, keep a friend in the long term.   

The other element is psychology.  Psychology involves setting the stage for victory ideally so that the enemy will choose to surrender without fighting.  Psychological warfare tends to target the moral of the enemy to show him that he either has no hope of winning or a better future by giving up.  Selected physical strikes can work on psychology as well.  Fear can cause the enemy to surrender before that fear is realized.  Once a fear is realized and survived, however, the enemy may actually find resolve in having overcome the initial shock.  For this reason, psychological warfare involving any physical means of fighting must be orchestrated carefully, or it can have the opposite effect of that intended. 

Chapter I 16. 17.     

16. While heeding the merit of my counsel, avail yourself also to any helpful circumstances that give you advantages beyond the ordinary conditions. 

17. When such favorable circumstances arise, modify your plans accordingly.

The attack opened sooner than planned because a target of opportunity, Saddam himself apparently, could be targeted.  U.S. and British forces showed apparent skill at taking advantage of the opportunity while it existed.  For those who like football, its similar in principle to a quarterback calling a change of play on the line to adjust for the defense.  Highly trained units adept at executing a given play well tend also to be the most flexible to act on fortuitous events.

March 17, 2003 - The following Sun Tzu quotes pertain to the decision to proceed with military action:

Chapter VIII – 11. The art of war teaches us to not rely on the chance that the enemy will not come, but on our own preparations to receive him; not on the chance of an enemy not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.  

This verse from Sun Tzu could serve as a foundation for those justifying a pre-emptive war.  Eliminating an enemy is a way to ensure he does not attack.  Saddam’s weapons program is also geared toward fulfilling this ideal.  For Saddam, possession of nuclear weapons – and keep in mind that an oil-rich country like Iraq would have no other justifiable reason for a nuclear power plant for any other purpose – could make his position unassailable because he already has missiles capable of reaching U.S. allies Israel and Turkey.  Saddam’s willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, and his apparent disregard for world opinion about such use, makes allowing him to build them too risky.  Critics can argue that U.S. policies in the 70s and 80s created the monster, but that does not justify leaving the monster in the world.  

 Chapter I – 5,  6. The Moral Law causes people to be in complete accord with their ruler and to follow him regardless of any danger to their lives. 

 This is a key to any decision to fight now.  Any intelligence effort conducted by U.S. or British intelligence agencies must focus on this principle.  Saddam’s belief that he can turn Baghdad into a modern day Stalingrad rests his soldiers not simply surrendering.  Administration discussions of ending a conflict in days presupposes that our intelligence agencies know Iraqi soldiers will not fight in “complete accord with their ruler.”  The U.S. and Britain will likely seek to isolate and destroy more fanatical units from a distance if possible, but will also take action to show that even these units - or at least the rank and file within these units - can surrender with the expectation they will eventually be able to return to Iraqi society alive. 

 Chapter VII – 36 - When you surround an army, leave an outlet free.  Do not press a desperate foe too hard.

An enemy that has no hope for victory yet can surrender and live will often surrender without a fight.  U.S. and British war preparations will therefore ensure that Iraqi units know they can safely lay down their arms, and upon action, the U.S. and Britain will likely use the media to show this result as quickly as possible.  Even Republican Guards units may prove tempted to relieve themselves of distinguishing insignia and surrender as a part of the regular army.  This has been a fundamental policy of the American army that has kept casualties comparatively low for all sides involved.

 Chapter II – 2. When you engage the enemy in actual fighting, if victory takes a long time to achieve, then your men’s weapons will dull and their enthusiasm for the fight will diminish.  If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength. 

 3. If the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not bear the strain. 

 4. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your enthusiasm diminished, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will appear to take advantage of your weakened condition.  Not even the wisest council will be able to prevent the resulting consequences. 

 5. Thus, though we have heard of foolishly rushing to war, we have never seen cleverness in war associated with long delays. 

A basic principle of strategy is to assess – prepare – act.  With forces in play the strain on the U.S. economy and preparedness of the troops is immediate, plus delay affords more opportunity for misfortune to rear its head.  Critics can argue at length about the wisdom of taking action in the first place, but with forces in play now, inaction proves costly.  It is possible, recognizing that the U.S. cannot, and therefore will not wait, that France, Russia, China, and others have opted to vote “no” on a resolution to ease their ability to do business with countries they might otherwise offend, and perhaps to avoid their own citizens becoming terrorist targets

 Chapter V – 14. Therefore, the good fighter will be overwhelming in his assault, and deliberate with his timing.

The basic principle of “shock and awe” involves overwhelming the enemy at the specific times and places of attack.  U.S. and British technical superiority to Iraq is probably similar, in principle, and possibly even more dramatic, then the technical superiority that British forces armed with modern rifles had when fighting warriors armed with shields and spears.  As per those times, Iraq’s only hope for victory in a battle rests with trapping an American force in battle where Iraqi soldiers outnumber that American force by a great percentage.  Even if successful, the cost of such an attack will make it unlikely Iraqi troops would try it again.  Command and control will seek to ensure U.S. and British units do not become isolated, and that those operating in relative isolation, for example Special Operations soldiers, have the means to be extracted quickly.

A Countermove?

 Chapter IX.  The Nine Situations – 18. If asked how to cope with a great number of the enemy arrayed in orderly fashion and in the act of marching to the attack, I should say: “Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.”

Hence the fear that Saddam will set his oil wells ablaze, rig dams with explosives, capture reporters and the like as hostages.  If Saddam does intend to survive somewhere in the Arab world, he may calculate that these actions will place enormous financial burdens on the U.S., and hence, create a sort of Pyrrhic victory.  The U.S., however, will likely tap Iraq’s own oil supplies to pay for the rebuilding effort, which means such a move would actually prove yet another strike against his own people.   



March 5, 2003

The following Sun Tzu quotes pertain to the proposed war in Iraq: 

Part 1 - Sun Tzu Quotes that Support the Proposed War

Sun Tzu Quote 1. - Chapter VIII - Verse 11

"The art of war teaches us to not rely on the chance that the enemy will not come, but on our own preparations to receive him; not on the chance of an enemy not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable."

Commentary: If we do in fact know that Iraq is or will become a source for weapons of mass destruction that terrorists will use, then eliminating that threat before it materializes is essential.

Sun Tzu Quote 2. - Chapter II - Verse 2

"When you engage the enemy in actual fighting, if victory takes a long time to achieve, then your men's weapons will dull and their enthusiasm for the fight will diminish."

Commentary: Ideally, the actions taking place by the U.S. administration are a form of brinksmanship executed with the intent to reach a peaceful resolution.  Those who play the brinksmanship "game," however, have to be willing to act on their bluff if called.  That is the risk behind brinksmanship.  To not act if your bluff is called means to lose your credibility the next time around.  Also, once committed to brinksmanship, a resolution must come quickly since waiting provides the opposition time to prepare and wears down your own forces and credibility. 

Sun Tzu Quote 3. - Chapter II - Verse 5

"Though we have heard of foolishly rushing to war, we have never seen cleverness in war associated with long delays."

Commentary: Delay tends to favor misfortune over good fortune.  As long as affected parties have at least adequately prepared for the moment at hand, delay risks an escalation of misfortune. 

Sun Tzu Quote 4. - Chapter XI - Verse 55

"Hence he does not strive to ally himself with all who might wish an alliance, nor does he foster the power of any other state.  He carries out his own secret designs, keeping his antagonists in awe.  Thus he is able to capture their cities and overthrow their kingdoms."

Commentary: To truly care what others think about you during a crisis is a luxury.  Attaining and keeping your interests whole often means forgoing that luxury, particularly if faced with another who wishes to cause you harm or an ally harm. 

Part 2. - Sun Tzu Quotes Against the Proposed War

Sun Tzu Quote 5. - Chapter II - Verse 10

"Contributing to a distant army impoverishes the state treasury.  Contributing to maintain an army at a distance in turn causes the people to be impoverished."

Commentary: The economy of rich nations is a key target of terrorists.  Historically, when weaker opponents have defeated stronger opponents in the field, the drain of war on the stronger nation's treasury often leads the list of causes.  This is true particularly when costs of war become open ended.  If the U.S. drains its treasury to fight a war on Iraq, the terrorists meet one of their goals.   

Sun Tzu Quote 6. - Chapter III - Verse 2

"Hence to fight and win in all your battles is not the foremost excellence, to break the enemy's resistance without fighting is the foremost excellence."

Commentary: War, though it be successful, represents a failure of diplomacy.  Going to war, particularly if we initiate it, indicates a failure in some aspects of our policy.  Traditional American policy has been to allow an enemy to declare failure by taking hostile action first.  Allowing an enemy to make the first move does not necessarily mean allowing him to succeed at the first move. 

Sun Tzu Quote 7. - Chapter VI - Verse 61

"By persistently hanging on the enemy's flank, we shall succeed, in the long run, in killing the commander-in-chief."

Commentary: If an enemy can succeed against you by creating a protracted war, you succeed by pacing yourself to last even longer than that enemy without suffering undue harm.  Historically and economically, containment does have a track record of working in the long run, and limited military action can also be used to strike critical targets in a highly selected fashion.

Sun Tzu Quote 8. - Chapter XII - Verse 19,20,21

"Advance only if it is to your advantage to advance; if not stay where you are.  In time, anger may change to gladness; vexation may change to contentment.  But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life."

Commentary: The kingdom here may be the world order which a pre-emptive strike will seriously impact.  It is very possible that a negative disruption of the world order that a pre-emptive strike against Iraq could cause is exactly what al-Qaeda  members wanted to have happen.  




Copyright © 2003 – Robert L. Cantrell – All Rights Reserved