Saturday, November 19, 2011

244. Whose Military Strategies Should the US in Afghanistan follow: Sun Tzu or Clausewitz?

You should be able to find some information on traditional Chinese civilization’s influence on the development of the United States since the founding era of the country through reading this weblog. However, we still feel the effects of the influence of Chinese culture on the United States today.

Like the founders of this country, Americans still draw wisdom from Chinese writings. Some presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Barrack Obama, have quoted teachings from the Chinese classics in their speeches. Indeed,some elements of the Chinese culture are very popular in the United States today.

Though it may be surprising, the ancient Chinese text, Sun Tzu’s Art of War , has been used as teaching material in all American military academies. In designing counterinsurgency strategies, American strategists have considered that Sun Tzu’s strategies would guide American military to victory, but not that of the more contemporary Carl Von Clausewitz, the 19th century German military strategist.

Major Ben Zweibelson, an active duty Infantry Officer, wrote an excellent article, The US in Afghanistan: Follow Sun Tzu rather than Clausewitz to Victory, published in on December 11, 2010. Major Zweibelson told his readers that the United States has relied on Clausewitzian military “tenets with a faulty emphasis on superior western technology, doctrine fixated on lethal operations, and a western skewed perspective on jus ad bellum (just cause for war).”

After careful examination of the warfare in Afghanistan, Major Zweibelson has come to the conclusion, "To turn this operational failure around, the U.S. military instrument of power should replace the teachings of 19th century German military strategist Carl Von Clausewitz with Ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

243. Laozi Philosophy Still Valuable to the Americans

In his article, The myth of America's decline, carried in CNN Los Angeles, Mr. Rob Asghar pointed out that the United States told his readers, “Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching," still proudly full of wisdom today, stands as a reminder that disruption, individualism and innovation are inherently heretical in many traditional societies.”

This idea is hardly new. Readers of this weblog are sure to remember Item 176. Ronald Reagan and Laozi Philosophy. I will quote him in the following

"And as an ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu, said: 'Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish; do not overdo it.' Well, these ideas were part of a larger notion, a vision, if you will, of America herself--an America not only rich in opportunity for the individual but an America, too, of strong families and vibrant neighborhoods; an America whose divergent but harmonizing communities were a reflection of a deeper community of values: the value of work, of family, of religion, and of the love of freedom that God places in each of us and whose defense He has entrusted in a special way to this nation."

What I want to point is that the above quotes can serve as an indicator showing that the excellent tradition of drawing positive elements from Chinese civilization started by the founders of this nation has been well maintained by the Americans from its leaders and an ordinary citizen.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

242. Tiger Mother, Eagle Father or Turkey Grand Grand... Father

How do we educate younger generation? Currently, there are at least three ways for us to follow, including the ways of The Tiger Mother, The Eagle Father and The Turkey Grand Grand… Father. First, we have to know who they are before we look into their ways to educate our children. By now, everyone should know who the Tiger Mother is.

I heard the news that Tiger Mother's daughter was admitted by Yale University this summer. It seems that Tiger Mother's educational goal was to push her children to the Ivy League Schools. But how about the Eagle Father? The Eagle Father is the husband of my friend. He is European American and works at a University in New York City. His educational philosophy is to give his children a generous environment and let them to decide what school they want to attend. The Eagle Father never pushes his children to study harder than others.

You might feel surprised to find that who The Turkey Grand Grand... Father is. He is none others but Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), one of the great founding fathers of this country. Franklin paid much attention to educate the youth. He donated his time and energy on bringing up useful young people for the world. As a senior, he wrote his autobiography in order to set an example for coming generations. Franklin’s main philosophy on education was that the educational system must produce useful people.

I agree with Franklin’s principle that our purpose of education must focus on usefulness. You might wonder why I call Benjamin Franklin the "Turkey Grand Grand...Father." This is because that Franklin liked Turkey very much. For him, the turkey was a bird with good morality. In his letter to his daughter Sally (Mrs. Sarah Bache), which he wrote in France on January 26, 1784, Franklin pointed out that turkey is "a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on".