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 Smallwarjournal.com 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.”

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