Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Sun Tzu On War

Alan Woods On Bush


This is from a recent article in In Defense of Marxism written by the leader of the Marxist Tendency Alan Woods. He compares Sun Tzu's proven writings on war, with George Bush's practice.

On preparation

Sun Tzu says:

Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought.

The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.


The US imperialists, it is true, made many calculations before invading Iraq - but all of them were wrong. The most famous saying of Sun Tzu is:

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 succumb in every battle.

When he launched his Iraq adventure George Bush did not understand the mess he was getting into. He did not understand the enemy, nor did he understand the limitations of his own forces and the psychology of his own people. He assumed that the crushing military superiority of his armed forces would be sufficient to ensure a speedy and absolute victory. He assumed that the people of Iraq would greet the US forces as liberators - or, at least would not be able or willing to fight them. And he assumed that the people of the United States would continue to support the war as long as necessary. All these assumptions were false.

It is true that the majority of Iraqis did not like Saddam Hussein. But they like the US occupation forces even less. All the recent opinion polls show that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis think they were better off under Saddam Hussein, and an even bigger majority wants the Americans and their allies to leave. But the Americans are in no hurry to leave.

On the other hand the present occupant of the White House and Commander-in-Chief of the US Army failed to understand the limitation of his own forces. All the technology in the world will not make up for a demoralized army that has lost all confidence in its mission and no longer has the will to fight. The soldiers do not want to go to Iraq, and that is particularly the case with the reservists. The fact that a disproportionate percentage of the US troops in Iraq are poor, black or Latino, adds to the discontent and resentment. This can create an explosive situation in the ranks in the next period.

Last, but by no means least, the US public, which was never very enthusiastic about Bush's Iraq adventure, has turned decisively against the war. They know that they were dragged into the war under false pretences, and every new death of a young American soldier further deepens their animosity to the war and the President who launched it. The demonstrations on the streets of American cities will increase in scope and radicalism. The Republicans face meltdown in the elections. This in turn is causing splits in the ranks of the Republican congressmen and women, who are very attached to their positions on Capitol Hill and all the privileges that go with them. As a result, George W Bush is fast becoming the most unpopular President in American history.


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