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How Do You Understand Sun Tzu's Concept Of "Know The Enemy And Know Yourself" And What Is The Significance Of This Concept In Modern Wars?

1110 words - 4 pages

IntroductionSun Tzu's master piece "Art of War" has exercised a potent fascination over the minds of some of the greatest men in history. Beside military men, testimonies of pure literary men are even more remarkable. The following is an extract from the "Impartial Judgments in the Garden of Literature" by Cheng Hou:"Sun Tzu's 13 chapters are not only the staple and base of all military men's training, but also compel the most careful attention of scholars and men of letters. His sayings are terse yet elegant, simple yet profound, perspicuous and eminently practical."Sun Tzu is recognized as one of the first military thinkers to appreciate the importance of art of war for a nation, he says, "In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace. The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected..." But that does not mean that Sun Tzu advocates or encourages war, rather he emphasizes that supreme excellence lies in defeating an enemy without fighting.Understanding and Significance of Sun Tzu's Concept of "Know the enemy and Know Yourself"The Sun Tzu's concept of "Know the enemy and know yourself" is given in chapter III of his book. The title of this chapter is "Attack by Stratagem", and it introduces the central notion of "taking whole," whereby one "subdues the other's military without battle." Thus it remarks, "Taking a state whole is superior; destroying it is inferior to this. Taking an army whole is superior; destroying it is inferior to this..." and "To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting. In order to accomplish this Sun Tzu emphasizes on the importance of foreknowledge i.e., concept of "Know the enemy and know yourself".Now to understand this concept, I will also mention two other sayings of Sun Tzu, that is "Know the enemy, know yourself; your victory will never be endangered. Know the ground, know the weather; your victory will then be total" and "All warfare is based on deception." These three sayings form the foundation of Sun Tzu's information superiority guidance. Now let's examine these step by step.First, know yourself. Commanders must have detailed knowledge of their own forces - their troops' and equipment's combat readiness, training, leadership, location, will to fight, morale, supply situation, maneuver ability, and a wealth of other information. Are the troops under fire? Do they need support in order to advance? Can they react quickly to time-critical targets in their immediate operational area? What are the strengths and weaknesses in their overall operational structure? etc etc.Second, know the enemy. For every question you must answer about your own forces you should be able to answer the same about the enemy's forces. Additionally, though you understand your own plan and intentions, you must...

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