From thoughts within a life where unlikely connections and rumminations occur, and odd readings mark sleepless nights. Why not thoughts of war? Why not Sun Tzu?
With my reread of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, I was struck by the connection to the war in Viet Nam, and of how it was likely we lost because of it. In the book, Sun Tzu instructs the army which is forced to defend—as the other, more powerful army, is stronger. And that instruction is clear: go deep underground. And that’s what the Viet Cong did. American soldiers complained loudly about the tunnels the Cong built, hiding, running, attacking, all of it a surprise for which there was no possible preparation. Our enemy was too deeply entrenched in an underground network.
Also, we did not stand much of a chance as we were the enemy who “did not know the Tao.” I say this as a translation, considering the references to the Tao as more symbolic than literal today. We can know the Tao if we live our lives as a moral beings, following Truth. Certainly our path of destruction with the murder of whole villages, women and children, bloodied the earth and our hands in the destruction of the Tao, hence we did not “know the Tao.” We were doomed, on this plane and on the other.
Perhaps then, the enemy read the Art of War, while the U.S. Generals, thinking themselves far superior, read the journals of modern warfare. Again, in a warning from Sun Tzu, we did not know our enemy. If we had, might it have come to a different end? Of course we cannot know. We can only speculate.
But I do know that—if I were the leader of an army—I would read the Art of War attributed to Sun Tzu.
When wars are a matter of survival, who will win?