Understanding Sun Tzu's - Full Documentary
Few writers from ancient times enjoy the same level of recognition as Sun Tzu, the famous philosopher and general from ancient China. Quotes from his timeless treatise the "Art of War" appear in popular culture and the whole book is frequently studied by business and military students around the world. Sun Tzu's "Art of War" presents thirteen chapters that describe how to factor in all important variables when trying to win a conflict. The principles can be applied to military problems as well as the challenges of the marketplace or even personal struggles.
The precise dates of the birth and death of Sun Tzu are not known, but history has verified his existence around the year 500 B.C.E. in China. Born of Sun Ping, a senior military officer in the state of Qi, Sun Tzu grew up with an education focusing on military affairs. At the time, it was common for Chinese generals to write about their philosophies of war, but it has been the work of Sun Tzu that has survived the ages. What made his "Art of War" so compelling that it is quite literally still in print 2,500 years after it was first inked onto strips of bamboo?
Part of the resilience of Sun Tzu's ideas comes from his success as a general. Ancient China was a complex chessboard of highly civilized yet warring states, and Sun Tzu enjoyed a respectable career within this challenging environment. Sun Tzu was in the employ of He Lu, the ruler of the state of Wu, who made him a general of the kingdom. In this role, Sun Tzu participated in numerous campaigns. His successes included the destruction of the Yue state, the territorial expansion of Wu, and the occupation of the city of Ying.
His successful application of his strategic thinking surely lent his literary work strength. His "Art of War" is not limited to narrow military concepts such as positioning soldiers on the field. Sun Tzu took into account all the forces acting upon a state. War is a tool of the state, and as Sun Tzu wrote, "War is a matter of vital importance to the state; a matter of life or death, the road either to survival or to ruin." But this crucial element of state power could not operate independently of diplomacy, politics, economics, geography, and philosophy. Each chapter in the "Art of War" explores these and other factors in detail and teaches that the application of military force must be used with a multidisciplinary approach. Geography is certainly given great emphasis because the actual land that is being fought over underpins military strategy, but it is not the sole consideration for a general.
Among the many sage pieces of advice that one can take away from the "Art of War" is Sun Tzu's insistence that war should not be started hastily, with optimistic assumptions, or without good intelligence. The stakes in war are too high for the state to lose, so therefore it must only employ its military tools when it can achieve victory. The economics of warfare is repeatedly stressed by Sun Tzu because of the heavy toll that maintaining an army in the field extracts from its society. War should not be the first tool that a state uses to gain its desired outcomes because it is so expensive.
In Sun Tzu's final chapter of his book, he opens with a statement that rings very true today as my own country, the United States, finds itself financing a prolonged war. From Chapter 13 "Use of Spies" Sun Tzu wrote:
"Now, when an army of one hundred thousand is raised and dispatched on a distant campaign, the expenses borne by the people together with disbursements of the treasury will amount to a thousand pieces of gold daily. In addition, there will be continuous commotion both at home and abroad, people will be exhausted by the corvee of transport, and the farm work of seven hundred thousand households will be disrupted."
Understanding Sun Tzu's Art of War - Full Documentary