President Trump is intentionally enigmatic to our enemies, and to his own Pentagon, when it comes to his approach to conflict, armed and diplomatic. Ironically, he detailed his philosophical approach to our enemies in his 2000 book entitled “Trump, The America We Deserve”. Obviously, most of his cabinet, our enemies, our allies, Congress, and member of the Intelligence Community have not bothered to read his book! Much of Trump’s military and diplomatic strategy, finds a striking similarity to that of Sun Tzu who wrote the “Art of War” some 2,500 years ago!
Sun Tzu’s core was dominated by the belief that victory and defeat are fundamentally psychological states! Read that again. Further, force and the destruction of one’s enemy was not as much of a factor as unsettling he enemy, and instilling chaos into the enemy’s political and military psyche. If force was to be used, it was used after sowing chaos within the enemy’s ranks, and in the context of exacerbating chaos, or in the final analysis. When psychological/diplomatic efforts failed, you must be prepared and able to physically defeat your enemy. The Chinese word for “Force” only appeared 9 times in the 13 chapters of “The Art of War”.
There are many examples around the world that bear out Trump’s Tzu approach to modern day enemies and conflict. Here are just a few:
Sun Tzu: “There is No Instance of a Nation Benefitting from a Prolonged War”.
President Trump echoes Tzu’s sentiment in spades when discussing the endless Afghanistan and Iraqi wars. Trump sees a difference between fighting Afghanistan and in fighting “Islamism”. One is geography and the other is an ideology. The Pentagon still does not really see the difference!
Sun Tzu: “The Good Fighters of old First put Themselves Beyond the Possibility of Defeat, and then Waited for an Opportunity of Defeating the Enemy.”
Trump believes that to fight Islamism in Afghanistan,
- We need to eliminate traditional ground forces; beef up our in-country intelligence;
- Then use our special forces to take out the enemy.
By removing our ground troops, Trump would take us out of the possibility of being defeated, either tactically or strategically. He would then seize on targeted opportunities to take out the Islamist via intelligence gained by infiltrating the enemy.
Sun Tzu: “The Supreme Art of War is Subdue the enemy WITHOUT fighting.” Also: It is More Important to Out-think your Enemy than to Outfight Him”.
Trump’s seemingly schizophrenic method of playing good-cop, bad-cop, all by himself, when dealing with North Korea, is an example of Tzu’s statements. Going from “Little Rocket Man” to saying of Kim, “a talented guy who loves his country very much”, Trump was able to at least start a dialog with Chairman Kim without firing a shot. True, there have not been any real concrete agreements to disarm but North Korea has ceased much of their long range missile testing and testing of nuclear underground testing.
The President also set up for Chairman Kim a non-combat exit strategy as Tzu recommended.
Sun Tzu: “Build Your Enemy a Golden Bridge to Retreat Across.”
Trump didn’t try to force Kim into a corner where his only option was to use force. He opened the door to talks all the while increasing sanctions pressure. The bridge was built for Kim to cross at any time.
There are many more examples where President Trump emulates Sun Tzu’s tenets of war. But, there is one area that is a headline in the news of the day. (no, not impeachment) It concerns the morale of troops and its impact on our ability to wage war effectively.
You may have heard that President Trump has pardoned two Army officers, First Lt. Clint Lorance and Major Mathew Golsteyn . Trump also restored the rank of Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher.
Army First Lt. Clint Lorance, Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn and Navy SEAL Edward R. Gallagher
Many in the Pentagon Brass and retired Brass have criticized the President/Commander-In-Chief for taking this action as they believe that his actions undermine the code of military justice! So much for chain of command! I am afraid that Sun Tzu would roll over in his grave if he saw the Obama era Rules of Engagement that put our men in harms way and gave the enemy the benefit of the doubt in all engagements. Here are a couple of Tzu’s quotes regarding troop care.
Finally, Sun Tzu: “If the Words of Command are Not Clear and Distinct, If Orders are not Thoroughly Understood, the General is to Blame.
President Obama and the Pentagon during his reign, hobbled our troops with ridiculous “Rules of Engagement” such as having to read the Miranda Rights to the enemy before engaging or interrogating them. Lethal force had to be approved by the Pentagon before ground troops could fire on the enemy in many cases. Obama and the Pentagon sought to hand-cuff our troops with engagement rules that were harder than those imposed on our police on our streets at home. Sun Tzu would have blamed the “Generals” and not Lorance, Gallagher, and Golsteyn for the supposed “war crimes” these 3 were accused of.
Sun Tzu: “Treat Your Men as You Would Your Beloved Sons, and They will Follow You Into the Deepest Valley”.
Sun Tzu: “If the Mind is Willing, the Flesh Could go On and On Without Many Things.”
By pardoning these brave men, the President not only won over the hearts and minds of these warriors, but thousands who have had to make the same decisions these 3 made on the battlefield. Trump just solidified his position as Commander-In-Chief and ensured that the “Generals” will have a fighting force that is committed to battle. They should be thanking him, not criticizing him!
Sun Tzu: “For Them (our troops) to Perceive the Advantage of Defeating the Enemy, They Must also Have Their Rewards.”
The President has also given out many rewards for valor and has recongized the contributions of the families of our soldiers. Fighting thousands of miles from home, in countries where our troops may be hated, and enduring harsh deployment conditions, knowing that the Comander-In-Chief, thousands of miles away, not only has your back and will defend you, give you all of he in-field support you need, but and also recognizes your selfless service and that of your brave familes.
Sun Tzu may have lived over 2,500 years ago, but his wisdom rings true today and is being channeled through our President!