Since the Industrial Revolution, war has been increasingly shaped by the ever accelerating speed of technological changes. This meant that wars prior to the 19th century were fought much differently due to their lack of progression in weaponry and doctrines. Therefore, it is evident that wars since the Warring state era to the Napoleonic age, right up until the post 9/11 era have shown great variation. Although, it is undoubtedly clear that the core factors of warfare have remained applicable throughout centuries and this will be forming the basis of my essay.
I will be exploring three of the principles of each classical strategist thinker, Carl Von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu, particularly drawing on their key ideas from The Art of War and On War. This essay endeavors to explain the two seemingly different approaches from the pre-modern Chinese civil war era to the modern Napoleonic era to actually have more in common in their principles of war despite their passage of time.
Sun Tzu rose as a respected general from the state of Wu during an age of Warring States in China. The strategies and tactics he used in this war formed the foundations to his masterwork the Art of War. To distribute the wisdom from which he gained from his years of battle, Sun Tzu wrote his holistic and cohesive approach to strategy in this book which shaped the way in which conflicts have been fought for centuries to come. Though Sun Tzu wrote extensively on these principles in his treatise, due to word constraint I will be specifically focusing on the roles of intelligence, deception, and victory without violence that could be applied indirectly. Sun Tzu relied heavily on intelligence and the extensive use of deception, diversionary methods played a key role in the indirect approach for Sun Tzu because it meant that the enemy’s will to fight back and maneuver were greatly reduced. “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when are able to attack we must seem unable. When using our forces, we must seem to appear inactive; when we are near we must make the enemy believe we are far away; and when far away we must make him believe we are near” (Tzu 2002). This philosophy can be seen in the WW2 invasion of Normandy, The British created several fictional units of troops stationed in Scotland who were ready to invade Europe through its northern regions in particular Scandinavia. They then used several misinformation techniques to persuade Hitler that 350,000 of these troops were primed to attack. Radio chatter in Scotland lit up with talks of these troops preparing for an overseas assault and many of these transmissions were made easily intercept-able. Allied spies reported these developments as well as reinforcing their legitimacy. This caused dozens of German divisions to go up to fake locations for an imaginary army to show up whilst important battles were fought elsewhere. This method of dividing enemy forces was made throughout history which supports the view that core principles of warfare have remained somewhat consistent even until WW2. “To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill” (Tzu 2002) Fighting costs lives and money, Sun Tzu praises the general who can out win instead of outfighting his opponent. “avoid what is strong, attack what is weak” throughout history armies fought head to head on the battlefield to show their strength and courage. Though Sun Tzu doesn’t focus on glory he only wants to win with as little unnecessary combat as possible, that’s for