How significant was the Art of War? Posted on March 10, 2023 by PrepHole Contributor How significant was the Art of War?
It got made into a book
the most book of all
The trick with it is that you have to actually practice discipline. The lessons are common sense as fuck, IF, you follow them
They're common sense to us living in the 21st century, having access to education and all the combined human knowledge. Probably not so common sense to the peoples of antiquity.
If I understand correctly the Art of War was meant to be the most basic primer possible so that you could have every politician and bureaucrat and whatever read it so they'd get in the way of their generals less and have at least a broad idea of what was going on and why.
You could also think of it like a medical checklist for the generals, tick off all the lines and you can be more confident you're not doing something retarded.
This is actually a good metaphor.
Remember, this was written for nobility in 500 BCE, of who's education level would vary wildly, but they all got the job because their dad was some count/marquis-equivalent in China. They were either extremely well educated and highly skilled, or complete buffoons and affluenza who had been groomed since childhood that they could do no wrong. That, or some random bureaucrat who got put in charge because he just happened to be the highest ranking person available.
So the book was there to provide both a basic level understanding of how wars should be run, and a checklist of things which to take into consideration so you won't completely fuck up things. It was there to provide some level of standardization "you should at least know this stuff" for your officials.
Waging war is difficult. It can be doubly so, if you are some uneducated (but decently smart) minor noble from the back-arse-end-of-nowhere-province who just happens to get the job because his Dad used to be the general.
But at least now, you've got the manual.
Also, it should be noted that there was some ...technical limitations to it.
The original book was to be written on these wooden/bamboo slits, which were then bound together. The whole thing was then rolled into a big, thick cylinder for transportation and storage. PAPER HAD NOT BEEN INVENTED YET. This was the technological limitation at the time. So the book could not be awfully long without it becoming a massive barrel-sized monster, or it would have to be cut into several different volumes.
So when it was written, this was taken into account. It was meant to be small, easy to carry manual that you could take into a military camp for quick reference. So it had to be short enough that it doesn't need to be too big or doesn't have to be split into several volumes (because you know that volume 2 is going to get lost at some point).
So it was written in a fashion that was both very short and simple, but also used rather complex chinese symbols/grammar to cut down on the number of signs needed to write it down. This is the cultural achievement in it: it's short and simple, but you really need to be able to read even those difficult chinese symbols. The book itself takes only like 50 pages by modern standards, you can read it through in a couple of hours. But to understand the more complex lessons it tries to teach (like combined arms theory, importance of logistics, subterfuge and use of spies etc) you have to sit down and think about it.
the parts about terrain seem pretty relevant today
Most of the stuff in it still is. Even though the nuances may differ, the main ideas remain solid.
Like this one:
"Sun Tzu said: In the operations of war, where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots, as many heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carry them a thousand li, the expenditure at home and at the front, including entertainment of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armours, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day. Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000 men."
Now, we don't use chariots or measure distance in li's or wealth in ounces of silver anymore, but the main idea is very clear: War is expensive as FUCK. Even an idiot understands that a thousand ounces of silver _for every single day_ is ludicreously expensive.
It also drives home the point that there are thousands of different things that need to be taken into account in running an army. There is a running cost even for those small things like fucking GLUE, something that some grown-in-a-palace nobleman might have never even considered to be a thing.
The book carefully and patiently teaches that these MUST be consdered, and that while being too hasty in war may lead to disaster, "Cleverness has never been associated with long delays".
Time is money. Every day costs a ton. So get the war done with, so we can all go home. For us time may seem obvious, but for some inbred affluenza nobleman it might not.
>some inbred affluenza nobleman it might not.
or inbred affluenza politician as it were
The last part is what you do when the AI is entrenched in hoi4 and you have to bait them in so they lose their bonuses.
Fuck the USSR btw, how was I supposed to know I can't fight in the winter?
This is absolutely a meme concocted on Internet forums. Bureaucrats were *not* generals. Bureaucrats were those who took the Imperial Examination and became part of the imperial bureaucracy, which is distinct from the army. Promoting a gentry scholar with no experience to the rank of general was an exception based on nepotism, most generals were those who commanded successful squads and/or those who served previous successful generals.
Why people think it sounds "wise" or "quippy" is because its
A) Written in ancient Chinese vernacular, where being brief was very important because of the cost of printing
B) It was a book on strategy, not tactics
So the book is not concerned about things like where to place your cavalry or the optimal squad structure. It was for things like when to start a war and how to manoeuvre your army.
But the Art of War was written in the Spring and Autumn Period. Imperial Examinations didn't start until the Sui. In the interim there were all sorts of methods of selecting a general, and during the Zhou, aristocratic men were still expected to become military commanders.
>Imperial Examinations didn't start until the Sui.
And even then that was just their first "invention" much like ancient Greeks made steam-powered toys.
The first time Chinese started staffing state bureaucracy with people who had to pass the exam was in Song.
That's why Japan, a country whose entire civilisation was built upon the Tang (post-Sui) model staffed all of its government positions with royalty, even if they were useless or retarded (the only thing Imperial Examination helps against).
Vietnam also became a separate state after Tang and if you read royal histories, it's the later 'kingperors' which are attributed for establishing the first use of the custom to staff the bureaucracy. Which wouldn't make sense if they had that for centuries by then, starting in Sui.
Whatever else it is charming to think that Chinese boys have been prepping for standardized testing for 1500 years straight, it's no wonder they're taking over all the universities they've been bred for it for four score generations
Exam takers/rich businessmen were the Chads of ancient China. They had harems with multiple wives and dozens of children. It's basically the opposite of what is happening today, where higher iq people are being out bred by lower iq people.
Is that why Chinese students are notorious for cheating?
>Japan was built upon Tang
This really hits when you compare samurai armor with Tang armor. Like the nips tried to emulate it as much as possible
They're common sense in a way that people dont practice those common sense, even though they're "common sense." In other words, the strategies outlines are absolutely universal and timeless but people always forget them in the heat of war. So they must constantly be reminded of this.
>Generalship for Dummies
The Chinese version of Generalship For Dummies is ok, but they replaced it with better versions later on. The Byzantine versions of Generalship For Dummies are better, especially the editions written by Nikephoros II Phokas.
how are the Art of War and Praecepta Militaria comparable? The latter is much less general and is pretty specific about Byzantine tactics
It's not the content so much as the audience. The Chinese and Byzantines both wrote a lot of war manuals because it wasn't unlikely for some retarded bureaucrat to end up at the head of an army he doesn't know how to lead. That's why both cultures wrote so many of them. Later Chinese war manuals are just as in depth as the Praecepta Militaria and On Skirmishing are.
You haven't read either one, or both.
The Praecepta specifically covers infantry formations and tactics down to placement. The Art of War is a general guide to all aspects of warfare, from supply lines to communications to stratagems. One is a book on tactics, the other is strategy.
>missing the point
Every time. Why do people on this board REFUSE to understand context? All of you REFUSE to do it. You imagine people are saying one thing and then argue against your imagined point EVERY SINGLE TIME. It happens on most boards, but it's an epidemic on this one for some reason and always has been.
>The Byzantine versions of Generalship For Dummies are better, especially the editions written by Nikephoros II Phokas.
"You must equip your skoutatoi, known in the past as hoplitai, with sword, spear and a shield. All shields of your troops must have the same colours for each unit and they must be equipped with helmets also."
VERY fucking helpful. I'll take the Chink with the basic slogans and general situations instead.
Not very, nobody remembers it
Brannigan's Rules of War #1: In the game of chess, you must never let your adversary see your pieces
In terms of culture and philosophy, it was very significant
In terms of military tactics and strategy, it's a meme
>holy shit dude don't fight your enemy outnumbered
>Don't treat your soldiers like shit and they'll fight better
HOLY FUCK DUDE
you are talking about insectoid race and it was some hundreds of years ago too... they have no regard for life or nature imagine back then...
>excessively long marches bad
>secure supply system good
woah dude... Really noggin my joggin there...
Less for lack of adequate Tao Te Ching translation with appropriate note apparatus (get the Mair one). The notes in picrel are more useful than the actual text typically. Compares disfavorably to Clausewitz, and ultimately refuted by Mao: "Power comes from the end of a gun." who himself had his "Yenan Way" of gay op slow and go infiltration and subversion to match Soviet "active measures".
Just as there was profane Tao (life extension & beauty elixers), there was internal alchemy Tao. Art of War's object is more relevant to the reader/Commander's own mind and thought than the conduct of operations per se. Platitudes like you quote take on a different shine in that light in context of the whole presentation.
>they just killed millions with swords and the rulers were worshiped as mythological beings descended from legendary god kings
They were removed from that era by quite a bit, and skills falling off/tenuous position of the place he was advising was his motivation. The rival power they ultimately overcame was stronger and resting on its laurels.
>Its complete garbage
Without a primer (understanding of Tao), translators will invariably fail to make the appropriate idiomatic choices. A LOT of AoW is droll commonplaces, more than necessary as a result. You have to read the notes and be looking between the lines; these are shifty chinks waxing poetic about spies and counter espionage and morale of the public & army & politicians after all.
>This is the cultural achievement in it: it's short and simple
>But to understand the more complex lessons
>You have to sit down and think about it.
It compels independent thought in an environment (bureaucrats rote memorizing tests) where literacy conforms to every Western idea of "lmao unoriginal innovative bugmen" that'll walk off a cliff if that's what "by the Book" entails.
I dunno, the weather/seasonal stuff and deception (not blowing your reserves early) are easy to forget
You don't even need a cursory knowledge of military history to know these were definitely novel and strange ideas to a whole shitload of military leaders, and even today.
Yes, and so did a lot of other sane, rational people today, but they are not the ones that run the military or the government
>a bunch of completely basic, intuitive shit,
that so few societies have successfully used we look at them as military miracles like Rome or Napoleon
pretty much this, it was a way to say to your superiors, "get your head out of your ass and stop thinking you know shit about shit" and convince them to let soldiers do the soldiering
I know they were novel ideas back then, but these days it's pretty funny for people to recommend this book as some sort of revolutionary knowledge when it's basically the military equivalent of cleaning your room and doing laundry.
Zelensky still hasn't read that part
Neither did Putin.
It is pretty spot on.
Pretty good AI voice reading. Probably the best for audiobook.
It's still required reading at every military academy in the world. With On War and The Tiger's Way it's probably good enough of a military education for any lay person.
Read The Book of Five Rings by Musashi
It's the only "general guide on life" that's actually good.
Now there's an actually overrated book.
>in the chinese tradition of intense over-writing to give impotent text artificial impact
1. You can read it in a couple of hours.
2. Impotent is an interesting choice of words. Want to talk about it?
On War is actually a tedious read.
you are such a retard
War has evolved.
In the Bronze age, it was just a competition of who could stab the most guys.
The American Revolution would not have happened under ancient Rome, they just would have killed everyone. But in modern Britain there was public opinion and democracy to consider. And it was democracy in London that decided the Whig withdrawal of British forces and American victory.
It took just about seven years of guerilla struggle for the Patriots to overthrow their oppressors, with only 3% to 6% of the American population. A big part of this was public opinion, hearts and minds, in America and Britain. At the time, the British were the most powerful empire and military force in the world. They could have waged a longer war, but they will of the people won over.
In Sun Tzu's time, they just killed millions with swords and the rulers were worshiped as mythological beings descended from legendary god kings.
They could have waged a longer war, but the* will of the people won over.
In Sun Tzu's time, they would just stab ya by the millions. That's how they settled things really.
Thousands. All they needed to do was keep the farmers from doing their job, and starvation did the rest.
Completely insignificant. Modern military thought is based on European theories. It's a good book, but it was completely overshadowed by the people that invented modern wars and fucked the chinese empire for a century with like 20k men.
To be fair China wouldn't have been so turbo fucked if they had followed their own book. It does talk about the need for intel but China was certain the barbarians were harmless and there is no need to know more about them.
its a bunch of completely basic, intuitive shit, written in the chinese tradition of intense over-writing to give impotent text artificial impact.
Imbeciles will read it and think "oh, this sounds really profound, too bad I cant fully understand this, but it will probably make me smarter". In reality they did understand it, its just retarded kindergarten shit like all chinese attempts at a cultural output
I think translations are at fault here
>attack your enemy if you are stronger
>evade the fight if you are weaker
>if you are weaker and cant evade the fight, outsmart your enemy
Its complete garbage
kinda sounds like it is describing the war in Ukraine now tho, no?
I wonder if they have already translated the "Art of War" in slavic language
with their fancy slavic moon runes.
>show up late
>annoy your enemy until they make a mistake
DUDE THIS IS SO SIMPLE AND OBVIOUS
>2000 years later armies are still failing to successfully implement the advice
Fucking this. Concepts so simple, everyone actually doesn't think about them at all. You see this happen time and time again when commanders and politicians chase glory or retarded goals.
>Losing many men bad
>Not losing men good
Wow so hekking deep!!!
Russia and Ukraine, all the satellite ex SR's and CSTO already stated telling Putin to fuck off last summer. Georgia has had pro EU protests in the last week.
Very. Completely changed the training of management consultants.
"Decieve your enemies n shiet"
>The warring states period chinese
It astounds me how many people manage to make it far into a military career without having this book drilled into their heads.
It's practical gradeschool-tier when it comes to strategy, yet people keep thinking they can shirk on the braindead basics.
It's a book written for literal retards. At first I thought it was a shit book that had nothing to offer but now that I witnessed the competency of russia I have come to realize that perhaps there is some merit in codifying the obvious. It's like incredibly obvious warning labels, it may seem stupid but they exist for a reason.
It was important back when military leaders had no military experiance and were just some nobles son.
Remember that the art of war was written about 400 BC, back when the other generals of the world (including Chinese ones) were consulting Oracles (of the Delphi variety and others), making tributes/sacrifices/human sacrifices and so on and so forth.
While there are worshippers who would pretend every word in the book is gold, the truth is that a lot of the tactical descriptions in the book are inherited at this point at best (book of fire, etc).
It also affected the development of warfare between the Asian and non Asian spheres - whereas European powers regularly conducted warfare for purely political/romantic reasons well into the Clausewitz era, the baseline competency of Chinese commanders to achieve military objectives was raised to the point where they can much more often be convinced by reason that non strategic factors were irrelevant. In short, there's a strong argument that the art of war substantially reduced romanticism in the Asian approach to war, and is the leading cause why chivalry in Asia is more objective based as opposed to an appeal to human emotions, leading to a cultural shift that has the Asian sphere being labeled as bugmen that nobody wants to get in a land war with to this day.
>be ping pong sun xi
>write guide on warfare
>only war you ever win is a civil one
>western brainlets quote your shit forever
They didn't win the civil war, Taiwan still exists.
To add to this: the Renaissance father of realpolitik also wrote an art of war (no, really - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Art_of_War_(Machiavelli_book) ). A simple comparison between the two books reveals a lot of the value in the art of war - the Sun Tzu rendition is much more cruel, realistic, effective and has not a single word on politics. Whereas the western Renaissance to modern treatise on war is an extension of politics that still has some of its roots in the human spirit and its extension to politics, and Sun Tzu's rendition is really war "in the raw".
To this day, I cannot comprehend the hypocrisy of the art of war fanboys who worship the art of war by its name but would then spit out Chinese bugmen behaviours as if it's beneath them. The two are intricately linked, and a worship of the book by hwaito piggu in place of a bible is precisely the behaviour that Sun Tzu sought to stamp out.
In short, The Art of War and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.
People who are saying "the Art of War is just grade school stuff" are correct, but to make an analogy to math, you won't be a great mathematician with just high school math, but you wouldn't become a mathematician at all without high school math.
So the Art of War is simplified, easy to read, and suitable for ordinary people who don't have the time or patience to read hundreds of books about advanced military theory. Fundamentally, it's basic military philosophy. Also the largest wave of studying the Art of War in China was actually by the communists. Mao's war philosophy was basically a sub-school of Sun Tzu and these basic concepts are still referenced.
>Whereas the western Renaissance to modern treatise on war is an extension of politics that still has some of its roots in the human spirit and its extension to politics, and Sun Tzu's rendition is really war "in the raw".
That's where Marx and Mao come in. Mao synthesized Marx and Sun Tzu together.
Chinese philosophy is very atheistic and materialist, which Sun Tzu fits into, what's interesting is that this makes him compatible with the modern age while also being almost a source of spiritual or civilizational tradition and meaning or something.
>Authors Wan Fulin and Zhao Li, writing on Sun Tzu in China Military Science, note that both atheism and views on the nature of China’s materialism at the time influenced Sun Tzu’s military thought. Sun Tzu focused on exploring the objective laws of warfare and believed that these laws could be understood. He opposed the use of superstitious methods. Knowledge cannot be obtained from spirits, he believed, nor can it be obtained inductively from experience. Rather it can be gained only from other men. Sun Tzu’s military thought thus possessed simple materialism and a simple dialectic method (advantage and disadvantage, etc.) to solve the constantly changing contradictions in war.
My thoughts exactly, not exactly the same ambition though.
The lessons it teaches aren't wrong or anything. But they're also not overly insightful either. They're pretty common sense. But what's really bad is that it is purely prescriptive as is so typical of Asian cultures.
You can learn infinitely more from Clausewitz, since he not only says what to do but also explains why in great detail.
If you've actually read Clausewitz, you'd know 70% of his book is prose. Here's a random paragraph
>Strategy is the employment of the battle to gain the end of the War; it must therefore give an aim to the whole military action, which must be in accordance with the object of the War; in other words, Strategy forms the plan of the War, and to this end it links together the series of acts which are to lead to the final decision, that, is to say, it makes the plans for the separate campaigns and regulates the combats to be fought in each. As these are all things which to a great extent can only be determined on conjectures some of which turn out incorrect, while a number of other arrangements pertaining to details cannot be made at all beforehand, it follows, as a matter of course, that Strategy must go with the Army to the field in order to arrange particulars on the spot, and to make the modifications in the general plan, which incessantly become necessary in War. Strategy can therefore never take its hand from the work for a moment.
Which could have just been
>Strategy is the overall plan guiding smaller battles. Because there are unknowns, the strategy should change.
you made it shorter but I am not sure if you made it better
If you purpose is to write a book that sounds nice and all your nobility buddies can feel smart reading, then Clausewitz does very well. If your purpose is to write a book on how to fight and win a war, 70% of Clausewitz is irrelevant. In fact, of known supporters of Clausewitz, most are politicians rather than generals. Even Thayer has had more effect on generals/admirals than Clausewitz. It is quite well know that On War is much more a philosophy book then
And many of those are basic definitions a well. On War, because of the prevailing philosophy of argument at the time, occasionally contradicts itself. Its all very nice prose but has jackshit to do with the actual execution of war. If you give the colonel of a company a copy of Clausewitz and ask him to go fight a war, it'd be pretty useless.
>And many of those are basic definitions a well.
But in contrast to Sun Tzu he doesn't leave it at that. Instead he goes on in explaining how and why it matters, how and why they are connected etc. This is what you call prose.
I’m phoneposting so no photo, but the top is the original Jesus painting and the bottom is the one after that dipshit woman tried to fix it.
I've read Clausewitz. In German. He goes to great legths in explaining things, often by juxtaposing them to other things. For example tactics: the use of the forces for the purpose of the battle, strategy: the use of the battles for the purpose of the war. The object of the war: what do we want to achieve in this war, the end of the war: what do we want to achieve with this war. Offense: the weaker form with the stronger motive, defense: the stronger form with the weaker motive. Etc.
Clausewitz is obsessed with making all these things clear because he is acutely aware of all the pitfalls that can confuse a military commander. Sun Tzu is more focused on trying to create such pitfalls for the enemy commander, but his general-guidelines-approach doesn't foster deeper understanding.
It can be difficult to read Clausewitz at times but it's not at all without purpose.
I have my uncles copy, all marked up from OCS. Legend has it they still give Clausewitz to all the incoming enlisted men at OCS to see if they move their lips while reading it
how about this for a summary:
>We must only do things that help get what we are fighting to win. First, we start by knowing exactly what we hope to win. Then, we build Strategy to get it, then we form the plan of the War.
>Every battle must fit into the strategy.
>We will have different teams in our group all doing different things all at once. Each of our leaders will always ask for more men and bullets, but strategy regulates what we can and can't give him. Strategy shows where we will send him and who we will ask him to kill.
>Before we start fighting, we will do our best to plan everything out, but we know we're going to get some things wrong. Therefore, we're going to keep an eye on the big picture and never forget strategy or what we want to win.
I'm writing a book called "students of war : a self-help book for child soldiers"
It was/is significant, because the concepts that are being described are very much relevant today. How the US dominated Gulf War 1, but failed in Afghanistan 2 decades later. Another obvious one is Russias "performance" in Ukraine, you can literally check boxes at paragraphs and get a broad understanding why some recent wars turned into decisive victories and others in absolute clusterfucks.
>Dude, before starting a war, you should know how strong is your army and know how strong is the enemy
>You should take care of your logistics and be able to suppy your army
>You should be aware weather and ground conditions when planning operations
>You should avaoid wasting your armies on besieging fortified positions
>Your generals should be competent and not stupid
>Dont waste your army when you have nothing to gain
>Dont allow for infighting in your ranks, sholdiers should trust and respect leaders, leaders should respect soldiers
Now, if you want to laugh that its all so basic, boring, kindergarden stuff thats obvious to anyone - well, take a good look at picrel.
Pretty much my thoughts tbh. It all seems like obvious and basic stuff, but there have been a lot of leaders throughout history who didn't seem to know half of it, or worse did know but disregarded it.
It's a philosophical manual. Tactical confucianism. I'd recommend reading the works of mengzhi along side with it and even Confucian analytics. Some people read it without digesting it as a philosophy or a poem. Sure you can read it from a military perspective and take it as common sense but when applied in everyday life it can help you run a business. The book is utterly worthless without application of different perspectives in a non linear sense.
>It's a philosophical manual ... some people read it without digesting it as a philosophy or a poem. Sure you can read it from a military perspective and take it as common sens
[but t]he book is utterly worthless without application of different perspectives in a non linear sense.
This, both the text and war require a 'holistic' approach, Tao and your apprehension of it is what helps you navigate uncertainty, the fog of war. If your thinking is unclear events will overtake you, rather than you riding them like a tiger. Advantage is temporary, favor is granted by Fortune, whom must be courted (or seduced).
Moltke's writings are better for battle exposition of Clausewitz, 'Deployment is fate'.
In the looser sense of the word philosophy as any kind of thinking. In the more Western sense of philosophy being metaphysics, The Art Of War is strictly practical. It does not concern itself with what war means, when it should be fought, its moral purpose or anything philosophical. On War is completely different, it is mostly concerned with these issues.
"On war" by Clausewitz is more serious and relevant, especially in the lahast ~500 years.
One of the top ten
Iraq and Afghanistan were failures because of nation building, not because of protracted warfare.
>Iraq and Afghanistan were failures because of nation building, not because of protracted warfare.
US fighting a war halfway across the globe most certainly had a big influence on why that half-hearted attempt at nation building failed so hard. For example, had the US consistenly put more boots on the ground would have ment less reliance on local corrupted power structures (that ultimately undermined the whole nation building part of the mission). However the additional costs associated with having to fly in every single piece of gear and equipment for these extra troops, from the other side of the planet ultimately proved to be too much for US society, despite running the largest and most efficient strategic airlift capability in this world.
it's just a compilations of common senses.
i hate mutts
Only the significance you place upon it.
>Brazil almost beating the UK and then vanishing completely
What communism does to a mofo
Male version of "The Secret"
People didn't have access to vidya that taught them these concepts before so it could've been useful
Art of War always brings out the historylets on PrepHole. They swear it's full of basic knowledge that everyone knows despite their being countless examples from antiquity to modern times of generals completely disregarding these basic principles of warfare and losing battles, campaigns, or whole wars because of it. The most famous conflict of all time, WW2, is FILLED with generals (mostly belonging to the Axis) breaking Sun Tzu's tenets and suffering the natural consequences for it.
So in your big brain historian opinion you agree with
Generals in WWII were at the mercy of their superiors whom had never served in senior military positions
It was so importand that it didnt managd to survive untill today. Clausewitz on war was 1000 times more important
>How significant was the Art of War?
I Russian had read it they would have won in 3 days top