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  • Ch. Mhammad Ashraf
  • Nov, 2017
  • 548
  • Foreign Policy

…in relation to the 21st century, it applies to an entire spectrum of activities: political, civil, military, diplomatic and corporate; to name a few. How to deal with a powerful but arrogant neighboring state on terms of equality

Sun Tzu (544 BC- 496 BC) was a famous Chinese general, military strategist and philosopher. He is most renowned for his book The Art of War, a widely influential military strategy book, which deeply affected both Western and Eastern philosophy, especially in the realm of military thought. Its impact through the ages may be judged from the fact that even today it is one of the top ten must read books for the cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point. American corporate culture briefly adopted the book as a ‘piece of fashion.’ Moreover, many modern bureaucracies will discern a familiar thread in the books, which they would find readily applicable to their own non-military situations. Politicians would benefit from it too. The Art of War is not just about warfare but a peep into the winner’s mindset. Above all, it is a superb study of human psychology with all its almost unfathomable depths. Clearly, a treatise, which has stood the test of time as a living testament in all manner of conflict situations throughout the ages must be conceded the title of a classic and a masterpiece.

1.“All warfare is based on deception.”

2.“Hence,to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

3.“If you know the enemy as well as yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” conversely, if you neither know the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

4.“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

5.“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

6.“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

7.“The general who wins makes many calculations in his mind before the battle is fought. The general who loses make but few calculations beforehand.”

8.“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

9.“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory; tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

10. “Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.”

11.“Appear weak when you are strong, and appear strong when you are weak.”

12.“Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”

13.“There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.”

14.“Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.”

15.“ He who wishes to fight must count the cost.”

Sun Tzu belongs to that exclusive club of prominent personages from the ancient world who believed in cut-throat diplomacy and a no-holds-barred administrative style. Chanakya (circ. 3rd century BCE), the chief advisor of the Maurya Emperor Chandargupt, also known as Kautalia; and Machiavelli (1469-1527), the eminence rise of the Medici Dynasty in medieval Italy, may be cited as the other two prominent members of this shadowy club. The intellectual and ideological progeny of all three lives on in various shades of gray. The rise of modern China owes much to the timehonored teachings of the Old Master; Chanakya must be happy wherever is his abode in the Nether world at the rise of his beloved Bharat, refurbished and airbrushed with BJP version ofHindutva; and of course, the West has never forgotten the legacy of Machiavelli whether in the rise and fall of Fascism and Communism, or in the establishment of the present day New World Order.Given below are the timeless pearls of wisdom attributed to both Chanakya and Machiavelli, who authored, respectively, two great classics, namely The Prince and the Arthashastra. One is amazed at the similarity of thought of these philosophers from the ancient world, who lived millennia apart from SunTzu. Could it be that the more things change, the more they remain the same?


1.“Even if a snake is not poisonous it should pretend to be poisonous.

2.A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first; honest people are also screwed first.”

3.“As soon as the fear approaches, attack and destroy it.”

4.“There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interest. This is a bitter truth. (Does it not remind you of the famous quote f...

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