Alea iacta est… the Council has spoken, the votes have been cast and we have the results for this week’s Watcher’s Council match-up.
“Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head” – Euripides
This week’s winner, The Right Planet’s Sun Tzu on Syria, is a fascinating look at Obama’s Syria strategy as channeled through Sun Tzu’s classic “The Art Of War.” Here’s a slice:
The ancient Chinese military philosopher Sun Tzu wrote in his famous treatise, The Art of War, that one must prepare to be assured of victory. Of course, one must be able to define victory. Sun Tzu defined victory as “crushing the enemy.” Of course, this means one must clearly define the enemy as well.
The rush to go to war with Syria reveals some classic examples of foolishly ignoring the maxims of war–whether you like them or not. Ignoring maxims that have withstood the test of time for centuries is another example of doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result each time–the quintessential definition of insanity–or defeat, in this case.
In the first chapter of The Art of War entitled “Laying Plans,” Sun Tzu said:
1. The art of war is of vital importance to the State. 2. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.
War–a matter of life and death … of vital importance to the State … a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected. War is not a trivial matter or a game. War can either provide a “road to safety”–protecting the American people and the nation’s vital interests–or it can lead a nation down “the road to ruin.”
Following the previous two maxims in “Laying Plans,” Sun Tzu sets the entire foundation for every maxim which follows, for it is the description of the arena in which any strategy is confined, and the art of operating within that arena in order to achieve victory against the enemy-The Moral Law (Spiritual) and Heaven & Earth (Physical):
3. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field. 4. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline
The fourth head of the fourth maxim, applied to the United States, defines the Commander (Sovereign) as the president himself during a time of war. He assumes the mantle, per the U.S. Constitution, of Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military. The importance of the Commander-in-Chief to deliberate the “five constant factors” at all times is considered mandatory by Sun Tzu.
The eleventh maxim in “Laying Plans” states:
11. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.
Sun Tzu warns the Commander (General) in his fifteenth maxim in “Laying Plans” of the dangers of ignoring the “five constant factors,” or heads:
15. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat:–let such a one be dismissed!
Sun Tzu’s requirements for a good Commander are spelled out in the ninth maxim in “Laying Plans”:
9. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness.
Can these virtues be said to accurately describe our current Commander-in-Chief?
The administration has used rhetoric like “pin pricks” and “unbelievably small” to describe possible military action by the U.S. against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. So right off the bat the administration has ignored one of the most important maxims of military strategy–the element of surprise. Informing the enemy of your methods and strategy is a recipe for defeat, as Sun Tzu states in the twenty-fifth maxim in the first chapter:
25. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.
The environment in which war is fought, i.e. Heaven and Earth, is one based in deception. The need to peel away the many layers of deception employed by the enemy is a “constant factor” during war. The last chapter in the The Art of War is entirely devoted to the use of spies and double-agents, and their importance in gathering reliable and actionable intelligence on the enemy, or as Sun Tzu describes it–foreknowledge.
18. All warfare is based on deception. 19. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. 20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
More at the link.
In our non-Council category, the winner was Walid Shoebat with John Brennan has a New Benghazi Problem, submitted by The Right Planet. This has to do with punishment meted out to a CIA employee who refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement barring him from discussing the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi… after CIA Director John Brennan publicly stated that no such thing would be tolerated.
Okay, here are this week’s full results. Only The Mellow Jihadi was unable to vote this week, but was not subject to the 2/3 vote mandatory penalty:
- *First place with 4 2/3 votes! – The Right Planet – Sun Tzu on Syria
- Second place with 2 2/3 votes – Bookworm Room – Andrew Sullivan’s marvelously misguided theory about how Obama played Putin when it came to Syria
- Third place with 1 2/3 votes – Nice Deb – Grief Stricken Christian Woman in Syria Lashes Out: ‘We Blame Obama!…He Is Helping The Rebels’…
- Fourth place with 1 1/3 vote – Liberty’s Spirit – Foreign Policy Clowns: Allowing Tyrants to Dictate Exceptionalism
- Fifth place with 1 vote – Joshuapundit – Whoopsie… Gay Icon Matthew Shepard Was Actually Killed By Lover Over Meth
- Sixth place *t* with 2/3 vote – The Glittering Eye – The Lack Of Moral Outrage
- Sixth place *t* with 2/3 vote – The Noisy Room – Obama’s Middle Eastern Sleight of Hand
- Sixth place *t* with 2/3 vote – Simply Jews – Amnon Lord: Obama as a grand failure – or missing the great red herring.
- Seventh place *t* with 1/3 vote – The Colossus of Rhodey – Moonbat gun control round-up
- Seventh place *t* with 1/3 vote – The Mellow Jihadi – Speaking in Japan to…
- *First place with 2 1/3 votes! – Walid Shoebat – John Brennan has a New Benghazi Problem submitted by The Right Planet
- Second place *t* with 1 2/3 votes – Mark Steyn – American Ineffectualism submitted by The Noisy Room
- Second place *t* with 1 2/3 votes – Lee Smith/Weekly Standard – The Damage Done submitted by Liberty’s Spirit
- Second place *t* with 1 2/3 votes – Habitable Worlds – Emotive but Meaningless submitted by The Razor
- Third place with 1 1/3 votes – Richard Fernandez/PJ Media – A Gift Horse In The Mouth submitted by Simply Jews
- Fourth place *t* with 2/3 vote – Seraphic Secret – 12 Years After 9-11 submitted by The Watcher
- Fourth place *t* with 2/3 vote – Middle East Forum – Beware Syrians bearing gifts submitted by The Political Commentator
- Fourth place *t* with 2/3 vote – AEI Ideas – Saving al-Assad submitted by GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD
- Fourth place *t* with 2/3 vote – Roger Kimball/PJ Media – Fundamentally Transforming the United States of America submitted by Nice Deb
- Fourth place *t* with 2/3 vote – James Joyner/Outside the Beltway – Obama Syria Speech Instant Reaction submitted by The Glittering Eye
- Fourth place *t* with 2/3 vote – Allergic To Bull – “I Know They Went to Heaven” submitted by Rhymes With Right
- Fifth place *t* with 1/3 vote – Castor Praetoria – Things Your SgtMaj Hates… “That’s not my job!” submitted by The Mellow Jihadi
- Fifth place *t* with 1/3 vote – Douglas Ernst – Dianne Feinstein, NSA apologist, is more dangerous to America than men with rifles will ever be submitted by The Colossus of Rhodey
- Fifth place *t* with 1/3 vote – New Scientist – Why A Cyberwar won’t happen submitted by Bookworm Room
- Fifth place *t* with 1/3 vote – Barry Rubin – The Solution: How to Deal with Obama Middle East Policy submitted by The Watcher
See you next week! Don’t forget to tune in on Monday AM for this week’s Watcher’s Forum, as the Council and their invited special guests take apart one of the provocative issues of the day with short takes and weigh in… don’t you dare miss it. And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that!