Monday, October 24, 2005

Heeding Sun or Mao?

Heeding Sun or Mao? - Essay about China's military thinking discussing ideas of Mao and Sun Tzu. The article is a bit dated (from 1998) but it still brings up good examples from Chinese history and how that might impact the thinking of Chinese leaders today.

Sun Tzu cautioned leaders not to underestimate the will and the ability of a potential opponent to fight. However, some believe this is what is happening in China as some leaders may be underestimating the ability of the United States to win a war against China.

What is certain is that the Chinese are taking notes on how the USA engaged in war in Kosovo, how the USA dismantled the Irqui war machine during the 2003 invasion, and the difficulty the USA has with a long term occupation (militarily and politically) in the face of a guerrilla war.

From the site:

Ancient China's famed strategist, Sun Tzu cautioned leaders of his day to take pains to avoid miscalculating the capabilities or intentions of potential adversaries lest disaster strike: "If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle." In contrast, modern China's revolutionary leader, Mao Zedong, brushed aside that warning: "All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality they are not so powerful."

Today, American defense officials are debating whether their Chinese counterparts will, in effect, heed Sun or Mao. Underlying the deliberations is a fear that the Chinese might miscalculate in thinking they could prevail over the armed forces of the United States in a regional conflict in Asia.

Leading one school is Admiral Joseph W. Prueher, who commands U.S. forces in the Pacific; he says Chinese military leaders are "smart, pragmatic" officers who understand that the Peoples Liberation Army does not compare with U.S. forces "in any way." Influential Pentagon analysts, however, assert that Chinese leaders hold "dangerous misperceptions that may well cause serious political friction or even military conflict with the United States."

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