Sun Tzu liked the enemy to maneuver and respond to his moves. This way he was in charge of the battlefield.
A US report after the Vietnam War revealed that 80% of the time, it was the North Vietnamese and Vietcong who decided where and when to fight.
Sun Tzu said, “Once you know the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses, you can avoid the strengths and attack the weaknesses.” At the beginning of the war, almost 80% of Americans supported it.
As the Vietnam war continued with mounting US causalities, that support at home shifted against the war, which achieved another of Sun Tzu’s rules, “The skillful leader subdues enemy’s troops without any fighting. One does not win wars by winning battles.”
Although the North Vietnamese and Vietcong did not win battles, they won the war by turning the American people against it. To achieve this goal, the North Vietnamese commander was willing to lose ten men for every American killed.
In the end, the US lost 53 thousand troops and the North Vietnamese and Vietcong more than a million with several million more noncombatants killed as collateral damage to the American bombing.
Sun Tzu felt spies were important, and he devoted one chapter to spies. He said, “Use your spies for every kind of business,” and the North Vietnamese and Vietcong followed that advice.
Sun Tzu said, “An accurate knowledge of the enemy is worth ten divisions.”
He also said, “Let your plans be as dark as night – then strike like a thunderbolt.” The Tet Offensive in January of 1968 was that thunderbolt.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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