Sun Tzu’s Art of War in Military History
The Art of War by Sun Tzu is said to have been written during a time when China was plagued with wars from different states. It is also said that China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, was able to unite the country following Sun Tzu’s advices about warfare (McNeilly 5). The art of war as specified by Sun Tzu is so effective indeed that it has influenced military history in the ways that some of the greatest military leaders have used it as a guide to the great victories that have shaped the world as it is today.
Sun Tzu’s Art of War was later introduced to many different countries. It reached Japan at around 760 AD and the samurais like Oda Nobunaga, Hideyori Toyotomi and Ieyasu Tokogawa all used its lessons to unite all of Japan from several warring states. It was proposed that Napoleon was influenced by Sun Tzu and has applied the Art of War in his campaigns. In the 1940’s, Mao Zedong was thought to have also used the ideas in Art of War to defeat Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Party and had once again united China. Mao Zedong has even revived the teachings of Sun Tzu and used it in his writings which promoted guerilla warfare (McNeilly 5). In 1990, during the Gulf War, the Iraqi Army was defeated decisively by Coalition Forces in Operation Desert Storm by applying Sun Tzu’s teachings (McNeilly 3).
Sun Tzu’s Art of War is one of the most influential military treatises that are still being studied and applied today. It has become a powerful tool used by the greatest military leaders. The validity of its teaching could be seen in the fact that most historical battles that have shaped the world – whether the leaders are aware of Sun Tzu’s work or not – have exhibited the principles that the Art of War is perpetuating. Its success, however, is not limited only through suggesting military tactics and strategies, but in the fact that its teachings could be applied to state craft and other fields where gaining advantage over the competition is a factor of success.
McNeilly, Mark. Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare. New York, NY: Oxford University Press (US), 2003.
Sun Tzu. The Art of War. Trans. Lionel Giles. California: Filiquarian Publishing, LLC., 2006.