November 15, 2010
In order to go on with this very rich quote of Sun Tzu this week posts will all be dedicated to the sentences, one after the other. All those posts will be exclusively dedicated to the analysis of coalition building. The study of the enemy will not be subject of study, at least for the time being.
Let us go on now with number 3.
Sun Tzu said:
Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:
With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?
By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat.
The first question coming in mind is related to the exact meaning of Heaven (Yang) and Earth (Yin). Depending on the comments the reader can find, you may find several explanations.
One explanation could be linked to tactics. Heaven could be regarded as the expeditionary capability, going towards the enemy instead of waiting for him. Earth would then correspond to the capability to defend the own territory. Within Heaven I would add strategic transport and Earth, the nuclear capability.
Second explanation that I like is linked to the Yin-Yang opposition, Heaven being the bright side of military campaigns and Earth being the dark side. Looking at current operations Heaven could correspond to the civil-military cooperation and support to development and to the government, while the Earth part would consist in counter-insurgency, with the danger of collateral damages and the risk of war crimes perpetrated by soldiers losing their self control. However, as always in the representations of Yin and Yang, both are closely linked, Yin and Yang own each a part of the other.
The interpretation is that, making effort on the bright side will not prevent you having some soldiers or being involved in operations, which will drive you in the dark side. On the other hand, running aggressive military operations, therefore being on the dark side, does not mean that you are definitely condemned to wage war exclusively that way, but you still can reverse, to the bright side, if you can drive the enemy towards the dark one.
As black and white need to oppose each other, when the enemy is driven to the Yin, it means that you have regained the initiative and he is now immobile and may be he lost the battle of the opinion.
Therefore, when building up your coalition, the most important is that, at the end of the day, your forces are on the Yang side, may be from the beginning, or only after a change in the modus operandi. From the enemy strategy will depend your initial orientation.
I would now propose you to build up your own opinion on this perspective I tried to share with you.