What the militias in Oregon could have learned from The Art of War

Image Source: Dennis Skley, Flickr, Creative Commons The end / Ende

Image Source: Dennis Skley, Flickr, Creative Commons – The end / Ende (Not from scene).

Washington, DC (TFC) – In the fifth century BC, Sun Tzu penned Master Sun’s Rules of Warfare. It’s commonly known as “The Art of War.” Military strategists and tacticians have been reading and studying it ever since. It’s a text that was obviously not read by the planners of the recent standoff in Oregon. If they had read the text, the outcome could have been very different and a tragic loss of life may have been averted.

Master Sun says:

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

Application of this concept would have prevented those inside the refuge from disclosing they were short of, well, everything. When they disclosed the dismal state of their supplies to the public and their opposition, federal forces became very aware that it was simply a waiting game. Eventually, those in the refuge would be forced to venture out for food. They could be overtaken on the road or stopped by a roadblock.

Master Sun says:

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

In the examined scenario, this means it’s probably not a good idea to livestream everything that you are doing to the public. The forces opposing those in the refuge had access to the internet too.

Master Sun says:

“If those who are sent to draw water begin by drinking themselves, the army is suffering from thirst. [One may know the condition of a whole army from the behavior of a single man.]”

When the opposition sees a single person within the force suffer a meltdown on camera because his cause was met with ridicule and he was sent a collection of marital aids, the opposition knows the force is in disarray.

Master Sun says:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

The occupying force predicted reinforcements from the patriot community and support from the locals. They received neither. They didn’t know their own force. They also expected a repeat of the incident at the Bundy ranch. They did not know the resolve of their enemy.

Speaking directly on the topic of repeating tactics, Master Sun says:

“Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.”

Repetition of a tactic allows the opposition to predict movements and develop a plan for victory.

Master Sun says:

“Bravery without forethought, causes a man to fight blindly and desperately like a mad bull.  Such an opponent, must not be encountered with brute force, but may be lured into an ambush and slain.”

The bravery it took to take a federal building and hold it meant nothing without a plan to capitalize on the occupation. In the end, the occupation ended in the exact manner Sun Tzu said it would.

Master Sun says:

“The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several different points;”

Those occupying the refuge allowed the opposition to know exactly where they were prepared to fight. This allowed their opposition to prepare to fight at the primary location with overwhelming force while laying traps in the surrounding areas.

Master Sun says:

“Security against defeat implies defensive tactics; ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive.”

Adopting a static position is a recipe for defeat.

Master Sun says:

“Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:
1 He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
2 He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.
3 He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
4 He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
5 He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.”

This short list is as true today as it was when Sun Tzu put pen to parchment. It’s very clear that the conditions for victory were not met by the forces occupying the preserve. The outcome of the confrontation was determined before the militia ever arrived at the bird refuge. In case you’re interested in reading the entire text, click here.