Archive for July, 2010

The Role of “Image” in Military Success or Failure

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

In most translations of The Art of War, the importance of  “Image” is not adequately explained. Most translators use the word “Energy” to address the topic.  Furthermore, previous translators discuss this so-called “Energy” mostly in terms of  military “strength.”

 Readers who explore the forthcoming book, The Art of War Applied to Wall Street, will be treated to a complete and thorough translation of the entire Art of War as bonus material.

This new translation is a much more accurate one.  What others have rather nebulously named as “Energy” is actually the the power of “image.”  This topic will be thoroughly explored in Chapter 5 of the portion of the book devoted to the translation of the actual Art of War text.

Let’s look at “image” in a familiar context through the mindset of Sun Tzu.  Take the image of Germany under the leadership of Adoph Hitler during the World War 2 period.

In the early years of Hitler’s leadership, he had attained the support of most of the people, a key Sun Tzu element.  He built up a military force that was universally recognized as a strong one that was extremely mobile, could attack quickly with lethal force, and get out again quickly.  Again, all key elements of The Art of War.

As a result, the German military had a fearsome image that caused enemies to surrender quickly or to negotiate and become allies.  Here again is an Art of War concept.  “Make the enemy surrender without fighting,” and incorporate territory with little collateral damage.

The image resulted in a psychological advantage that created the leverage he needed to cause his adversaries to capitulate.

As the concept of this book, Art of War Applied to Wall Street, began to take form in my mind, I came to realize that Wall Street has a very similar effect upon people.  It seems so monolithic and so impenetrable, and there is so much “analysis” offered, that the individual feels overwhelmed. Not knowing who or what to trust, one can end up surrendering his or her capital to the stock market without understanding that much of what is presented is simply “image.”

In my book, I have set out to present to the reader an approach, using most of Sun Tzu’s concepts, to dealing with of the Wall Street “adversary.”

Footnote to history:  When Hitler lost his campaign against Russia in the Battle of Leningrad, his image was badly tarnished, and the German forces were no longer considered undefeatable.  As described in the blog discussing the Battle of Leningrad [excerpted from my book], Hitler had violated so many precepts of The Art of War, that his downfall was inevitable.

“Art of War” Perspective on Allied Invasion of Normandy

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

The success of the Allied Invasion of Normandy during Word War II is an example of the power of following many of the key principles that Sun Tzu presented in The Art of War.  The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book The Art of War Applied to Wall Street by Y.K. Wong.  Section Three of the book contains analyses of several different battles in modern history.  Get a copy of the book to explore the additional battles! 


World War II:  Allied Invasion of Normandy
June 6, 1944

Factors leading to the Allied victory:

1.  The relationship between Hitler and his military leaders was 
     dysfunctional.  Hitler interfered with the planning.

2.  The military leaders lost control of their own units because of Hitler’s interference.  As a result, the military leadrs were unable to coordinate movements with each other.  

3.  As a result of factors 1 and 2, the overall morale of the German military was very low.  

4.  The Allies made good use of intelligence and deception.  

5. The Allies used the landforms (the coast of Normandy, for example), to put their soldiers in a “do or die” situation, where there was no choice but to fight ferociously for their survival. Retreat was not an option.

Famous Battles of Modern History in Terms of “Art of War” Principles

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

One of the valuable features of the forthcoming book,  The Art of War Applied to Wall Street, is the Part Three, in which several famous battles of modern history are analyzed in terms of the principles of The Art of War. The following analysis of The Battle of Lenigrad is excerpted directly from the book:

Nazi-Soviet War:  The Siege of Leningrad (1941-1942)

 The Siege of Leningrad was one of the longest and most lethal sieges in world history. 

Factors leading to Russian victory:

1.  Hitler was so overconfident that he never made an assessment of the
     specific requirements for a war in Northern Europe.

2. The Germans assumed that their favorite tactic, the blitzkrieg, would
    be sufficient to defeat the Russians.  They did not expect the guerrilla
    tactics of the Russian partisans.

3. Hitler did not know the enemy. He planned only for a short-term war,
    unaware that the Russians were prepared to fight as long as it took to
    repel the Germans.

4. Ignorance of weather conditions in the place of battle.  Due to the
    assumption that the Russians would be defeated quickly, the Germans
    were not issued proper cold weather gear.  At least half of the German
    casualties were due to improper clothing.  Temperatures were reported
    from -16F to -63 F.  The rifles and artillery of the Germans   were not built to  function in extreme cold, whereas the Russian equipment was.  In addition, because sound carries a long distance in very cold   weather, the German troop movements could be heard from miles away.

5. The Germans lacked mobility for the terrain.  Their armored vehicles
    were not geared for the different types of snow they encountered in
    Russia.  In addition, the Germans had not taken into account that the
    Russian train tracks were built to a different gauge than theirs.

6.  As a result of item 5, the Germans could not adequately provide their
     own logistical support, and eventually used small Russian horses
     for transport.  With supply lines outdistanced, the Germans were
     further hampered by the Russian destruction of shelter and food
     sources in their path.

7.  The element of deception was missing. The German target objectives
     were plainly evident, and the Russians were prepared.

8.  The Siege of Leningrad was clearly a do-or-die situation for the
     Russians, and even though the defenders were starving after almost
     900 days, there were inherently more motivated to fight.

9.  The Germans were too over-extended to replenish their weaponry.
     Germany relied heavily on imported resources to build its war
     materials.  Russia had the resources on hand to resupply its troops.

An interesting footnote to this is that it was said that one of the Russian generals, who was rightfully fearful as the Germans advanced, had a son who was familiar with Chinese history.  This son related an account to his father about a famous battle that took place during the era of the so-called “Tri-State Period” in Chinese history, following the Han Dynasty. 

The concept that the son gave to his father was a form of  “scorched earth” policy.  That is, to destroy every kind of supply, including housing, that the Germans could make use of in their campaign. The Russian people were in accord with this policy; they were willing to give up anything required to save their country.

As the Germans struggled to attain supplies, valuable time passed, keeping the Germans in the country as the season moved into the Winter time, when the Russians would have a natural advantage.

In essence, this was an application of  the Five Elements:  will of the people united with their leaders (Dao), weather (Heaven), landforms (Earth), leadership (General),  discipline, training, and logistical support (Law).

Another Exploit of Sun Tzu: A Lesson in The Power of Deception

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Another famous exploit of Sun Tzu was his victory over an enemy that the Kingdom of Wu had a deep-rooted conflict with for generations—the Kingdom of Yueh. During Sun Tzu’s era, the Kingdom of Wu had ongoing battles with Yueh.  Wu’s king insisted on participating in battle, was injured, and subsequently died. His son, avid for revenge, named Sun Tzu as commander-in-chief, and turned all battlefield leadership over to Sun Tzu.

Sun Tzu again chose the most advantageous battle site to engage the Yueh forces.  Whereas his previous success against the Ch’u was in a mountainous terrain, Sun Tzu chose a terrain that was characterized by rivers and swampy elements.  He enticed the Yueh to an area in which they were destined to be bogged down right from the start.  Sun Tzu counted on the enemy’s over confidence to drive him right into his trap.  During the rout, the King of Yueh managed to escape with 5,000 of his original 100,000 soldiers.  Nevertheless, he was cornered by the Wu and surrendered, becoming a POW of the Kingdom of Wu.

One of the reasons this war is so famous in Chinese history is because the imprisoned king pretended to be insane, even going to the length of eating feces to convince his captors of his derangement.  King Ow Chin was deemed harmless and released back to his country.  However, that was not the end of him.  After returning to Yueh, which was now a colony of Wu, he began underground training of his military for a period of ten years.  Meanwhile, he had sent one of the four most beautiful women in all of Chinese history as a gift to the King of Wu. She was said to be so beautiful that if she gazed into a river, the fish, upon seeing her, would drop their scales, and sink to the bottom in their bliss. Despite the advice of Sun Tzu and the most trusted ministers, the King of Wu accepted the gift.

 He overrode the strong words of Sun Tzu and the others who gave him the dire warning: “If you accept this woman, who is undoubtedly a spy, the country will collapse.  By releasing the king, you released the tiger back to the mountains.” History proved they were all too correct.

King Ow Chin indeed got his revenge after ten years of preparation, and ultimately took the King of Wu as prisoner, and executed him.  Just before the execution, King Ow Chin asked his rival king for his last words.  They were: “My only regret is that I did not listen to Sun Tzu and my trusted Prime Minister.  Because I accepted your gift of a beautiful woman, I am where I am today.” 

A footnote to this story is that the aforementioned Prime Minister had been jailed by the stubborn king.  He was so distressed over the impending fall of his country that his black hair had turned white overnight, and he declared, “When I die, I want my eyes to be hanging off the ramparts of the castle, so I can see the advancing troops of Yueh coming through the door!” He could be said to have had the satisfaction of “seeing” that his predication was correct.

After this, the “Thirteen Chapters” spread all over China, from generation to generation.

During the Tong Dynasty, about 1500 years ago, a Japanese political envoy took Sun Tzu’s “13 Chapters” back to his country, and it instantly became a Japanese “bible” that has impacted the fundamental culture to this day in terms of business, social activity, and military.

During the 18th century, The Art of War spread to France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and the Middle East.

Today it is on the reading list in every military course of study, as well as most business and management schools. It is so highly regarded because it emphasizes wise planning, mental discipline, order, education, passion, love, reward, punishment, training, bravery, trust, principles, and most important—intelligence-gathering.

(Excerpted from Part Three of the book, The Art of War Applied to Wall Street)

A Historical Note on Sun Tzu

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

 It is commonly understood that Sun Tzu wrote his “13 Chapters” during the “Period of Warring States”, (4 BC) in Chinese history when fighting, attacking and occupying neighboring territories were at its most turbulent.  He Lu, king of the Wu (Ng) state became his patron.   After King  He Lu accepted Sun Tzu’s working philosophy, he appointed Sun Tzu as his military general.  All authority resided in Sun Tzu in terms of military action.  Sun Tzu trained the soldiers of Wu with absolute rule and discipline, and he rewarded them accordingly.

The small Wu kingdom had been experiencing ongoing conflict with the much more powerful neighbor state of Ch’u (Tsou).  Sun Tzu instituted continuous guerrilla warfare with Ch’u over a period of ten years.  During this period of hit and run warfare, Sun Tzu was careful to give the impression that these actions were just an annoyance–nothing to be taken seriously, because at that time the military of Ch’u was ten times stronger than that of Wu.  But all the while Sun Tzu was using the opportunity to train his troops and to keep the potential adversary off balance, as well as to gain valuable information about him.

Sun Tzu convinced his king to hold off on true warfare until the time was right.  When it was, he put his tactics into action and succeeded in conquering Ch’u, even though statistically the country was far larger and mightier than Wu. It was Sun Tzu’s well-designed plans that enabled him to entice the enemy into a battle site that would be the perfect place to ensnare him into a position where he would not be able to maneuver or coordinate elements.  They were unable to communicate among their various divisions and positions, and chaos ensued.  The defeat was more the result of panic and chaos, rather than confrontation and massive slaughter.  The enemy defeated himself.

Sun Tzu’s triumph over Ch’u was a landmark in Chinese history, for it demonstrated that skill and psychological strategy could be superior to simple physical confrontation.

(Excerpted from Part Three of the book, THE ART OF WAR APPLIED TO WALL STREET).