Deception and Foreknowledge

Mark McNeilly

in Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare

Published in print January 2015 | ISBN: 9780199957859
Published online February 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780190252717 | DOI:
Deception and Foreknowledge

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This chapter discusses the third principle of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and its application in military situations. Sun Tzu says that one must have “foreknowledge” in order to defeat the enemy and achieve the nation’s goals. Foreknowledge is not simply projecting the future based on the past, nor simply analyzing the enemy’s order of battle. Foreknowledge is firsthand insight and a deep understanding of three things—the enemy, one’s own strengths and weaknesses, and the environment. But knowing these three things is not enough. The other side of the equation is ensuring that the opponent is denied access to that same information. This is where deception comes in. Deception should be practiced where it is prudent to mask one’s intentions from the enemy.

Keywords: military strategy; foreknowledge; deception; wars; modern warfare; The Art of War; Sun Tzu

Chapter.  11459 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Theory ; International Relations

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