Avoid Strength, Attack Weakness

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:
Avoid Strength, Attack Weakness

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This chapter discusses the second principle of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and its application in military situations. The avoid strength, strike weakness principle flows directly from the first principle of win all without fighting. If win all without fighting is the nation’s ultimate goal, then avoid strength, attack weakness is the key to achieving it. Attacking the opponent’s weak points is a much more effective and efficient use of the nation’s resources; it shortens the road to victory and increases the value of the victory. Success can be accomplished in several ways. One can attack the weakest enemy troops, destroy critical war-making resources, utilize land- or sea-based mobility, launch a preemptive strike, attack boundary points, or deliver a psychological attack. The key is knowing where the weaknesses are and when to release the attack. Unfortunately, pitting strength against strength is often the preferred method of warfare in Western countries, mainly because the direct approach is strongly embedded in the Western mind.

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

Chapter.  13049 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Theory ; International Relations

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