Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 2

Search results for: frontinus

2 Comparing and Contrasting Western and Eastern Ways of War: Building a Universal Strategic Theory

Authors: Adam Kok Wey Leong

Abstract:

The comparison between the Western ways of war and Eastern ways of war has raised contemporary debates on the validity of these arguments. The Western way of war is popularly propounded by Victor Davis Hanson as originating from the Greek hoplite tactics, direct military maneuvers, democratic principles and social freedom and cohesion that has continued to yield military success for the Western powers for centuries. On the other hand, the Eastern way of war has been deemed as relying on indirect tactics, deception, and ruses. This often accepted notion of the divide between Western and Eastern style does not sustain in view of the available classical strategic texts from both sides from the same period that has proposed similar principles of warfare. This paper analyses the similarities between classical strategic texts on war from the Eastern perspective namely Sun Tzu’s Art of War with a similar temporal strategic text from the West which is Sextus Iuluis Frontinus’s Stratagematon, and deduces answers to this core research question - Does the hypothesis of the existence of distinctive Western and Eastern ways of warfare stands? The main thesis advanced by this research is that ways of warfare share universal principles, and it transcends cultural and spatial boundaries. Warfare is a human endeavour, and the same moral actions guide humans from different geo-cultural spheres in warfare’s objectives, which are winning over an enemy in the most economical way and serve as a mean to an end.

Keywords: ways of warfare, strategic culture, strategy, Sun Tzu, frontinus

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1 Western and Eastern Ways of Special Warfare: The Strategic History of Special Operations from Western and Eastern Sources

Authors: Adam Kok Wey Leong

Abstract:

Special operations were supposedly a new way of irregular warfare that was officially formed during World War 2. For example, the famous British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the Americans’ Office for Strategic Services (OSS) – the forerunners of modern day CIA were born in World War 2. These special operations units were tasked with the conduct of sabotage and subversion activities behind enemy lines, placing great importance in forming Fifth Column activities and supporting resistance movements. This pointed to a paradoxical argument that modern day special operations is a product of Western modern military innovation but utilizing Eastern ways of ‘ungentlemanly’ warfare. This thesis is superfluous as special operations had been well practised by both ancient Western empires such as the Greeks and Romans, and around the same time in the East, such as in China, and Japan. This paper will describe the practice of special operations, first from the Western military history of the Greeks during the Peloponnesian war. It will then highlight the similar practice of special operations by the Near Eastern Assassins and Eastern militaries by using examples from the Chinese and the Japanese. This paper propounds that special operations, or ways of warfare as a whole, has no cultural and geographical divide, but rather very similarly practiced by men from all over the world. Ideas of fighting, killing and ultimately winning a war have similar undertones – attempts to find ways to win economically and at the least time.

Keywords: special operations, strategic culture, ways of warfare, Sun Tzu, Frontinus

Procedia PDF Downloads 288