Magazine August 2, 2021, Issue

Sun Tzu and Us

Soldiers sit on an M60A3 tank for a group photograph after an anti-invasion drill in Taichung, Taiwan, January 17, 2019. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)
How China threatens U.S. alliances

Beware, America. The United States has no strategic position in the Western Pacific without alliances, and its nemesis, China, is an alliance-breaker of long standing.

And by inclination. Two millennia ago, China’s homegrown master of all things military, the (perhaps apocryphal) general Sun Tzu, etched his hierarchy of strategic priorities on China’s way of diplomacy and warfare through his treatise The Art of War.

Foremost among Sun Tzu’s martial preferences: “What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy.” Failing that: “Next best is to disrupt his alliances.” Only then should the general join battle or lay siege

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James Holmes — Mr. Holmes holds the J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College and is a nonresident fellow at the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs.

In This Issue

Introduction

Geopolitics

Economic Competition

Human Rights

Books, Arts & Manners

Sections

The Week

The Week

The geopolitical, economic, and ideological competition between the U.S. and China is now out in the open.

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