Great Military Philosophers

Topics: The Art of War, Sun Tzu, Military strategy Pages: 2 (748 words) Published: November 14, 2010
Throughout history, there have been many great writers of military strategy and tactics. Three of the greatest were Sun Tzu, Niccolo Machiavelli, and Antoine-Henri Jomini. Although these three men lived in different time periods, their views on war and military strategy have laid the foundations for how armies still wage war to this day. Some of the fundamental similarities and differences of their works are to be discussed in this paper. Each of these men had a different style of writing about war. In Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, he discusses the importance of knowledge and understanding when engaging in warfare. Sun Tzu does this by separating his views into easily understandable categories. The underlying theme of his views is fighting is a last resort. Sun Tzu states: “For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” He talks multiple more times that the most skillful war is one which is won without any fighting. In Machiavelli’s The Prince, good political policy is described as a means to an end: an end which should serve only to satisfy the selfish interests of the monarch and not the needs of the people. In the book, he advocates cruelty over kindness, stating that commitments made in times of peace are not always kept in times of adversity, but those commitments which are made out of fear are almost always kept out of fear. He brings up the following question in his book: “Is it better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is that one would like to be both the one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.” Antoine-Henri Jomini used his experience in the French and Russian armies to write his views on war based on events around the Napoleonic era. He bases his views on the art of war around six primary military branches and builds the book around those. Jomini goes into...
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