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Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare$
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Mark R. McNeilly

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199957859

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199957859.001.0001

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Deception and Foreknowledge

Deception and Foreknowledge

Winning the Information War

(p.62) 3 Deception and Foreknowledge
Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare

Mark McNeilly

Oxford University Press

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

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