Forgotten Lessons of the Art of War in The Pandemic
You feel the warmth of a fever coming on. Perhaps you break a cold sweat. Then a dry soreness develops in your throat. You are going to be coughing all night. Probably for the coming days. Next comes the aches and the fatigue.
Could you be feeling the effects of COVID?
Depending on your worldview, this pandemic could all be ended if everyone got the jab.
Or the pandemic is an elaborate fraud by dark political forces gaming to seize control of the world.
But this is not a story about the political schism of American politics. It’s not even a tale about the American politics of the pandemic. This is a critique of the American strategic response to the outbreak.
In the 5th century BC, the Chinese general Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War detailing the strategies that armies need to succeed in conflict. He said that the success or collapse of a nation pivots on its careful execution of military strategy. These strategies have been acquired by leaders in the business community, law, and even professional gamers.
But I’ve made my preamble. How could the United States have made a better go at the pandemic?
I imagine that you think this is bullcrap! Viruses are inanimate objects that neither know or care about our strategies and you’d be right. Yet people are aware and they may sometimes care.
And this takes us to the saying “If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete. “
It’s been painstakingly clear over the last two years that the administration only barely appreciates the complexities of a mutating virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) ever transmuting safety rules have only created confusion and resentment across much of the population.
Then let us not forget about the political powderkeg of American politics. Certain groups have long been distrustful of the government for a variety of reasons that I’ll leave you to speculate. For some the ongoing lockdowns with no exit strategy have only validated their distrust. The binding vaccination rules have only fueled the fires of people’s fears about government overreach.
End the binding rules. Only isolate visibly unwell people. Empower entrepreneurs to find solutions to the pandemic.
It is tragic that the government has never prioritized the welfare of its soldiers. And when I am talking of soldiers I’m also referring to the police, Emergency Medical Technicians, nurses, and doctors that have managed this catastrophe. Yet during the last two years of this crisis these people have received zero raises in pay or benefits. Besides for the final insult the government has demanded the firing of the people disregarding their directive.
Sun Tzu said that you must “Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.”
Provide pay raises and promotions for all the brave first responders in this drama.
Two jets collided with the World Trade Center in 2001, sparking a massive inferno and the collapse of the towers within an hour. The United States and Britain invaded Afghanistan that same year in an effort to usurp Bin Laden and the Taliban. Then in 2011 President Obama claimed that American forces killed Bin Laden at his secret hideout in Pakistan. The United States also entered peace talks with the Taliban and in time reached an agreement for the Afghanistan government to resume managing security. American troops finally withdrew in 2020 amid a violent resurgence of the Taliban. In the end, was the 176,000 deaths and 2 trillion dollars worth it?
Sun Tzu said in closing “When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.”
The war on the pandemic is a lost cause. It’s time to abandon the effort for an all new game plan.