Deceive your friends before deceiving your enemy

By: Professor. Satoshi Ikeuchi
Professor, Global Security and Religion, University of Tokyo

Wisdom bequeathed by the ancient Chinese military philosopher “Sun Tzu(سون تزو)” is a common reservoir of guidance in the East Asia. In the Volume 11 “9 situations (أنواع الأرض التسعة)” of his book on war strategy “فن الحرب”, he preached to military leaders how to make the most of the different kind of geostrategic situations to defeat the enemy. SunTsu admonished generals to mystify their intentions not only to the enemies but to your officers and soldiers.

To prevent enemies from anticipating generals’ real purposes and intentions, first they must not let people in your own camp know their intentions. He recommended to use false reports and to disguise appearances to keep soldiers in total ignorance.

Simply in other words, you have to deceive your friends before deceiving your enemy.

The rationalities of deceiving your own camp are as follows. If officers and soldiers were sent deep into the enemy’s territory without knowing the real destination, and then cut off from the exit rout, various elements of the camp are left with the only option to be united and fight with all their strength together.

We can’t completely wipe out the possibility that President Trump is carrying out Sun Tsu-style campaign of deception, not only to the enemy but first to his allies and subordinates, within the US and outside.

US officials in the Trump administration has been loudly beating the drums of war so loudly and showing off the muscles of military ability and intention for punishing Iran. Gulf states claimed the damage done by attempts allegedly backed by Iran to disrupt the critical infrastructure of oil exporting facilities and formed a united front to counter Iranian aggression diplomatically and militarily.

Now President Trump can choose either a military action or negotiation and deal exerting a maximum pressure with the full backing of a united front of the allied nations.

Whichever course things turns out, Mr. Trump can make the most from this heightened tension in the Gulf. A tough stance on Iran will be welcomed by American christian right groups who are one of the important supporters needed for his reelection.

Opposition within the U.S. for the involvement in the confrontation with Iran also helps him. It justifies to set the limit on the number and the types of US troops to be sent in the Gulf region, and to call for more Gulf and Arab collective self-defense effort, with the help of U.S. advanced equipment.