Last updated: 26 may, 2010 - 11:23 GMT


The Art of War

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The Art of War is an ancient Chinese treatise on military and intelligence strategy.

Sun Tzu, the Chinese military general who is thought to have written the treatise The Art of War 2,500 years ago

It was written by the military scholar Sun Tzu about 2,500 years ago and still has tremendous relevance to war now.

Over the centuries it has been influential to both traditional armies and guerrilla fighters - the IRA, for instance, read it with interest and commanders in the first Gulf war and the recent war in Iraq have spoken of the influence of Sun Tzu on direct military operations and the intelligence cycle during extended wars.

But ultimately the moral of Sun Tzu's book is that the greatest leaders avoid war:

'A government should not mobilize an army out of anger, military leaders should not provoke war out of wrath. Act when it is beneficial, desist if it is not. Anger can revert to joy, wrath can revert to delight, but a nation destroyed cannot be restored to existence, and the dead cannot be restored to life.'

How have Sun Tzu's ideas stood the test of time?

First broadcast on 26 May 2010

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