In the world of strategy and strategic thinking, a legend was borne around the time of Buddha himself. To call that era the golden age of philosophers would be an understatement. Confucius, Lao Tzu, from the east and Archimedes, Aristotle, Plato, from the West are all borne around that era, between 500 – 300 BC. That legend was none other than the brilliant Sun Tzu.
Sun Tzu’s art of war was studied in the top military schools today. His strategic thinking was an elective subject in top MBA schools. In some countries, top brasses of the military have to go through a course in Art of War, just to get promoted.
At this very point of time, Myanmar is facing pressures from the West and ASEAN, the latter following an agenda and similar narratives of the West, based on fake news and mis-information. These fake news agencies, such as Khit Thit, Mizzima, Irrawaddy, created many fake stories, presented misleading information, as part of their payback for 20% share of terrorism campaign funds.
“Know yourself, know the other side, you will not be defeated”, Sun Tzu said. Myanmar at this point of time is of limited power, influence and resources. Even our ASEAN neighbors, who signed a treaty not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs take advantage of this weaknesses, to put pressures upon us, through non-invitation to group events, regularly issuing statements of utmost concerns, not treating us as equals in meetings, announcing declarations just to embarrass us, etc. Some countries such as Malaysia, went as far as, blatantly showing support for the terrorist exile government. When the narratives that arise out of facts, figures and evidences are not up to the liking of the West and the fake media groups, they resort to the attacks of the characters, name callings and slander of the current administration and Myanmar leaders. Yet it is best that Myanmar does not appease these other sides, all hell bent on making sure the corrupt NLD government comes back to bankrupt the country and run to the likes of the Western world. Our sovereignty is at stake here.
Taking another leave from Sun Tzu’s book, “Do not enter into alliances until we know the design of your neighbors”. Design here means the internal workings, plans, objectives, strengths and weaknesses of our neighbors. E.g., the basic designs of Bangladesh and Myanmar are so different that we can never be allies.
“On the grounds of intersecting highways, join hands with your allies” was another of Sun Tzu’s famous quotes. Myanmar is at the point intersections of geopolitical highways, due to its location. The interests of many powerful countries are being contested here. In such instances, it would be wise, as Sun Tzu suggested to ally with some of them, to strengthen our nation. The current allied movement with Russia is one of the best move of the current administration. Myanmar and Russia interests are very much intertwined now. With very good existing relations with India and China, Myanmar can strive towards economic development, without heeding to incessant threats of western and ASEAN sponsored sanctions. Those who followed the meeting between UN Special Representative and Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing, would note that Myanmar leader has not forgotten the fact that WHO has not provided a single COVID vaccines in the period of utmost medical need in Myanmar, in 2021. A sad example of how world organizations being used as a tool to further political agenda of the West.
In addition to Sun Tzu, Myanmar also has its own strategy for use in difficult times: “When the English are in difficulties, it is a point of advantage for the Burmese.” The saying came about during the fight for independence, when the English were having a difficult time during the WWII, Myanmar independent fighters went to Japan secretly to ask for help, asking the Japanese to come and fight the British out!” The same strategy can be applied here. At the time, when the West is busy with economic, energy and Ukraine crisis, and at the time, when ASEAN unity and support is an all time low, now may be the time to completely rid ourselves of dependence upon them. Self sufficiency and cementing further strategic alliances with the Bear, the Panda and the Elephant would probably be recommended by Sun Tzu, too.