Sun Tzu and his sophisticated analysis of the conflicts [Archives:2006/937/Opinion]

April 13 2006

By: Nuredin Hagi Scikei
I don't know if those people who are involved in politics in “Somalia” have ever heard about Sun Tzu, but at this moment of “simulated negotiations” we are assisting to, it is perhaps worth to remind an important warning of Master Sun.

First of all, we introduce this important figure. Sun Tzu is the author of the “Art of War”, treatise of Chinese military art. Although it is about 2500 years old, it is still read and used in various fields, from politics to economy. Its incredible success is not in the technique itself, but in the philosophy it goes upon. The “Art of the War” is a model of strategy applied by the minorities that choose guerrilla warfare to gain freedom. This success is due to its power of teaching to convert the advantages of more numerous adversaries in disadvantages and one's own limits in strength. It is a treatise that was admired by Napoleone, Mao Zedong, Lin Biao, Ho Chi-mingh, Von Nguyen Giap, Laurence of Arabia, Nixon, in C.I.A. and K.G.B circles.

The tactics and the concepts expressed in this work were incorporated in the modern handbook of the world army, included The Marine Corps. The Japanese companies continuously organise courses in which they teach the concepts of the Master Sun for the conquest of the markets.

A work with this profile could induce to imagine a succession of mortal strategy. On the contrary, with great surprise, Sun Tzu considers that the greatest victory is gained without fight and bloodshed, and gives the possibility to conquer an intact territory. The Cold War that led up to the crash the superpower Soviet Union, had developed its strategy starting from the doctrine of Sun Tzu. USSR was forced to arm itself, more and more, up to drive itself into a ruinous economy that had originated an intolerable social poverty. All this suggests that it would be better to take very seriously Sun Tzu's warning. And when he asserts “I've heard someone who speaks about wars won thanks to the rapidity even if led in a clumsy way. But I have never heard about an army who benefited from a long war. And those who don't realize this mistake are incompetent persons. If people are obliged to supply soldiers and provisions more than twice in succession, will become exhausted and fall in misery.” In short, Sun Tzu does not compromise on this aspect. When the conflicts become long, lead people to defeat. Because, in addition to economic problems, the same “leaders” will be contested and many new suitors to leadership will be born.

This is a clear and severe warning for those who for 15 years have drowned the south of “Somalia” in blood and misery. Sun Tzu doesn't have advices about how to get out from disaster for those who become embroiled in prolonged conflicts. But we must. I've got to advance some working hypothesis. And in the case of “Somalia”, an alternative which is not to underestimate is to involve the Banaadiri, Digil, Mirifle and Jareer in considerable way at every levels of this phase of transition. For Banaadiri I mean all inhabitants from Banaadir, the coast belt between Warshiikh and the boundary with Kenya. For Banaadiri I also mean the hundreds of thousands Muwallidiin who left Banaadir and are spread from the San'a mountains to the Mukalla rivers. I claim this for a simple consideration: southern people are more motivated to bring back peace in the south of the country. They learned the lesson, they know the value of the discipline and all of them are ready: both those who remained in the territory and those who escaped abroad. The ostracism of this base led up to ruin the military regime of Siad Barre, the damage to the disarmed southern people destroyed the credibility and the international image of Somali militias. Going on with the boycott against Banaadiri, Digil, Mirifle and Jareer, with various undertones, will carry out the failure of all the plans to bring back peace in the south of the country. When problems happen the Somali escape to their villages of origin, but southern people are obliged to remain at home and that is why their desire to resolve the problem is ten times bigger than the one of other people.

Next meeting that will take place in Baidoa between the federal government and the contestant factions, even if successful or not, must be the last warning for southern people: the return of the peace in the south of Somalia is not in the hands of Somali, but of Banaadiri, of Digil, of Mirifle and of Jareer. Southern people have already determined politically aware cadres, have a numerical weight which is enough to let peace bring back and a population which is tired to be mocked by schemers who don't care about peace, because are involved in big affairs. The imbalance between Somali and southern people is founded on the fact that Somali received a strong military help by foreign countries: that is all.

I conclude with a last consideration. Various experts argue that the reasons of every conflict are to be found in the divergence of interests and in the presence of grudge. These two conditions alone are not enough to spark off a conflict. It is necessary a third element to trigger it, which is “to perceive the available resources like meagre. A conflict about resources considered abundant can hardly happen, except when there is a feeling of unfair distribution”. The most interesting reflection of this analysis is the following one: to generate a conflict it is sufficient that scarcity becomes a figment of people's imagination.

It is on this point that those who sincerely work for the peace must concentrate. We have to go ahead with the demonstration that enormous territories like “Somalia”, able to feed more than 100 millions inhabitants without running any risk, cannot find difficulty to give a decent future to just 5 millions inhabitants. But, to give this kind of demonstration, it is necessary to involve the most motivated and creative persons who are available to collaborate.

Nuredin Hagi Scikei is author of the book Banaadiri: The Renewal of a Millenary Identity. The Banaadiri profile and book review were published in Yemen Times issue 728 11the April, 2004.