Geo-Strategic Lessons from Go
More and more during the last decade, military and foreign policy thinkers have been realizing that Go may have applicability in understanding Chinese military affairs and foreign policy and that such a study may show ways to affect it. Go has been coupled with shi (see: influence), from The Art of War, to explain the nature of the Chinese way of war and diplomacy. The seminal work was:
- The Protracted Game: A Wei-ch'i Interpretation of Maoist Revolutionary Strategy (1969). It is an account of the use of go in the Chinese revolution.
One document that attempts to draw broad geo-strategic lessons is:
- Learning from the Stones: A Go Approach to Mastering China's Strategic Concept, Shi, by Dr. David Lai: Strategic Studies Institute monograph, 35 pg. ISBN: 1-58487-158-X.
Abstract: To help with the process of identifying those new and untested strategic concepts that merit further examination, the Strategic Studies Institute is publishing a special series called "Advancing Strategic Thought." This provides a venue--a safe haven--for creative, innovative, and experimental thinking about national security policy and military strategy. In this monograph, the author uses the ancient game of Go as a metaphor for the Chinese approach to strategy. He shows that this is very different than the linear method that underlies American strategy. By better understanding Go, he argues, American strategists could better understand Chinese strategy.
Cf . Sun Tzu.
Cf . Art of War.
Cf . Influence 势 (shž) Sun Tzu's fifth chapter is entitled "Shi.
A new book discusses shi in more detail and mentions Go:
- William H Mott and Jae Chang Kim The Philosophy of Chinese Military Culture. Shih vs. Li. Macmillian: New York, 2006. ISBN 1-4039-7187-0
A review: "Written from within the Asian strategic perspective, General Kimís book provides the first examination of 'Shi' or 'strategic power,' a concept that proved vital in historical battles and remains crucial to the PRCís quest to formulate contemporary military science with unique Chinese characteristics."--Ralph D. Sawyer, author of Seven Military Classics of Ancient China." -The portion covering go starts on page 32. --Rocky Farr
Other recent examples of this thinking, it seems to be catching on in defence circles, both weiqi and shi, include:
- Sawyer, Ralph D. CHINESE STRATEGIC POWER: MYTHS, INTENT, AND PROJECTIONS."Journal of Military and Strategic Studies," Winter 2006/07, Vol. 9, Issue 2.© Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute, 2007. http://www.jmss.org/2007/2007winter/articles/sawyer_cont-defence.pdf''
- Reeve, John. Royal Australian Navy Sea Power Centre Working Paper No.4 THE DEVELOPMENT OF NAVAL STRATEGY IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION 1500-2000. http://www.navy.gov.au/spc/workingpapers/Working%20Paper%204.pdf
- Lai, David; Hamby, Gary W. East meets West: An ancient game sheds new light on US-Asian strategic relations. "The Korean Journal of Defense Analysis," Vol. XIV, No. 1, Spring 2003.
- Dr. Chong-Pin Lin. President, Foundation on International and Cross-strait Studies Professor, Graduate Institute of International affairs and Strategic Studies, Tamkang University. CHINAíS CROSS-STRAIT GO GAME Taiwan Juggles Democracy and National Security.2005 Pacific Symposium US National Defense University. http://www.ndu.edu/inss/symposia/Pacific2005/lin.pdf
- Johnson-Freese, Joan. Space Wei Qi: the launch of Shenzhou V. "Naval War Coillege Review," Spring 2004. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JIW/is_2_57/ai_n6112689
- Waldron, Arthur. The Art of Shi. A review of "Cultural realism: Strategic culture and grand strategy in Chinese history" by Alastair Iain Johnston. "The New Republic," June 22, 1997.
- Isaacson, Frederick; Chung,Jensen. The Bush vs. Gore rhetoric after the 2000 electoral impasse:A Ch'i-Shih analysis."Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education,"Volume 4,Issue 2(May 2004). http://www.utpjournals.com/simile/issue14/frederick1.html
- Chinese Play a Different Game by James Pinkerton A short article from The New America Foundation regarding a possible Chinese approach to war with the United States.
The CEO of Acer is known to be a go player. I can't give a reference unfortunately, but my wife interviewed him and I have the original article.
I have done lots of thinking about this, however. Anyone interested in it, please contact me via my user page.
One thought I have is that sea battles are a much better way of taking strategic lessons from go than land battles. The geometry of the sea is like the geometry of the go board. So imagine the board being filled one ship at a time.
Perhaps an even better metaphor is a sea-battle in which the 'ships' are individual soldiers.
Of course, there is no 'perfect metaphor' for go, but I think reading up on military strategy is more fun than reading go strategy books. (Books about the fundamentals are different -- those are fun to read... But books on joseki... not for me.)
Thucydides's The History of the Peloponnesian War is all about land/sea battles.
The Go'ing Insurrection sees Go as a system for describing conflict or struggle more generally and seeks to apply Go proverbs and strategy to contemporary uprisings.