Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The Art of War: Barking dogs never bite

14 August 2017


Barking Dogs Never Bite is a 2000 South Korean dark comedy-drama film (IMDb, Wiki). “Barking is an alarm sound. There is no threat of aggression signaled by the dog unless it is lower pitched and mixed with growls” (Psychology Today). Hence, its common meaning: (i) noisy threats often do not present real danger, and/or (ii) people who make threats rarely carry them out.

Based on the ancient advice by the Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher Sun Tzu in his famous book The Art of War, one can only conclude that barking in warfare is uncommon and ill-advised. Some relevant Sun Tzu quotes:

  1. All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
  2. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.
  3. If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

There has always been “division” between the American “sovereign and subject”; “subject” being the executive branch (eg, President and military) and “sovereign” being the legislative branch (eg, Congress). This explains the ever-changing American approach to North Korea.

“North Korea’s Kim dynasty has mastered the art of brinkmanship for decades: scare the world with missiles and nuclear tests, strike a deal with the West, and then watch the aid money flow in.” (BB)

On 21 October 1994, the Agreed Framework was signed between North Korea and the USA (ie, Bill Clinton). Wiki: “The objective of the agreement was the freezing and replacement of North Korea’s indigenous nuclear power plant program [] , and the step-by-step normalization of relations between the U.S. and the DPRK. Implementation of the agreement was troubled from the start, but its key elements were being implemented until it effectively broke down in 2003.”

The Bush team’s hawkish stance began to crumble when North Korea carried out its first nuclear test in October 2006. (eg, QuestiaRG)

Bloomberg: “The Obama administration sought to end all that with its policy of “strategic patience” – essentially no longer rewarding North Korea for bad behavior.”

The current President, Trump, is skilful in deception and in threats. Threatening the enemy with a pre-emptive strike and/or nuclear retaliation is the exact opposite of deception techniques in warfare. Trump’s threats might be intended to deflect and to deceive from other issues (eg, RussiaGate, TrumpGate), and/or to boost his current 33% job approval rating (eg, AP, Laurence Tribe‘s tweet, PR).

“Sun Tzu constantly warns that we must judge people’s intentions by their actions, especially when people communicate their commitment to future actions. [] The problem at the heart of any commitment is our believability.” (Source)

Paranoimia (1986) by The Art of Noise – artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


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