Re-worlding the ‘West’ in post-Western IR: the reception of Sun Zi’s the Art of War in the Anglosphere

Re-worlding the ‘West’ in post-Western IR: the reception of Sun Zi’s the Art of War in the... Abstract The post-Western agenda of international relations will not be complete until it has tracked the worlding strategy of the provincialized West. This article examines one important aspect of this strategy, namely the appropriation of non-Western theory by the West as exemplified by the reception of Sun Zi’s The Art of War (or Sunzi Bingfa) in the Anglosphere. It looks at the ways in which Sunzi Bingfa has been translated, interpreted and applied in the field of Strategic Studies. This article identifies three plausible ways in which theory ‘travels’ from the East to the West, namely: (i) a useless resource or outmoded form of thinking, (ii) a useful, if exotic, culturally bound source, and (iii) a body of wisdom with universal value. It contends that most readers in the Anglosphere tend to cross these different routes to varying degrees. This critical examination of the reception of Sunzi Bingfa enables us to see that the academic field of Strategic Studies is rooted in self-other dynamics on the one hand, and characterized by an extreme parochialism on the other. The conclusion makes a normative judgment that the West can better contribute to global IR by conceiving of and relying on non-Western knowledge as an access to universal truth. 1 Introduction: re-worlding the ‘West’ in post-Western international relations Mainstream international relations (IR) scholars perceived different regions of the world as test cases for their theories rather than sources of theory in themselves. The ‘non-West’ thereby became a domain that IR theorists perceived as backward, which requires instruction in order to reach the ‘end of history’ that Western modernity encapsulates (Fukuyama, 1992; Harrison and Huntington, 2001) and a post-Western world is characterized by disorder and challenge (Stuenkel, 2016). Indeed, mainstream IR scholars have been highly suspicious of rising non-Western states, which, from their perspectives, have interest in overturning the existing world order and therefore prove to be a disruptive force in global affairs. Following this Western-centric perspective, China as a non-Western actor has to be a revisionist power which poses an inevitable threat to the rules of international relations. Nevertheless, China, as well as any allegedly non-Western actor, cannot just be a non-Western actor for at least two reasons. First, the current rules of international relations have always constituted the Chinese identity and shaped its external behaviors (Chen, 2013; Shih, 2013). Second, practices in the name of China, recalcitrant or compliant, have already affected the meaning of international relations and the national identities of those dominant actors. This article will briefly introduce the first reason with the supporting literature, and argue for the second with an illustration of an empirical example, the reception of the classic Chinese military writer Sun Zi’s (or Sun Tzu’s) Sunzi Bingfa (or The Art of War) in the West. Over the past two decades, there has been an emerging post-Western quest in IR that urges scholars to ‘re-world’ the subaltern voice. A post-Western theory seeks out the multiple worlds and hidden voices that intersect across the world (Ling, 2002). Accordingly, the quest for a post-Western IR can be regarded as an attempt to democratize both the existing order of international relations, as well as the study of it. One of the main strategies of such a quest is to rediscover the lost historical and contemporary voices of the subalterns. More specifically, post-Western IR scholarship urges IR scholars to ‘re-world’ subaltern sites by examining how Western knowledge on IR has been interpreted and appropriated on each particular site. In this regard, the debate on whether or not China is a revisionist actor with its own perspectives on international order can be misleading (Alison, 2017; Choi, 2018; Fook, 2018; Schweller, 2018;). It leaves little room for China practicing Western norms inconsistently due to multiple purposes, necessities and interpretations coexisting in its own system as well as learning and socialization (Carlson, 2005; Johnston, 2007). While Western worlding or self-worlding tends to assess the non-Western resource against its usefulness to the imperial or capitalist governance, post-Western worlding contrarily looks to the Chinese site as an origin of non-Western sources upon which the Chinese could improvise a composite and hybrid kind of postcolonial modernity, rendering its rise neither conformist nor revisionist. The quest for post-Western IR accordingly attends predominantly to the rediscovering of agency at a Chinese subaltern site for adaptation, feedback, and reconstruction of the Western influence encountered. The worlding of the subaltern, if successful, would expose the ‘provincial’ characteristics of the West, which has mistakenly presented itself as the universal, a result of Eurocentrism backed up by imperialism and post/neo-colonialism. We wish to convince debaters on Chinese revisionism that China does not enter international relations as an outsider during its rise and the United States does not begin understanding the China threat only at the point of its acknowledged rise. Our reflections will contribute to post-Western IR by proposing epistemological equality between the West and the non-West. By this, we mean to confirm that not only the Western rules have constituted China’s self-understanding as argued by post-Western IR, but also Chinese thoughts and practices have likewise constituted Western international relations, too. Our way to achieve epistemological equality for China as well as subaltern sites elsewhere is to uncover a mutuality in which the West, taking after all allegedly non-Western sites, is practically constituted by the latter. To illustrate this point, we will explore the different routes through which the West, and more specifically the Anglosphere,1 has received and appropriated Sunzi Bingfa. Sunzi Bingfa is an ancient Chinese text from the late 4th century BC. The book was translated into French in the 1700s. It was not until the twentieth century that an English edition appeared, but there are now many different translations in the English-speaking world. Together with Carl von Clausewitz’ On War and Antoine-Henri de Jomini’s Art of War, the book is said to be among the most important classics in the field of Strategic Studies. The book is also widely referred to by lawyers, businessmen, and sports coaches to get the upper hand in cases, negotiations, and games. This raises a question: What do the translations of Sunzi Bingfa mean to the West? More specifically, what does the Anglosphere want to learn from the translations, for what purpose, and how have those translations constituted the Anglosphere world? We suggest that by demonstrating the ways in which the West has responded to Sunzi Bingfa one can potentially identify a different, though consistent, mode of worlding, in contrast to the current post-Western agenda that aims to world the subaltern non-Western sites. In what follows, we will discuss what meanings can be added to re-worlding in post-Western IR by our reversed tracking of knowledge diffusion from a Chinese strategic text to the West. It will begin with reflections on the insufficiency of post-Western IR, together with the remedy we hope to seek. Then, it will introduce the basic contours of the field of Strategic Studies and its problematics before elaborating on the three most likely routes that Sunzi Binfa might take from the East to the West. The fourth section will examine various translations and applications of Sunzi Bingfa over the last hundred years, in order to see to which route they belong and what that tells us about the study of Sunzi Bingfa in the Anglosphere world. 2 Re-worlding, post-Western IR, and CHINA We are indebted to postcolonial critics in our reflections on the possibility of re-worlding first non-Western IR theorization and, by extension, Western IR theorization. In this regard, we rely particularly on Spivak’s (1985) contriving of the notion of ‘worlding’. Spivak is especially critical of the literate constructions of the colonized population that the colonial regime ascribed to the Third World. She means to expose the discursive technique undergirded by imperialism that designates a distant other an identity in the division of the worlds that serves the operation of imperialism and colonialism. A center and a periphery in a Marxian sense immediately arise, with the periphery achieving its presence and usefulness exclusively through its functional contribution to the center. The productive relations define the stake of the colony in the colonizer’s world and connects it to this world. In addition to the colonial and productive dimensions, there are gendered as well as racial dimensions (Pettman, 1996; Ling, 2002; Chowdhry and Nair, 2004). The gendered sensibilities are apparent not only in the feminizing narratives adopted in the prescription for the Third World to naturalize its submissive position, but also to silence the invisible reproductive relations that supply healthy laborers in the worlding of the colony. The racial division of the world, on the other hand, naturalizes a hierarchy so that the populations of different color understand their own places as being distant, subaltern, and physical. In short, an existing space is framed as a colonized space by European imperialism and colonialism. Colony, class, gender, and race compose the four mutually reinforced worlding mechanisms to make the ‘Third World’ a familiar and necessary self-reference for the colonized population. Escape from worlding therefore requires re-worlding. Re-worlding bifurcates in different empirical agendas – resistance, hybridity, and fluidity. For example, by voicing the indigenous relations that, through having been silenced, made possible the colonial worlding, one exposes and resists the exploitive, political, and constructed characteristics of Third World identities (Fanon, 2004). Therefore, self-empowerment is enacted through rediscovering an essentially different self that instantaneously provincializes the colonial subjectivity (Chakrabarty, 2007). To retrieve pre-colonial identities would disturb one’s place in the current division of worlds and risk losing one’s identity that provides a sense of certainty in the imperialist system. A forgotten non-colonial past is always hidden but ready to be rejuvenated in the worlding trajectory. However, there are caveats. The first caveat of re-worlding through resistance is that the pre-colonial world may collude with the colonial world, for example in gender terms (Tambe, 2000). Second, re-worlding can enable self-discovery by recording the hybrid practices in the field that reveal how the colonial rules are constantly revised and even reverted (Appiah, 1992; Paolini et al., 1999). Worlding becomes senseless. The caveat of re-worlding through hybridity is that, once the imperialist other is undistinguishable, resistance is rendered senseless, too. Finally, re-worlding can proceed in showing how different worlds are relationally constituted indeed but each informed in its own fluid discourse to the extent that one can neither claim autonomy nor achieve dominance (Ling 2014). The caveat or re-worlding through fluidity lies in the unassertive identities that can be too weak to engage in collective reflections. Worlding of China can be, to draw on a few examples, positioning a Chinese race naturalized in a diasporic relation (Kwong and Miščević, 2005; Chong, 2017), recruiting a feminized nation submissive to as well as reproductive of capitalist productive relations (Gaetano, 2015; Ngai, 2005), or investing in a merely cheap or skill labor supplier (Ness 2015). Examples of re-worlding via hybridity, fluidity, or resistance can be as varied as Jiang Zemin’s appropriating the WTO system, Hu Jintao’s harmonizing diplomacy, as well as Xi Jinping’s dreaming Chinese nationalism. In sum, the West initiates the contact and China either conforms or strategizes. We wish to integrate from the abovementioned variety a common denominator, because we intend our contribution to be useful to re-worlding in general by revealing an unproblematized origin in the West implicit in all of them. Accordingly, we consider worlding broadly as practicing the given international relations and global order in a contributive identity (e.g. race, gender, class, and site) and re-worlding as discovering the agency embedded in the unnoticed prior relations and the un-commissioned consequences of such agency in the worlding processes. From these definitions, worlding is the initiating West making sense of the non-West while re-worlding is the non-West responding to the initiating West. Post-Western IR comes from the desire for re-worlding of a discipline dominated by the West and given to the non-Western world. For example, Tickner and Blaney (2012) rediscover painstakingly those geo-cultural sites each displaying a peculiar way of mapping its world differently constituted by Western international relations. This echoes the claim by Bilgin (2012) that all are differently different, denying the possibility of any universal implications in one’s worlding or the intellectual capacity of any alleged hegemony, empire or center to monopolize the meaning of a seemingly accorded practice. Genealogy is an intrinsic approach of the post-Western pursuit in order to trace the improvised and contingent trajectories of how the West has come to distinctively constitute every receiving site (Shimizu, 2018). Such recombination of Western IR resources and non-Western theories as well as practices leads to Kavalski’s (2018) deliberately ambiguous naming of an Eastphalia in a state of constant making. In Shani’s (2008) vision, post-Western IR complicates those concepts familiar to the Western IR and de-essentializes the categories on which Western IR relies to theorize. A parallel and yet somewhat dissimilar pursuit of ‘non-Western IR’ reminds one of a potential danger that commonly lies in the different strings of post-Western IR. Non-Western IR juxtaposes the West and the non-West to believe that there is an earlier world order not affected by the system of Westphalia that can shed some new light on Western IR. Acharya (2018) accordingly stresses that the world and the embedded global order is characterized by multiplicity and diversity. Genealogy is equally important to him and yet it is not to show how the site is being constituted by the West in various contingent ways. Rather, non-Western genealogy aims at giving credit to a pluralist IR or de-centered IR. Along with the post-Western sensibilities of sited-ness, non-Western IR that segregates the West risks overly devoting to a spatially demarcated scope that may in itself evolve into a fixed identity protected by some imagined border (Shih and Ikeda, 2016). Spivak (1996: 204–5) refers to this use of fixed identity as ‘strategic essentialism’. It exists purely for the sake of inspiring resistance and enabling reflections and presumably fades where no hegemony prevails any more. Tackling such a potential danger, Agathangelou and Ling (2009) propose to look at how each actor embodies mutual embeddedness, especially at the intersection silenced by borders (Ling et al., 2016). This way, postcolonial subjectivities necessarily make history even though their accesses to power are not equal. Ling (2010) further develops their worldism into a Buddhist methodology of non-action to reconcile binaries. The post-Western inquiry that transcends a sited consciousness of border echoes Shih and Yu’s (2015) politics of naming in ancient China in what they call ‘post-post-Western IR’. On this last agenda, we prefer Ling’s (2014) Daoist fluidity to Spivak’s strategic essentialism. After all, empirically all forms of essentialism are fluid, intersubjective, and mutual in practice. That said, we are still not satisfied with the post-Western approaches to binary in general in the sense that their tracking of how the non-West as combination of colored, gendered, classed, and sited identities has emerged (i) outside the West, (ii) resistant to the West, (iii) deconstructive of the West, (iv) hybrid of the West, or (v) triumphant over the West, reproduces an initiating West as the starting point of reference. In order to propose our own epistemological remedy, we are now ready to indiscriminately define the post-Western as a condition and a practice of re-worlding that reconciles binaries between different worlds in general and between the West and the Non-West in particular. According to our definition, the extant post-Western exercise risks two kinds of hypocrisy. First, post-Western IR seeks to provincialize the West as an undifferentiated entirety and yet strives to world the subaltern non-Western sites each in its differently different geo-cultural genealogy, thus risking an epistemological hypocrisy in which the provincial West cannot and should not be worlded. Ironically, the West is reduced and yet simultaneously promoted to the status of an epistemologically unquestioned premise. Secondly, a string of post-Western IR encourages site-centrism in its celebration of a sited re-appropriation of a Western discourse, institution, or value, but it faults the West for doing the same for committing Eurocentrism. As there are different subaltern understandings of the West, there have to be different Western, Orientalist and hegemonic understandings of the non-West. The West, within its own sited-ness and provincially geo-cultural trajectories rooted in class, color, and gender has likewise been engaging in a similar kind of receiving, reinterpreting, and re-appropriating (van der Veer, 2001). Post-Western IR continues to privilege the West as if the West is epistemologically given, universally known, and untouched by non-Western influences. This is why overlooking Western responses to non-Western discourses, values, and systems represent a problem. Due to this lacuna, provincializing the West becomes tantamount to essentializing the West or centralizing the West by assuming that it is as if the subaltern sites know the West but the West does not know the subaltern sites. As a result, the worlding project, as it currently stands, is not unlike an affirmative action, which lifts a subaltern site up from a discriminated stratum but does not really affect the West and its status as the exemplar of an allegedly common destiny. In this sense, worlding amounts to no more than an account of how subaltern sites have made the world despite/because of penetration by Western influence. In practice, though, the hegemony of the West has also always meant the acquisition and re-appropriation of non-Western resources. Consequently, a comprehensive post-Western quest has to rediscover how the provincial West has encountered non-Western intellectual resources. Re-worlding Western sites and re-worlding subaltern sites are epistemologically of equal importance. Given that the rise of China is forcing the West to grapple with China, we hope to contribute to the discussion on how the West theorizes the rise of China, albeit indirectly through the metaphor of strategic culture. The worlding of the West is not complete unless the West is able to self-reflexively place China in the Western discourse. By treating the West as just another post-Western site this way, we will be able to deconstruct Eurocentrism and Orientalism not by denying their discursive imperialism or involvement in the historical expansion of the West, but by demonstrating how differently Orientalist the West can be at different Western geo-cultural sites. However, in this narrow scope of strategic culture, we will fail to simultaneously reconcile colored, gendered, and classed binaries. 3 Strategic studies as a (post-)western site: three plausible routes of re-worlding We treat Strategic Studies in the English-speaking academic community as a post-Western site in the West that reveals how approaches to a Chinese strategic resource can differently reconcile the binary of West and non-West. Strategic Studies is concerned with the intellectual and policy questions associated with the use of force and other coercive means to achieve political ends in international relations. This field comes under the intellectual tradition of political realism (Booth, 1994: 109), which is pessimistic about human nature and believes in the enduringly anarchical nature of international politics. The issues of class, gender, or race are not considered relevant despite class reproduction, gendered division, and racial discrimination being intrinsic to the cycles of war and peace. The establishment of the contemporary field of Strategic Studies, according to Buzan and Hansen (2009), did not come about until the mid-to-late 1940s. The time of its birth suggests that it did not directly experience either side of colonialism, so re-worlding would not attract any apparent concern. The period between the mid-1950s and the mid-1980s has been described as a ‘golden age’ of Strategic Studies (Booth 1994: 109–19), in which ‘the growing threat of nuclear confrontation produced a focus on matters of military force’ (Bourne 2014: 11). During this period, Strategic Studies were also institutionalized in the Anglosphere (Buzan and Hansen, 2009: 92). Strategic Studies became one of the key sub-fields in the study of IR. Nevertheless, Strategic Studies has received a great deal of criticism in the post-cold war era,2 amounting to a demand for re-discovering different others intrinsic to but silenced by Strategic Studies. Among the issues that have been raised, Self-Other relations in the study of strategy have been identified as especially problematic. The concept of security is a relational phenomenon about how the world may threaten someone. Critical IR scholars have long contended that ‘threat(s)’ to one’s security are in fact the product of one’s identity. Nothing is a threat in and of itself in the first place; it all depends on how one identifies things ‘through an interpretation of their various dimensions of dangerousness’ (Campbell, 1992: 2). Strategic preferences are not only based on how states perceive themselves, but also how the threats are identified and coped with. Identities prompt strategies to determine who the threats are and why. The world is composed of different others as enemy, friend, and other roles so as to make strategizing a practice of international relations. Strategic policies in this regard become a practice of sustaining, producing, or reproducing the identity of the state in relation to its world. As Booth (1979: 29) rightly points out, ‘strategic paradigm is rooted in ethnocentrism’, because strategists need enemies ‘to reduce ambiguity and ambivalence, and make for psychological comfort’ (ibid.: 26). ‘If strategists do not have enemies, they must invent them’ (ibid.: 27). Self-other relations to determine the function of different others for the self to cope with the threat are particularly pertinent to both worlding and re-worlding that engender meanings for them each to seek representation in the international order. Strategic studies have inherited colonial relationality to a degree. In a way, Strategic Studies arguably is a worlding mechanism of the West in general and the United States in specific to practically impose the Cold War, the War on Terror, and the China threat everywhere. In fact, ‘Survey of Strategic Studies’ in 1970 listed 128 places in 29 countries where research in Strategic Studies was being conducted, and most of these were located in the Anglosphere or in states allied to the United States during the Cold War (IISS, 2006). This intellectual history suggests that no formal colonies had homed strategic culture during the early years. Consciously discovering the relevance or irrelevance of these other potentially strategic sites, which one encountered during later years in the former colonies, makes an agenda of re-worlding of strategic studies. Re-worlding has to be mutual as both former colonies can track their differing ways of understanding and practicing each strategic assignments and the West can realize how early colonial/imperial relationalities constitute the subsequent Strategic Studies. We thus reflect on Orientalism in the study of strategy. As Drop (2012) argues, Orientalism in Strategic Studies is ‘a set of prejudiced stereotypes about Asia’s “strategic culture”’. Indeed, the hidden objective of Strategic Studies is not only to define the West, but also to position the Orient/Others (e.g. China) in the periphery to the discipline’s core (mainly the United States), and to find the ways in which Others are kept at bay. For instance, when Betts (1997) tries to set a new agenda for Strategic Studies in the post-cold war era, he notes that a ‘topic that merits special attention is the evolution of Chinese forces, doctrine, and strategy, and whether China’s military development can match its economic surge. The cold war spawned an impressive corps of analysts of the Soviet military … there are counterparts on China, but the list is shorter’ (ibid.: 22). There are core–periphery relations in which power plays out in the field of Strategic Studies as well as in IR as a whole. In sum, Strategic Studies is characterized by American dominance, which marginalizes the non-European from the outset. Non-Western worldviews and strategic thinking are almost invisible except for one small strand that emphasizes the role of strategic culture. Nevertheless, even among those who work on the strategic culture of the ‘non-West’, the hidden objective of studying the strategic culture of the ‘Others’ is still to keep those ‘Others’ at bay. Nevertheless, the study of war and strategy can likewise engage in re-worlding in order to appreciate how, on the one hand, Strategic Studies has enacted self-centrism, evades plausible options, and reproduces hostility and how, on the other hand, prior colonial and imperial pasts of theirs each has prepared their worlding of the former colonial Third World. In this vein, we join a post-Western line of IR scholarship to engage in re-worlding in the West in an epistemologically equalizing way. We will look at the strategic writers primarily as physical sites that home and breed agency. Their agency necessarily comprises prior imagination of the non-Western world, with some embedded in colonial and imperial encountering, others in the literature or other practical interactions. We will proceed by critically examining the ways in which the Anglosphere, in the process of becoming worldly through Strategic Studies, encounters, collects and appropriates the Chinese intellectual resources in accordance with a Self-Other frame that ascribes to Sun Zi new meanings of which his Chinese readers have been unaware. We use Self-Other relations to re-world Strategic Studies. We ask how Strategic Studies find out, think about and relate to Sunzi Bingfa so that Strategic Studies can become truly worldly – Is it a constituent component of the self or the other? Can it be acquired, and how, if initially considered being in the Other-relation? We propose that Sun Zi’s thinking consistently belongs to the scope of Other. For those who find it worthy to acquire knowledge from it, it can be either a universal kind of knowledge or an exotic kind. There are three Self-Other relations which will be elaborated in the rest of this section: (i) a useless resource or outmoded form of thinking, (ii) a useful if exotic and culturally-bound source, and (iii) a body of wisdom with universal value (see Figure 1). Figure 1 View largeDownload slide Re-worlding of strategic studies via translation of Sunzi Bingfa Source: Authors Figure 1 View largeDownload slide Re-worlding of strategic studies via translation of Sunzi Bingfa Source: Authors 3.1 Useless resource/outdated thinking The first plausible route, which derived from a symptom of Self-Other relations, would see Sunzi Bingfa as a useless, irrelevant and outdated source. It should be acknowledged that scholars in the mainstream of Strategic Studies are not too bothered about non-Western strategic thinking. For instance, the prominent British strategic scholar Philip Windsor (2002) traces the evolution of strategic thinking as an exclusively Western tradition with religious, legal, and political origins in medieval and modern Europe. He makes no reference to non-Western strategic thought, as if the non-Western world is a place in which strategic thinking simply does not exist. Even if they bring the non-Western world in, they are simply using the non-Western world as material for case studies to test theories generated and grounded in the West. One explanation for the relative absence of non-Western strategic thought concerns the self-identity of the West. Chris Goto-Jones, in his study of the non-European philosophy, asks why non-Western philosophy is considered futile. Goto-Jones notes that ‘there appears to be a politics of identity at work in the history of philosophy which frustrates attempts to eradicate or overcome the ethnocentricity of the discipline of philosophy’ (Goto-Jones, 2005: 38). In his view, the history of philosophy is part of Euro-Americans’ search for their cultural identity. From this standpoint, non-European thought is irrelevant, because it does not contribute to the understanding of ‘our’ own current position. ‘They’ are not part of ‘us’ and hence impenetrable. Similarly, Booth (1979: 40) also points to ‘the lack of empathy and the general ignorance of other societies’ by strategists. Why should ‘we’ (as Westerners) care about Chinese strategic thinking? Chinese strategic thinking has nothing to do with ‘us’. It does not form part of ‘our’ own political thought, unless ‘we’ found ourselves confronted by Chinese military and political power. It would not be a problem if Western philosophers or strategists saw their work as a search for their own identity. Yet, they somehow represent their philosophy and strategic thinking as universal. Thus, this route potentially risks accusations of Eurocentrism. That said, the superiority of the West in contradistinction to its Others (i.e. China) would accordingly suggest that there is only one single path to the highest form of human civilization, or the universal strategy in the context of Strategic Studies, that is, the one represented by Western strategic thinking. Western civilization is not only different from its Eastern counterpart – it is far superior to it. Eurocentrism in this sense is prescriptive; it is built upon the assumption of Western universality. Sunzi Bingfa, due to its external geographical or cultural differences, come to be represented as ‘Otherness’, which can be potentially neglected because they are inferior and outdated. This route therefore is a projection of this dissonance of the Others onto the Self, or the West, which can then once again proclaim the Western universality. 3.2 A useful if exotic and culturally bound source In the second plausible route Sunzi Bingfa would be regarded as a useful if exotic and culturally bound source. This route is associated with the ‘strategic culture’ approach within Strategic Studies. The term ‘strategic culture’ was invented in the 1970s during the cold war. RAND analyst Jack Snyder (1977: 8) coined the term ‘strategic culture’ to describe ‘the sum total of ideas, conditioned emotional responses, and patterns of habitual behavior that members of a national strategic community have acquired through instruction or imitation and share with each other with regard to [nuclear] strategy.’ Scholars of strategic culture oppose the assumption of IR theory that strategies of security by state actors can be explained through a framework in which the core behavior of state actors is ahistorical and non-cultural, with rational decisions guided by the overriding imperative of survival. Instead, they emphasize ‘the weight of historical experiences and historically-rooted strategic preferences’ that ‘tends to constrain responses to changes in the “objective” strategic environment, thus affecting strategic choices in unique ways’ (Johnston, 1995: 34). On that account, the basic assumption of this second route is that each state tends to think of its own interests and strategy as unique. All countries face the same reality and constraints but each country (or culture) develops different strategic thinking. Culture constructs the ways in which its subscribers understand and cope with reality. Strategic choice is accordingly determined by ‘values or assumptions with roots deep in a state’s ideational history’ (Johnston, 1995). This route therefore suggests that different cultures operate differently and exhibit divergent predominant strategic preferences under relatively equal conditions, where some cultures would appear offensive, others would be defensive and accommodationist. There are some strategic ideas outside of Europe that are very different from those of Europe. Accordingly, this route juxtaposes Chinese strategic thinking against a Western one. China might appear to be behaving according to unfamiliar rules, despite the fact that the Chinese have to behave in the same reality. Mott and Kim in their study of Chinese strategic thought (2006: 6) note that Few people would deny that China’s culture developed its own world order and attitudes toward warfare over nearly three millennia. Through its history of survival, evolution, domestic conflicts, and defenses against foreign aggressions, China’s distinctive culture has shaped and limited strategic choices and profoundly influenced China’s interactions with other states. Again, the search for strategic culture can lead to Orientalism. Firstly, this way of representing Chinese strategic thinking might simply essentialize and generalize the ‘Oriental’ as an object in a prejudiced way, problematically seeing it as a homogenous and unique space – a space which did not exist in the first place. As Porter (2007: 46) notes, ‘while it aims to encourage greater sensitivity to the nuances that differentiate cultures, it actually encourages a crude view of ancient and fixed ways of war. It risks replacing strategy with stereotypes.’ As a result, this route might reinforce negative and even racist Western stereotypes about China. Secondly, this route is still not a call for us to take Chinese strategic thinking seriously. It proposes that solely relying on Western thinking may ignore some strategic clues that can help winning the war – in particular, those derived from its strategic counterpart, or the significant ‘Other’. That said, in order to deal with China, China’s external behavior requires explanation, which can only be derived at by examining China’s own national-historical tradition. Sunzi Bingfa can thereby play a substantial role in aiding the West to understand China’s culture and self-understanding. Hence, scholars from this route focus on the relevance of ancient Chinese strategic thinking for contemporary strategy only when China becomes a ‘problem’, with which the West needs to cope. In other words, once China is no longer a ‘problem’, studying its strategic thinking will become irrelevant. 3.3 A body of wisdom with universal value Apart from accusations of Orientalism, the concept of strategic culture has also been criticized by mainstream IR and Strategic Studies scholars. The focus of the debate is whether the differences among strategic preferences of different states – either those in the West or in the East – do actually exist. Michael Handel (1992/2005: 2. Italics in original) for instance contends that ‘[There] is no such thing as an exclusively “Western” or “Eastern” approach to politics and strategy; there is only an effective or ineffective, rational, or non-rational manifestation of politics or strategy.’ This line of thinking reveals the third plausible route – the universalist approach. From this perspective, Chinese political ideas and strategic thinking do not only represent a typically Chinese view of war and peace; instead, its lessons and relevance are universal. We could be losing an opportunity to enhance our understanding of world politics if we disregard non-Western political ideas. This line of argument aims to incorporate non-Western political ideas into a universal dialogue. In this vein, Chinese ancient political ideas help us study the nature of international relations not only in East Asia, but also elsewhere around the world too. The political thoughts of all countries are becoming our own thoughts globally. The more we learn about the ideas hidden in those multiple locations, the closer we might come to understanding of the nature of world politics. As Handel states (1992/2005: 1), the longevity and pre-eminence of Chinese (i.e. Sun Zi) and Western strategic thinking (i.e. Clausewitz) may be attributed to ‘the underlying logic of human nature, and by extension of political action, [which] has not changed throughout history’. Handel’s remarks resemble Hans Morgenthau, who thought that politics is ‘governed by objective laws that have their root in human nature’ (Morgenthau, 1978: 4). Somehow paradoxically, Handel’s realist perspective resonates with the critical agenda of Global IR scholarship, which, as Acharya (2014: 650) elaborates, ‘constitutes not a theory, but an aspiration for greater inclusiveness and diversity in our discipline.’ It advocates a pluralistic universalism, ‘authentically grounded in world history’, which includes ‘the ideas, institutions, intellectual perspectives, and practices of Western and non-Western societies alike’ (ibid.). This route is perhaps the least Eurocentric/Orientalist approach to Sunzi Bingfa, and yet, we still need to remain vigilant. At first sight, this seems to suggest that ‘we’ (Westerners) can learn from an ancient Chinese thinker who has shed light on various contemporary issues around war and peace in general. Nevertheless, the reputation that ‘Eastern thoughts’ have remains a bit of a mystery. Some followers of this route might propose various esoteric and mystical schools of ‘Eastern wisdom’, like Buddism, Hinduism, Taoism and certain martial arts. The popularity of Eastern wisdom in the Anglo-American world may nevertheless just reflect an airy Western fantasy about the Orient. In addition, Goto-Jones’ criticism of the philosophical mainstream is again useful here. According to Goto-Jones, Hegel and many contemporary philosophers like Charles Taylor have regarded philosophy as ‘inherently historical’ yet manifesting ‘a more general truth about human life and society.’ And yet, Goto-Jones quickly reminds us that before we can even think about what Hegel and Taylor mean by ‘inherently historical’, ‘we must immediately pause to ask ‘whose history’ they might be talking about. It is quickly evident that the parameters of ‘history’ are usually distinctly European and that, therefore, this ‘general truth about human life and society’ might actually be rather particular’ (Goto-Jones 2005: 35, emphasis added). 4 The translation and reception of the Art of War in the West As elaborated above, this article identifies three plausible routes via which the West has acquired or relinquished non-Western (re)sources. This section will explore the reception of Sunzi Bingfa in the Anglosphere. Sunzi Bingfa has many different translations in the Anglosphere.3 In 1910, the British Sinologist Lionel Giles produced the first major English translation of Sunzi Bingfa. Thirty-four years later, the second translation was published by Arthur Sadler, a Japanologist from Australia. In 1963, Samuel B. Griffith, who served in the US Marine Corps during the Pacific War, published the third main translation in the Anglo-American world, which was reprinted over the past decades. Since the 1980s, another three important translations were produced by Sinologists, Roger Ames (1993), Thomas Cleary (1988/2000), and John M. Minford (2002) respectively. The majority of these translations see Sunzi Bingfa as a useful source. For instance, the translation by Giles is dedicated to his brother, Captain Valentine Giles, a professional soldier. Giles stated that ‘a work 2400 years old may yet contain lessons worth consideration by the soldier of today …’ (Giles, 1910/1999: ii). Evidently, Giles saw Sunzi Bingfa as useful resource, which may represent a universally valuable knowledge of war. In a similar manner, Sadler’s translation was also inspired by the Pacific War when Australia was fighting against the Japanese (Drop, 2012), whose strategic thinking, according to Sadler, was hugely influenced by classical Chinese military culture. As expressed by Sadler, ‘The writings of these strategists [Chinese military classics] have not only been regarded as authoritative by their own countrymen, but have also been carefully studied and followed by the Japanese experts ever since medieval times, and are much quoted in their writing’ (Sadler, 1944/2009). This was demonstrated during the Russo-Japanese War, in which the admiral of the Japanese fleet, Togo Heihachiro, defeated the Russian Navy, supposedly largely through the teachings of Sun Zi’s strategic thinking (Tung, 2001: 805). Sadler evidently saw Sunzi Bingfa as a useful source, but, unlike Giles, he deemed it culturally bounded, not universal. That is to say, he approached it via the second route elaborated in the previous section – a useful if exotic and culturally bound source. Most translations by Sinologists belong to this route. Cleary interprets the text of Sun Zi as defensive Daoist in character (Johnston, 1999: 4). He suggests that Sunzi Bingfa is ‘permeated with the philosophical and political thought of the Tao-te Ching’ (Clearly, 1988/2000: 20), the most important classical work of Taoism. Moreover, for Cleary the Classical Chinese language has some special peculiarities, and he states that he would have been therefore ‘able to generate at least three possible translations’ of this ‘Oriental classic’ (Clearly, 1988/2000: 35; also in Drop, 2012). This suggests that Cleary believes that one can only understand the Sunzi Bingfa by being familiar with the Taoist classics and the multiple layers of Classical Chinese. Similarly, Ames suggests that we need to understand Sun Zi on his own (cultural) terms. As Johnston notes, Ames sees Sunzi Bingfa as a philosophical text that ‘provides a metaphor for all other types of human behavior’ (Johnston, 1999: 5). Ames notices that ‘military philosophy was a common topic in many of the works on political philosophy in ancient China and thus should be seen as part of the process of developing a distinctive Chinese philosophy, not as a separate field of military thought’ (ibid.). In such way, there are ‘the differences between Chinese and Western philosophical traditions’ (ibid.). Ames is accordingly interested in the cultural presuppositions of the text. Much scholarly literature on China’s national security sees Sunzi Bingfa as an exotic and culturally bound source (Scobell 2003, 2010; Nathan and Scobell 2012). Nathan and Ross’ (1997) book The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress is one of such examples. According to the authors, there are two enduring symbols in Chinese strategic thinking: the Great Wall and the Empty Fortress. The Great Wall is a symbol of China’s weakness and vulnerability (also Scobell, 2014), given that China is a defensively minded state due to its geography and history, and is therefore obsessed with maintaining its territorial integrity and internal stability. Thus, China’s external behavior represents reasonable strategic steps in a long-standing quest for security; that is: it needs to deter its enemies by bluff and deception when the balance of power is not in China’s favor. The use of this strategy is illustrated in what is known as the ‘empty fortress’ stratagem, which is derived from the Chinese historical epic the Romance of the Three Kingdom, wherein a strategist uses deception to ‘magnify limited resources and deter enemies from military attack and ideological subversion’ (Nathan and Ross, 1997: 25). The Empty Fortress stratagem is closely associated with Sun Zi’s strategic thinking, which stresses on the importance of deception to bait one’s enemy. This tendency is however being essentialized as integral part of the enduring cultural or psychocultural strategic traditions of China to many contemporary China’s observers in the West. Bernstein and Munro (1997), for instance, see China as having strongly predisposed to the use of deception, stealth, and stratagem, which is somehow the unique product of the ‘inscrutable’ Oriental mind. They usually point to certain putative cultural proclivities, i.e. Sun Zi’s predisposition for stratagem that has psychological and symbolic warfare over actual battles. As Lampton summarizes (2008: 16), Sun Zi’s core idea is that ‘war is about producing submission, not simply using armed force…In this tradition, discussion of war focuses on the combined utilization of force, material inducements, and ideas…’ To those analysts, Sun Zi’s thinking is in many ways a template for Chinese military strategy through the centuries, either at principle or operational levels (Scobell 2010). In short, this scholarship emphasizes the uniqueness of Chinese military strategy. Nevertheless, it is noted that the juxtaposition of the Eastern and Western tradition does not necessarily suggest that Sun Zi’s thoughts only represent a typical Chinese form of warfare and life. Rather, its lessons can be universal. Minford believed that Sunzi Bingfa has universal value, or in Minford’s own words: ‘it lends itself to infinite applications” (Minford, 2002: xi). Minford said in an interview [The] whole manner of Sun [Zi]’s book The Art of War is that of a handbook or manual for life…Among other subjects treated, The Art of War deals in a very intuitive and general (almost abstract) way with the workings of natural, human and interpersonal dynamics…In this respect it has great interest and value for all people and all ages. (Minford Interview, emphasis added) Minford echoes Griffith’s view on Sun Zi, whose translation too pointed out the timeless relevance of Sun Zi’s work. On the one hand, Griffith apparently sees Sunzi Bingfa as representative of a typical East Asian form of strategy. Griffith considers many of Mao’s writings and tactics to be inspired by Sunzi Bingfa, since many of the People Liberation Army’s (PLA) tactics in their fight against the KMT, the Japanese, and in the Korean War follow Sun Zi’s maxims, and multiple remarks in Mao’s writing appear to paraphrase Sun Zi. Moreover, his remarks on the work’s influence on military thought in East Asia also contain a description of how Sun Zi’s theories guided military figures throughout Japanese history, which dates back well before 760 AD (Griffith 1963: 169–177). Griffith uses the Japanese campaigns in Malaya and Northern China (WWII) as examples of Japanese tactics inspired by Sun Zi. He also uses these examples to criticize Western military commanders for not having taken note of this strategic doctrine sooner (ibid.: 177–178). On the other hand, Griffith also maintains that this Chinese type of strategic thinking can be applied universally. In order to prove the timeless and universal value of Sun Zi’s maxims, Griffith shows the myriad of occasions throughout time where Sun Zi’s ideas on strategy formed an essential part of creating winning conditions both on and off the battlefield. Consequently, Griffith’s account of Sunzi Bingfa allows Sun Zi’s holistic understanding of strategy applicable to any conflict scenario. Griffith aptly displays how Sun Zi’s theories on the importance of terrain, morale, maneuvering, and knowledge of the circumstances were decisive in both ancient and modern conflicts. The main strength of Griffith’s work lies in its ability to effectively use historical examples to prove that proper strategic method, even if conceived 2500 years ago, still holds merit today and most likely in the future too. Griffith’s goal is also reflected in Basil Liddell Hart’s foreword. Hart was the one who really put the Sunzi Bingfa firmly on the intellectual map of Anglo-American strategic and military studies (Drop, 2012). Obviously, Hart regards Sunzi Bingfa as a timeless and universal resource. From his perspective, Sunzi Bingfa bolstered his own critique of a certain type of Western strategic thinking. As Johnston observes, Hart used Sun Zi to justify his critique of Clausewitz for his over-emphasis on the so-called ‘direct’ approach, defined as the massive application of military power at the enemy’s ‘center of gravity’. Liddell Hart blamed Clausewitizian thinking for the disastrous violence of the First World War. (Johnston, 1999: 3) John Boyd is another strategic theorist in the Anglosphere whose thinking was shaped by Sun Zi. Boyd, the inventor of the so-called ‘OODA’ loop model, which sees conflict as time-competitive observation-orientated decision-action cycles (Lind, 1985: 5–6, cited in Polk, 2000: 257), is regarded as one of the most important strategists of the twentieth century. One of his most important contributions is his emphasis on the dimension of time in conflict interaction, which was already highlighted by Sun Zi 2000 years ago. Hence, as Osinga argues (2007: 35), Sun Zi ‘must be considered the true conceptual, albeit ancient, father of Boyd’s work’. In sum, similar to Hart, Boyd also regards Sunzi Bingfa as an access point to aspects of universal truth that are new to the West. In contrast to Hart, who uses Sun Zi’s strategic thinking to critique Clausewitz, Boyd adopts Sun Zi’s strategic thinking to develop his own theory. As such, both Hart and Boyd’s appropriations of Sunzi Bingfa amalgamate the second and third routes to varying degrees. Despite the fact that there are important and distinctive cultural elements within traditions, there are also key commonalities across traditions. This suggests that, Orientalism aside, universal learning takes place regardless. This amalgamation, in a way, is analogous to Alastair Ian Johnston’s way of thinking. In his 1995 book Cultural Realism, Johnston attempts an extensive study of the grand strategy and strategic preferences of China. His study of traditional Chinese strategic thinking firstly charts a group of didactic military handbooks – ‘Seven Military Classic’, which includes Sunzi Bingfa, a quintessential benchmark in Chinese thought on strategy and security canonized in the 11th century AD – in this scrupulous manner to determine whether a specific strategic preference can be found in the texts (Johnston, 1995a: 40). Johnston then turns his study to the actual practiced strategy of the Ming Dynasty, its military policy makers, and the empirical evidence of conflicts on the northern border with the Mongols. On the basis of his analysis of China’s ‘grand strategic preference rankings’ (ibid.: 109), Johnston contends that there is enough reason to believe a Chinese strategic culture does exist. Johnston discerns the existence of two strands of Chinese strategic culture: a ‘Parabellum’ (or Realpolitik) one and a ‘Confucian- Mencian’ one, which serves as a symbolic strategic culture, reinforcing the authority and credibility of the military elite. The operative-ness of these two strands is determined, according to Johnston, by a strong belief in ultimate flexibility (quan bian), that is, resorting to defensive strategies when conditions are unfavorable while using offensive strategies if circumstances permit. Nevertheless, the existence of Chinese strategic culture does not mean that Chinese leaders automatically make different strategic choices than their Western counterparts. This is because certain elements of different strategic cultures can overlap; in Johnston’s example this overlap is the parabellum paradigm. Johnston explains that the mix of paradigms in Chinese strategic thought will often lead to strategic outcomes similar to those a structural realist would predict. In other words, it is the same reality and the same realist approach lauded in the culturally specific narrative. Johnston therefore concludes that realism is a very persuasive and powerful theory, as it developed independently in both Europe and China (ibid.: 242). He nonetheless agrees that these cultural differences are indispensable for each nation to deal with their reality. In a nutshell, the exotic Chinese strategic culture has only been of service to China, but that the practice was by all means compatible with that of the Western military history, attesting to the existence of a general pattern of strategic behavior. Johnston’s study of ancient Chinese strategic thought can be regarded as the basis for more cross-cultural analysis to determine whether other strategic cultures produce similar results. His approach therefore crosses the second and third routes since Johnston sees Sun Zi’s strategic thinking as both an exotic culturally-bound source and as a body of wisdom with universal value. 5 Conclusion This article coped with two seemingly contradictory messages regarding the obstacles for non-Western knowledge to transcend civilizational and national divides. Critical scholars argue that one major obstacle needs to be overcome before non-Western knowledge can contribute to the evolution of global IR: the Orientalist tendency in the Western social sciences to consider non-Western theories and concepts, such as harmony, time consciousness, or Sun Zi’s strategic thinking as scientifically irrelevant. However, the West’s Orientalist mentality does not necessarily lead to the exclusion of non-Western theories. The non-Western world also exhibits discriminatory attitudes toward Western scholarship, but their prejudices do not prevent non-Western scholars from learning Western social sciences and theories, nor does learning from the West always dissolve the discriminatory attitude in the non-Western world even if its scholars appreciate learning from the West. The other obstacle is that Western social scientists are simply unfamiliar with the non-Western theories and therefore they are incapable of explaining their own world comprehensively and deeply. This lack of paradigmatic access to civilizational knowledge elsewhere hinders a balanced explanation of the phenomena that Western social sciences set out to explain. Since analyzing and explaining are the two major tasks of Western social sciences, anyone who criticizes Western Orientalism and the resulting distortion of non-Western phenomena will need to present non-Western theories in ways that enhance analytical and explanatory capacity. Criticism would have been redundant for those non-Western theorists who are determined to maintain a separate scope of knowledge equipped with its own distinctive ontology and epistemology (or lack of). To conclude, studying the West as an ontologically provincial site requires studying its worlding strategy. Reversely, examining the worlding strategy of a Western site is an indirect yet strong way of provincializing it. An epistemologically worlded site evolves through wanted or unwanted encounter and the concomitant strategic choice. Re-worlding of a site via the encounter of the external and a choice of approach to the eternal is the same with all sites, Western as well as non-Western. Both the West and the non-West contribute to the worlding of each other by providing unfamiliar resources to the other, e.g. Sunzi Bingfa. They likewise enhance the worlding of each other by re-appropriating the other to make it achieve spreading, hence the different Orientalist readings of Sun Zi’s work. This way, the other side of the story – how the subaltern sites penetrate or fail to penetrate the West – is no longer missing. The omission otherwise leaves the West in a discursively essentialized, central, and privileged site. To move beyond, the post-Western quest has to first acknowledge that the West is an incoherent sum of sites, other than race, gender and class identities, each of which has appropriated non-Western resources differently. To achieve epistemological equality between the Western and the non-Western, or the hegemonic and the subaltern, sites, the West’s multiplicity has to be restored; only then can its provinciality be disclosed. Once the worlding of Western sites become a point of scholarly interest, provincializing and worlding become two sides of the same coin. No site is in itself global and yet all sites give and take via encounter and choice. To world an intellectual site, such as China that first generated a genealogy of Sun Zi, is to provincialize Sun Zi at a different site so that Sun Zi gains different meanings everywhere. 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Published by Oxford University Press in association with the Japan Association of International Relations; All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Relations of the Asia-Pacific Oxford University Press

Re-worlding the ‘West’ in post-Western IR: the reception of Sun Zi’s the Art of War in the Anglosphere

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Abstract

Abstract The post-Western agenda of international relations will not be complete until it has tracked the worlding strategy of the provincialized West. This article examines one important aspect of this strategy, namely the appropriation of non-Western theory by the West as exemplified by the reception of Sun Zi’s The Art of War (or Sunzi Bingfa) in the Anglosphere. It looks at the ways in which Sunzi Bingfa has been translated, interpreted and applied in the field of Strategic Studies. This article identifies three plausible ways in which theory ‘travels’ from the East to the West, namely: (i) a useless resource or outmoded form of thinking, (ii) a useful, if exotic, culturally bound source, and (iii) a body of wisdom with universal value. It contends that most readers in the Anglosphere tend to cross these different routes to varying degrees. This critical examination of the reception of Sunzi Bingfa enables us to see that the academic field of Strategic Studies is rooted in self-other dynamics on the one hand, and characterized by an extreme parochialism on the other. The conclusion makes a normative judgment that the West can better contribute to global IR by conceiving of and relying on non-Western knowledge as an access to universal truth. 1 Introduction: re-worlding the ‘West’ in post-Western international relations Mainstream international relations (IR) scholars perceived different regions of the world as test cases for their theories rather than sources of theory in themselves. The ‘non-West’ thereby became a domain that IR theorists perceived as backward, which requires instruction in order to reach the ‘end of history’ that Western modernity encapsulates (Fukuyama, 1992; Harrison and Huntington, 2001) and a post-Western world is characterized by disorder and challenge (Stuenkel, 2016). Indeed, mainstream IR scholars have been highly suspicious of rising non-Western states, which, from their perspectives, have interest in overturning the existing world order and therefore prove to be a disruptive force in global affairs. Following this Western-centric perspective, China as a non-Western actor has to be a revisionist power which poses an inevitable threat to the rules of international relations. Nevertheless, China, as well as any allegedly non-Western actor, cannot just be a non-Western actor for at least two reasons. First, the current rules of international relations have always constituted the Chinese identity and shaped its external behaviors (Chen, 2013; Shih, 2013). Second, practices in the name of China, recalcitrant or compliant, have already affected the meaning of international relations and the national identities of those dominant actors. This article will briefly introduce the first reason with the supporting literature, and argue for the second with an illustration of an empirical example, the reception of the classic Chinese military writer Sun Zi’s (or Sun Tzu’s) Sunzi Bingfa (or The Art of War) in the West. Over the past two decades, there has been an emerging post-Western quest in IR that urges scholars to ‘re-world’ the subaltern voice. A post-Western theory seeks out the multiple worlds and hidden voices that intersect across the world (Ling, 2002). Accordingly, the quest for a post-Western IR can be regarded as an attempt to democratize both the existing order of international relations, as well as the study of it. One of the main strategies of such a quest is to rediscover the lost historical and contemporary voices of the subalterns. More specifically, post-Western IR scholarship urges IR scholars to ‘re-world’ subaltern sites by examining how Western knowledge on IR has been interpreted and appropriated on each particular site. In this regard, the debate on whether or not China is a revisionist actor with its own perspectives on international order can be misleading (Alison, 2017; Choi, 2018; Fook, 2018; Schweller, 2018;). It leaves little room for China practicing Western norms inconsistently due to multiple purposes, necessities and interpretations coexisting in its own system as well as learning and socialization (Carlson, 2005; Johnston, 2007). While Western worlding or self-worlding tends to assess the non-Western resource against its usefulness to the imperial or capitalist governance, post-Western worlding contrarily looks to the Chinese site as an origin of non-Western sources upon which the Chinese could improvise a composite and hybrid kind of postcolonial modernity, rendering its rise neither conformist nor revisionist. The quest for post-Western IR accordingly attends predominantly to the rediscovering of agency at a Chinese subaltern site for adaptation, feedback, and reconstruction of the Western influence encountered. The worlding of the subaltern, if successful, would expose the ‘provincial’ characteristics of the West, which has mistakenly presented itself as the universal, a result of Eurocentrism backed up by imperialism and post/neo-colonialism. We wish to convince debaters on Chinese revisionism that China does not enter international relations as an outsider during its rise and the United States does not begin understanding the China threat only at the point of its acknowledged rise. Our reflections will contribute to post-Western IR by proposing epistemological equality between the West and the non-West. By this, we mean to confirm that not only the Western rules have constituted China’s self-understanding as argued by post-Western IR, but also Chinese thoughts and practices have likewise constituted Western international relations, too. Our way to achieve epistemological equality for China as well as subaltern sites elsewhere is to uncover a mutuality in which the West, taking after all allegedly non-Western sites, is practically constituted by the latter. To illustrate this point, we will explore the different routes through which the West, and more specifically the Anglosphere,1 has received and appropriated Sunzi Bingfa. Sunzi Bingfa is an ancient Chinese text from the late 4th century BC. The book was translated into French in the 1700s. It was not until the twentieth century that an English edition appeared, but there are now many different translations in the English-speaking world. Together with Carl von Clausewitz’ On War and Antoine-Henri de Jomini’s Art of War, the book is said to be among the most important classics in the field of Strategic Studies. The book is also widely referred to by lawyers, businessmen, and sports coaches to get the upper hand in cases, negotiations, and games. This raises a question: What do the translations of Sunzi Bingfa mean to the West? More specifically, what does the Anglosphere want to learn from the translations, for what purpose, and how have those translations constituted the Anglosphere world? We suggest that by demonstrating the ways in which the West has responded to Sunzi Bingfa one can potentially identify a different, though consistent, mode of worlding, in contrast to the current post-Western agenda that aims to world the subaltern non-Western sites. In what follows, we will discuss what meanings can be added to re-worlding in post-Western IR by our reversed tracking of knowledge diffusion from a Chinese strategic text to the West. It will begin with reflections on the insufficiency of post-Western IR, together with the remedy we hope to seek. Then, it will introduce the basic contours of the field of Strategic Studies and its problematics before elaborating on the three most likely routes that Sunzi Binfa might take from the East to the West. The fourth section will examine various translations and applications of Sunzi Bingfa over the last hundred years, in order to see to which route they belong and what that tells us about the study of Sunzi Bingfa in the Anglosphere world. 2 Re-worlding, post-Western IR, and CHINA We are indebted to postcolonial critics in our reflections on the possibility of re-worlding first non-Western IR theorization and, by extension, Western IR theorization. In this regard, we rely particularly on Spivak’s (1985) contriving of the notion of ‘worlding’. Spivak is especially critical of the literate constructions of the colonized population that the colonial regime ascribed to the Third World. She means to expose the discursive technique undergirded by imperialism that designates a distant other an identity in the division of the worlds that serves the operation of imperialism and colonialism. A center and a periphery in a Marxian sense immediately arise, with the periphery achieving its presence and usefulness exclusively through its functional contribution to the center. The productive relations define the stake of the colony in the colonizer’s world and connects it to this world. In addition to the colonial and productive dimensions, there are gendered as well as racial dimensions (Pettman, 1996; Ling, 2002; Chowdhry and Nair, 2004). The gendered sensibilities are apparent not only in the feminizing narratives adopted in the prescription for the Third World to naturalize its submissive position, but also to silence the invisible reproductive relations that supply healthy laborers in the worlding of the colony. The racial division of the world, on the other hand, naturalizes a hierarchy so that the populations of different color understand their own places as being distant, subaltern, and physical. In short, an existing space is framed as a colonized space by European imperialism and colonialism. Colony, class, gender, and race compose the four mutually reinforced worlding mechanisms to make the ‘Third World’ a familiar and necessary self-reference for the colonized population. Escape from worlding therefore requires re-worlding. Re-worlding bifurcates in different empirical agendas – resistance, hybridity, and fluidity. For example, by voicing the indigenous relations that, through having been silenced, made possible the colonial worlding, one exposes and resists the exploitive, political, and constructed characteristics of Third World identities (Fanon, 2004). Therefore, self-empowerment is enacted through rediscovering an essentially different self that instantaneously provincializes the colonial subjectivity (Chakrabarty, 2007). To retrieve pre-colonial identities would disturb one’s place in the current division of worlds and risk losing one’s identity that provides a sense of certainty in the imperialist system. A forgotten non-colonial past is always hidden but ready to be rejuvenated in the worlding trajectory. However, there are caveats. The first caveat of re-worlding through resistance is that the pre-colonial world may collude with the colonial world, for example in gender terms (Tambe, 2000). Second, re-worlding can enable self-discovery by recording the hybrid practices in the field that reveal how the colonial rules are constantly revised and even reverted (Appiah, 1992; Paolini et al., 1999). Worlding becomes senseless. The caveat of re-worlding through hybridity is that, once the imperialist other is undistinguishable, resistance is rendered senseless, too. Finally, re-worlding can proceed in showing how different worlds are relationally constituted indeed but each informed in its own fluid discourse to the extent that one can neither claim autonomy nor achieve dominance (Ling 2014). The caveat or re-worlding through fluidity lies in the unassertive identities that can be too weak to engage in collective reflections. Worlding of China can be, to draw on a few examples, positioning a Chinese race naturalized in a diasporic relation (Kwong and Miščević, 2005; Chong, 2017), recruiting a feminized nation submissive to as well as reproductive of capitalist productive relations (Gaetano, 2015; Ngai, 2005), or investing in a merely cheap or skill labor supplier (Ness 2015). Examples of re-worlding via hybridity, fluidity, or resistance can be as varied as Jiang Zemin’s appropriating the WTO system, Hu Jintao’s harmonizing diplomacy, as well as Xi Jinping’s dreaming Chinese nationalism. In sum, the West initiates the contact and China either conforms or strategizes. We wish to integrate from the abovementioned variety a common denominator, because we intend our contribution to be useful to re-worlding in general by revealing an unproblematized origin in the West implicit in all of them. Accordingly, we consider worlding broadly as practicing the given international relations and global order in a contributive identity (e.g. race, gender, class, and site) and re-worlding as discovering the agency embedded in the unnoticed prior relations and the un-commissioned consequences of such agency in the worlding processes. From these definitions, worlding is the initiating West making sense of the non-West while re-worlding is the non-West responding to the initiating West. Post-Western IR comes from the desire for re-worlding of a discipline dominated by the West and given to the non-Western world. For example, Tickner and Blaney (2012) rediscover painstakingly those geo-cultural sites each displaying a peculiar way of mapping its world differently constituted by Western international relations. This echoes the claim by Bilgin (2012) that all are differently different, denying the possibility of any universal implications in one’s worlding or the intellectual capacity of any alleged hegemony, empire or center to monopolize the meaning of a seemingly accorded practice. Genealogy is an intrinsic approach of the post-Western pursuit in order to trace the improvised and contingent trajectories of how the West has come to distinctively constitute every receiving site (Shimizu, 2018). Such recombination of Western IR resources and non-Western theories as well as practices leads to Kavalski’s (2018) deliberately ambiguous naming of an Eastphalia in a state of constant making. In Shani’s (2008) vision, post-Western IR complicates those concepts familiar to the Western IR and de-essentializes the categories on which Western IR relies to theorize. A parallel and yet somewhat dissimilar pursuit of ‘non-Western IR’ reminds one of a potential danger that commonly lies in the different strings of post-Western IR. Non-Western IR juxtaposes the West and the non-West to believe that there is an earlier world order not affected by the system of Westphalia that can shed some new light on Western IR. Acharya (2018) accordingly stresses that the world and the embedded global order is characterized by multiplicity and diversity. Genealogy is equally important to him and yet it is not to show how the site is being constituted by the West in various contingent ways. Rather, non-Western genealogy aims at giving credit to a pluralist IR or de-centered IR. Along with the post-Western sensibilities of sited-ness, non-Western IR that segregates the West risks overly devoting to a spatially demarcated scope that may in itself evolve into a fixed identity protected by some imagined border (Shih and Ikeda, 2016). Spivak (1996: 204–5) refers to this use of fixed identity as ‘strategic essentialism’. It exists purely for the sake of inspiring resistance and enabling reflections and presumably fades where no hegemony prevails any more. Tackling such a potential danger, Agathangelou and Ling (2009) propose to look at how each actor embodies mutual embeddedness, especially at the intersection silenced by borders (Ling et al., 2016). This way, postcolonial subjectivities necessarily make history even though their accesses to power are not equal. Ling (2010) further develops their worldism into a Buddhist methodology of non-action to reconcile binaries. The post-Western inquiry that transcends a sited consciousness of border echoes Shih and Yu’s (2015) politics of naming in ancient China in what they call ‘post-post-Western IR’. On this last agenda, we prefer Ling’s (2014) Daoist fluidity to Spivak’s strategic essentialism. After all, empirically all forms of essentialism are fluid, intersubjective, and mutual in practice. That said, we are still not satisfied with the post-Western approaches to binary in general in the sense that their tracking of how the non-West as combination of colored, gendered, classed, and sited identities has emerged (i) outside the West, (ii) resistant to the West, (iii) deconstructive of the West, (iv) hybrid of the West, or (v) triumphant over the West, reproduces an initiating West as the starting point of reference. In order to propose our own epistemological remedy, we are now ready to indiscriminately define the post-Western as a condition and a practice of re-worlding that reconciles binaries between different worlds in general and between the West and the Non-West in particular. According to our definition, the extant post-Western exercise risks two kinds of hypocrisy. First, post-Western IR seeks to provincialize the West as an undifferentiated entirety and yet strives to world the subaltern non-Western sites each in its differently different geo-cultural genealogy, thus risking an epistemological hypocrisy in which the provincial West cannot and should not be worlded. Ironically, the West is reduced and yet simultaneously promoted to the status of an epistemologically unquestioned premise. Secondly, a string of post-Western IR encourages site-centrism in its celebration of a sited re-appropriation of a Western discourse, institution, or value, but it faults the West for doing the same for committing Eurocentrism. As there are different subaltern understandings of the West, there have to be different Western, Orientalist and hegemonic understandings of the non-West. The West, within its own sited-ness and provincially geo-cultural trajectories rooted in class, color, and gender has likewise been engaging in a similar kind of receiving, reinterpreting, and re-appropriating (van der Veer, 2001). Post-Western IR continues to privilege the West as if the West is epistemologically given, universally known, and untouched by non-Western influences. This is why overlooking Western responses to non-Western discourses, values, and systems represent a problem. Due to this lacuna, provincializing the West becomes tantamount to essentializing the West or centralizing the West by assuming that it is as if the subaltern sites know the West but the West does not know the subaltern sites. As a result, the worlding project, as it currently stands, is not unlike an affirmative action, which lifts a subaltern site up from a discriminated stratum but does not really affect the West and its status as the exemplar of an allegedly common destiny. In this sense, worlding amounts to no more than an account of how subaltern sites have made the world despite/because of penetration by Western influence. In practice, though, the hegemony of the West has also always meant the acquisition and re-appropriation of non-Western resources. Consequently, a comprehensive post-Western quest has to rediscover how the provincial West has encountered non-Western intellectual resources. Re-worlding Western sites and re-worlding subaltern sites are epistemologically of equal importance. Given that the rise of China is forcing the West to grapple with China, we hope to contribute to the discussion on how the West theorizes the rise of China, albeit indirectly through the metaphor of strategic culture. The worlding of the West is not complete unless the West is able to self-reflexively place China in the Western discourse. By treating the West as just another post-Western site this way, we will be able to deconstruct Eurocentrism and Orientalism not by denying their discursive imperialism or involvement in the historical expansion of the West, but by demonstrating how differently Orientalist the West can be at different Western geo-cultural sites. However, in this narrow scope of strategic culture, we will fail to simultaneously reconcile colored, gendered, and classed binaries. 3 Strategic studies as a (post-)western site: three plausible routes of re-worlding We treat Strategic Studies in the English-speaking academic community as a post-Western site in the West that reveals how approaches to a Chinese strategic resource can differently reconcile the binary of West and non-West. Strategic Studies is concerned with the intellectual and policy questions associated with the use of force and other coercive means to achieve political ends in international relations. This field comes under the intellectual tradition of political realism (Booth, 1994: 109), which is pessimistic about human nature and believes in the enduringly anarchical nature of international politics. The issues of class, gender, or race are not considered relevant despite class reproduction, gendered division, and racial discrimination being intrinsic to the cycles of war and peace. The establishment of the contemporary field of Strategic Studies, according to Buzan and Hansen (2009), did not come about until the mid-to-late 1940s. The time of its birth suggests that it did not directly experience either side of colonialism, so re-worlding would not attract any apparent concern. The period between the mid-1950s and the mid-1980s has been described as a ‘golden age’ of Strategic Studies (Booth 1994: 109–19), in which ‘the growing threat of nuclear confrontation produced a focus on matters of military force’ (Bourne 2014: 11). During this period, Strategic Studies were also institutionalized in the Anglosphere (Buzan and Hansen, 2009: 92). Strategic Studies became one of the key sub-fields in the study of IR. Nevertheless, Strategic Studies has received a great deal of criticism in the post-cold war era,2 amounting to a demand for re-discovering different others intrinsic to but silenced by Strategic Studies. Among the issues that have been raised, Self-Other relations in the study of strategy have been identified as especially problematic. The concept of security is a relational phenomenon about how the world may threaten someone. Critical IR scholars have long contended that ‘threat(s)’ to one’s security are in fact the product of one’s identity. Nothing is a threat in and of itself in the first place; it all depends on how one identifies things ‘through an interpretation of their various dimensions of dangerousness’ (Campbell, 1992: 2). Strategic preferences are not only based on how states perceive themselves, but also how the threats are identified and coped with. Identities prompt strategies to determine who the threats are and why. The world is composed of different others as enemy, friend, and other roles so as to make strategizing a practice of international relations. Strategic policies in this regard become a practice of sustaining, producing, or reproducing the identity of the state in relation to its world. As Booth (1979: 29) rightly points out, ‘strategic paradigm is rooted in ethnocentrism’, because strategists need enemies ‘to reduce ambiguity and ambivalence, and make for psychological comfort’ (ibid.: 26). ‘If strategists do not have enemies, they must invent them’ (ibid.: 27). Self-other relations to determine the function of different others for the self to cope with the threat are particularly pertinent to both worlding and re-worlding that engender meanings for them each to seek representation in the international order. Strategic studies have inherited colonial relationality to a degree. In a way, Strategic Studies arguably is a worlding mechanism of the West in general and the United States in specific to practically impose the Cold War, the War on Terror, and the China threat everywhere. In fact, ‘Survey of Strategic Studies’ in 1970 listed 128 places in 29 countries where research in Strategic Studies was being conducted, and most of these were located in the Anglosphere or in states allied to the United States during the Cold War (IISS, 2006). This intellectual history suggests that no formal colonies had homed strategic culture during the early years. Consciously discovering the relevance or irrelevance of these other potentially strategic sites, which one encountered during later years in the former colonies, makes an agenda of re-worlding of strategic studies. Re-worlding has to be mutual as both former colonies can track their differing ways of understanding and practicing each strategic assignments and the West can realize how early colonial/imperial relationalities constitute the subsequent Strategic Studies. We thus reflect on Orientalism in the study of strategy. As Drop (2012) argues, Orientalism in Strategic Studies is ‘a set of prejudiced stereotypes about Asia’s “strategic culture”’. Indeed, the hidden objective of Strategic Studies is not only to define the West, but also to position the Orient/Others (e.g. China) in the periphery to the discipline’s core (mainly the United States), and to find the ways in which Others are kept at bay. For instance, when Betts (1997) tries to set a new agenda for Strategic Studies in the post-cold war era, he notes that a ‘topic that merits special attention is the evolution of Chinese forces, doctrine, and strategy, and whether China’s military development can match its economic surge. The cold war spawned an impressive corps of analysts of the Soviet military … there are counterparts on China, but the list is shorter’ (ibid.: 22). There are core–periphery relations in which power plays out in the field of Strategic Studies as well as in IR as a whole. In sum, Strategic Studies is characterized by American dominance, which marginalizes the non-European from the outset. Non-Western worldviews and strategic thinking are almost invisible except for one small strand that emphasizes the role of strategic culture. Nevertheless, even among those who work on the strategic culture of the ‘non-West’, the hidden objective of studying the strategic culture of the ‘Others’ is still to keep those ‘Others’ at bay. Nevertheless, the study of war and strategy can likewise engage in re-worlding in order to appreciate how, on the one hand, Strategic Studies has enacted self-centrism, evades plausible options, and reproduces hostility and how, on the other hand, prior colonial and imperial pasts of theirs each has prepared their worlding of the former colonial Third World. In this vein, we join a post-Western line of IR scholarship to engage in re-worlding in the West in an epistemologically equalizing way. We will look at the strategic writers primarily as physical sites that home and breed agency. Their agency necessarily comprises prior imagination of the non-Western world, with some embedded in colonial and imperial encountering, others in the literature or other practical interactions. We will proceed by critically examining the ways in which the Anglosphere, in the process of becoming worldly through Strategic Studies, encounters, collects and appropriates the Chinese intellectual resources in accordance with a Self-Other frame that ascribes to Sun Zi new meanings of which his Chinese readers have been unaware. We use Self-Other relations to re-world Strategic Studies. We ask how Strategic Studies find out, think about and relate to Sunzi Bingfa so that Strategic Studies can become truly worldly – Is it a constituent component of the self or the other? Can it be acquired, and how, if initially considered being in the Other-relation? We propose that Sun Zi’s thinking consistently belongs to the scope of Other. For those who find it worthy to acquire knowledge from it, it can be either a universal kind of knowledge or an exotic kind. There are three Self-Other relations which will be elaborated in the rest of this section: (i) a useless resource or outmoded form of thinking, (ii) a useful if exotic and culturally-bound source, and (iii) a body of wisdom with universal value (see Figure 1). Figure 1 View largeDownload slide Re-worlding of strategic studies via translation of Sunzi Bingfa Source: Authors Figure 1 View largeDownload slide Re-worlding of strategic studies via translation of Sunzi Bingfa Source: Authors 3.1 Useless resource/outdated thinking The first plausible route, which derived from a symptom of Self-Other relations, would see Sunzi Bingfa as a useless, irrelevant and outdated source. It should be acknowledged that scholars in the mainstream of Strategic Studies are not too bothered about non-Western strategic thinking. For instance, the prominent British strategic scholar Philip Windsor (2002) traces the evolution of strategic thinking as an exclusively Western tradition with religious, legal, and political origins in medieval and modern Europe. He makes no reference to non-Western strategic thought, as if the non-Western world is a place in which strategic thinking simply does not exist. Even if they bring the non-Western world in, they are simply using the non-Western world as material for case studies to test theories generated and grounded in the West. One explanation for the relative absence of non-Western strategic thought concerns the self-identity of the West. Chris Goto-Jones, in his study of the non-European philosophy, asks why non-Western philosophy is considered futile. Goto-Jones notes that ‘there appears to be a politics of identity at work in the history of philosophy which frustrates attempts to eradicate or overcome the ethnocentricity of the discipline of philosophy’ (Goto-Jones, 2005: 38). In his view, the history of philosophy is part of Euro-Americans’ search for their cultural identity. From this standpoint, non-European thought is irrelevant, because it does not contribute to the understanding of ‘our’ own current position. ‘They’ are not part of ‘us’ and hence impenetrable. Similarly, Booth (1979: 40) also points to ‘the lack of empathy and the general ignorance of other societies’ by strategists. Why should ‘we’ (as Westerners) care about Chinese strategic thinking? Chinese strategic thinking has nothing to do with ‘us’. It does not form part of ‘our’ own political thought, unless ‘we’ found ourselves confronted by Chinese military and political power. It would not be a problem if Western philosophers or strategists saw their work as a search for their own identity. Yet, they somehow represent their philosophy and strategic thinking as universal. Thus, this route potentially risks accusations of Eurocentrism. That said, the superiority of the West in contradistinction to its Others (i.e. China) would accordingly suggest that there is only one single path to the highest form of human civilization, or the universal strategy in the context of Strategic Studies, that is, the one represented by Western strategic thinking. Western civilization is not only different from its Eastern counterpart – it is far superior to it. Eurocentrism in this sense is prescriptive; it is built upon the assumption of Western universality. Sunzi Bingfa, due to its external geographical or cultural differences, come to be represented as ‘Otherness’, which can be potentially neglected because they are inferior and outdated. This route therefore is a projection of this dissonance of the Others onto the Self, or the West, which can then once again proclaim the Western universality. 3.2 A useful if exotic and culturally bound source In the second plausible route Sunzi Bingfa would be regarded as a useful if exotic and culturally bound source. This route is associated with the ‘strategic culture’ approach within Strategic Studies. The term ‘strategic culture’ was invented in the 1970s during the cold war. RAND analyst Jack Snyder (1977: 8) coined the term ‘strategic culture’ to describe ‘the sum total of ideas, conditioned emotional responses, and patterns of habitual behavior that members of a national strategic community have acquired through instruction or imitation and share with each other with regard to [nuclear] strategy.’ Scholars of strategic culture oppose the assumption of IR theory that strategies of security by state actors can be explained through a framework in which the core behavior of state actors is ahistorical and non-cultural, with rational decisions guided by the overriding imperative of survival. Instead, they emphasize ‘the weight of historical experiences and historically-rooted strategic preferences’ that ‘tends to constrain responses to changes in the “objective” strategic environment, thus affecting strategic choices in unique ways’ (Johnston, 1995: 34). On that account, the basic assumption of this second route is that each state tends to think of its own interests and strategy as unique. All countries face the same reality and constraints but each country (or culture) develops different strategic thinking. Culture constructs the ways in which its subscribers understand and cope with reality. Strategic choice is accordingly determined by ‘values or assumptions with roots deep in a state’s ideational history’ (Johnston, 1995). This route therefore suggests that different cultures operate differently and exhibit divergent predominant strategic preferences under relatively equal conditions, where some cultures would appear offensive, others would be defensive and accommodationist. There are some strategic ideas outside of Europe that are very different from those of Europe. Accordingly, this route juxtaposes Chinese strategic thinking against a Western one. China might appear to be behaving according to unfamiliar rules, despite the fact that the Chinese have to behave in the same reality. Mott and Kim in their study of Chinese strategic thought (2006: 6) note that Few people would deny that China’s culture developed its own world order and attitudes toward warfare over nearly three millennia. Through its history of survival, evolution, domestic conflicts, and defenses against foreign aggressions, China’s distinctive culture has shaped and limited strategic choices and profoundly influenced China’s interactions with other states. Again, the search for strategic culture can lead to Orientalism. Firstly, this way of representing Chinese strategic thinking might simply essentialize and generalize the ‘Oriental’ as an object in a prejudiced way, problematically seeing it as a homogenous and unique space – a space which did not exist in the first place. As Porter (2007: 46) notes, ‘while it aims to encourage greater sensitivity to the nuances that differentiate cultures, it actually encourages a crude view of ancient and fixed ways of war. It risks replacing strategy with stereotypes.’ As a result, this route might reinforce negative and even racist Western stereotypes about China. Secondly, this route is still not a call for us to take Chinese strategic thinking seriously. It proposes that solely relying on Western thinking may ignore some strategic clues that can help winning the war – in particular, those derived from its strategic counterpart, or the significant ‘Other’. That said, in order to deal with China, China’s external behavior requires explanation, which can only be derived at by examining China’s own national-historical tradition. Sunzi Bingfa can thereby play a substantial role in aiding the West to understand China’s culture and self-understanding. Hence, scholars from this route focus on the relevance of ancient Chinese strategic thinking for contemporary strategy only when China becomes a ‘problem’, with which the West needs to cope. In other words, once China is no longer a ‘problem’, studying its strategic thinking will become irrelevant. 3.3 A body of wisdom with universal value Apart from accusations of Orientalism, the concept of strategic culture has also been criticized by mainstream IR and Strategic Studies scholars. The focus of the debate is whether the differences among strategic preferences of different states – either those in the West or in the East – do actually exist. Michael Handel (1992/2005: 2. Italics in original) for instance contends that ‘[There] is no such thing as an exclusively “Western” or “Eastern” approach to politics and strategy; there is only an effective or ineffective, rational, or non-rational manifestation of politics or strategy.’ This line of thinking reveals the third plausible route – the universalist approach. From this perspective, Chinese political ideas and strategic thinking do not only represent a typically Chinese view of war and peace; instead, its lessons and relevance are universal. We could be losing an opportunity to enhance our understanding of world politics if we disregard non-Western political ideas. This line of argument aims to incorporate non-Western political ideas into a universal dialogue. In this vein, Chinese ancient political ideas help us study the nature of international relations not only in East Asia, but also elsewhere around the world too. The political thoughts of all countries are becoming our own thoughts globally. The more we learn about the ideas hidden in those multiple locations, the closer we might come to understanding of the nature of world politics. As Handel states (1992/2005: 1), the longevity and pre-eminence of Chinese (i.e. Sun Zi) and Western strategic thinking (i.e. Clausewitz) may be attributed to ‘the underlying logic of human nature, and by extension of political action, [which] has not changed throughout history’. Handel’s remarks resemble Hans Morgenthau, who thought that politics is ‘governed by objective laws that have their root in human nature’ (Morgenthau, 1978: 4). Somehow paradoxically, Handel’s realist perspective resonates with the critical agenda of Global IR scholarship, which, as Acharya (2014: 650) elaborates, ‘constitutes not a theory, but an aspiration for greater inclusiveness and diversity in our discipline.’ It advocates a pluralistic universalism, ‘authentically grounded in world history’, which includes ‘the ideas, institutions, intellectual perspectives, and practices of Western and non-Western societies alike’ (ibid.). This route is perhaps the least Eurocentric/Orientalist approach to Sunzi Bingfa, and yet, we still need to remain vigilant. At first sight, this seems to suggest that ‘we’ (Westerners) can learn from an ancient Chinese thinker who has shed light on various contemporary issues around war and peace in general. Nevertheless, the reputation that ‘Eastern thoughts’ have remains a bit of a mystery. Some followers of this route might propose various esoteric and mystical schools of ‘Eastern wisdom’, like Buddism, Hinduism, Taoism and certain martial arts. The popularity of Eastern wisdom in the Anglo-American world may nevertheless just reflect an airy Western fantasy about the Orient. In addition, Goto-Jones’ criticism of the philosophical mainstream is again useful here. According to Goto-Jones, Hegel and many contemporary philosophers like Charles Taylor have regarded philosophy as ‘inherently historical’ yet manifesting ‘a more general truth about human life and society.’ And yet, Goto-Jones quickly reminds us that before we can even think about what Hegel and Taylor mean by ‘inherently historical’, ‘we must immediately pause to ask ‘whose history’ they might be talking about. It is quickly evident that the parameters of ‘history’ are usually distinctly European and that, therefore, this ‘general truth about human life and society’ might actually be rather particular’ (Goto-Jones 2005: 35, emphasis added). 4 The translation and reception of the Art of War in the West As elaborated above, this article identifies three plausible routes via which the West has acquired or relinquished non-Western (re)sources. This section will explore the reception of Sunzi Bingfa in the Anglosphere. Sunzi Bingfa has many different translations in the Anglosphere.3 In 1910, the British Sinologist Lionel Giles produced the first major English translation of Sunzi Bingfa. Thirty-four years later, the second translation was published by Arthur Sadler, a Japanologist from Australia. In 1963, Samuel B. Griffith, who served in the US Marine Corps during the Pacific War, published the third main translation in the Anglo-American world, which was reprinted over the past decades. Since the 1980s, another three important translations were produced by Sinologists, Roger Ames (1993), Thomas Cleary (1988/2000), and John M. Minford (2002) respectively. The majority of these translations see Sunzi Bingfa as a useful source. For instance, the translation by Giles is dedicated to his brother, Captain Valentine Giles, a professional soldier. Giles stated that ‘a work 2400 years old may yet contain lessons worth consideration by the soldier of today …’ (Giles, 1910/1999: ii). Evidently, Giles saw Sunzi Bingfa as useful resource, which may represent a universally valuable knowledge of war. In a similar manner, Sadler’s translation was also inspired by the Pacific War when Australia was fighting against the Japanese (Drop, 2012), whose strategic thinking, according to Sadler, was hugely influenced by classical Chinese military culture. As expressed by Sadler, ‘The writings of these strategists [Chinese military classics] have not only been regarded as authoritative by their own countrymen, but have also been carefully studied and followed by the Japanese experts ever since medieval times, and are much quoted in their writing’ (Sadler, 1944/2009). This was demonstrated during the Russo-Japanese War, in which the admiral of the Japanese fleet, Togo Heihachiro, defeated the Russian Navy, supposedly largely through the teachings of Sun Zi’s strategic thinking (Tung, 2001: 805). Sadler evidently saw Sunzi Bingfa as a useful source, but, unlike Giles, he deemed it culturally bounded, not universal. That is to say, he approached it via the second route elaborated in the previous section – a useful if exotic and culturally bound source. Most translations by Sinologists belong to this route. Cleary interprets the text of Sun Zi as defensive Daoist in character (Johnston, 1999: 4). He suggests that Sunzi Bingfa is ‘permeated with the philosophical and political thought of the Tao-te Ching’ (Clearly, 1988/2000: 20), the most important classical work of Taoism. Moreover, for Cleary the Classical Chinese language has some special peculiarities, and he states that he would have been therefore ‘able to generate at least three possible translations’ of this ‘Oriental classic’ (Clearly, 1988/2000: 35; also in Drop, 2012). This suggests that Cleary believes that one can only understand the Sunzi Bingfa by being familiar with the Taoist classics and the multiple layers of Classical Chinese. Similarly, Ames suggests that we need to understand Sun Zi on his own (cultural) terms. As Johnston notes, Ames sees Sunzi Bingfa as a philosophical text that ‘provides a metaphor for all other types of human behavior’ (Johnston, 1999: 5). Ames notices that ‘military philosophy was a common topic in many of the works on political philosophy in ancient China and thus should be seen as part of the process of developing a distinctive Chinese philosophy, not as a separate field of military thought’ (ibid.). In such way, there are ‘the differences between Chinese and Western philosophical traditions’ (ibid.). Ames is accordingly interested in the cultural presuppositions of the text. Much scholarly literature on China’s national security sees Sunzi Bingfa as an exotic and culturally bound source (Scobell 2003, 2010; Nathan and Scobell 2012). Nathan and Ross’ (1997) book The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress is one of such examples. According to the authors, there are two enduring symbols in Chinese strategic thinking: the Great Wall and the Empty Fortress. The Great Wall is a symbol of China’s weakness and vulnerability (also Scobell, 2014), given that China is a defensively minded state due to its geography and history, and is therefore obsessed with maintaining its territorial integrity and internal stability. Thus, China’s external behavior represents reasonable strategic steps in a long-standing quest for security; that is: it needs to deter its enemies by bluff and deception when the balance of power is not in China’s favor. The use of this strategy is illustrated in what is known as the ‘empty fortress’ stratagem, which is derived from the Chinese historical epic the Romance of the Three Kingdom, wherein a strategist uses deception to ‘magnify limited resources and deter enemies from military attack and ideological subversion’ (Nathan and Ross, 1997: 25). The Empty Fortress stratagem is closely associated with Sun Zi’s strategic thinking, which stresses on the importance of deception to bait one’s enemy. This tendency is however being essentialized as integral part of the enduring cultural or psychocultural strategic traditions of China to many contemporary China’s observers in the West. Bernstein and Munro (1997), for instance, see China as having strongly predisposed to the use of deception, stealth, and stratagem, which is somehow the unique product of the ‘inscrutable’ Oriental mind. They usually point to certain putative cultural proclivities, i.e. Sun Zi’s predisposition for stratagem that has psychological and symbolic warfare over actual battles. As Lampton summarizes (2008: 16), Sun Zi’s core idea is that ‘war is about producing submission, not simply using armed force…In this tradition, discussion of war focuses on the combined utilization of force, material inducements, and ideas…’ To those analysts, Sun Zi’s thinking is in many ways a template for Chinese military strategy through the centuries, either at principle or operational levels (Scobell 2010). In short, this scholarship emphasizes the uniqueness of Chinese military strategy. Nevertheless, it is noted that the juxtaposition of the Eastern and Western tradition does not necessarily suggest that Sun Zi’s thoughts only represent a typical Chinese form of warfare and life. Rather, its lessons can be universal. Minford believed that Sunzi Bingfa has universal value, or in Minford’s own words: ‘it lends itself to infinite applications” (Minford, 2002: xi). Minford said in an interview [The] whole manner of Sun [Zi]’s book The Art of War is that of a handbook or manual for life…Among other subjects treated, The Art of War deals in a very intuitive and general (almost abstract) way with the workings of natural, human and interpersonal dynamics…In this respect it has great interest and value for all people and all ages. (Minford Interview, emphasis added) Minford echoes Griffith’s view on Sun Zi, whose translation too pointed out the timeless relevance of Sun Zi’s work. On the one hand, Griffith apparently sees Sunzi Bingfa as representative of a typical East Asian form of strategy. Griffith considers many of Mao’s writings and tactics to be inspired by Sunzi Bingfa, since many of the People Liberation Army’s (PLA) tactics in their fight against the KMT, the Japanese, and in the Korean War follow Sun Zi’s maxims, and multiple remarks in Mao’s writing appear to paraphrase Sun Zi. Moreover, his remarks on the work’s influence on military thought in East Asia also contain a description of how Sun Zi’s theories guided military figures throughout Japanese history, which dates back well before 760 AD (Griffith 1963: 169–177). Griffith uses the Japanese campaigns in Malaya and Northern China (WWII) as examples of Japanese tactics inspired by Sun Zi. He also uses these examples to criticize Western military commanders for not having taken note of this strategic doctrine sooner (ibid.: 177–178). On the other hand, Griffith also maintains that this Chinese type of strategic thinking can be applied universally. In order to prove the timeless and universal value of Sun Zi’s maxims, Griffith shows the myriad of occasions throughout time where Sun Zi’s ideas on strategy formed an essential part of creating winning conditions both on and off the battlefield. Consequently, Griffith’s account of Sunzi Bingfa allows Sun Zi’s holistic understanding of strategy applicable to any conflict scenario. Griffith aptly displays how Sun Zi’s theories on the importance of terrain, morale, maneuvering, and knowledge of the circumstances were decisive in both ancient and modern conflicts. The main strength of Griffith’s work lies in its ability to effectively use historical examples to prove that proper strategic method, even if conceived 2500 years ago, still holds merit today and most likely in the future too. Griffith’s goal is also reflected in Basil Liddell Hart’s foreword. Hart was the one who really put the Sunzi Bingfa firmly on the intellectual map of Anglo-American strategic and military studies (Drop, 2012). Obviously, Hart regards Sunzi Bingfa as a timeless and universal resource. From his perspective, Sunzi Bingfa bolstered his own critique of a certain type of Western strategic thinking. As Johnston observes, Hart used Sun Zi to justify his critique of Clausewitz for his over-emphasis on the so-called ‘direct’ approach, defined as the massive application of military power at the enemy’s ‘center of gravity’. Liddell Hart blamed Clausewitizian thinking for the disastrous violence of the First World War. (Johnston, 1999: 3) John Boyd is another strategic theorist in the Anglosphere whose thinking was shaped by Sun Zi. Boyd, the inventor of the so-called ‘OODA’ loop model, which sees conflict as time-competitive observation-orientated decision-action cycles (Lind, 1985: 5–6, cited in Polk, 2000: 257), is regarded as one of the most important strategists of the twentieth century. One of his most important contributions is his emphasis on the dimension of time in conflict interaction, which was already highlighted by Sun Zi 2000 years ago. Hence, as Osinga argues (2007: 35), Sun Zi ‘must be considered the true conceptual, albeit ancient, father of Boyd’s work’. In sum, similar to Hart, Boyd also regards Sunzi Bingfa as an access point to aspects of universal truth that are new to the West. In contrast to Hart, who uses Sun Zi’s strategic thinking to critique Clausewitz, Boyd adopts Sun Zi’s strategic thinking to develop his own theory. As such, both Hart and Boyd’s appropriations of Sunzi Bingfa amalgamate the second and third routes to varying degrees. Despite the fact that there are important and distinctive cultural elements within traditions, there are also key commonalities across traditions. This suggests that, Orientalism aside, universal learning takes place regardless. This amalgamation, in a way, is analogous to Alastair Ian Johnston’s way of thinking. In his 1995 book Cultural Realism, Johnston attempts an extensive study of the grand strategy and strategic preferences of China. His study of traditional Chinese strategic thinking firstly charts a group of didactic military handbooks – ‘Seven Military Classic’, which includes Sunzi Bingfa, a quintessential benchmark in Chinese thought on strategy and security canonized in the 11th century AD – in this scrupulous manner to determine whether a specific strategic preference can be found in the texts (Johnston, 1995a: 40). Johnston then turns his study to the actual practiced strategy of the Ming Dynasty, its military policy makers, and the empirical evidence of conflicts on the northern border with the Mongols. On the basis of his analysis of China’s ‘grand strategic preference rankings’ (ibid.: 109), Johnston contends that there is enough reason to believe a Chinese strategic culture does exist. Johnston discerns the existence of two strands of Chinese strategic culture: a ‘Parabellum’ (or Realpolitik) one and a ‘Confucian- Mencian’ one, which serves as a symbolic strategic culture, reinforcing the authority and credibility of the military elite. The operative-ness of these two strands is determined, according to Johnston, by a strong belief in ultimate flexibility (quan bian), that is, resorting to defensive strategies when conditions are unfavorable while using offensive strategies if circumstances permit. Nevertheless, the existence of Chinese strategic culture does not mean that Chinese leaders automatically make different strategic choices than their Western counterparts. This is because certain elements of different strategic cultures can overlap; in Johnston’s example this overlap is the parabellum paradigm. Johnston explains that the mix of paradigms in Chinese strategic thought will often lead to strategic outcomes similar to those a structural realist would predict. In other words, it is the same reality and the same realist approach lauded in the culturally specific narrative. Johnston therefore concludes that realism is a very persuasive and powerful theory, as it developed independently in both Europe and China (ibid.: 242). He nonetheless agrees that these cultural differences are indispensable for each nation to deal with their reality. In a nutshell, the exotic Chinese strategic culture has only been of service to China, but that the practice was by all means compatible with that of the Western military history, attesting to the existence of a general pattern of strategic behavior. Johnston’s study of ancient Chinese strategic thought can be regarded as the basis for more cross-cultural analysis to determine whether other strategic cultures produce similar results. His approach therefore crosses the second and third routes since Johnston sees Sun Zi’s strategic thinking as both an exotic culturally-bound source and as a body of wisdom with universal value. 5 Conclusion This article coped with two seemingly contradictory messages regarding the obstacles for non-Western knowledge to transcend civilizational and national divides. Critical scholars argue that one major obstacle needs to be overcome before non-Western knowledge can contribute to the evolution of global IR: the Orientalist tendency in the Western social sciences to consider non-Western theories and concepts, such as harmony, time consciousness, or Sun Zi’s strategic thinking as scientifically irrelevant. However, the West’s Orientalist mentality does not necessarily lead to the exclusion of non-Western theories. The non-Western world also exhibits discriminatory attitudes toward Western scholarship, but their prejudices do not prevent non-Western scholars from learning Western social sciences and theories, nor does learning from the West always dissolve the discriminatory attitude in the non-Western world even if its scholars appreciate learning from the West. The other obstacle is that Western social scientists are simply unfamiliar with the non-Western theories and therefore they are incapable of explaining their own world comprehensively and deeply. This lack of paradigmatic access to civilizational knowledge elsewhere hinders a balanced explanation of the phenomena that Western social sciences set out to explain. Since analyzing and explaining are the two major tasks of Western social sciences, anyone who criticizes Western Orientalism and the resulting distortion of non-Western phenomena will need to present non-Western theories in ways that enhance analytical and explanatory capacity. Criticism would have been redundant for those non-Western theorists who are determined to maintain a separate scope of knowledge equipped with its own distinctive ontology and epistemology (or lack of). To conclude, studying the West as an ontologically provincial site requires studying its worlding strategy. Reversely, examining the worlding strategy of a Western site is an indirect yet strong way of provincializing it. An epistemologically worlded site evolves through wanted or unwanted encounter and the concomitant strategic choice. Re-worlding of a site via the encounter of the external and a choice of approach to the eternal is the same with all sites, Western as well as non-Western. Both the West and the non-West contribute to the worlding of each other by providing unfamiliar resources to the other, e.g. Sunzi Bingfa. They likewise enhance the worlding of each other by re-appropriating the other to make it achieve spreading, hence the different Orientalist readings of Sun Zi’s work. This way, the other side of the story – how the subaltern sites penetrate or fail to penetrate the West – is no longer missing. The omission otherwise leaves the West in a discursively essentialized, central, and privileged site. To move beyond, the post-Western quest has to first acknowledge that the West is an incoherent sum of sites, other than race, gender and class identities, each of which has appropriated non-Western resources differently. To achieve epistemological equality between the Western and the non-Western, or the hegemonic and the subaltern, sites, the West’s multiplicity has to be restored; only then can its provinciality be disclosed. Once the worlding of Western sites become a point of scholarly interest, provincializing and worlding become two sides of the same coin. No site is in itself global and yet all sites give and take via encounter and choice. To world an intellectual site, such as China that first generated a genealogy of Sun Zi, is to provincialize Sun Zi at a different site so that Sun Zi gains different meanings everywhere. 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