[FOUNTAIN]Spy exchange and political settlementsThe ancient Chinese military treatise “The Art of War,” by Sun Tzu, does not reckon invincibility to be the best strategy. He said the best victory is to defeat the enemy without fighting.
But if you were ever to go to war, you must win, and Sun Tzu laid out five conditions to guarantee a victory. First of all, you need to distinguish when you should fight and when you should not. Depending on the number of your troops, you should apply the appropriate tactics. The commanders and soldiers should share a common spirit. Only armies that prepare carefully can be victorious. Finally, commanders should be competent and rulers should not intervene in the fighting.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of 100 battles” is one of the most quoted phrases in that book. If you compare your situation with the enemy’s and see a chance to win, you will never find yourself in danger.
Politicians know, or know of, the famous Chinese classic. But in the political strife over impeachment, the teaching doesn’t seem to have been recalled. As citizens grow more averse to politics, politicians are waging losing battles.
There seems to be no room for talk and compromise. Even in a battle, you’d better keep a window of dialogue open. That way you can find an exit if you need to.
During the Cold War, American and Soviet intelligence agencies kept open a clandestine window of negotiation. Through this secret channel, the two countries exchanged captured spies. Both sides would meet on the Glienicker Bridge connecting western and eastern Germany.
In 1962, the Soviet Union exchanged Francis Gary Powers, an American spy plane pilot, for a KGB agent, Rudolf Abel, who had been in prison in the United States. As we have seen in numerous spy movies, the spies would walk from opposite ends of the bridge at the same time, crossing in the middle.
Sometimes other countries’ citizens were exchanged. A human rights activist captured in the Soviet Union was exchanged for a Soviet spy arrested by the United States.
Enemies would come to negotiations in order to resolve problems. In a political feud where Sun Tzu’s war strategy is not working, we might have to build a temporary Glienicker Bridge to start a dialogue in Korean politics.
by Nahm Yoon-ho
The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.