Unrestricted Warfare is coauthored by Major General Qiao Liang, a famous military critic and Wang Xiangsui, with sales exceeding millions of copies. Besides reserving the content of the original edition, this new edition contains the specific methods of American troops, government, academic world and business circles for dealing with unrestricted warfare. It fully shows unrestricted warfare, the Chinese new war outlook and American’s counter unrestricted warfare strategies, foreseeing the war scenario in the military, economics, finance, the internet, natural resources, anti-terrorism and many other areas.
Unrestricted Warfare (超限战, literally “warfare beyond bounds”) is a book on military strategy written in 1999 by two colonels in the People’s Liberation Army, Qiao Liang (乔良) and Wang Xiangsui (王湘穗). Its primary concern is how a nation such as China can defeat a technologically superior opponent (such as the United States) through a variety of means. Rather than focusing on direct military confrontation, this book instead examines a variety of other means. Such means include using International Law (see Lawfare) and a variety of economic means to place one’s opponent in a bad position and circumvent the need for direct military action.
This World War I propaganda poster with the headline “Wake Up, America!” was designed by James Montgomery Flagg in 1917.
According to the Learn NC website: “Americans were not eager to enter the war, and Americans of German ancestry tended to support Germany, not Britain and France. The government’s first task was to convince citizens that they must support the war effort without reservation. Here, a woman clad in the stars and stripes represents America and American liberty.”
Unrestricted Warfare is the People’s Liberation Army manual for asymmetric warfare and the waging of war, strategically and tactically, using weapons not limited to bullets, bombs, missiles, and artillery shells. The two PLA officers who advocated the strategy set forth in the following pages argue that modern warfare, in ways not too dissimilar from Sun Tzu’s Art of War, is about impeding the enemy’s ability to wage war and to defend itself against a barrage of attacks against its economy, its civil institutions, its governmental structures, and its actual belief system.
This is not a manual for achieving an overnight victory. Rather, it is a recipe for a slow but inexorable assault on an enemy’s institutions, often without the enemy’s knowledge that it is even being attacked. As Sun Tzu once wrote, “If one party is at war with another, and the other party does not realize it is at war, the party who knows it’s at war almost always has the advantage and usually wins.” And this is the strategy set forth in Unrestricted Warfare, waging a war on an adversary with methods so covert at first and seemingly so benign that the party being attacked does not realize it’s being attacked.
For example, the PLA authors propose, China has the power to attack the United States economically in such a way that while the United States believes it is benefiting from trade relations with China, the ultimate results are so detrimental to the United States, its very greed at extolling the benefits of trading with China are its undoing. China can manipulate its currency to put its products at a distinct advantage with the United States; China can restrict its markets to American goods while dumping its products below cost in the United States so as to force a large trade imbalance in its favor; China can pump propaganda into the American media while restricting American media’s access to the Chinese media landscape; and China, using a nineteenth-century strategy, can force the United States to fight proxy wars with Chinese allies, thus draining American resources. It does not take much stretch of a reader’s imagination to see that this is happening right now, that the strategies and tactics advocated in this manual are happening right before our eyes and not even only to the advantage of China, but of Russia as well.
For example, Sun Tzu advocates the exploitation of an enemy’s vulnerability, especially when the enemy believes that vulnerability is its strength. Applied to the international chess game being played out in 2017, consider how many American products are manufactured in Chinese factories by low-wage workers who undercut American labor. Now consider how many other countries, often under the protection of international trade agreements, are also undercutting American labor. While the American consumer might be thrilled at the low prices of goods coming into the United States, the American labor market suffers, thus causing dissatisfaction among a vital voting constituency.
This dissatisfaction, this unrest, plays into an enemy’s hands, particularly in a free society where elections determine government policy. A country waging an economic war that is savvy about its enemy population’s proclivities can tailor its policies to engender unrest in that population so as to propel the election of that country’s leaders who might be more easily manipulated. We saw this in the 2016 presidential election when Donald Trump ran, in part, against Chinese economic and currency policies while he and his own family were pursuing manufacturing their branded products in China and seeking trademark agreements with the Chinese government.
In the age of the worldwide internet, what seems like the free flow of information is also an open door policy for one country to insert its propaganda into the thinking and belief systems of its enemy. Do we consider Vladimir Putin’s Russia to be a friend to the United States? Are we really that naïve? Voting constituencies might have very legitimate reasons to support the politicians of their choice, but when those choices are based on the flow of absolutely false information inimical to the best interests of that population, it is an example of the success of asymmetric or unrestricted warfare, in essence, propaganda war. The Russians have been experts at this since the days of the czar, and since the experiments of Pavlov and his dogs have mastered the art of getting the responses they want from the stimuli they inject into their subjects’ thought patterns. In this past election cycle, it worked.
As you read the following pages, a manual for the military humbling of the United States through nonmilitary means that most Americans will not even realize, you should understand that this is not just a “what if,” but a reality. It is happening now even as North Korea’s Kim blusters about sending missiles towards Guam and Donald Trump responds by rattling his own saber in its scabbard. China, meanwhile, watches while its enemy is engaged with a tiny country that has the means to send nuclear tipped ICBMs to American cities. If North Korea attacks Guam or Pearl Harbor and the United States responds, who benefits? Not North Korea, not South Korea, not the United States. China benefits when U.S. Naval facilities on Guam or at Pearl Harbor are damaged so that the American presence in the Pacific is diminished to the point of incapacity.
Was this not the Japanese strategy at Pearl Harbor in 1941? To eliminate the threat of the U.S. Pacific Fleet so that America could not prosecute a war across the Pacific? It didn’t work, of course, but only because President Roosevelt, a canny tactician in his own right, had goaded the Japanese Imperial war party into an attack he knew was coming so as to get America into a war with the Axis powers and then let the Soviet Union bear the full brunt of the Nazi Wehrmacht while the Japanese, prevented from reaching the Southeast Asian oil fields, simply ran out of fuel at the end. China will not make that same mistake.
China learned to play the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century game of creating economic spheres of influence. Hence, it is establishing sources of raw materials, especially petroleum, lithium, and coal from countries where it is wielding its economic influence, as it is doing in mineral-rich Africa, an influence borne out of its luring manufacturing to its shores. Is it paying a price? Absolutely. Look at smog-enshrouded Beijing. But the Chinese communist government, playing a capitalist long game, knows that thinking in decades rather than four-year election cycles plays to its benefit.
Readers, therefore, should take this little manual as a dire warning. Complacency cripples. Hubris kills. And blindness without guidance usually leads one into the nearest wall if not hurtling down a flight of stairs. Thus, although this book was written almost twenty years ago, it should be regarded as the playbook for the destruction of not only the United States, but of western democracies in general.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. 🌳