He will win a war who knows how to outsmart the enemy, – from the presentation of the Ukrainian translation of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War

“All warfare is based on deception. In fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory. He will win a war who knows how to deceive and outsmart the enemy and how to turn the unfavorable situations into favorable. But strategically, a commander must always be benevolent and truthful, i.e. be guided by a good aim,” Serhiy Lesnyak who translated Sun Tzu’s The Art of War from ancient Chinese presented the first ever Ukrainian translation of the philosophical and strategic treatise.

The presentation was held in Kyiv on July 30. Serhiy Lesnyak, a historian of Eastern philosophy, Director of PR Commodities (Shanghai), and a lecturer in International Business at LvBS, says that it was a tall order to translate The Art of War from ancient Chinese, “To be honest, it would have been very difficult for me to translate the book all by myself. I had some Chinese teachers and assistants that I sought counsel from. We tried to understand the text, translated a lot of materials, dug into the structure of each Chinese character. The process lasted for about two years. For me, it was a strange way of exploring China.”

According to the translator, today’s politicians and business executives can draw numerous important lessons from this work by an ancient Chinese military commander. “Adrian Slywotzky, the world’s leading business thinker and the only Ukrainian on the list of the world’s top 50 business thinkers, believes that it’s the best book on strategy ever written,” adds Serhiy. 

Sun Tzu said that you need to know yourself and the enemy perfectly well before battle. “You must win a victory even before battle. Knowing yourself and the enemy will secure a sweeping victory. There’s one important maxim in Sun Tzu’s work – the category of power, might, and strategic advantage. He says that the State cannot be invincible if it doesn’t have the might of its people. This might can be found only in the unity of the ruler and its people, and the people are generators of power. This means that the ruler cannot have strategic power if its people do not cooperate and are not in complete accord with him,” stresses Serhiy Lesnyak. He also points out that Sun Tzu’s treatise on warfare is very popular in China. It is studied and quoted in many companies.

Pavlo Sheremeta, Director of the UCU’s School of Public Management and Ukraine’s ex-Minister of Economic Development, who wrote a preface to the Ukrainian edition of the book says, “The art of a military commander is in creating a ‘death ground’ for his army when all the bridges have been burnt and there’s no escape route. Then warriors will fight tooth and nail as they have no possibility of retreat. Ukraine has not reached its ‘death ground’ yet. If it had, the leadership would not be stealing and lying in such a barefaced manner after so many deaths. This book contains many lessons. We are facing a powerful enemy, and any enemy strengthens one’s character. So let’s read, think, and act.”  

Lviv Business School handed over 50 copies of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War to the Ministry of Defense’s Reform Office. Yuriy Gusev, Deputy Minister of Defense, who received the books from LvBS stated, “This book is of great importance and relevance to Ukraine. We must seek extraordinary approaches to achieve victory and restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity. I’m convinced that today Ukraine serves as Europe’s shield. Not only are we defending our east, we are protecting the whole world. Our men are dying for Europe to be free.”   

It is noteworthy that the book was published by the Stary Lev Publishing House in cooperation with Lviv Business School of the Ukrainian Catholic University.

Press Office of Lviv Business School