Information Warfare: The Benefits of Bad Translations


October 19, 2006: The 1999 Chinese book, "Unrestricted Warfare," is only available to English speakers in a badly translated edition. Even the title is poorly rendered; it should be "Unlimited Warfare." In effect, it's about the range of policy actions that a state can employ, from foreign aid to nuclear weapons, in pursuing its objectives. It's also essentially the views of the authors. Like the Soviets before them, the Chinese communists permit a lot of unofficial opinion in military literature. But just as Chinese officials sometimes misinterpret what they see in the Western media, as official government policy, so do Westerners misinterpret books like this as official policy. Even dictatorships need some free exchanges of ideas, in order to find the best solution for problems. While there are limits to how far-out authors can be (and editors of the state controlled publishers know where the limits are), this aspect of free speech does allow for a very wide range of proposals. But most of these books are just that, proposals, and will never become policy. But for Western media, searching for the next hot headline, a bad translation is preferable to an accurate one.


Article Archive

Information Warfare: Current 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close