The Art of War: 2

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Chapter 2 - Waging War

Art of War : Intro - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - Conclusion

My interpretation.

Literal translation by Lionel Giles.

Any battle (conflict) has a high price -- you need to know that ahead of time. War is a battle that you must win in order to survive (long term) -- therefor the battle must be absolute, and almost any cost must be paid. Because of the high costs, you should avoid "war" (emotional, spiritual or physical) if possible -- and when it can not be avoided, the only thing you can do is win as quickly as possible (to minimizze the costs of prolonged battle). Every move must have a purpose, every action must be to end the conflict quickly and decisively (no one wins when conflict is prolonged). The entire focus of the individual or state (in conflict) must be to win this conflict quickly because the only kindness that can be offered once a conflict is starting, is to end it (and stop what is happening). Go over the opponent, go around opponent or go through the opponent, but get to the end!

When using resources (emotional, spiritual or physical) make sure you are using the opponents resources (whatever those resources are) -- use his energy against him -- that not only costs him, but it also saves you those resources (reserves).

Make sure those that aide you are appreciated and remembered, and make sure those that oppose you never forget. This is not the last battle ever to be fought -- and some actions are for the future. Make sure everyone knows that you want peace (and to avoid fights). But also make sure that if you are forced to fight, that you will win and they will lose -- and that all who go against you in war, will not wish to do so ever again. The way to insure peace is to increase the price of war (for your opponents).

Sun Tzu said: In the operations of war, where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots, as many heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carry them a thousand li, the expenditure at home and at the front, including entertainment of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armor, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day. Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000 men.

When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.

Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.

It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.

The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy, neither are his supply-wagons loaded more than twice.

Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the enemy. Thus the army will have food enough for its needs.

Poverty of the State exchequer causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance. Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished.

On the other hand, the proximity of an army causes prices to go up; and high prices cause the people's substance to be drained away.

When their substance is drained away, the peasantry will be afflicted by heavy exactions.

With this loss of substance and exhaustion of strength, the homes of the people will be stripped bare, and three-tenths of their income will be dissipated; while government expenses for broken chariots, worn-out horses, breast-plates and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, protective mantles, draught-oxen and heavy wagons, will amount to four-tenths of its total revenue.

Hence a wise general makes a point of foraging on the enemy. One cartload of the enemy's provisions is equivalent to twenty of one's own, and likewise a single picul of his provender is equivalent to twenty from one's own store.

Now in order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger; that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy, they must have their rewards.

Therefore in chariot fighting, when ten or more chariots have been taken, those should be rewarded who took the first. Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy, and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.

This is called, using the conquered foe to augment one's own strength.

In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.

Thus it may be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people's fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril.