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Content In The Book
- Laying Plans
- Waging War
- Attack by Stratagem
- Tactical dispositions
- Weak Points and Strong
- Variation in Tactics
- The Army on the March
- The Nine Situations
- The Attack by Fire
- The Use of Spies
The Art of War, compiled well over two thousand years ago by a mysterious Chinese warrior-philosopher, is still perhaps the most prestigious and influential book of strategy in the world today, as eagerly studied in Asia by modern politicians and executives as it has been by military leaders and strategists for the last two millennia and more.
In Japan, which was transformed directly from a feudal culture into a corporate culture virtually overnight, contemporary students of The Art of War have applied the strategy of this ancient classic to modern politics and business with similar alacrity.
Indeed, some see in the successes of postwar Japan an illustration of Sun Tzu’s dictum of the classic, “To win without fighting is best.”
As a study of the anatomy of organizations in conflict, The Art of War applies to competition and conflict in general, on every level from the interpersonal to the international.
Its aim is invincibility, victory without battle, and unassailable strength through an understanding of the physics, politics, and psychology of conflict.
- Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.
- It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.
- The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.
- These are:
(1) The Moral Law;
(4) The Commander;
(5) Method and discipline.
- The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.
- Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.
- Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.
- The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness.
- By method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.
- These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.
- Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:—
- (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law?
(2) Which of the two generals has most ability?
(3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?
(4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?
(5) Which army is stronger?
Chapter 2: DOING BATTLE
When you do battle, even if you are winning, if you continue for a long time it will dull your forces and blunt your edge; if you besiege a citadel, your strength will be exhausted. If you keep your armies out in the field for a long time, your supplies will be insufficient.
Arms are tools of ill omen-to employ them for an extended period of time will bring about calamity. As it is said, “Those who like to fight and so exhaust their military inevitably perish.”
When your forces are dulled, your edge is blunted, your strength is exhausted, and your supplies are tage of your debility and rise up. Then even if you have wise advisers you cannot make things turn out well in the end.
Therefore I have heard of military operations that were clumsy but swift, but I have never seen one that was skillful and lasted a long time. It is never beneficial to a nation to have a military operation continue for a long time.
As it is said, be swift as the thunder that peals before you have a chance to cover your ears, fast as the lightning that flashes before you can blink your eyes.
Therefore, those who are not thoroughly aware of the disadvantages in the use of arms cannot be thoroughly aware of the advantages in the use of arms.
Those who use the military skillfully do not raise troops twice and do not provide food three times.
Chapter 3: PLANNING A SIEGE
The general rule for use of the military is that it is better to keep a nation intact than to destroy it. It is better to keep an army intact than to destroy it, better to keep a division intact than to destroy it, better to keep a battalion intact than to destroy it, and better to keep a unit intact than to destroy it.
Wei Laozi said, “Practicing martial arts, assess your opponents; cause them to lose spirit and direction so that even if the opposing army is intact it is useless-this is winning by the Tao. If you destroy the opposing army and kill the generals, mount the ramparts shooting, gather a mob, and usurp the land, this is winning by force.”
Therefore those who win every battle are not really skillful-those who render others’ armies helpless without fighting are the best of all.
The superior militarist strikes while schemes are being laid. The next best is to attack alliances. The next best is to attack the army.
To be good at successful attack, deploying your forces without a hitch, is yet another notch down. Therefore a great warrior emperor said, “One who fights for victory in front of bared blades is not a good general.
The lowest is to attack a city. The Siege of a city is only done as a last resort. Take three months to prepare your machines and three months to complete your siege engineering.
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