Skip to comments.Sun Tzu (SunZi), Chap 1
Posted on 10/01/2001 3:54:21 PM PDT by Clive
1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. These are:
(1) The Moral Law;
(4) The Commander;
(5) Method and discipline.
5,6. 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.
7. Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.
8. Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.
9. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness.
10. 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.
11. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.
12. 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?14. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat.
(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?
(6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained?
(7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?
15. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat:--let such a one be dismissed!
16. While heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules.
17. According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one's plans.
18. All warfare is based on deception.
19. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
21. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.
22. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
23. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.
24. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
25. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.
26. Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.
Problem is, these peaceniks do not understand how wars are fought, or how they begin. Sun Tzu's writings are a great lesson in the basic psychology of warfare.
Keep it up!
He said that a cornered enemy has no choice but to fight to the death, but a surrounded enemey left with an "out" will take it.
He also felt that the successful general will outmaneuver the opposing general and be able to decide where the battle will be fought. Sun Tzu felt that by doing this, the successful general will win the battle before it is fought.
Warfare is the greatest affair of state, the basis of life and death, the Way (Tao) to survival or extinction. It must be thoroughly pondered and analyzed.
Therefore, structure it according to [the following] five factors, evaluate it comparatively through estimations, and seek out its true nature. The first is termed the Tao, the second Heaven, the third Earth, the fourth generals, and the fifth the laws [for military organization and discipline].
The Tao causes the people to be fully in accord with the ruler. [Thus] they will die with him; they will live with him; they will live with him and not fear danger.
Heaven encompasses yin and yang, cold and heat, and the constraints of the seasons.
Earth encompasses far or near, difficult or easy, expansive or confined, fatal or tenable terrain.
The general encompasses wisdom, credibility, benevolence, courage, and strictness.
The laws [for military organization and discipline] encompass organization and regulations, the Tao of command, and the management of logistics.
There are no generals who have not heard of these five. Those who understand them will be victorious; those who do not understand them will not be victorious.
Thus when making a comparative evaluation through estimations, seeking out its true nature, ask:
Which ruler has the Tao?
Which general has greater ability?
Who has gained [the advantages of] Heaven and Earth?
Whose laws and orders are more thoroughly implemented?
Whose forces are stronger?
Whose officers and troops are better trained?
Whose rewards and punishments are clearer?
- From these I will know victory and defeat!
If a general follows my [methods for] estimation and you employ him, he will certainly be victorious and should be retained. If a general does not follow my [method for] estimation and you employ him, he will certainly be defeated, so dismiss him.
- After estimating the advantages in accord with what you have heard, put it into effect with strategic power (shin) supplemented by field tactics that respond to external factors. As for strategic power, [it is] controlling the tactical imbalance of power (ch'uan) in accord with the gains to be realized.
- Warfare is the Way (Tao) of deception. Thus although [you are] capable, display incapability. When committed to employing your forces, feign inactivity. When [your objective] is nearby, make it appear as if distant; when far away, create the illusion of being nearby.
- Display profits to entice them. Crate disorder [in their forces] and take them
- If they are substantial, prepare for them; if they are strong, avoid them.
- If they are angry, perturb them; be deferential to foster their arrogance.
- If they are rested, force them to exert themselves.
- If they are united, cause them to be separated.
- Attack where they are unprepared.
- Go forth where they will not expect it.
- These are the ways military strategists are victorious. They cannot be spoken of in advance.
- Before the engagement, one who determines in the ancestral temple that he will be victorious has found that the majority of factors are in his favor. Before the engagement on who determines in the ancestral temple that he will not be victorious has found few factors are in his favor.
- If one who fins that the majority of factors favor him will be victorious while one who has found few factors favor him will be defeated, what about someone who finds no factors in his favor?
- If I observe it from this perspective, victory and defeat will be apparent.
My preference is the translation by J.H. Huang. I obtained an oversize paperback version at Indigo in Toronto, published by Quill
It is much more readable than the Giles translation, but it is formatted as a double column with the translation of the Sun Tzu text on the right and Huang's interpretations on the left, and my knowledge of HTML is not up to the job.
Western translations seem to have trouble with the Tao character and with Yin and Yang.
I find that reading several different translations is most helpful.
So far, I prefer the Huang and the Giles translations but I also have a neat little shirt pocket size translation by Thomas Cleary.
Also, I doubt that their command and control have the same suicidal fervour that they have instilled in their shock troops.
We have dealt with kamakazi before.
The chapter is entitled "Laying Plans" in the Giles translation above.
The Huang translation titles it "Surveying"
The Cleary translation calls it "Strategic Assessments"
Hannibal: If you are such a great general, come and fight me.
Fabius: No, if you are such a great general, force me to fight against my will.
I suspect George Bush is familiar with this principle, too.
That's always been my favorite line from the Art of War.
Also, Von Clausewitz, etc.
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