100 Sun Tzu's The Art of War
Sun Tzu said: The general principle of war is that making the whole state surrender is better than destroying it* subjugating the entire enemy's army is better than crushing it* making a battalion, a company or a five-man squad surrender is better than destroying them.
Therefore, winning one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not real excellence, winning a victory and subduing the enemy without fighting is the highest excellence.
Thus, the best policy for the military operations is to gain victory by means of strategy. Next best policy is to disintegrate the enemy's alliances by means of diplomacy; the inferior way is to launch an attack on the enemy; the worst way is to storm cities and seize territory.
Besieging cities is only the last resort, because it takes about three months to make mantelets and shielded vehicles ready and to prepare the necessary arms and equipment; and it takes another three months to pile up earthen mounds against the city walls. If the commander cannot control his impatience and orders his soldiers to swarm up the city wall like ants, the result will be that one-third of them will be killed while the city remains untaken. This is, in fact, the calamity of attacking cities.
A commander, who is well versed in military operations makes the enemy surrender without fighting, captures the enemy's city without storming it, and destroys the enemy's state without protracted military operations. He must gain complete victory all-under-heaven. Therefore, the principle of winning victories by way of stratagem is to triumph without wearing out the troops.
Therefore, the law of using troops is to surround the enemy when your strength is ten times his; to storm the enemy when your strength is five times; to attack the enemy from two sides when you are twice as strong; to resist him if you equal your enemy; to know the way of retreat if you are less strong and to avoid the enemy if you are much weaker.
If the weaker battles on stubbornly without taking its strength into account, it will surely be conquered by the stronger.
The general assists the ruler in governing a nation. If he assists the ruler to govern the nation well, the nation will surely be powerful; if he does not assist the ruler to govern the nation well, it will certainly be weak.
A ruler may bring great misfortune upon his army in three ways. Firstly, if he orders an advance not knowing that his army cannot go forward, or orders a retreat while being ignorant that his army cannot fall back, his orders will, of course, tie down the army. Secondly, if he interferes with the administration of the army without understanding the internal affairs of it, his action will, of course, baffle his officers and soldiers. Thirdly, when he interferes with the direction of the army without knowing the principles of military stratagem, it will, of course, raise doubts and misgivings in the minds of the officers and soldiers. This necessarily leads to their confusion and suspicion. Then, the princes will take the advantage of it and rise in revolt. This is what is meant by the saying, throwing his own army into confusion and paving the way for the enemy's victory.
There are five circumstances which can make the commander win victory. He who knows when he may fight and when he may not will win; he who knows how to adopt the appropriate military art according to the number of his own troops and his enemy's will win; he whose general and soldiers can fight with one heart and mind will win; he who is well prepared while his enemy is unprepared will win; he who is a wise and able general and whom the sovereign does not interfere with will win. It is in these five circumstances that the way to victory is known.
So it is said that if you know both the, enemy and yourself, you will fight a hundred battles without danger of defeat; if you are ignorant of the enemy but only know yourself, your chances of winning and losing are equal; if you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will certainly be defeated in every battle.
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