Sun Tzu's "Art of War"
Submitted by mmorsi on Sun, 2008-09-21 03:43
"All warfare is based on deception." "In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns." "Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle." "He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated." "The onrush of a conquering force is like the bursting of pent-up waters into a chasm a thousand fathoms deep." "Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline, simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength." "Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him." "Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack. O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands." "For should the enemy strengthen his van, he will weaken his rear; should he strengthen his rear, he will weaken his van; should he strengthen his left, he will weaken his right; should he strengthen his right, he will weaken his left. If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak." "All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved. Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances." "He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain." "If you set a fully equipped army in march in order to snatch an advantage, the chances are that you will be too late. On the other hand, to detach a flying column for the purpose involves the sacrifice of its baggage and stores." "We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors." "In war, practice dissimulation, and you will succeed." "Ponder and deliberate before you make a move. He will conquer who has learnt the artifice of deviation. Such is the art of maneuvering." "A whole army may be robbed of its spirit; a commander-in-chief may be robbed of his presence of mind." "Hence in the wise leader's plans, considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together." "The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable." "When the enemy is close at hand and remains quiet, he is relying on the natural strength of his position. When he keeps aloof and tries to provoke a battle, he is anxious for the other side to advance. If his place of encampment is easy of access, he is tendering a bait." "Humble words and increased preparations are signs that the enemy is about to advance. Violent language and driving forward as if to the attack are signs that he will retreat." "Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant indicate a plot. When there is much running about and the soldiers fall into rank, it means that the critical moment has come. When some are seen advancing and some retreating, it is a lure." "Too frequent rewards signify that the enemy is at the end of his resources; too many punishments betray a condition of dire distress. To begin by bluster, but afterwards to take fright at the enemy's numbers, shows a supreme lack of intelligence. When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce. "If a general shows confidence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual." "Hence the experienced soldier, once in motion, is never bewildered; once he has broken camp, he is never at a loss. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete." "Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy's unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots." "How to make the best of both strong and weak--that is a question involving the proper use of ground." "It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus ensure secrecy; upright and just, and thus maintain order." "For it is precisely when a force has fallen into harm's way that is capable of striking a blow for victory. Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy's purpose." "Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise; for the result is waste of time and general stagnation. Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources." "Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical." "Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact." "Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge. Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits; it cannot be obtained inductively from experience, nor by any deductive calculation. Knowledge of the enemy's dispositions can only be obtained from other men."