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Sun Tzu

Written about 500 B.C. in China

It was rendered into English and published as Tao and war in 1977 by Charles LeRoy Scamahorn. That modern book included renderings of The Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tzu, and The Art of War by Sun Tzu. The Art of War is here revisited by Charles LeRoy Scamahorn 2013 to make it more web ready.


The Expenses of War

In preparation for war thousands of pieces of expensive equipment will be needed and hundreds of thousands of fully equipped soldiers. Also provisions will be required for months away from home. The expenses while training the men and the money spent on manufacturing equipment will strain the resources of the state. The cost of raising a fighting army is enormous. When engaged in actual combat: if victory is slow in coming, the weapons will wear out and the men’s fiery enthusiasm will be extinguished. If you attack a fortified place you will consume your army’s strength and if the campaign is prolonged the resources of the nation will be exhausted by the expenses.

Think ahead now to when your weapons are worn out, your enthusiasm extinguished, your strength exhausted and your resources spent, how opportunists will spring up to exploit your difficulties. Then no man, however wise, can prevent the disasters that will come.

We have often heard of stupid haste in beginning a war, but we have never heard of wisdom in prolonging a war. There is no example of a country having benefited from protracting a war. Only a general appreciating the expenses of war can utilize the cheapest methods of waging a war. The understanding general doesn’t need a second draft of soldiers or additional equipment and food. He takes fighting equipment with him from home, then takes what else he needs from the enemy. In this way our army supplies equipment and food for its own needs.

If our army consumes the resources of the enemy their army will be forced to maintain itself by over-taxing their remaining people. And this additional taxation causes those people to become impoverished. Also the proximity of either army causes the prices in that area to go up and these high prices also devour those people’s savings. When their savings are gone they will be afflicted with un-payable taxes. With the loss of their savings and exhaustion of their income, these people will become stripped bare and there will be hunger and disorder in the land. Because of these effects the understanding general makes a point of taking from the enemy. Thus the home treasury isn’t used but the enemy’s is drained; one’s own people aren’t taxed but the enemies are impoverished.

By our having access to the enemy’s resources his people must bear the burden of supporting our army as well as their own. As a rule, one unit of the enemy’s resources put to our use is equivalent to twenty brought from home. Since good men will hesitate to kill and steal what belongs to others, we must arouse them to a righteous anger and reward them when they do these things for us. Therefore when ten or more pieces of equipment or men have been captured, those who took them must be given exemplary rewards. And when our army scavenges a countryside our men should be rewarded. When our army acquires new territories the soldiers should be given visible benefits. Place these men’s insignia on the enemy’s equipment and use the equipment to visibly reinforce our army. Captured men should be treated well and used for workers. Those are the methods of using the foe’s resources to increase our own strength.

In war our objective must be prompt victory and not protracted hostilities. Make it known to the people that the general of their army is their dearest friend. He is the man on whom depends whether they and their nations shall have a quick and desirable peace or a prolonged and costly war.

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