THE ART OF WAR
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.
A Postscript on Accurate Information
Raising an army and moving the men great distances places heavy burdens on the people and a great strain on their government. The expenses will be enormous and there will be painful disorder at home and abroad. Many will die exhausted by their exertions and everyone will be obstructed from his life’s work. Large numbers of people will suffer and struggle years for the diplomatic decision which is concluded in a single day.
This is a very sad truth. The general is unnecessarily cruel if he can’ t bring the war to an end simply because of his lack of accurate information. If he lacks this information because he refuses to barter away a little money or a few honors or a prestigious office, it is his morality which creates suffering for his own people and destroys the nation. The general who acts in that way is a plague to the whole world, he does a disservice to his own sovereign and he assumes unnecessary risks of destruction of his nation.
The ability which permits the wise sovereign and the benevolent general to attack without risk and conquer without bloodshed and accomplish deeds surpassing all others is foreknowledge. This foreknowledge of what men will do can’t be conjured from occult spirits, it can’t be extrapolated from experience, and it can’t be calculated, for the enemy will strive to deceive us at the critical moment.
Foreknowledge of the enemy general’s strategy and his specific intentions can only be obtained from those who have inside information. Perforce it is that good men must use spies. There are five basic types of spies:
1 – Native spies,
2 – Inside spies,
3 – Double spies,
4 – Doomed spies and
5 – Returning spies.
When all of these spies are at work no one can unravel your system of secret information. The inspired use of these threads of inside information gives foreknowledge and foreknowledge is a leader’s most precious possession.
1 – Native spies are inhabitants of the locality from which we wish information.
2 – Inside spies are officials of the enemy who give us inside information.
3 – Double spies are enemy spies we have captured and are using ourselves.
4 – Doomed spies are those which when caught by the enemy will unknowingly give them false information, because of certain fabrications we have let them see.
5 – Returning spies personally carry information gathered from the enemy.
A leader must maintain more intimate relations with spies than with any other person in the world. No other person should be more generously rewarded and no other activity should be more thoroughly hidden. One must have a natural understanding of men’s character to use spies effectively. They must be dealt with in a straightforward and benevolent manner. Use your greatest subtlety to sift out the useful truths in their reports. (A spy with a leather face and a crafty disposition is more dangerous than a broken ladder. Never be totally dependent on a single spy. Pay him well and keep your knife near something dear to him. Employ the wise man where he can show his prudence, the brave man where he can display his courage in action, the covetous man where profit can be had by the quick seizure of an advantage and a stupid man where there are real risks of death.)
If a spy reveals secret information before the proper time, he and the man who pried loose these private affairs of state must be executed. If the object is to shatter an army or abduct an individual, our spies must first determine the names and characters of the general, his frequent visitors, staff and body guards. When the enemy sends men to spy on us we must uncover them and at any cost convert them to double spies and serve our cause. Because of double spies we may succeed in causing doomed spies to carry believable false information to the enemy. Because of double spies we may question returning spies and interpret their information correctly.
The purpose of all varieties of spying is simply accurate foreknowledge. And the most accurate foreknowledge is derived from the various kinds of information derived from the double spy. For those reasons the double spy and the man who exposed him to you must be lavishly rewarded.
Throughout history it has been spies who made possible the founding of new states and the toppling of corrupt ones. Only wise sovereigns and benevolent generals use their best men for purposes of spying. Yet accurate information allows leaders to act through honorable means and achieve desirable results. Spies are the most important element in preserving the health of the people, because on them depends the ability to see and to know what is really happening and thus to act properly.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu as rendered by Charles LeRoy Scamahorn