孫子兵法 (謀攻篇第三) (Chapter 3 - 1) (Part 17)
Let's continue ...
Some translation suggested:
Thus the highest form of generalship is to
balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent
the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in
order is to attack the enemy's army in the field;
and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.
The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it
can possibly be avoided. The preparation of mantlets,
movable shelters, and various implements of war, will take
up three whole months; and the piling up of mounds over
against the walls will take three months more.
The general, unable to control his irritation,
will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants,
with the result that one-third of his men are slain,
while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous
effects of a siege.
Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy's
troops without any fighting; he captures their cities
without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom
without lengthy operations in the field.
With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery
of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph
will be complete. This is the method of attacking by stratagem.
For that reason, the
highest level of warfare
attacks the enemy's planning. The next level
attacks the enemy's communications or
alliances. The next level attacks their soldiers.
At the level below that one attacks their
fortifications. Attacking fortifications is only
to be done when there is no other alternative.
【"fortifications" literally means "walled city."】
The preparation of paveses, mantlet wagons,
and all the siege tools necessary for attacking
fortifications requires three months. 【A pavese is an extremely large shield for
(usually) a single archer or other soldier to take
shelter behind. A mantlet is a multi
The Chinese made four-wheeled vehicles
canopies made of rough lumber covered with
rawhide. These vehicles were used to shield workers
bringing loads of earth to the edge of fortifications to
build up attack ramps.】
Piling ramps against the enemy's walls will
require an additional three months.
Supposing that the general could still not
slake his fury (after the time required to make
the aforesaid preparations), and required his
troops to swarm over the walls like ants
pouring out of their ant hill, and for that
reason killed off one third of his officers and
common soldiers, and was yet unable to take
out the fortifications of the opposition, that
would be a calamity brought on by his own
So those who are good at warfare: Subjugate the other side's soldiers without
fighting. Take out the other side's fortifications without
making an attack. Destroy the other side's nation without a
Ultimately, one must make a complete
engagement with all under Heaven, so in this
way one's soldiers will not lose their edge and
yet benefits can be maximized. This is
method of attacking [solely] through the use
【The character-by-character translating of the
first phrase would be: "Must use all/complete struggle/contend in heaven below." Some take this
statement to mean that one must use keeping whole
as one's principle while contending against the world,
and some take this statement to mean that one must
use an all out struggle against the world. If the only
issue were keeping one's army with the least possible
losses, something that Master Sun in
there would be no need to mention the world (i.e., "all
under heaven"). Taking the second alternative, "Your aim must be to take
Heaven intact." But that interpretation
suggests a military campaign to
conquer the world,
an undertaking that would be bloody and costly
under the best of conditions. The surface meaning
suggests that Master Sun was talking about all out warfare. But
can mean "to contend," and it is this broader sense of
working out opposing interests that is relevant to
Master Sun's real world situation. His country, Wu,
was small, was faced by other nations that might
want to conquer it, and needed to plan and operate to
maintain its own security.】
【Master Sun has in mind the pursuit of a
grand strategy. An example of such would be the
strategy of containment first put forth by Ambassador
George Kennan to deal with the expansive tendencies
of the USSR.】
【One way to understand parts of the text
above would make them inconsistent with previous
text. He first says that one should fight only as a last
resort. Subsequently he lists priorities that favor situations with no-fight no-lose conclusions, but then
it appears that he could advocate making a war all
over the world as it was then known. If he does not
mean to express such an aggressive and unrealistic
ambition, then I believe that he has to mean that the
best general will have a total battlefield awareness of
"all under Heaven"
and will wage his struggle
entirely on the level of being so well defended and so
well prepared that nothing in the world can sink a
his nation. Going forward with the aim of
contending for and achieving supremacy over all
under heaven would, for
Master Sun, be a fool's
【Master Sun cannot hope to minimize losses to
his nation without achieving a strategic capacity to
anticipate and stymie all potential attacks. And he
cannot maintain his capacity to defend his nation over
the long run unless he minimizes losses to his troops.
To achieve both objectives he must, on the highest
plane of planning, maintain an integral web of
diplomacy and intelligence over his entire world. The
following discussion is on the lower, more specific,
of inquiry: How can one best maintain one's
capability for future military actions while succeeding
in currently needed operations?
most ideal warfare
is to attack enemy's stratagem. Next, then attack enemy's connections. Next, then attack their soldiers. The lowest level is to attack their walled city. Attacking walled city is only done when there is no other better alternative.
修櫓轒轀，具器械，三月而後成，: Preparing paveses, mantlet wagons, siege towers
and all the tools needed for attacking
walled city requires three months.
Piling earth ramps against enemy's walls requires an additional three months.
不拔者，此攻之災也。: At this juncture, if the general still has not slaked his fury, he would then direct his
troops to swarm over the walls like ants
pouring out of their ant hill. Consequently, the conquest would have lost at least one third of his officers and soldiers, but yet the walled city remained intact. The general would have calamity brought unto him.
故善用兵者，: So those generals who are good at warfare:
屈人之兵而非戰也。: Subjugate enemy's soldiers without
Take out enemy's wall city without
making an attack.
Destroy enemy's nation without a
Ultimately, one must use wholesomeness to conquer one's heaven and earth (world). Only so doing, one's soldiers will not lose their edge and
yet maximizing benefits. This is THE method in
attack by stratagems.
SunTzu suggested in this text that warfare strategies must occur at the highest form - mind warfare. Only after lack of better alternatives, lengthy preparation and given a long period of cooling-off, that physical attacks are conducted as the last resort. Even at this level, the aim is still to engage and win without actual fighting. This is the only method in attack by stratagems.
The silent text behind this was SunTzu after playing for such a long time in warfare. He felt no success in absolute battles. Whether as the victors or the losers, once they engaged in battle, they have all lost.
In business, it is not easy not to engage in warfare. No one in business would have thought that engaging in business warfare would take one's life. Hence, the liberal engagement. Little do they know once you have lost in a business warfare, you not only have to pay back what you have lost first before restarting again. This will set you back by at least 15 years. In the meantime, your spouse and children will leave you.
No many guys can take this lying down. Some took their lives by jumping off buildings and charcoal burning.
So the idea behind this text is you should never try to engage in business battles, unless you absolutely have to. It is lethal and life-threatening.
Find a way to collaborate than fight in business. It is hard. It is not easy-going. But, this is THE method in attack in stratagems in business.
If you have conducted your temple studies as in chapter 1 of SunTzu, your cunning would be way higher than your business collaborators, you should be safe from attacks. But, never employ cunning for dishonourable applies. Those around you would smell you from 10 miles away.