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On The Subject Of Administration

The Governing Principles of Ancient China - Qunshu Zhiyao 360

Be Careful With Military Actions

A good leader deploys military forces to save and not to harm, to salvage and not to create crisis. …Thus it is said: “Warmongers will be annihilated, but he who fails to prepare for war will face danger.”

Scroll 47: Zheng Yao Lun

The art of war is a matter of life and death. No amount of effort can restore life to men killed in action. Thus, the deployment of war as an option is never an easy decision.

Scroll 50: Yuan Zi Zheng Shu

Weapons are instruments of evil omen; they are not the instruments of a superior person. A superior person uses them only out of necessity. Calmness and repose are what he prizes; victory by force of arms is, to him, undesirable. To consider the latter desirable would be to delight in the slaughter of men. He who delights in the slaughter of men cannot instil his will in the world. On occasions of festivity, seats on the left are more prestigious. On occasions of mourning, seats on the right are more prestigious. In the army, the commander-in-chief has his place on the right, and the second in command has his place on the left. This signifies that the army adopts the same principle as that of the funeral rites when they go to war. He who has killed multitudes of men should weep for them with the bitterest grief. The victor in battle has his place according to the funeral rites.

Scroll 34: Lao Zi

Barren land with thorn bushes and people living in privation are remnants of an army’s presence. After a war, bad years will follow.

Scroll 34: Lao Zi

Maneuvering an army of a hundred thousand soldiers will cost millions of dollars per day. Winning all battles is not necessarily the best strategy. Winning without waging a battle is the best strategy of all.

Scroll 37: Wei Liao Zi

An army raised to rescue people from tyranny is a righteous army. It will win the support of the people. An army raised to defend the territory against invasion is a counteracting army. It will win in the end. An army raised to fight bitterly at the slightest provocation is a wrathful army. It will lose the war. An army raised without discipline will steal and rob people’s belongings. It is a greedy army that will be dislodged. An army raised to believe that it is an army of a superpower state is an arrogant army. It will be annihilated. These five principles are not the doing of any human. They are the way of natural law.

Scroll 19: Han Shu, Vol. 7

The deployment of military forces is of vital importance to a state as it is a matter that will decide life or death. The fate of a state lies in the hands of the generals, and so kings in the past placed utmost importance on the selection of generals and commanders.

Scroll 31: Liu Tao