Author£ºSUN ZI    FRom£ºCRSSAW: Pan Jiabin and Liu Ruixiang


    SUN ZI (SuN Tzu) said:  War is a matter of vital importance to the state; a matter of life and death, the road either to'survival or to ruin.  Hence, it is imperative that it be thoroughly studied.

    Therefore, to make assessment of the outcome of a war, one must compare the various conditions of the antagonistic sides in terms of the five constant factors: the first is moral influence;  the second, weather;  the third, terrain;  the fourth, commander; and the fifth, doctrine.  Moral influence means the thing which causes the people to be in complete  accord with their sovereign, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives and  without the slightest disloyalty.  Weather signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons. Terrain comprises grounds, high and low; distances, great and small; places, dangerous and secure; lands, open and constricted; and the chances of life and death. The com- mander  stands for the general's qualities of wisdom,  sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness. Doctrine refers to the principles guiding the organization of the army, the assignment of ap- propriate ranks to officers, and the control of military expendi- ture.  These five constant factors should be familiar  to every general. He who masters them wins, ne who does not is defeated. Therefore, to forecast the outcome of a war, the attributes of the antagonistic sides should be analysed by making the following seven comparisons:

    1. Which sovereign possesses greater moral influence?

    2. Which commander is more capable?

    3. Which side holds  more favourable conditions in weather and terrain?

    4. On which side are decrees better implemented?

    5. Which side is superior in arms?

    6. On which side are officers and men better trained?

    7. Which side is stricter and more impartial in meting out re- wards ann punishments?

    By means of these seven elements,  I can forecast victory or defeat.

    If the sovereign heeds these stratagems of mine and acts upon them, he will surely win the war, and I shall, therefore, stay with him, If the sovereign neither heeds nor acts upon them, he will certainly suffer defeat, and I shall leave.

    Having paid  attention to the advantages of my stratagems, the commander must create a helpful  situation over and beyond the ordinary rules.  By 'situation' I mean he should act expediently in accordnace with what is advantageous in field and so meet any exigency.

    All warfare is bases on deception.  Therefore, when able to attack, we must pretend to be unable; when employing our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are fax away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.  Offer a bait to allure the enemy, when he covets small advantages; strike the enemy when he is in disorder.  If he is well prepared with  substantial  strength,  take double  precautions against him.  If he is powerful in action, evade him.  If he is angry, seek to discourage him. If he appears humble, make him arrogant, If his forces have taken a good rest, wear them down.  If his forces are united, divide them.  Launch attack where he is unprepared; take action when it is unexpected.  These are the keys to victory for a strategist. However, it is impossible to formulate them in detail beforehand.

    Now, the commander who gets many scores during the calcula- tions in the temple before the war will have more likelihood of winning. The commander who gets few scores during the calculations in the temple before the war will have less chance of success.  With many scores, one can win; with few scores, one cannot.  How much less chance of victory has one who gets no scores at all!  By exami- ning the situation through these aspects, I can forsee who is likely to win or lose.