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John Minford, #SunTzu 3:2 "Better take an army, a regiment, a detachment, a company, intact than destroy them."
Logic cascades. Just like water falling down over stones and curves in land, logic falls from one point to the next. Try to feel it. Army => regiment => detachment => company. Largest => large => smaller => small. Can you feel the logic cascading downward?
Whenever anything falls like that, think gravity. Think Earth. So, as a company is to Earth, an army is to Heaven. Downward to company. Upward to army, an entire army. Earth is down, or small. Heaven is up, or large. You have to play with these equivalencies in your mind.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 3:1 "In war, better take a state intact than destroy it."
Chapter 3 is one of the most famous of all 13, and has quote after quote you've heard before, even if you don't remember. Honest. For all the many coming famous quotes, Master Sun starts out with his most fundamental point. Take. Don't break.
Take a look at Iraq. We broke it. Guess what? We failed to take it. Twice. We failed to remove Saddam the first time. And if you look today, guess what? Iran has more influence over Iraq than we do. We broke it. They took it. Who's smart and who's dumb?
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:21 "The wise general is a Lord of Destiny; he holds the nation's peace or peril in his hands."
Life is a war.

Unlike literal war, it is a way of truth, not deception.

Still, just like a wise general who must know the horrors and losses of unprofitable war before he can wage war profitably, you must know falsehood if you are to find your way to the truth.
How well are you doing in this war of your life?

Are you a wise general?

Are you a Lord of Destiny?

No? Then why not?

Yes? Then we celebrate you.

Isn't that a wonderful term, "Lord of Destiny"?
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:20 "In war, prize victory, not a protracted campaign."
To dive in, we must discuss the term "literal." When I read the commentaries of others, and cringe as I so often do, I hear them say things like, "never fight a war." This is a literal contradiction. No, in war prize victory, not fighting, victory. It's literal.
What's the opposite? Sophistry. False wisdom, yes. But, it's a type of mental trickery. 'I know more than you do. So, listen to me. I'm going to tell you what you can't figure out for yourself.' Bah humbug, I say. I can figure anything out. And the beginning is to be literal.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:19 "Treat prisoners of war kindly, and care for them. Use victory over the enemy to enhance your own strength."
Let's start at the end, "to enhance your own strength." Literally, the word "strength" means forces. Remember we're dealing in a world where soldiers are conscripted first, severely disciplined for any infraction of orders, killed for desertion, and often sacrificed foolishly.
So, when you treat your prisoners of war kindly, you're commencing the recruitment process. Far better to capture a prisoner, treat him kindly, and recruit him, than to kill him. An enemy soldier killed weakens your enemy. An enemy soldier recruited does so a second time.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:18 "Change the enemy's chariot flags and standards; mingle their chariots with ours."
Chariot flags. They were a thing. Can you see 1,000 chariots in formation, waiting for the order to charge into battle. Can you hear a small breeze pick up and the flags start flapping in the wind. Can you hear the snapping, multiplied by 1,000 of them?
As words change over time, it can be hard to take the modern meaning out and put an older meaning back in. What is a chariot standard? It's not the degree of quality by which they're built. It refers most often to an image of the god that the warriors are protected by in battle.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:17 "In chariot fighting, when more than ten enemy chariots are captured, the man to take the first should be rewarded."
How many ancient history movies have you seen? How about Ben-Hur? How about the chariots of Pharaoh in The 10 Commandments? Or Russell Crowe in Gladiator? We've talked about the Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna drives the chariot and Arjuna shoots from it.
Dusty, sweaty, bouncy things, I have a hard time imagining actually fighting from within one. I bet our military men with their humvees and tanks would have an easier time than I do. I don't know why, but I have tanks associated with WWII. But, I don't see them getting captured.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:16 "The fighting for booty stems from a desire for reward."
Quick, check your emotions. Do you feel a little shame? A little dirtiness? Forgive my language, but how about the phrase: cheap, easy slut? Push deeper. Have you ever been corrupt? I have. In fact, I learned corruption as an art form.
Yes, Officer, I know I was driving too fast, and I'm sorry. No, I don't want to go downtown tomorrow. Rather, if it were possible, could I take care of it right now, here? What's the fine? Oh, I'm afraid all I have is...

And that was me, getting corrupted by the Cancun police.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:15 The killing of an enemy stems from wrath;"
As a boy, studying the Old Testament of the Bible, the 6th commandment, thou shalt not kill, was a brain breaker for me. There are all kinds of places where God tells people to go kill other people. My teachers always told me that when God commanded it, it was different.
Obviously, we still have the same problem in today's world, maybe worse than ever. Which god is telling who to kill whom, and for what righteous reason? But there it is, thou shalt not kill. And of all the things you're not supposed to do, what is a greater prohibition?
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:14 "So a wise general feeds his army off the enemy. One peck of enemy provisions is worth twenty carried from home; on picul of enemy fodder is worth twenty carried from home."
Finally! Enough with the doom and gloom, Master Sun. I can tell you, I was getting depressed with all these distant wars, carried on for decades and depleting the treasury and impoverishing the people. Don't give me a problem, give me a solution, please!
Okay, yes, I'm grateful for the clarity of the work on the problem. I am. But I really am happy to turn from problem to solution. Still, it has to be emphasized, there are only 21 verses in this chapter, and 13, which is more than half, were spent on the problem.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:13 " The common people lose seven-tenths of their wealth. Six-tenths of the public coffers are spent on broken chariots, worn-out horses, armour and helmets, crossbows and arrows, spears and bucklers, lances and shields, draft animals, heavy wagons."
Although the entire first portion of chapter 2 leads straight here, to catch up to speed you may want to at least read my commentary on these three preceding verses:

2:10 –

2:11 –

2:12 –
We've discussed the fact that some translators shy away from the term "the common people," where others embrace it. Our man, Minford, obviously embraces it and I agree. The ancients knew what the basis of wealth in a society was, and it wasn't those at the top.
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John Minford, #SunTzu "Strength is depleted on the battlefield; families at home are destitute."
This verse needs a bit of context, and you may want to read the previous verses' commentaries, here:

2:10 –

2:11 –
To review that context briefly, Master Sun has been discussing the economy-breaking impact of extended wars fought far abroad. Here in verse 12, he brings us to the next step in his case, painting how bleak the picture can become.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:11 "Where an army is close at hand, prices rise; the common people spend all they have; when they spend all, they feel the pinch of taxes and levies."
When I first read this passage (I believe it was in Sawyers' fine translation) I was no longer actually a socialist, leaned Democrat, but always felt they were far too conservative for my taste, not radical enough.
Sawyer's is absolutely a translation I recommend, and you'll be amazed by the differences and how richly they inform deep meditation, a different angle of attack if you're interested in that sort of thing.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:10 "Supplying an army at a distance drains the public coffers and impoverishes the common people."
Supplying an army at a distance...that's a very interesting phrase. Distance is, in fact, one of great elements of combat. Let's use three weapons to illustrate: 1) Dagger, 2) Sword, 3) Spear. If you don't have experience with all three, just try to imagine their feeling.
The dagger is almost hard to remember when in your hand. When training for it, you can do very well simply learning how to throw a good punch. Stance and body weight, clean motion like a boxer is invaluable, and applies directly.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:9 "The skillful warrior never conscripts troops a second time; never transports provisions a third. He brings equipment from home but forages off the enemy. And so his men have plenty to eat."
Allow me to ask, do you, like me, have John Wayne in your mind and heart as the image of a skillful warrior? How about Clint Eastwood in Kelly's Heroes? Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan? Who's your skillful warrior? George C. Scott as Patton?
My own great skillful warrior, dating back to the 1960s when I used to watch him on Sunday morning movies, is Errol Flynn as Robinhood. I'd have followed him anywhere. If he hadn't conscripted me, I'd have volunteered, and he'd only need recruit me once.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:8 "Without a full understanding of the harm caused by war, it is impossible to understand the most profitable way of conducting it."
I'm NOT recommending it, but did you know that Gandhi published his own translation of the Bhagavad Gita? Well, I do STRONGLY recommend it, but you don't need it for the moment. Just one point about it is needed.
Oh, my favorite Gita translator is Barbara Stoler Miller. She's a Minford class translator, one of the greatest in the English language.…
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:7 "No nation has ever benefited from a protracted war."
When you speak, you likely qualify. Did you see what I did there? Likely. That is a qualifier. If you wish to be nice, if you wish to not offend peoples' weak sensitivities, you must qualify. Master Sun, he seems not to care so much.
Without qualifier, and so very rudely, our Master states has never happened. Never, never ever? Never, he tells us.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:6 "I have heard that in war haste can be folly but have never seen delay that was wise."
Isn't it interesting that yesterday we discovered the powerlessness of the wise, or, as I prefer to name them, the pseudo-wise? It is clearly the "wisdom" of such folk that leads to great delay in war.
All of our martial arts heroes on screen demonstrate the ability to enter into a fight and, as shown by their directors and cameramen, never hesitate. They're in no rush, either. They are 100% present, in the moment.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:5 (preceded by verse 4) "4-If men are tired, morale low, strength exhausted, treasure spent,

5-then the feudal lords will exploit the disarray and attack. This even the wisest will be powerless to mend."
Are you chilled? Are you terrified? If not, then you're not paying proper attention. You'll need to stay after class and write on the chalk board, 100 times, I will try to be properly afraid.
A technical point. I'm not sure I agree with the term "feudal lords" as if that were a bad thing. I won't get into medieval historiography and its current, judgmental leanings, but maybe you get the idea. I'm not sure the feudal lords were as bad as they're currently judged.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:4 (and 5) "4-If men are tired, morale low, strength exhausted, treasure spent, 5-then the feudal lords will exploit the disarray and attack. This even the wisest will be powerless to mend."
I thought today we might begin by discussing a process - and I'm no expert, so this might be just my own term - that we might call "versification." For instance, they used no punctuation, let alone paragraphs, verses or even book names in the Old Testament of the Bible.
When you open up any modern version, all that structure and order has been superimposed on the ancient text by a long, long, and did I mention looonnng process? My guess is that our ancient Western texts are easier to lay such organization over than the ancient Chinese texts.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:3 "In war, victory should be swift. If victory is slow, men tire, morale sags. Sieges exhaust strength; protracted campaigns strain the public treasury."
Note the conclusion, the public treasury is strained. Let's talk about that a little. Here in the West, our own accounting practices can only be properly traced to a wonderful Renaissance Fransiscan Father named Luca Pacioli. Here he is:
Well, we do have a tradition that led up to him, dating back to 1,200 AD, and I have to confess I'm not familiar with our financial records from Roman armies, or before them, Egyptian or Babylonian armies. Perhaps we have greater access, a stronger historical record than I know!
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:2 "Allowing for expenses at home and at the front, dealings with envoys and advisers; glue and lacquer, repairs to chariots and armour; the daily cost of all this will exceed one thousand taels of silver."
Before we dive in, a couple of points. First, here's the link to the digital table of contents for this series over at my @WarForAmerica21 account:

Second great thanks to @BlakeBecker49 for his tremendous research and analysis!!!

Teal = $30,000.
Logistics. Are they expensive or what? In today's dollars, all these things cost $300,000 per day. Do the math with me. $3 Mil every 10 days, $9 Mil per month, and a year is $108 Mil. I know that's not even a rounding error at the DOD for the crazy stuff we do. But even still!
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John Minford, #SunTzu 2:1 "In war, for an army of one thousand four-horse swift chariots, one thousand hide-armoured wagons, for one hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers, with provisions for four hundred miles:"
Well now, aren't we getting specific? Can you see it? 1,000 4-horse chariots. 1,000 hide-armoured wagons. Note the British spelling! And 100,000 mail-clad soldiers. Wow! And all that...for 400 miles? Wow again.
First, slow down and think about an actual chariot. Think about it at war. There you are, poor fellow, just standing there with your bow and arrow, or sword, and a mighty chariot is baring down on you. You're toast. Feel it? Good. That's what we're talking about!
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John Minford, #SunTzu 1:20, "I see it in this way, and the outcome is apparent."
Who am I? #SunTzu says he sees it in this way and the outcome is apparent. He is the master of foreseeing the outcome. So how about you? Can you foresee the outcome? How about me? Can I?
Yes I can and so can you. If you use your mind, you too can see the outcome in advance. That is precisely what planning is. It is to see the outcome before commencing action.
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