Jun

30

 In line with the spirit of counting favored by this site, here is an instance of a quantitative method employed by the Sun Tzu when tabulating the cost of war. For Sun Tzu, "money is truly the sinews of war":

“Raising an army
Of a hundred thousand men
And marching them
One thousand li (~330 miles)
Drains the pockets
Of the common people
And the public treasury
To the daily sum of
A thousand taels of silver.
It causes commotion
At home and abroad
And sets countless men
Tramping the highways
Exhausted.
It keeps seven hundred thousand families
From their work.”

(from chapter 13)

A later commentary on the above lines by another military-statesman genius, the Regent-General Cao Cao, clarifies part of the calculation:

Of old, eight families made up a neighborhood; if one
family sent a man to war, the other seven families had to support them.
So when a hundred thousand troops were mobilized, seven hundred
thousand families were thereby prevented from tending their crops
properly.

Accordingly, the larger the distance from home, the more ruinous the
cost of transport. Plus the presence of an army will drive up prices of
everything. Thus, Sun Tzu considers it most prudent to impose this
burden on the enemy instead.

And on the subject of secret agents, which is of course the main
topic of “Chapter 13– The Use of Spies”. Sun Tzu again counts the
cost, this time of not using spies:

Hostile armies may face each other for years, striving
for the victory which is decided in a single day. This being so, to
remain in ignorance of the enemy’s condition simply because one grudges
the outlay of a hundred ounces of silver in honors and emoluments, is
the height of inhumanity.

One who acts thus is no leader of men, no present help to his sovereign, no master of victory.

Chapter 13 continues on to say that the acquisition of foreknowledge or intelligence:

cannot be elicited from spirits; it cannot be obtained inductively from experience, nor by any deductive calculation.
Knowledge of the enemy’s dispositions can only be obtained from other men.

… before detailing the 5 fascinating classes of spies: Local, Internal, Double, ‘Dead’ or doomed, and Live spies.

Interestingly, in the west, the Prussian monarch and general
Frederick the Great was ostensibly the first to use the double
agent, a captured enemy spy working for both sides and used by his
captors to send false information to his original employers.

And in the
merciless spirit which Frederick was infamous for, instilling fear
in both his enemies as well as his own rank and file, Frederick
considered “the best method of espionage, which always succeeds, was to choose
a peasant, arrest his wife as a hostage, and attach to him a soldier
disguised as a servant before sending him into the enemy’s camp…”


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