The Cost of War

Chapter 2 – Waging of War

Master Sun said:

In War,
For an army of
One thousand
Four-horse swift chariots,
One thousand
Hide-armored wagons,
For one hundred thousand
Mail-clad soldiers,
With provisions for
Four hundred miles;

Allowing for
Expenses at home and at the front,
Dealings with envoys and advisers;
Glue and lacquer,
Repairs to chariots and armor;
The daily cost of all this
Will exceed
One thousand taels of silver.

In War,
Victory should be
If victory is slow,
Men tire,
Morale sags.
Exhaust strength;
Protracted campaigns
Strain the public treasury.

If men are tired,
Morale is low,
Strength exhausted,
Treasure spent;
Then the feudal lords
Will exploit the disarray
And attack.
This even the wisest
Will be powerless
To mend.

I have heard that in war
Hast can be
But I have never seen
Delay that was

No nation has ever benefited
From a protracted war.

Without a full understanding of
The harm
Caused by war,
It is impossible to understand
The most profitable way
Of conducting it.

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.

Supplying an army
At a distance
Drains the public coffers
And impoverishes
The common people.

Where an army is close at hand,
Prices rise;
When prices rise,
The common people
Spend all they have;
When they spend all,
They feel the pinch of
Taxes and levies.

Strength is depleted
On the battlefield;
Families at home
Are destitute.

The common people
Lose seven-tenths
Of their wealth.
Six-tenths of the public coffers
Are spent
On broken chariots,
Worn-out horses,
Armor and helmets,
Crossbows and arrows,
Spears and bucklers,
Lances and shields,
Draft animals,
Heavy wagons.

So a wise general
Feeds his army
Off the enemy.
One peck
Of enemy provisions
Is worth twenty
Carried from home;
One picul
Of enemy fodder
Is worth twenty
Carried from home.

Analysis accomplished, the decision to attack behind You, now it’s time for The Warmonger to understand the cost of his endeavor.

Sun-tzu was perhaps the first military strategist, and his skill and insight led to his being sought by overlords and kings who wanted to expand or save their dynasties – we may imagine he was a Blackwater consultant. At the beginning of my reading of The Art of War, I acknowledged that Sun-tzu’s methods were created for an audience with different goals than You, Gentle Cube Dweller. After some reflection I’ve concluded that Your goals are probably the same – expanding or saving Your dynasty – the difference being that Your dynasty is distinctly smaller.

Master Sun, in advising Warriors, spoke in material financial terms – for x-number of battle-ready soldiers, the king must plan for y-number of humvees, z-number of tanks, and zzzzzzzz-number of dollars per day – for soldiers and officers and bribes and spies and repairs and VA hospital care of wounded GIs and whatever else. He makes it very clear that war is expensive – every day – a black hole into which you pour cash.

But what would be the currency paid by the Cube Dweller who wages war in the office space? I believe he would pay on an external level, and an internal level. Externally, the Attacker would lose job productivity due to exhaustive analysis and surveillance required; he would potentially lose political capital in the office if his war is carried out clumsily or without deception; he could ultimately lose his reputation and his job. Internally he faces burnout, paying with his health, his stability, his peace of mind.

A war which has been analyzed and decided, and which is prohibitively expensive, should be swift and powerful, The Enemy put out of his misery quickly and humanely – lest the all too familiar domino effect Sun-tzu describes happen to you, (as we’ve experienced our own Homeland) toppling your regard, degrading your mental and physical health.

“No nation has ever benefited from a protracted war.” Boy, don’t we know that?

"Without a full understanding of the harm caused by war, it is impossible to understand the most profitable way of conducting it."

Understand the enormity of the cost of battle. Supply Your own hardware -- only what You need to bring with You from home. Do not pay for nourishment -- take Your perishables from The Enemy. Deplete The Enemy, drain the enemy.

Next time, the end of Chapter 2.

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