Returning to an earlier issuethe artificial dichotomy of the martial and civil in China from the Sung on wrought by the literati through disparaging the martialistsat the end of the Warring States period theWei Liao-tzu summarized the ideal relationship between the two:
The Ssu-ma Fa clearly delineated the two discontinuous realms of the civil and martial:
Therefore, while both are necessary, subsequent to campaigns and major wars it is imperative to disarm the forces and reintegrate men into the civil value scheme in order to defuse potential threats and recivilize the individual soldiers whose skills and mindset would otherwise incline them to direct action and inappropriate violence. TheThree Strategies, probably composed after the rise of the Chin or perhaps just after its destructive fall, advised:
The disjunctive nature of the military and civil spheres of course has dramatic implications for the effective prosecution of warfare. The Chinese military writers early on realized the importance of anger and essentially blind courage in the warriors psychology, believing, as Sun-tzu pointed out, that they are necessary if men are to fight fervently and effectively. In fact, an elaborate, distinctive psychology of spirit was developed, characterizing the emotional readiness of men at different stages prior to battle; the means to stimulate and regulate their spirit and determination when entering battle; to manipulate the enemy's spirit; and to defuse the troops anger afterward. This suggests that, on the whole, men were disinclined to join the army or engage in battle unless motivated or otherwise compelled to do so, for reasons already cited by Han Fei-tzu.44
Certain lessons apparently derive from the Chinese experience and their reflections upon the nature of warfarewhether they accord with our own views and desires or notincluding one early articulated but never learned, that warfare is the greatest affair of state and so can neither be neglected nor over-emphasized. Many of them stem as much from the famous philosophers Kuan-tzu, Hsün-tzu, and the much-despised Han Fei-tzu as the military writers, and are perhaps concordant with recent Western thought in many areas.
Briefly summarized, within the purview of what might be termed grand strategy, virtually all the military theorists believed that for states to survive and conquer their enemies, they must develop a substantial material base, undermine the enemys strength, create administrative organizations that can function effectively in both peace and war and impose order on the populace.45 Accordingly, most of them strongly advocated the need for benevolent rulers and emphasized the peoples welfare because a well-ordered, prosperous, and satisfied people might both physically and emotionally support their government. Moreover, as theWei Liao-tzu and Kuan-tzu pointedly discuss, only materially sufficient societies can generate the resources required to train and instruct the people; the capability to stimulate a positive, committed spirit among the populace; raise the supplies essential to military campaigns; and nurture the values that would truly motivate its soldiers. Naturally, benevolent governments immediately become attractive beacons to the dispirited and oppressed and also create some degree of confidence among enemy populaces that should military intercession establish a new regime in their states, they would benefit accordingly.
Reasonable esteem for the military career and martial values, including courage on the battlefield (but not in personal conflicts) must be fostered. If the profession of arms is disparaged and thus eschewed, when the state is called upon to defend itself against barbarian invadersjust as when China was confronted by the Mongols, Manchus, British, and Japaneseit will of course lack motivated men and willing warriors, and easily be conquered. Moreover, a strong, well-trained, committed force must be developed. The state and its commanders must be willing to sustain casualties in any military encounter, as the Wei Liao-tzu observed:
Mencius, perhaps naively, stressed righteousness and benevolence, but even Mo-tzu noted that benevolence becomes a significant handicap in warfare, as the following passage, which perhaps reverberates with echoes from the Gulf War and earlier Western historical conflicts, indicates:
Strength and strong defense are also required to deter enemy attacks.48 Mo-tzu observed: Only one thing will deter a large state from attacking a small one, and that is for the small state to have a plentiful supply of provisions, walls and fortifications in good repair, and superiors and subordinates who work in harmony.49
Finally, in the view of many of the earlier military thinkers and the more humanitarian-oriented philosophers, including Mencius, the mere possession of power is useless. One must have the willingness and resolve to intervene in unrighteous situations, though always being cognizant of the dangers that warfare in any form may pose. While the military should also be under civil control, once the army ventures into the field, the commander must have full autonomy to realize their objectives unhindered, as Sun-tzus insisted.50
To conclude, I would like to cite a somewhat lengthy passage from Hsün-tzu that summarizes many of these points and stresses the need for surpassing strength in a troubled world:
Unfortunately, in its later centuries China often failed to heed Hsün-tzus words, neglected the essentials of government and the martial, disparaged the military, and frequently but ineffectually kept all but the central forces weak to prevent rebellion. Coupled with an expensive policy of appeasing the steppe peoples rather than expending their funds on frontier defenses and military training, China became easy prey for its enemies in the Sung and Ching. For this, Mencius deserves the condemnation of millions who died consequent to the myth of the benevolent having no enemies under the Heaven.
© Ralph D. Sawyer