混战计 

Chaos Stratagems

​第十九计     NINETEEN

釜底抽薪

Remove the firewood from under the pot
fǔ dǐ chōu xīn

Act
 

  • Eliminate the leading argument or asset of your enemy. 
     

  • Instead of attacking the enemy's forces, direct the attacks against his ability to wage war.
     

  • Pull the carpet from under your enemy.
     

  • Drain the enemy's sources of power.

  • Discover what makes him strong and then prevent him from drawing on this resource.
     

  • If the enemy is too powerful to engage with directly, first weaken him by undermining his foundation and attacking his source of power. 


History
 

Cao Cao was besieged by Yuan Shao. He sent a group of men dressed in the enemy's clothing to infiltrate their camp to set the grain stores on fire. This caused both problems and created immediate fear, which was further deepened as Cao Cao sent mutilated enemy soldiers back to their comrades. Yuan Shao's forces were terrified and dispersed in chaos.

 

In 202 BC when Liu Bang was battling the kingdom of Chu, he got his men to sing Chu folk songs every night so the enemy troops would be too sad to fight.

​第二十计     TWENTY

混水摸鱼

Fish in troubled waters
hún shuǐ mō yú

Act
 

  • Create confusion in order to further your own goals.

  • Take advantage of crisis and chaos for personal gain.
     

  • Do something unusual, strange, and unexpected as this will arouse the enemy's suspicion and disrupt his thinking.
     

  • Create confusion to weaken your enemy's perception and judgment before confronting him.
     

  • A distracted or confused enemy is more vulnerable.​


History
 

After Cao Cao was defeated chaos erupted. Liu Bei took the opportunity to established the kingdom of Shu by taking the strategic city of Jinzhou. After that he took Yizhou while internal struggles distracted the fighting forces there.

第二十一计     TWENTY ONE

金蝉脱壳

Slough Off the Golden Cicada's Shell

jīn chán tuō qiào

Act
 

  • Making an unnoticed escape like a golden cicada shedding its skin.
     

  • False appearances mislead the enemy.
     

  • Mask yourself to escape from enemies stronger than you.
     

  • Use disguise, dummies or different means to create an illusion that captures attention while your real intent and actions are well concealed.
     

  • Have both a public face and a private face.
     

  • Appear to do one thing while doing another.
     

  • Appear to be doing nothing when you are actually taking serious action.
     

  • Keep your true self hidden and protected.
     

  • Make what you show the world to be what you want them to see.


History
 

Lu Bu helped Yuan Shao to suppress an uprising. However, Yuan Shao suspected Lu Bu and sent soldiers to 'protect him', but in reality to kill him in his sleep.
Lu Bu realized this and got a friend to play music on an instrument he himself always played so he could escape.

 

Head of states like the Husseins in Iraq often use body doubles to make it appear they are in one place when in fact they are elsewhere.

​第二十二计     TWENTY TWO

关门捉贼

Shut the door to catch the thief
guān mén zhuō zéi

Act
 

  • To deliver the final blow to your enemy, you must plan prudently for it to succeed.
     

  • Do not rush into action. Before you make a move, first cut off the enemy's escape routes, and cut off other routes from which external help can reach them.
     

  • When your enemy is in the trap, close the door so he has no way of escape.
     

  • To allow your enemy to escape plants the seeds for future conflict.



History

When Bai Qi was fighting Zhao Kuo, he first let Zhao win a battle and then provoked him to a final battle in a location closer to him.

Bai Qi let his enemy win while quietly cutting off his supply lines. The starving soldiers of Zhao began killing each other for food.

Zhao was killed and his military surrendered  in a desperate attempt to break the blockage.

​第二十三计     TWENTY THREE

远交近攻

Befriend a distant state while attacking a neighbor
yuǎn jiāo jìn gōng

Act
 

  • Better to not wage war in distant places while ignoring those nearby. One should make alliances with those further away in order to conquer his neighbors.
     

  • Nations that border each other often become enemies while nations separated by distance usually become better allies.
     

  • When you are the strongest in one field, your greatest threat is from the second strongest in your field, not the strongest from another field.
     

  • Invading enemies that are close to you has a higher chance to succeed.
    The battle takes place close to your own territory, hence it is easier for your forces to get supplies and defend the conquered land.

     

  • Fighting on a number of fronts is dangerous, especially when the fronts are far apart. Rather, engage in close wars where you are more likely to have the upper-hand.



History

The king of Qin was considering to attack the distant Qi. Fan Ju advised the king that it would be better to ally with Qi and also Chu in defeating Han and Wei, as he would have to travel through the adjacent kingdoms of Han and Wei.

This worked and Fan Ju's was promoted.

Later on in time, Qin conquered Qi.

​第二十四计     TWENTY FOUR

假途伐虢

Obtain safe passage to conquer the State of Guo

jiǎ tú fá guó

Act
 

  • Borrow the resources of an ally to attack a common enemy. After defeating the enemy, use those resources to turn on the ally that lent you them.
     

  • Borrowing can be a temporary and friendly act that will be reciprocated. In fact, help is not always repaid and can backfire on the helper as the borrower may later attack the lender.

  • When two enemies are at peace with one another, bribe or threat one of them to help you beat the other. At the very least get a promise that they will not interfere when you attack the other party.


History
 

Jin wanted to conquer the smaller states of Yu and Guo, but knew it will be very difficult while these remained allies.
Jin first started small combats with Guo and bribed the leader of Yu with gifts to allow passage over Guo territory.

Indebted to the larger Jin, Yu helped further as Jin defeated Guo.
The king of Jin then distracted Yu's leader with a hunting trip while a Jin general conquered Yu, as their leader with his best men were away.

 

In the Korean war, the American army 'borrowed' military bases in South Korea, which they are still using today.

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