Military Strategists Have Known for 2,500 Years that Prolonged Wars Are Disastrous


2,500 years ago, one of the greatest military strategists ever – Sun Tzu – said:

  • “What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.”
  • “No nation has ever benefited from a prolonged war.”
  • “Now, when an army of one hundred thousand is raised and dispatched on a distant campaign, the expenses borne by the people together with disbursements of the treasury will amount to a thousand pieces of gold daily. In addition, there will be continuous commotion both at home and abroad, people will be exhausted by the corvee of transport, and the farm work of seven hundred thousand households will be disrupted.”

“A thousand pieces of gold” is a metaphorical, not set, amount. The costs of today’s wars are actually much higher than a ton of gold per day.

Despite the talk of withdrawal, America is engaged in perpetual war in the Middle East (and see this, this, this, this, this and this).

America’s political leaders haven’t learned a 2,500-year-old lesson.

For proof that war is bad for the economy, see this.

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  • It’s not that they haven’t learned “their” lesson – they know it full well. But if an oaf like e.g. Gates or Rumsfeld or Panetta would have to go on food stamps because they never learned a decent trade, then war it is – and, q.v. Haig, later you will become even CEO of an armaments manufacturer – just because of good looks and connections, not because you could do decent work – after all, that’s for the charwomen and infantry foot soldiers. If they were strategists, they would pressure the whole world to forbid offensive armament and have a trety in place that required all nations to prove all their military was defensive and to protect their own borders – and, presto – no wars.

    • Daniel Healy

      Although i like your comment above about the trety, wars would still happen. If you have the power to defend you have the power to attack, different stratergies would just be used.
      There is not enough trust in the world for this to happen and as long as every country has its different belief’s and their history with or against other countries there never will be trust. It is a shame but that is the world we live in.

  • Mark

    This is why George Bush Jr. should never be consider a great leader, even after history is written. Great leaders are students of their craft. They utilize the information provide and then discern what is valuable and what is not. Bush had Sun Tzu and Rumsfeld tell him a long war would be a disaster and he knew it wouldn’t be a swift victory. His arrogance lead him down the path he choose. Arrogance is well know to be a weakness and usually a down fall of a “leader”. That is why Bush will go down in history as one of the worst Presidents, Republican or Democrat. Unfortunately, Bush will be just fine while the rest of Americans will suffer for years from this war and economic hole it has placed the country in. Sure it was a combination of things but 2009 “recession was foreseeable (anyone who says different was just blinded by all the money being made) and therefore should have been taken into consideration when making the decision for war.

  • lilbear68

    never gonna fight in another rich mans war

  • Andrean Tantiono

    nice share and very useful keep up the good work guys. cool guys , very helpful

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  • x

    At least do the quotes correctly. According to Sun Tzu it was 1000 oz of SILVER not gold.

    Sun Tzu said: “In the operations of war, where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots, as many heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carrythem a thousand li, the expenditure at home and at the front, including entertainment of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armor, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day. Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000 men.”