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Saturday, July 7, 2012

THE FIVE BESETTING SINS OF A GENERAL

The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to recieve him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.

There are five dangerous faults that may affect a general, of which the first two are: recklessness, which leads to destruction; and cowardice, which leads to capture.

Next there is a delicacy of honor, which is sensitive to shame; and a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults.

The last of such faults is oversolicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble, for in the long run the troops will suffer more from the defeat, or at best, the prolongation of the war, which will be the consequence.

These are the five besetting sins of a general, ruinious to the conduct of war.  When an army is overthrown and its leader slain, the cause will surely be found among these five dangrous faults. 

From "The Art of War"
by Sun Tzu (edited by James Clavell)