11.18

Chapter: The Nine Situations 11.18
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Translation:

If asked how to cope with a great host of the enemy in orderly array and on the point of marching to the attack, I should say: “Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.”

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Commentary

Something that is ‘held dear’ implies an emotional attachment. When a person is attached to something, they make it a part of their identity. their self. Taking the attached thing is like stealing a part of their self. It feels like the basest abuse and creates anger, fear, loss and other strong emotions.

In war this may be a beautiful city, a famed person, critical armaments and more.

Greater than the sense of temporary loss is the fear that the taken item will be destroyed, leading to permanent loss and hence extinction of a part of the person. This threat can wean away any anger and lead to fearful compliance.