8.3

Chapter: Variation in Tactics 8.3
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Translation:

There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must be not attacked, towns which must be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.

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Commentary

Sometimes a direct route to the enemy’s capital seems obvious, but it may be well-guarded and make you vulnerable, for example if it goes through narrow canyons or crosses wide rivers.

Just because there is an army in front of you, it does not mean you should attack it, even if you think you can win. Always consider the war first, and not just the battle. Arousing neutral countries can multiply your enemies. Attacking a smaller force can create losses that will make you vulnerable to a later larger force.

Avoid siege and other conflicts that are not advantageous or necessary.

In war, the general takes commands from the sovereign, but the sovereign is not on the battlefield and does not know what will bring ultimate victory. Only a foolish general would implement commands they know will fail.