There are three ways by which an army is put into difficulty by a ruler:
- He does not know that the Three Armies should not advance but instructs them to advance or does not know that the Three Armies should not withdraw and orders a retreat. This is termed ‘entangling the army.’
- He does not understand the Three Armies’ military affairs but [directs them] in the same way as his [civil] administration. Then the officers will become confused.
- He does not understand the Three Armies’ tactical balance of power but undertakes responsibility for command. Then the officers will be doubtful.
When the Three Armies are already confused and doubtful… this is referred to as ‘a disordered army drawing another on to victory.’
One who knows neither the enemy nor himself will invariably be defeated in every engagement.
—Translated by Ralph D. Sawyer, Barnes & Noble Books, 1994.