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

George Washington's picture

Washington’s Blog

2,500 hundred 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.

And see this.

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bigkahuna's picture

War is difficult to understand. Most people only know the wars they see in the theater - and the reality of war is kind of unspeakable. In any case - it destroys the mentality of apple pie and barbecues and replaces it with something very nasty.

Dehrow's picture

I agree. You can't look at a fiscal cost, and a multi-thousand year old saying, and then draw a sound conclusion from it.

Although many arguments can be made about the relationships between war and capital, it is the person who understands the most about these two things that really does not understand either of them at all.

ATG's picture

Lao Tzu's wisdom begs the question

Are our leaders in NYC, DC and the Pentagon unfamiliar with the timeless wisdom of Sun Tzu, or is this a deliberate ploy to destroy America for the one world state?

Ask HK, ZB or their bosses

thegr8whorebabylon's picture

keep the freakin military out country till all chance of coupe is up.

Paul Bogdanich's picture

Again in the post itself and all the comments not a single word about any of our victims.  I hear cost, strategy, redistribution and everything else but not one word about the thousands of souls deprived of their lives.  Americans generally are so brainwashed sick it's difficult to watch or believe.  I suggest you share in the murderous crimes of your overlords.

BigJim's picture

I think the moral condemnation pretty much goes without saying.

Seems to me the article was making a geo-political-economic point, not a moral one.

surfsup's picture

The capacity of the human mind to create and perpetuate polarities has been exploited to create artificial rivalries and hatreds -- all of which would fall as so many pieces of debris if the perpetuation of the high polarity mental state were not so induced, perpetuated and exploited much as an operating system is disrupted by a virus or outside force.  The natural human state is harmony and Peace -- it take serious programming and high polarity induction to create what we have now.  Its as much a projection of an unsatisfied minds as it is a general conceptual meme perpetuated and induced by the very system enthroned at this time based on false concepts of Life.    The average person would have no part of such crap -->

George Washington's picture

So how do we debug the virus from the collective mind?

StychoKiller's picture

Thinking is hard work!  Without it, Stupidity wins every time!

Yardfarmer's picture

Cain slew Able. Seth knew not why, for t'was God's command to multiply. "The natural human state is harmony and Peace?!"  Perhaps East of Eden, but I attest not here in the West. 

Madcow's picture

All for oil - which is a shame considering we now have the technology to harvest 10X (dwindling) conventional oil supplies.

GoingLoonie's picture

A logistics line that goes half way around the world by air?  Imagine the fuel we could save by just putting an end to the war.  What would that do to the cost of oil?  But wait, what would we do with the hundreds of thousands of military and mercenary armed warriors returning to our Country?  Now you know why there is no end to these wars, maybe even a new one brewing.

Ninja Report's picture

Your calculator is broken.  Using your source for the cost of the war and today's gold price, it comes out to about 16-17 tons per day.  A lot, but hardly "higher than a thousand tons of gold per day".

MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

Read the text again -- all of it. 

I think you are in agreement with Smed Butler and Geo, no?

KillTheFed's picture

On the contrary, our government (and the private bankers who finance these wars and profit) have learned oh so well.  It is just a question of how long they can continue to milk the American taxpayer out of every penny he has.  Once that process has been complete, the supranational private bankers will then create a new Empire in the world (probably China) and we will declare the US Empire, just like the former British Empire, dead.  The bankers, like a pack of hungry locusts, will descend upon the new Empire and incent them into various wars to continue the raping and pillaging into time without end.

Shameful's picture

But without a prolonged war and boogieman how will the military industrial complex (I suppose less industrial now) consume an ever increasing % of the people's labors? What 1.5+ trillion a year to protect us from men in caves and mystery packages, yeah I'm sure we are getting our moneys worth...

Turd Ferguson's picture

I truly can't believe that I'm the first to add this link.

unwashedmass's picture

end the fed, and you will end the wars.

High Plains Drifter's picture

True, end the FED and your problems are solved. The FED is the key. If they have to pay for wars with gold, then they would not fight them because they don't have the gold. Wars are expensive. Borrowing "money" to pay for wars has been the bane of our existence for 300 years, maybe longer.

Hannibal's picture

War is a business, a very profitable one. Bomb then invade and occupy a foreign souvereign nation and viola the rest will follow: McDonalds, PizzaHut, At&t, Exxon, Bechtel, Coke, Porn etc.

High Plains Drifter's picture

Yes war is profitable for some and deadly for others. If all young persons said, no I am not going , then what would they do then?

blindman's picture

it is so bad we have to arm and finance the "opposition" otherwise

they would lose interest.  end the fed.  we live in a time of

intentional and infinite dullitude. 

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

We have to keep our last productive domestic industry alive, the military-industrial complex. It would be much easier to have real industry, but that would force our leaders to admit that their current economy is nothing more than a sham.

Temporalist's picture
Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex (Jan 17, 1961)


Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

knukles's picture

Actually, the speech was delivered twice that day.  The first reading was in a closed session with senior representatives of the House and Senate, wherein the warning was worded as to the "Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex".
The cries emitting from the congressional members were so intense, the threats so grave as to future relations between the legislative and administrative entities, that the public delivery was modified to "Military-Industrial Complex"  (Public record)

Temporalist's picture

Yea thanks knukles I still haven't come across that.

Canucklehead's picture

George, you really should define "victory". 

How important is the "War" to the domestic politics of the upcoming mid-term elections?  Has the protest against the "War" become just so much background noise?  Will these mid-term elections remind anyone of 1968?

High Plains Drifter's picture

One thing is for certain. A few months from now, (mainly because I predict this time it won't take long) many of the American people who thought that there would be some changes made to bolster this country, will be mad as hell and perhaps they will finally realize that the vote matters not, because the system itself is compromised and both parties are for all intents and purposes controlled by the same people and , there is no difference therefore, in this abstract notion known as political parties. Someone asked me the other day, are you are democrat or a republican. I told them, I am an American damn it.

midtowng's picture

War may be disasterous for a nation (or empire), but it extremely good business for a small group of politically connected people.

So you see, endless war makes perfect from a certain point of view.

BigJim's picture

Yes... in the days when wealth creation was fairly limited, so was the capacity to wage war.

Now, when we have much greater wealth creation, the elites can afford to waste more of it over a longer period to effect an domestic transfer of wealth from everyone else to themselves.

But even the US is finally hitting a wall. We just can't create enough wealth to cover the outgoings of our current conflicts, as well as all the debt accumulated from previous conflicts and government spending.

It's been a good several decades for the MIC and the bankers. But the party is coming to an end.

knukles's picture

Oh well there's always the "other, an other and the other" solution.  When one war gets too long, just invade another conveniently located country so that there's a "new and better" package, same old shit just expanded war.  Accompanied by lots of false flags, propaganda and distractions. 

For example.  Today's WaPost had an Op-Ed about why its a good idea to invade Iran; rally the populace around a shrinking violet of a Messiah, goose the economy, just like FDR did. (Washington Post, today's Op-Ed.... not my thoughts, just the messenger here.)
You know, to soften up the slave class to grovel up support for them to give their children to the false enemy so they don't have to worry about passing along any debt to anyone 'cause there'll be nobody, maintain their freedoms. 

Or get a few friends and partners (remember, as of yesterday, we have no allies) to help us with the whateverthefuck it is that we're doing (likewise, there's is no war on terror anymore) like maybe the ever so helpful French'll send and aircraft carrier to the gulf.  (One's on the way, lickitey split, hands above head, no doubt)

Or, maybe throw in a false flag terrrorist attack, all out of sequence, orinination, off script, even message seemingly bungled.  Again.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

Maybe even up the score, push harder, redouble the efforts by secretly transferring most of the military's special forces teams in Yemen (which is an anagram for enemy, by the way) to the CIA's control.  (As per the front page of today's WSJ.  Well, so much for subtlety.)

Whole lotta meaningless bullshit left to do in order to fight a new and improved war so as not to fight the same war (which however these days is not a war but nobody's sure what the fuck it is and no 3 people can explain to one another satisfactorily.) 

WTF.  Just spin the PR bottle and we'll all keep taking off our clothes till we look like the Beloved Emperor King.

No problem.  Change the name and we're all ready home again right where we started.

knukles's picture

Oh yeah, and I forgot....

This very a.m. on CNBS, the fealty brigade were discussing what stocks historically performed the best in the days post terrorism scares..... etc. 
Yesseriee, never worry your little head Martha, war can be very profitable and even we can get in on it, too!

High Plains Drifter's picture

Yes I heard Erin "hot tub" Burnett talking about that this morning. Anything for a profit , no matter what. As the man called Mr. Mortgage might say. How can we profit from this?

blindman's picture

" ain't that some shit." cee lo green.  directed at the

" "market" worshiping dingbats". 

here to the msm...



Minion's picture

If the MIC, no doubt full of military strategists, know this - why would they continue?  

I've read that in Chinese, the word for crisis also means opportunity...... 

umop episdn's picture

Major General Smedley D. Butler wrote a book after he retired. It begins like this:

""WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.""

Read the whole thing for free here:

It seems like 'we the people' are just being scammed again. Welcome to Scamerica.

israhole's picture

Thanks for the book, umop episdn.

Temporalist's picture

I'd have to disagree that it is the only international racket as the central banking racket funds the wars.  The two are linked like stink to shit.

TuffsNotEnuff's picture

Redistribution engines... both the Big Bubbles and the Big Wars.

We did an analysis of the DoD budget back around 1996. There's no way sensibly to spend more than $150- to $200-billion. And not much more than a drop of it impacts terrorism.

Example: aircraft carriers. At the point where they became utterly hopelessly useless, we planned and built the USS Reagan CVN-76.

tony bonn's picture

murderers are not amenable to reason or non-sociopathic logic. hence their blood thirst is never sated....obama is a murderer. bush is a mass murderer....the usa has no business in the middle east except to visit destruction upon itself....

Henry Chinaski's picture

Without public debate and without congressional hearings, a segment of the Pentagon and fellow travelers have embraced a doctrine known as the Long War, which projects an "arc of instability" caused by insurgent groups from Europe to South Asia that will last between 50 and 80 years. According to one of its architects, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are just "small wars in the midst of a big one."

We are already 27 years into it.


flaunt's picture

War is the health of the state.

High Plains Drifter's picture

Perpetual war, for perpetual peace.

ChanceIs's picture

War is Peace

Freedom is Slavery

Ignorance is Strength

G. Orwell

This is well known


TuffsNotEnuff's picture

And also: "Welcome to the TeaBagger Cult."