The 36 Strategies

Discord Your Enemy To Undermine His Ability

 

The Strategy Of Sowing Discord

Means that you will undermine your enemy's ability by causing discord between your enemy's friends, allies, family, soldiers, commanders, advisors and population. While your enemy is too busy with making up the conflicts, his ability to defend or to attack will greatly decrease. Then you will attack and that leads to victory.

Undermine your enemy's ability to fight by secretly causing discord between him and his friends, allies, advisors, family, commanders, soldiers, and population. While he is preoccupied settling internal disputes his ability to attack or defend, is compromised.

Spying is the best of all the deceptive measures against the enemy. Use the enemy's spies to work for you and you will win without any loss inflicted on your side.

 

Six Dynasties Period China

In the later Wei dynasty, the emperor Tai Wu led a hundred thousand troops against the Song general Zang Zhi.

The emperor, with his superior forces, chased general Zhang to the city of Yu where he was cornered. The city was strongly fortified and so the emperor planned to surround it and starve the defenders into surrender.

Feeling confident of his position, the emperor sent a cart carrying a large jar of wine to the city gate with the message asking for the traditional exchange of wine before commencing his siege of the city.

Zang Zhi knew that he needed to fight a decisive battle quickly, or suffer defeat, saw this as an opportunity. He sent some soldiers to gratefully accept the jar of wine and in turn deliver another large jar sealed with the wine maker's stamp. When a cup of this wine was poured for the emperor it was discovered to be urine.

This caused the emperor a humiliating loss of face before his own troops and in a rage ordered an immediate assault on the city. The defenders were well prepared and the bodies of the slain imperial troops piled up nearly to the top of the ramparts. In his haste and anger the emperor lost half his forces.

 

Song Dynasty general Yue Fei was ordered to lead a punitive expedition to Caozhen. At Hezhou, they captured a Caozhen spy. Yue Fei ordered the spy to be placed outside his tent while he decide on what to do with the spy.

Yue Fei talked about logistical matters outside the tent. Yue Fei's captain told him that they have run out of provisions and asked what to do. Yue Fei said he will make a temporary withdrawal to Chaling.

But all that was an act. Pretending to suddenly realise that he just talked about logistical matters infront of a spy, he ordered his soldiers to keep a close eye on the prisoner.

During that night, Yue Fei sent someone to set the spy free. The spy returned to report that Yue Fei was pulling his army out. The troops in Caozhen decided to attack Yue Fei the next day. But in the night, Yue Fei made a surprise attack on Caozhen's stockade.

 


 
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