11. The Nine Situations


Asked if an army can be made to imitate the SHUAI-JAN,

That is, as Mei Yao-ch`en says, "Is it possible to make the front and rear of an army each swiftly responsive to attack on the other, just as though they were part of a single living body?"

I should answer, Yes. For the men of Wu and the men of Yueh are enemies;

Cf. VI. ss. 21.

yet if they are crossing a river in the same boat and are caught by a storm, they will come to each other's assistance just as the left hand helps the right.

The meaning is: If two enemies will help each other in a time of common peril, how much more should two parts of the same army, bound together as they are by every tie of interest and fellow-feeling. Yet it is notorious that many a campaign has been ruined through lack of cooperation, especially in the case of allied armies.

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