Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, September 25, 2006

The 36 Strategies: #18 To capture the brigands, capture their king

Next to the Art of War, by Sun Zi (Sun Tzu), the 36 Strategies is the mostly widely known book on strategy in Asia. Most asians are familiar with them at some level. It's important to understand them, if only so you can recognize when someone is trying to use a strategy on you.

18. To capture the brigands, capture their king

When confronted with a massive opposition, you take aim at it's central leadership.

... aka "cutting off the head of the dragon." Take out the leadership, and keep doing it. The second in line, and maybe even the third or the fourth, might be able to effectively take over the reins of leadership, but sooner or later the "brigand king" will find himself over his head.

In the classic book on the American Civil War, Lee's Lieutenants, the central premise is an investigation into the chronic problems of the South revolving around a crisis of leadership in it's armed forces - they really had no system to effectively train officers and groom them for leadership positions. As their leaders died or were otherwise incapacitated, they had to be replaced by others who were less and less capable.

The "brigand king" doesn't necessarily have to be killed, but neutralized, forced to resign or step down, or otherwise rendered ineffective.

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