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发布日期:2020-07-28      阅读数:14 次
导语 Introduction
War and peace are a never-ending topic for mankind. Back in the distant past when Rome was riddled with silver spears and armored horses, Tao Te Ching from the “Middle Kingdom” had laid down a firm statement: “Where armies are, thorns and brambles grow. The raising of a great host is followed by a year of dearth.” [1] Lao Tzu asserted that “Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men doesn’t try to force issues or defeat enemies by force of arms. For every force there is a counterforce.” [2]
Indeed, only with peaceful nations could an era of peace dawn. However, even today, war continues to be a sharp blade loosely hanging above human civilization. What can we do to station peace for good? Maybe it is time to dig into Chinese wisdom for an answer. 
Dear reader, you must have heard all about the big drama staged between Iran and the US at the start of the new decade.  Simply put, the latter once again made a strike and slew Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq using advanced weaponry. This incident has led to a series of unfortunate consequences, including the loss of hundreds of innocent lives. I was reminded of an occurrence in ancient China.  
In the incident that took place over two thousand years ago, the “troublemaker” was the State of Western Jin and the “victim” was a sovereignty called Eastern Wu.
吴国(公元222年—280年),三国之一,位于中国东南部,国号为“吴”,建国之人是东汉末年割据一方的军阀——孙权,故史学界称之为孙吴。由于与曹魏、蜀汉呈鼎立之势,所统治地区又居于三国之东,故亦称东吴 。
The Kingdom of Wu (222-280 AD) was established in what is known today as southeast China by none other than Sun Zhongmou, a prominent warlord at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty. To historians, it is hence known as Sun Wu. Eastern Wu is another name given by its geographical status as the eastern counterpart of the Three Kingdoms, the other two being the Kingdoms of Wei and Shu Han.
Eastern Wu survived the longest of the trio and, through four kings, lasted 59 years if you count the time of state establishment in 222 AD. The last king, named Sun Yuanzong, was a man of cruelty, lust, and injustice. Thereby he caused great misery among the people and corruption in the court. 
Seeing such an inevitable downfall, the Minister of Defense Lu Youjie, son of leading general Lu Boyan and a young man of wisdom and bravery, felt so painfully worried that he sent up his words of advice many times to the king, who always kept a blind eye to those proposals and went about his ways as usual. It was at a time when the State of Western Jin unleashed its ambition and set out southward to unite the whole of China. Western Jin ’s covetous efforts, however, were thwarted over and over by the smart and skillful Minister of Eastern Wu.
镇守襄阳边境地区的晋车骑将军羊祜(kù) 见陆抗能攻善守,知道要立即打败东吴并不容易,便改变对东吴的策略,向其抛出了橄榄枝。陆抗明白羊祜的用意,便也以同样的态度相待。在边境,两人常派使者往来,以示友好。因此,当时吴、晋部分边境一度出现了和平局面。
In Western Jin’s army, the General of Chariots Yang Shuzi found Lu skilled in both attack and defense when he was stationed in the border area of Eastern Wu. He knew that an immediate defeat would be difficult. So he changed his strategy and extended an olive branch. Understanding what this meant, Lu reciprocated. At the border the two military leaders often sent messengers to each other showing good will. For a while peace seemed to be returning to some parts of the border between Eastern Wu and Western Jin.
Upon hearing this, the King of Eastern Wu was very much displeased. He sent someone to question Lu, and the latter replied, “I would have fanned up Yang’s authority and prestige in his army had I taken an aggressive approach.”
Still desiring to attack Western Jin, the king paid no heed to what Lu had said. He ordered frequent military deployments.
“Now the court should get a stronger hold of agriculture, secure food reserves, and strengthen state power.” When he learned this, Lu sent his words of caution up to the king again. “Have talented individuals work to their potential and officials at all levels not neglect their duties. Punish and reward rigorously to inspire all officials. Enforce criminal penalty with prudence as a warning to the common people.  If we continue to pursue an undeserved reputation, emphasize formalism, spend state revenue by tens of thousands of taels deploying military forces everywhere, and tire out our soldiers, we will go under even without an imminent threat of the enemy.” Once again his substantial advice failed to wake the king up to reality.
As Lu had predicated, the Kingdom of Eastern Wu was gradually declining. After the minister died, Western Jin charged south and conquered the kingdom.
History is not to be subjected to simple judgment, nor can it be willfully equated to any modern event. But it may be safe for us to dissect a small part, zoom in on it, and see if there are any lessons to learn.
Nowadays, technological and economic advancements keep pushing the world toward a unity so compact that when one part gets irritated, the whole body is shaking up. The tragedy of Eastern Wu warns us that a total failure, one in which both the state and the people suffer, is bound to come when top leaders indulge in belligerence and refuse to address their own ills without a mind on long-term strategy and cooperation, as Benjamin Franklin echoed in a typically Western fashion, “Wars are not paid for in wartime; the bill comes later.”
[1] 林语堂译 / Tr. by Lin Yutang
[2] 米切尔译 / Tr. by Stephen Mitchell
(A million thanks to Crystal for providing historic references and professional insights as reflected herein.)
(Any comments or suggestions are welcome!)

来源:胡靖 日期:2020年1月20日



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