Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.
No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.
If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.
Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.
But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.
Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.
非 利 不 動 ， 非 得 不 用 ， 非 危 不 戰 。 主 不 可 以 怒 而 興 師 ， 將 不
可 以 慍 而 致 戰 ； 合 于 利 而 動 ， 不 合 于 利 而 止 。 怒 可 以 復 喜 ， 慍 可 以 復
悅 ， 亡 國 不 可 以 復 存 ， 死 者 不 可 以 復 生 。 故 明 君 慎 之 ， 良 將 警 之 ， 此
安 國 全 軍 之 道 也 。
(孫子 第十二篇 Sunzi, The Art of War, Chapter 12, translated by Lionel Giles)
Tony Cartalucci cited this passage from Sunzi in his analysis of an alarming incident in a part of the world that seemed ready to explode.
“Western and Russian media sources have reported an alleged joint Israeli-French strike on Syria on September 17. The attack included Israeli warplanes and French missile frigates operating in the Mediterranean off Syria’s coast. Amid the attack, a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft with 14 service members aboard disappeared.
“The attack immediately prompted commentators, analysts, and pundits to call for an immediate retaliation to the unprovoked military aggression, warning that a failure to react would leave Russia looking weak. Some commentators even called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to step down.
“It is not to Russia’s advantage to sink French frigates or expose the full capabilities of its air defense systems to shoot down a handful of Israeli warplanes to satisfy public desires for immediate revenge or to protect nonexistent notions of Russian invincibility.
“Instead, it is to Russia’s advantage to simply win the proxy war in Syria. Just as in 2015 when calls for immediate revenge were made regarding a Turkish-downed Russian warplane, Syria, Russia, and Iran will continue moving forward – slowly and methodically – to secure Syrian territory from foreign proxies seeking to divide and destroy the country, springboard into Iran, and eventually work their way into southern Russia.
“Avenging serial provocations is infinitesimally less important than overall victory in Syria. The fate of Syria as a nation, Iran’s security and stability as a result, and even Russia’s own self-preservation is on the line. The awesome responsibility of those who have planned and executed Syria’s incremental victory over proxy forces backed by the largest, most powerful economies and military forces on Earth could greatly benefit from a public able to understand the difference between short-term gratification and long-term success and how the former almost certainly and recklessly endangers the latter.”