Advice to a Ruler
I think I posted this last year at Chris Tessone's old blog last year but looking at the increasing bloodshed from Iraq to Lebanon to Israel, this quote from the Confucian teacher Xunzi seems pertinent.
He who lives by force must use his might to conquer the cities that other men guard and to defeat the soldiers that other men send forth to battle, and in doing so he inevitably inflicts great injury upon the people of other states. If he inflicts great injury upon them, they will inevitably hate him fiercly and will day by day grow more eager to fight against him.
Moreover, he who uses his might to conquer the cities that other men guard and to defeat the soldiers that other men send forth to battlemust inevitably inflict great injury upon his own people as well. If he inflicts great injury upon his own people, they will inevitably hate him fiercely and will day by day grow less eager to fight his battles.
With the people of other states growing daily more eager to fight against him, and his own people growing daily less eager to fight in his defense, the ruler who relies upon strength will on the contrary be reduced to weakness. He acquires territory but loses the support of his people, his worries increase while his accomplishments dwindle.
He finds himself with more and more cities to guard and less and less of the means to guard them with; thus in time the great state will on the contrary be stripped down in this way to insignificance. One who truly understands how to use force does not rely on force.