Romance of the Three Kingdoms

The Western world is quite familiar with the Art of War as a book on military warfare. Thanks to the trainers who popularised this manual of warfare by applying the tactics and strategies in modern management practices. An equivalent and more powerful book, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, is less well known outside the Middle Kingdom but is stacked with many military strategies and tactics of psychological warfare.

In one of the stories, the famous strategist, Zhu Ge Liang, was pitted against the warlord Cao Cao. The game plan was about luring Cao Cao into a trap, allowing him to be victorious and became complacent. The finale was for Cao Cao to paint himself into a corner and defeating himself in a game of crafty deceit.

Zhu Ge Liang knew that Cao Cao had a weakness for women. Without disclosing this knowledge, he used it to plot Cao Cao’s embarrassing defeat by setting up one of his general, General Yao, with another woman in an improper affair. Of course this was leaked to Cao Cao who happily exposed the details of the relationship to the public.  Zhu Ge Liang’s Cukong Liu was greatly embarrassed and summarily dismissed General Yao who then left the state.

Tasting success, Cao Cao seized on the opportunity to embarrass Liu by ridiculing him, demanding that Liu tell the whole truth and be transparent, not to hide any material fact. Cao Cao’s ministers added fuel and fire, telling Liu’s people that Liu had let them down, and failed to carefully select his officers. They ran circus around Liu, accusing him of being inept in choosing his generals, lack of integrity and that Cao Cao’s camp was better in serving the people’s interest.

After a year, when things quiet down, when there was apparent peace under heaven, with Cao Cao smarting over his moral victory, Liu exposed Cao Cao’s affair to the world. What Cao Cao did was an exact replica of what Yao had done, the same affair with the wives of another officer in the same camp. Cao Cao was forced to face the same barrage of accusations and flaming and was helpless. Every word spoken by Cao Cao and his ministers were carefully recorded and read back to Cao Cao and his men. It was a taste of his own medicine. There were no buts, no running away from a similar and grave mistake. Cao Cao and his ministers who acted high and mighty, as the righteous ones, beyond reproach, had to swallow every word they said, heads bent low, some went into hiding. Cao Cao was defeated in his own game of moral superiority.

The Three Kingdom was a timeless classic, and the tactics and strategies have been thoroughly read and discussed and mastered by many modern military commanders and politicians. Some were able to use them so effectively in defeating their enemies through deceptions, schemes, plots and strategies that often caught the enemies totally unguarded and with their pants down. Zhu Ge Liang was a living legend of his time.


Anonymous said...

Holy cow!
For a moment I thought you were going to expose LHL or that Low Thia Kiang was going to. Or are you saving that for 2016?

Anonymous said...

I always think of Zhuge Liang as Grandfather in the the Battle of Wuzhang Plains - Zhuge Liang's Final Battle.

In the Battle of Wuzhang Plains;
An ailing Zhuge Liang (Grandfather) prepares for the safe retreat of his army in the event of his demise.


Is life imitating art in Singapore?

Anonymous said...

RB, are u trying to tell us something is it? Hehe

Abao said...

Hi RedBean, enlighten me on the chapter. I want to reread again!

Anonymous said...

in the old time, these historical events could be taken as myth and legend of the past since there is no proven record of such occurrence, just words pass down through generations, but in internet time, every nonsense and immoral acts committed by PAP against the people are recorded as internet archives in their own words and acts... Internet is the nemesis and Achilles heel of PAP ...

what do you think ?

Anonymous said...

whether it is cao, liu or zhu - all they want to see is innocent people get sacrificed, suffering, hurt, pain, blood. they are all the same. whether in the past or present, leaders never change, they are all ruthless.

Anonymous said...

Do I really look like a man with a plan, Harvey? I don't have a plan. The mob has plans, the cops have plans. you know what I am, Harvey? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught one. I just DO things. I'm a wrench in the gears. I HATE plans. Yours, theirs, everyone's. Maroni has plans, Gordon has plans. Schemers trying to control their worlds. I am not a schemer. I show schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are. So when I say that what happened to you and your girlfriend wasn't personal, you know I'M telling the truth"*Gives Dent Gun*"It's a schemer who put you where you are. You were a schemer. You had plans. Look where it got you. I just did what I do best-I took your plan and turned it on itself. Look what I have done to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple bullets. Nobody panics when the expected people got killed. Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if the plans are horrifying. If I tell the press that tomorrow a gangbanger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will get blown up, nobody panics. But when I say one little old mayor will die, everyone loses their minds!! Introduce a little anarchy, you upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I AM AN AGENT OF CHAOS. And you know the thing about chaos, Harvey. It's fair" Joker (The Dark Knight)

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms could be in the same league as Homer's Iliad and the Odyssey. There are other famous books that recorded events in the past when language, writing forms and material were not even invented.

Romance of the 3 Kingdoms is one of the four major Chinese classics. The others are Water Margin, Journey to the West and Dreams of the Red Chambers.

All these books have a lot of plots and schemes and moral righteousness.

Oh Abao, the part that I quoted came out of my dream : ) But there are many plots and counter plots in the 3 Kingdoms that are still relevant today.

Anonymous said...

Interested in Three Kingdoms. Dear all readers, you may like to visit my fb on my book on Guanyu and Romance of Three Kingdoms
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Frankie-KT-Neo/197976977006255. Hope you liked it

Anonymous said...

good rtk post you got there, this is another link which i found with koei's games and all rtk related. enjoy!


Anonymous said...

nice i like this rtk link http://romanceofthethreekingdomsgame.com/ which you recommend

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