LiuBeiwasGreat wrote:I think it was more of a statement that warlords will not be tolerated. governors must accept central rule and cannot act on their own accord. If they act on their own their loyalty cannot be relied upon.
AFAIK, China always had a problem with independent warlords. Around 208 AD, if my memory serves correctly, Cao Cao possessed quite a chunk of northern China. At the same time, Ma Teng posed a threat on Cao Cao's flank, while Sun Quan resided in the south with (I'd assume) a larger and well-fortified force. Why go after Sun Quan and risk a major defeat if you could subdue the likes of Ma Teng with much less effort?
Personally, I believe Cao Cao wanted the lands of Wu for himself. It made the most sense at the time -- Ma Teng could be defended against, whilst opportunity presented itself in the south should Cao Cao be able to capture it. The problem was, he didn't.
The whole Qiao incident might have been correct had this been a SGYY discussion -- I vaguely remember it being mentioned in the novel. However, realistically... I can't honestly picture an intelligent man like Cao Cao wasting precious resources over two beautiful women. Outnumbered, he managed a victory over the Yuans in the north -- it's doubtful he'd risk a large part of his force for two women.