Wu's destiny

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Re: Wu's destiny

Unread postby Xu Yuan » Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:54 pm

Qu Hui wrote:
Tokugawa Liang wrote:Then, from what I gather from your answers, Sun Quan probably held this reflexion: " If I can make the Three Kingdoms system as Zhuge Liang foresaw it in his plan last, while Shu and Wei use up their forces against each other, I'll develop my economical strength, by expanding and developping rich provinces in the south. Then, when I shall be strong enough, I shall march on the weakest of my opponants and finally re-unite China by overwhelming the last Kingdom."

There's two problems with that. 1( Sun Quan barely knew who Zhuge Liang was historically. 2( The so-called "Longzhong Plan" was actually Lu Su's plan and it was suggested to Sun Quan years before Zhuge even entered service to anyone.


That's a bit of a misnomer and you know that. Lu Su's Three Kingdoms plan was the simplest and easiest thing. "Liu Zhang, Wu, Wei". The north already belonged to Cao Cao, or nearly did. He knew Liu Biao wasn't going to hold out, and that left the isolated Liu Zhang in far off Yi. There was nothing amazing or strategic about his, I like Lu Su, but that idea was pretty elementary.

What makes Zhuge Liang's Longzhong plan extraordinary was that he said that Liu Bei could acquire a power base in Yi and that Wu would survive the assaults of Wei. All of that passed long before Liu Bei had even an inch of land to call his own.
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Re: Wu's destiny

Unread postby Tokugawa Liang » Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:01 am

Crazedmongoose wrote:[
Contrary to what SGYY taught us, there's a lot more to war than having the best strategists. For one Wu had less resources and men.


But isn't strategy precisely the art of surviving and winning against better trained, bigger armies with few resources and soldiers? I'm thinking of Zhuge Liang at Bowang, where he repelled a way bigger army with nothing but fire. (I'm exaggerating, I know :D)

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:Wu: If you want to pinpoint Wu's decline with Sun Quan's death and the ensuing turmoil, sure. But Wu fell on Sun Hao's watch, and it was his incompetence that gave Jin such an easy victory.


Yep, agree wiht that, though Sun Hao, wasn't directly responsible for that, I think. The decadence of the Wu court had already dommed Wu, and as you all so well pointed out, an extraordinary mind would have been needed to redress everything.

Dong Zhou wrote:
Eh, weakness at the top did kill all five but I think corruption and factionalism is simplifying it quite a lot.


Yep, sorry, I may have exaggerated a lot. I'm just trying to find the evil root in this downfall.

Dong Zhou wrote:Lu Ba? I would also question the description of Zhuge Jin and Cheng Pu as talented strategists. Actually, probably would say the same of Lu Su.


I named them not for their military successes but the fact that they didn't have any did not mean they could not have had some. Thy just were not in the good position at the good time. Also Lu Su is a special case. I personally admire him a lot, and though SGYY may point him out as a pawn in Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang's hands, he would have had greater opportunities of showing his talents if he hadn't died so soon. Besides Zhou Yu himself proved it when he recommended Lu as his successor. he had a bright mind, not to be matched to Zhuge Liang's maybe but still reasonable. Another point is that he was pretty much dedicated to the Sun cause, which would, like Jiang Wei, give him the energy to fight, )hopefully not with the same issue). i'm thinking of the prelude to Chi Bi.

Dong Zhou wrote:You mean Quan?


Yes, sorry, my bad.


Dong Zhou wrote:I have to question how much Wu's best early miliatry figures like Lu Meng could have done when they struggled against Wei in their own life times. In truth, I think Wu needed a strong internal figure after Sun Quan died more then anything else. Shu didn't have a strong miliatry strategist but they survived for so long due to natural defenses, capable generals but also strength at the top. Liu Shan was not a strong figure but people were loyal to him and he had strong Prime Ministers in the Four Great Ministers (Liang, Jiang Wan, Fei Yi, Dong Yun), it provided a strong and stable base to ensure Shu's survival.


Another question that springs to my mind with your answer: Did Wu have the same political system as Shu. I mean with those prime ministers? For Shu had pretty good ones and that made the difference I think.
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Re: Wu's destiny

Unread postby Qu Hui » Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:16 pm

Xu Yuan wrote:That's a bit of a misnomer and you know that. Lu Su's Three Kingdoms plan was the simplest and easiest thing. "Liu Zhang, Wu, Wei". The north already belonged to Cao Cao, or nearly did. He knew Liu Biao wasn't going to hold out, and that left the isolated Liu Zhang in far off Yi. There was nothing amazing or strategic about his, I like Lu Su, but that idea was pretty elementary.

Except that the North didn't belong to Cao Cao yet, as Lu Su proposed his plan in 200 well before Guandu or Cao Cao made any major inroads to the North. Liu Biao's position was extremely strong as of 200 (strong enough to be considered a viable contender for the realm against Cao Cao and Yuan Shao), and Lu Su would have no reason to think that Biao was about to fail.

Xu Yuan wrote:What makes Zhuge Liang's Longzhong plan extraordinary was that he said that Liu Bei could acquire a power base in Yi and that Wu would survive the assaults of Wei. All of that passed long before Liu Bei had even an inch of land to call his own.

Um, have you read the actual, historical plan that Zhuge outlined? Wu is only mentioned as being a worthy ally and not someone to try to attack, them surviving against Wei is not mentioned, and Zhuge mentioned that it would be beneficial to control Yi if he could. He didn't predict that Yi would fall under Liu Bei's control.
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Re: Wu's destiny

Unread postby Xu Yuan » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:01 am

That was my mistake. I had thought he said Liu Zhang, he wouldn't have been completely wrong in that then (since no one could have predicted Liu Bei's meteoric rise after Chi Bi). The text of the SGZ does not make it clear when his plan was brought up. Only we know it occurs After Sun Ce's death. Which could have been from 200-207, unless you have a document with better timestamps than the SGZ.

On Zhuge Liang... well I'll just let the SGZ do the talking here.

"Zhuge Liang replied: “Since Dong Zhuo, heroes have risen and those who occupy provinces and commanderies are too numerous to name. Compared to Yuan Shao, Cao Cao was lacking in prestige and followers. Yet Cao Cao was able to conquer Yuan Shao and shift from weakness to strength. This is not only due to opportunity but also to the man’s strategy. Today Cao Cao has absorbed followers in the millions and coerced the Son of Heaven to command the lords. This cannot be openly contested with him. Sun Quan occupies Jiangdong, with a history of three generations already. The terrain is difficult, the commoners obedient and men of worth serve him. He can act as an ally and we shouldn’t conspire against him. Jingzhou encompasses the Han and Mian rivers in the north and comprises all the resources to the Southern Sea. It is linked to Wu and Hui in the east and leads to Ba and Shu in the west. This is a province of military consequence, yet its ruler cannot hold it. This is Heaven’s gift to you, my general. Can you have no thoughts to taking it? The terrain of Yizhou is difficult and boasts thousands of miles of fertile virgin earth. It is the land of Heaven, hence Gaozu established his empire from there. Liu Zhang is fatuous and weak, and Zhang Lu is at his north. The commoners are well-off and the state prosperous, yet Liu Zhang knows nothing of solicitude and the wise and able officers wish for an enlightened lord. General, you are a descendent of the imperial clan, and famed throughout the Empire for your honour. You enlist heroes with all your resources and wish for worthy men as a thirsty man for water. You should occupy Jing and Yi, secure their strategic points, pacify the Rong peoples of the west, tend the Yi and Yue peoples of the south, ally with Sun Quan without and administer the state within. When there is a shift within the Empire, then an elite general should be commanded with the army of Jingzhou against Wan and Luo. Yourself, my general, should lead the troops of Yizhou out through the Qin Valley. Won’t the commoners then welcome you with baskets of food and pitchers of wine? If you can achieve this then the quest for hegemony will have succeeded and the house of Han can be restored.”

It's clear that he saw that Liu Bei could seize Yi, for if he could not the entire plan falls apart.
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Re: Wu's destiny

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:45 am

Tokugawa Liang wrote:
Crazedmongoose wrote:[
Contrary to what SGYY taught us, there's a lot more to war than having the best strategists. For one Wu had less resources and men.


But isn't strategy precisely the art of surviving and winning against better trained, bigger armies with few resources and soldiers? I'm thinking of Zhuge Liang at Bowang, where he repelled a way bigger army with nothing but fire. (I'm exaggerating, I know :D)


Historically, it was Liu Bei, less spectacular and against Xiahou Dun whose record as a general was on the sucky side.

Note though that you picked a defensive battle. After a certain point (not sure when exactly, Ma Chao's defeat perhaps), we stop getting great offensive victories. Nearly all the great victories and strategies are defensive: Yi Ling, Shi Ting, Wang Ping's Hanzhong and so on. If the opposition has territorial advantage, equal or near to numbers, had the foresight to build forts in strategic places and are competent then it is extremely difficult to negate all those advantages. Winning battles isn't always enough anyway if the defenders can just sit in their forts and wait you out.

Circumstances like the 219 invasion were rare and even Wei's final invasion of Shu relied on a lot of luck despite Shu's weakened state. You needed a major opportunity, which is why people bemoan Wu's weakened state during Wei/Jin's Shouchun problems, a kingdom to be on the verge of collapse or be the 3k equivalent of Napoleon.


I named them not for their military successes but the fact that they didn't have any did not mean they could not have had some. Thy just were not in the good position at the good time. Also Lu Su is a special case. I personally admire him a lot, and though SGYY may point him out as a pawn in Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang's hands, he would have had greater opportunities of showing his talents if he hadn't died so soon. Besides Zhou Yu himself proved it when he recommended Lu as his successor. he had a bright mind, not to be matched to Zhuge Liang's maybe but still reasonable. Another point is that he was pretty much dedicated to the Sun cause, which would, like Jiang Wei, give him the energy to fight, )hopefully not with the same issue). i'm thinking of the prelude to Chi Bi.


Zhuge Jin and Cheng Pu did show their military abilities or lack of and they weren't strategists.

Lu Su is a man I respect. He was kind, intelligent and had long term vision. A strategist and a good military commander he was not, which I suggest Lu Su himself knew, and his 215 performance is a little alarming from a Wu point of view.

Another question that springs to my mind with your answer: Did Wu have the same political system as Shu. I mean with those prime ministers? For Shu had pretty good ones and that made the difference I think.


Wu had prime Ministers like Gu Yong under Sun Quan but obviously they didn't have the same power as Liang. After Quan's death, Wu essentially had a lot of regents but for various reasons, they didn't have the security of Shu's four ministers as Wu were involved in a lot of infighting.
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Re: Wu's destiny

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:12 pm

One thing to note is that Shu's model of Prime Minister is very much like Eastern Han's version, the Prime Minister was pretty much head of government, with his own staff, offices etc. Meanwhile Wu's model is very much like Western Han's version, where the Prime Minister was a lot weaker (though still the most powerful member of government)
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Re: Wu's destiny

Unread postby Tokugawa Liang » Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:20 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:Note though that you picked a defensive battle. After a certain point (not sure when exactly, Ma Chao's defeat perhaps), we stop getting great offensive victories. Nearly all the great victories and strategies are defensive: Yi Ling, Shi Ting, Wang Ping's Hanzhong and so on. If the opposition has territorial advantage, equal or near to numbers, had the foresight to build forts in strategic places and are competent then it is extremely difficult to negate all those advantages. Winning battles isn't always enough anyway if the defenders can just sit in their forts and wait you out.


I suppose the key-word in what you said is competent, for I don't believe that even if your ennemy defends and you have disadvantages towards him, you will certainly loose. I'm no expert on strategy, but I believe the classics point many strategies out to lure a foe out of his castle. So, yes if he is capable, I totally agree with you. Sima Yi's a good example.

Dong Zhou wrote:Circumstances like the 219 invasion were rare and even Wei's final invasion of Shu relied on a lot of luck despite Shu's weakened state. You needed a major opportunity, which is why people bemoan Wu's weakened state during Wei/Jin's Shouchun problems, a kingdom to be on the verge of collapse or be the 3k equivalent of Napoleon.


Sorry, I can't understand the relation with Napoleon.

Zhuge Jin and Cheng Pu did show their military abilities or lack of and they weren't strategists.

Lu Su is a man I respect. He was kind, intelligent and had long term vision. A strategist and a good military commander he was not, which I suggest Lu Su himself knew, and his 215 performance is a little alarming from a Wu point of view.


Zhuge Jin and Cheng Pu may not have been military commanders but they had a certain form of intelligence (I try to be careful with that word:)), which would have given them a certain capacitiy of action in a desperate situation. besides, as Sun Jian departed from the coalition, Cheng Pu already followed him and proposed some plans, I believe.

Crazedmongoose wrote:One thing to note is that Shu's model of Prime Minister is very much like Eastern Han's version, the Prime Minister was pretty much head of government, with his own staff, offices etc. Meanwhile Wu's model is very much like Western Han's version, where the Prime Minister was a lot weaker (though still the most powerful member of government)


The two systems failed against Jin's. What was Jin's system? If the Prime minister was weaker, that means the other ministers had a greater share of power, and in the case of Wu, that was a particularly bad thing.
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Re: Wu's destiny

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:04 am

Tokugawa Liang: I don't know that it's fair to say that these things are conclusively better or worse because one system won over another. There's too many factors at play.

Sorry, I can't understand the relation with Napoleon.


I think what Dong Zhou means is a brilliant commander who is able to again and again win field victories due to better tactics and doctrine.
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Re: Wu's destiny

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:07 pm

Tokugawa Liang wrote:
I suppose the key-word in what you said is competent, for I don't believe that even if your ennemy defends and you have disadvantages towards him, you will certainly loose. I'm no expert on strategy, but I believe the classics point many strategies out to lure a foe out of his castle. So, yes if he is capable, I totally agree with you. Sima Yi's a good example.


Yes, if the opposition commander is a incompetent or, like Sima Yi or Man Chong during one Wu invasion, has a surprisingly bad time of it that can destroy the advantages he has over you. However Wei, Shu and Wu generally didn't employ idiots but men who also knew that the classic strategy of lure out. That didn't mean it couldn't work but I don't recall many times when it worked and a city was taken bar possibly the intelligent but gullible He Pu falling for Lu Meng's lies. Mostly I see it as a sort of defensive strategy during the 3kingdoms: Zhuge Liang used his own retreats effectively, ambushing Wang Shuang and Zhang He but it didn't gain him lands. I think the big lure out was the masterful Shi Ting by Zhou Fang, taking Cao Xiu out of defense and destroying the Wei army but it didn't gain Wu much offensively.

If the enemy has equal-superior troop numbers, the advantage of defense, strong forts, terrain, health advantages, supply advantages (since the attackers in 3kingdoms tended not to be able to starve a city/fort out), reinforcement advantage and so on then it is extremely difficult to win. The problem for the attacker is that there isn't much you can do with you sickly troops to take a place quickly if the opposing commander has enough resources and competency to hold out and so often, time was limited. Sometimes, as with Deng Ai/Zhong Hui's/Zhuge Xu's invasion of Hanzhong, you can have a genius like Deng Ai (who opposed the camapign), be facing a weak opponent as Shu had become, perform a tactical masterstroke like Zhuge Xu's decoy... and still need luck to break your way in time.

Sorry, I can't understand the relation with Napoleon.


What I mean is that sometimes there is a once in era time miliatry genius where the odds can be broken: the Alexander the Great's, the Napoleon's, the Julius Ceaser's. You need one of those figures in such deadlock circumstances

Zhuge Jin and Cheng Pu may not have been military commanders but they had a certain form of intelligence (I try to be careful with that word:)), which would have given them a certain capacitiy of action in a desperate situation. besides, as Sun Jian departed from the coalition, Cheng Pu already followed him and proposed some plans, I believe.


Not sure about the last part and I agree they were intelligent men but as you say, can only see using them as strategists in desperate straights since their "smarts" is on different spheres.
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Re: Wu's destiny

Unread postby Tokugawa Liang » Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:31 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:Yes, if the opposition commander is a incompetent or, like Sima Yi or Man Chong during one Wu invasion, has a surprisingly bad time of it that can destroy the advantages he has over you. However Wei, Shu and Wu generally didn't employ idiots but men who also knew that the classic strategy of lure out. That didn't mean it couldn't work but I don't recall many times when it worked and a city was taken bar possibly the intelligent but gullible He Pu falling for Lu Meng's lies. Mostly I see it as a sort of defensive strategy during the 3kingdoms: Zhuge Liang used his own retreats effectively, ambushing Wang Shuang and Zhang He but it didn't gain him lands. I think the big lure out was the masterful Shi Ting by Zhou Fang, taking Cao Xiu out of defense and destroying the Wei army but it didn't gain Wu much offensively.


Mind the fact that bedides that Zhuge Liang invaded Wei five times, Zhuge Liang was pretty much a defensive commander, preferring not to go out to boldly, so as to take the slightest risks possible. I can't recall which one it was, but on the invasion when Ma Su made his error, wasn't that an offensive plan supposed to destroy the enemy in an offensive way? It's purpose was to gain land, and if Ma Su had not committed his error, he may have won something more important. Another point is Jiang Wei. He took more initiative than Zhuge Liang but failed more times; having said that, he still managed to win some battles against the very smart Deng Ai, thus showing a good deal of talent -in attack-. Now, I wonder if Jiang Wei's failures were due to, as you say, the fact that if strategy's not very effective on attacks, Deng Ai had a defense way too strong for Jiang to overcome. Maybe if he hadn't used up Shu's resources like that, throwing them against a wall of soldiers in the north, he could have withstood the forces of Wei longer and more decisively than he did, eventually seizing an opportunity to strike in a better time. (Like the numerous rebellions in the north.) Which brings us again to the lack of cooperation of Wu and Shu.

Another aspect is that Shu could maybe not afford to let time pass by and let Wei's numerous population and wealthy states build larger armies and give birth to new, talented commanders. Which brings me a new question: How come Wei once Sima Yi died and many others too, alway had a stock of talented officers to carry out its politics? whereas Shu, once Zhuge Liang died, did not have a lot of back up from new, young officers, apart from Zhang Fei, Zhao Yun, Guan Yu's sons.

Dong Zhou wrote:What I mean is that sometimes there is a once in era time miliatry genius where the odds can be broken: the Alexander the Great's, the Napoleon's, the Julius Ceaser's. You need one of those figures in such deadlock circumstances


Funny how one man can influence a whole nation, a whole world by just being in the right place at the right time. History may have gone different without many heroes of the past.
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