All warfare is based on deception. A military operation involves deception. Even though you are machiavelli the prince full text pdf, appear to be incompetent. Though effective, appear to be ineffective.
If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
If his forces are united, separate them” is also interpreted: “If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected. The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.
The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat: — let such a one be dismissed! If your opponent is of choleric temperament, seek to irritate him. There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare. What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy.
Know your enemy and know yourself, find naught in fear for 100 battles. Know thy enemy but not yourself, wallow in defeat every time. For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.