以战止战 – Chinese philosophy and culture

yǐ zhàn zhǐ zhàn 以战止战

Use War to Stop War

用战争制止战争。这是中华民族自古秉持的一种战争观。前一个“战”是指正义的战争;后一个“战”是指非正义的战争。正义的战争是反抗强加在自己头上的非正义战争而不得已采取的行动,其目的是除暴安良、护国保民,制止并最终消灭非正义战争,实现人类和平,使广大民众过上幸福安宁的生活。它表现了中华民族崇尚正义、爱好和平的“文”的精神,与“止戈为武”异曲同工。

This is an ancient Chinese belief on the role of war. The first “war” means a just war, the second an unjust one. A just war is waged to resist a war that has been forced upon one. It is not of one’s choosing, but is fought to defend the country and the people from imposed violence, in order to ultimately end the war and restore peace and stability. It expresses the “civil” spirit of the Chinese nation that believes in justice and peace. It is similar in meaning to “stopping war is a true craft of war.”

引例 Citations:

◎夫武,禁暴、戢兵、保大、定功、安民、和众、丰财者也。(《左传·宣公十二年》)

(武功是用来禁止强暴、消除战争、保持强大、巩固功业、安定百姓、调和大众、丰富财物的。)

The purpose of military action should include the following seven tasks: to prohibit violence, stop wars, maintain one’s strength, safeguard achievements, give peace to the people, bring harmony to the multitudes, and enrich the state’s resources. (Zuo’s Commentary on The Spring and Autumn Annals)

◎古者,以仁为本,以义治之,之谓正。……是故杀人安人,杀之可也;攻其国,爱其民,攻之可也;以战止战,虽战可也。(《司马法·仁本》)

(古人以仁爱为根本、以治军是否合乎道义称之为正道。……所以,如果杀掉坏人是为了使大众得到安宁,杀人是可以的;如果进攻别的国家是出于爱护它的民众,进攻是可以的;如果能用战争制止战争,进行战争也是可以的。)

The ancient people considered benevolent love to be the foundation of society, and the use of force in ethical ways as the proper way. …If getting rid of the wicked is for the common good, then killing is permissible; if attacking another country is to protect its people, the attack is well-founded; if war is used to stop war, then it is justified. (The General Commander’s Treatise on War)

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