Il pretendait reconnaitre dans l’histoire espagnole recente l’aspiration a une monarchie universelle et il se donnait pour but d’entraver ce projet, d’edifier plutot un equilibre des couronnes ou le roi de France aurait un role d’arbitre et de preponderance. Toutes les ressources de la France devaient etre mobilisees dans cette perspective. De la sorte, tous les plaidoyers pour la reforme des institutions, pour le soulagement du people, pour la liberte de la noblesse et des autres corps du royaume lui semblaient antagonistes. [Yves-Marie Berce, La naissance dramatique de l’absolutisme 1598-1661, p. 134.]
Thus, from such glorious strategic thinking is born not a “great man” but a great criminal, the strategic concept justifying both little murders of dissenting colleagues and great crimes against his own society and other societies. If Richelieu himself came from “a more primitive age,” his habit of dressing criminal behavior in rich strategic thoughts continues to confuse our understanding of world affairs to this day.
And yet, the story is of course not this simple, for Richelieu was, as he launched his expansionist project, in part reacting to Spain’s barbaric sack of Mantoue, a “crime against humanity” we would say today, that was in its turn part of the Spanish reaction to earlier interference in the Italian Alps…by Richelieu. Perhaps one side does indeed need to defend itself against another, but inherent in the employment of militant means justified by grandiose strategic thinking is the self-serving, “ends justify the means” nature of that thinking: “they want to hurt us, so we must hurt them first, and if they defend themselves, that will prove that our pre-emptive strike was justified.
Four centuries B.C., “China” was not a country but a cultural region of competing baronies, a Medieval feudal region. The barony of Qin, China’s Prussia, was a frontier state still possessing little hint that it would eventually achieve a bloody unification of the huge cultural area in which it tenuously grasped a foothold. Then an adviser brought to the Qin court from the court of a neighboring adversary persuaded the arrogant but not very wise baron of Qin that the first step to making Qin great was not hubris, bombast, and the launching of a war of conquest but the consolidation of the barony’s borders and establishment of a solid political, economic, and military base at home.
第二年， 秦国 果然 在 崤 山 被 晋 襄 公 偷袭， 全军覆没， 只有 三位 主将 逃回 来 秦国。 穆 公 身着 素服 迎接 他们， 懊悔 不已：“ 是我 不听 百里奚 和 蹇 叔 的 意见， 才使 你们 受 此 屈辱。” 从此 无心 东 进， 一心 经营 秦国 本地。 从这 件事 可以 看出 百里 奚 的 智慧 与 远见。 百里 奚 死 时， 秦国 人人 流泪 哀哭， 可见 他 实在 深得 民心。 正是 由于 百里 奚 勤 修 内政， 外 树 威信， 辅佐 穆 公 经营 本地， 收 服 戎 狄， 与 晋国 抗衡， 才使 得 秦国 成为 诸国 争霸 中的 一方 强国， 奠定 了 秦国 未来 称霸 与 统一 的 基础。 [大秦帝国 (The Great Qin Empire): 铁血铸就的一统江山 (中国大历史系列) (Kindle Locations 366-369).]
A century later, having made itself great, Qin swept all its adversaries aside and created the new nation of China.
An interesting historical anecdote, this story is significant for the lesson it has taught later generations of Chinese officials, a lesson clearly in the minds of China’s elite today, as China steadily but cautiously concentrates on establishing global economic ties while keeping its growing military forces close to home and slowly pulling its massive population out of poverty, “talking softly while building a bigger stick.”
…those upon whom freedom and equality had been dumped overnight and without warning or preparation or any training in how to employ it or even just endure it and who misused it not as children would nor yet because they had been so long in bondage and then so suddenly freed, but misused it as human beings always misuse freedom, so that he thought Apparently there is a wisdom beyond even that learned through suffering necessary for a man to distinguish between liberty and license [William Faulkner, “The Bear,” in The Faulkner Reader, 1954, 322-323.]