The Human Emperor Chapter 1165
Chapter 1165: The Purpose Of War
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The problem of rebels had always worried Mutasim III, and he had even lost sleep over the matter. But now that he thought about it, although these Tang had come with a great momentum, they had also succeeded in drawing out all the hidden nobles and rebels. Just as the High Priest had said, he just needed to soothe them until the army arrived and then finish them off in one fell swoop, settling the matter once and for all!
If he could use this matter to wipe out all of them, then even being coerced and threatened for one billion taels of gold by these Tang was not out of the question.
This was truly killing two birds with one stone.
Mutasim III's pupils constricted, and he suddenly fell quiet. His brows twitched as he lowered his head and began to think.
Mutasim III turned to a kneeling and silent governor and asked, "Hular, how much time will it take for the soldiers from the other areas to arrive?"
'Empire's White Corpse', Hular!
Although he was not as strong or as famous as the Arab War God Qutaybah, he had also forged his reputation through numerous battles. He had gained his name because his skin was so pale that it seemed like that of a corpse.
But even so, in the surrounding countries, Hular was just as infamous as the Governor of Iron and Blood, Abu Muslim.
He was callous, brutal, and bloodthirsty, and in certain aspects, he was even more formidable than Abu Muslim. The majority of his opponents ended up dying very grisly and wretched deaths.
Of all the governors that had been gathered in Baghdad due to Qutaybah's death, the most renowned was probably this 'Empire's White Corpse'.
Hular was undoubtedly the best commander to deal with the two hundred thousand Tang and rebel soldiers in Khorasan. This was also why the Caliph had aimed this question at him.
Hular thought for a while before finally standing up and saying, "Your Majesty, if we move quickly, the army can be gathered in seven days. But these would all be ordinary soldiers, incapable of posing much of a threat to the high walls of Khorasan. If we want to gather enough elite soldiers and Great Generals to completely vanquish the foe at Khorasan, we need at least fifteen days, perhaps even twenty!"
"Have the soldiers march through the night. In at most ten days, I want all the soldiers to arrive at Khorasan. I cannot permit these eastern infidels to occupy Khorasan for a single day more," Mutasim III said, his voice brooking no objection.
Hular hesitated for only a few moments before firmly declaring, "This general will go!"
Time was short and it was almost impossible for Arabia to gather enough soldiers from its various war zones and march them to Khorasan. But though the task was onerous, as long as the soldiers marched through the night, Empire's White Corpse Hular believed the task to not be impossible. All that was required was just a few losses during the march.
This simply wasn't something that Hular was concerned about.
The bitter loss in the east, the death of Qutaybah, the loss of Khorasan, and Wang Chong's threat… all these things enraged the Arabian Empire, causing it to come to life like some giant war machine and swiftly mobilize its soldiers. The stench of war only thickened, rather than weakening.
In the domed hall of Khorasan, the Anxi Protectorate army's number four individual, Lou Shiyi, couldn't help but speak his mind. "Lord Protector-General, the next Arabian city is only several dozen li from us, and its defenses are unmanned. As long as we are willing, our two hundred thousand men can cross the Tigris River and occupy the city without bloodshed. And General Bahram has also said that there are ten-some more cities farther west, and there are no natural barriers between these cities. If we are willing, we can quickly occupy this territory. Why has Milord decided to halt the march and order the army to rest in this place?"
This Arabian palace was gorgeous, and its domed roof was covered in delicate ivy patterns. The smooth and marble-covered floors were also entirely different from the floors of the Central Plains. The ground was even studded with pearls and agate, a level of luxury that left everyone astonished. But at this moment, whether it was Gao Xianzhi, Cheng Qianli, Xi Yuanqing, Li Siye, the black-armored guard, Su Hanshan, or Xue Qianjun, no one was in the mood to admire such things. All of them were focused on Wang Chong.
Ten-some Arab cities were there for the taking, but Wang Chong had decided to pause the war. This had left all of them mystified.
"Hah. Let me ask you, why is it that we advanced west, from Talas to Samarkand, and then to Khorasan, losing so many people? Was it purely for the sake of battle?"
Wang Chong faintly smiled.
Everyone in the hall was stunned. No one had expected Wang Chong to throw out a question like this. Almost everyone present was a general, and didn't generals live for the sake of battle? Was their entire purpose in existing not to win wars?
No one could hide their confusion
Wang Chong saw their reactions and silently smiled. War was an art, and it was a means, not an end. Before waging a war, one had to understand what its objectives and purposes were. This was how one thought about war on a strategic level. But from the reaction of the people in this hall, this sort of idea was clearly beyond this era.
"A general's duty is to win in battle, but we've already defeated the Arabs, so do we need to continue fighting? We've already lost more than one hundred thousand men. Do you plan to fight until the last man?"
Wang Chong scanned the crowd.
Wang Chong's words left them speechless. In the war between the Great Tang and Arabia, the Great Tang had emerged as the final victor, advancing all the way into the heartland of Arabia, taking Khorasan and even threatening Baghdad. But the Great Tang had paid an immense price for this. Yet a general had to lead their army in victorious battles. If this was not the duty of a soldier, what could it be?
The objective in war was not just to kill people, nor was it battle for battle's sake. Everything was for the sake of profit and advantage. Only if a war was profitable could it be instigated. In this way, it would be a boon and not a burden to the people of a country.
In history, it was wars purely meant for killing people that were denounced, the instigators castigated as warmongers, and these wars sometimes even dragged the entire country down. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty had engaged in wars in all directions, and his political and military achievements were unrivaled, causing him to be hailed as a wise sovereign throughout the ages. But in his later years, his constant warmongering had placed a great burden on the people and caused the power of the country to wane.
"War is a multifaceted and incredibly large-scale endeavor. In terms of manpower, weapons, warhorses, and rations, it consumes vast quantities of resources, which is why the Confucians find every possible reason to attack it. This is precisely why the civil officials don't get along with the martial officials. If a war cannot benefit the empire, no one will support it," Wang Chong sternly said to the crowd.
The quarrels between civil and martial officials had originated long ago, through numerous dynasties. Every time one ignited, it would shake the court. There were even times when these quarrels would cause the collapse of the empire. Upon careful inspection, these quarrels had nothing to do with the difference between civil and martial officials, nor was it because civil officials were graceful while generals were boorish. The root cause was that the war being prosecuted was of no benefit to the empire.
In the eyes of everyone, not just the civil officials, war was an all-consuming endeavor, consuming warhorses, livestock, foodstuffs, and countless lives. All of these were negatives. When a war broke out on the border and a general decided to venture into enemy territory in a defensive counterattack, ultimately emerging victorious, all they succeeded in was not losing points, but they certainly weren't adding to their score.
Overall, soldiers and war had always left a negative impression, with death being their constant companion. To put it another way, the starting of a war entailed mass enlistment and gathering of resources, creating panic amongst the people.
But if war could bring profit, immense profit that could benefit the people, than everything was different.
If one did not try to solve this problem at its roots, the conflict between civil and martial officials would never cease, and war would again and again enter the dead end of warmongering.
All was silent within the hall, everyone pondering these words, Gao Xianzhi included.
Not even Gao Xianzhi had ever seriously considered Wang Chong's question. Soldiers were used to fighting. Once one had the upper hand, the proper thing was to strike while the iron was hot and increase one's gains, not do as Wang Chong was doing. There were ten-some cities that could be taken one after the other, but he had decided to restrain the army and keep them at the ready.
At this time, he had made a demand of war compensation to Arabia, using these ten-some cities as leverage.
This sort of war was unprecedented in the history of the continent, let alone the Central Plains. One had to admit that Wang Chong always had some new idea that would cause others to think.
"But, Wang Chong, one billion taels of gold is an enormous sum. Will the Arabs really agree?"
Cheng Qianli creased his brow, unable to suppress his question.
He had personally supervised the writing of the letter, and Lou Shiyi had been holding the brush. He had even read the letter again before sending it off, so he knew all of its contents. The number of one billion had even made his jaw drop when he saw it the first time. All this gold piled up would truly make a mountain. It was enough to buy many cities. Would the Arabs really agree to such a sky-high price?
At the start, Cheng Qianli had believed that this was just a strategic move from Wang Chong, for the sake of even greater goal, but it now appeared that Wang Chong was completely serious.
"Hahaha, why not?"
Wang Chong confidently gazed at the people in the hall.
"One billion taels of gold is a lot, but it's still something that Arabia can handle. This empire's imperial household is far wealthier than you can imagine, and besides, they don't really have a choice in this matter. Just as all of you have seen, if Arabia refuses, we can swiftly cross the Tigris River and march on all their other cities."