Strategy 11

Sacrifice the Plum Tree In Place of the Peach

There are circumstances in which you must sacrifice short-term objectives in order to gain the long-term goal. This is the scapegoat strategy whereby someone else suffers the consequences so that the rest do not.

Three Kingdoms Period China

On one of his campaigns Cao Cao was running short of food. He asked his supply sergeant what he could do. The sergeant suggested reducing the rations by secretly using a smaller cup to parcel out the rice. Cao Cao praised the sergeant and gave his consent to use the smaller measuring cup. After a few days the soldiers began to complain and accused their commander of cheating them. Cao Cao again called in the supply sergeant and told him the situation.
"I will do anything I can to help, but what would you have me do?" asked the sergeant.
"I'm afraid I am going have to borrow your head." replied Cao Cao and he had the sergeant decapitated and his head stuck on a tall pole with a banner that read "Caught cheating on supplies by using a smaller measuring cup."

See Modern Example