never fight a land war in Asia

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Attributed to various military leaders, including Bernard Montgomery, Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, the quotation has existed in various forms since the Second World War and was popularized by the 1987 movie The Princess Bride. Asia is far more heavily populated than Europe or North America, and while Western armies had technological advantages post-WWII, these could be overcome (as they were in Korea by the Chinese PLA and Vietnam by the PAVN) by sheer numbers.


never fight a land war in Asia

  1. Don't bite off more than you can chew; don't start a fight that is too big to win.
    • 2010 October 1, Zoe Wood, “Retail therapy: foreign chains glimpse window of opportunity in UK market”, in The Guardian[1]:
      Although Britain is one of the world's most lucrative markets, with retail sales of £286bn last year, expensive shop rents and world-class local competition have kept international groups at bay. Indeed, some analysts put the UK in the "never fight a land war in Asia" category due to the challenges posed by the market.
    • 2014 July 4, Evan Jensen, “The Patent Wars”, in Lexology[2]:
      Apple’s mistake in instigating a patent war with Samsung is illustrative of a larger pattern involving large stockpiles of patents. “Never fight a land war in Asia” comes to mind.
    • 2016, Philip Kotler, François Maon, A Stakeholder Approach to Corporate Social Responsibility: Pressures, Conflicts, and Reconciliation, Routledge →ISBN, page 50
      "Well listen here, Walmart," wrote blogger Caroline Gallay, "you should heed the advice of Vizzini in The Princess Bride: Never fight a land war in Asia."