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Notes politics

Strategy 10: Create a Threatening Presence (The 33 Strategies of War)

Deterrence Strategies

When opponents are unwilling to fight with you, it is because they think it is contrary to their interests, or because you have misled them into thinking so.

Sun Tzu

Everyone is vulnerable. but some people are more aggressive. The ruthless see the weak and the timid as easy targets that they can prey upon, and it is not that they know for sure who is weak and who is not, but there are signs that inform their judgments.

Do not make the mistake of appearing weak, for it invites those who are more aggressive and malicious than you to take notice. Instead, project strength, learn how to intimidate others through bold moves, and a frightening reputation.

If your organization is small in numbers, then do what Gideon did: conceal the members in the dark but raise a din and clamor that will make the listener believe that your organization numbers many more than it does…. Always remember the first rule of power tactics: Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.

RULES FOR RADICALS, SAUL D. ALINSKY, 1972

For many years, you should slowly work on building an image of someone who is ruthless and terrifying. This is how you will manage to stave off potential threats. If you are faced with an enemy, you should surprise them with your actions. If you are threatened or bullied, turn the tables around. Do not wait for them to become comfortable with their idea of you as a pushover. Do not be afraid of acting irrationally. Aggressors use the reason of others as fuel for their own behavior. The more reasonable you are, the more room you give them to push.

And if you are always calm and rational, you become predictable, and your enemy will know how to manipulate and scare you with minimal force. But if you occasionally do something irrational and bold, you force your enemy to think twice. Since he will not believe that your move was done purely for show, he will suspect that there is something behind your irrationality that he does not understand.

Another anecdote explaining iwao-no-mi concerns an accomplished warrior who had reached the highest stage of the art of sword fighting. Having been enlightened as to the true meaning of the art of sword fighting, which should be based on the promotion of well-being of people rather than the destruction or killing of others, this great master was not interested in fighting any longer. His ability in the art of sword fighting was absolutely unquestionable; he was respected and feared by everyone. He walked the streets with a cane like a bored old man and yet wherever he went people looked at him with intense fear and respect. People were careful not to anger him and the old man was nonchalant. This is akin to having a huge rock hanging above a mountain path. People are afraid of the rock, which they believe may come down at any moment, and so they walk quietly and carefully under the rock. But the rock is actually very stable, being planted in the ground so deeply that it will never fall down. But people do not know it, and they continue to fear that it will fall down if they make any kind of loud noise as they walk under it. The rock just sits there completely indifferent to its surroundings and people’s fear and awe.

A WAY TO VICTORY: THE ANNOTATED BOOK OF FIVE RINGS, TRANSLATED AND COMMENTARY BY HIDY OCHIAI, 2001

Read The 33 Strategies of War

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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