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Strategy 14: Overwhelm Resistance with Speed and Suddenness (The 33 Strategies of War)

The Blitzkrieg Strategy

You must be slow in deliberation and swift in execution.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

In 1218, Muhammad II, the shah of Khwarazm, received a delegation from the Mongol Empire to the east. Genghis Khan had sent the shah three ambassadors who offered gifts, and a treaty that recognized the shah as the superior partner. Together they would take control over the empire that extended around the Silk Road. Months later, another Mongol delegation arrived, this time to buy gold. But the governor of Otrar, a city in the northeastern corner in the shah’s empire, decided to have the delegation killed because he suspected they were spies. Genghis Khan heard of this news, and demanded an apology, but the men who he sent with this message had their heads severed. This meant war.

The shah had a great army and were favored to beat the Mongols, who they described as much weaker than they presumed after their first battle with them. But the Mongols were the fastest army in the world, their soldiers could fight on horseback. Eventually, through speed and misdirection, the Mongols were able to fool the shah’s army, and earned victory in the end, in what is considered the greatest surprise attack in history.

In a world where people are constantly distracted, where people are often lulled into inaction, the prudent strategy would be to strike quickly and boldly. The Blitzkrieg strategy that was used by the Germans, where ground and air warfare were waged simultaneously, and the quick attacks that were launched by Genghis Khan, is the most difficult to counter.

At first, give your enemy the illusion of calm, do not make loud noises, let them think you are slow and complacent. When their guard is down, attack with blistering pace.

The less a thing is foreseen, the more…fright does it cause. This is nowhere seen better than in war, where every surprise strikes terror even to those who are much the stronger.

Xenophon (430?-355? B.C.)

Never fall into a slow natural tempo, you should only be slow for the purpose of misdirection. Otherwise, you should sprint. It is speed that will give you the ultimate advantage.

Read The 33 Strategies of War

"A gilded No is more satisfactory than a dry yes" - Gracian

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