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Notes politics Psychology

Strategy 16: Hit Them Where it Hurts (The 33 Strategies of War)

The Center of Gravity Strategy

Man depends on his throat to survive. If his throat is strangled, his give sense organs will become useless. When you are faced with an enemy, know how to locate their throat. Crush your enemy not through brute force, but through intelligent force.

Every person has a center of gravity, it may be a concept, aptitude, or quality that he depends on. It could be his reputation or his deceptiveness, or his unpredictability. But you can render these useless if you play your cards correctly. Alexander the Great fought the Scythians in what is now known as Iraq. The Scythians were unrivalled in strength, no one knew how to defeat them. But Alexander located their center of gravity: their dependence on fighting from horseback, in other words, their mobility. He lured them into an enclosed ground that put an end to their fluid style. The Scythians could not use their cavalry, their once powerful tactics were now useless. Alexander the Great defeated them easily.

When the Communists fought the Nationalists in the civil war for the control of China in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the Communists focused on taking cities the way the Bolsheviks did in Russia. But Mao Tse-Tung, a member of the Communist party who thought differently, knew that China’s center of gravity was their peasant population. If he could win them to his side, the revolution would be successful. This piece of insight was key to the Communists’ victory.

The best way to find an enemy’s center of gravity is to stop thinking conventionally. Do not assume that people have the same weaknesses that you do. Each person is different. Salvador Dali went to the U.S in 1940, he wanted to make his fortune as an artist, but he knew about a very valuable secret – the U.S center of gravity. In Europe, the impetus was to achieve recognition from critics, but this was a doomed strategy in the U.S where only limited success could be achieved this way. So Dali figured out how to reach the American public, he succeeded by wooing the newspapers, he was made a star, and was able to dominate the American art scene.

When the vanes are removed from an arrow, even though the shaft and tip remain it is difficult for the arrow to penetrate deeply.

Ming dynasty strategist Chieh Hsuan (early seventeenth century A.D.)

Read The 33 Strategies of War

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

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