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In politics and sociology, divide and rule (derived from Latin divide et impera) (also known as divide and conquer) is a combination of political, military and economic strategy of gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. In reality, it often refers to a strategy where small power groups are prevented from linking up and becoming more powerful, since it is difficult to break up existing power structures.

The maxims divide et impera or divide ut regnes are traditionally identified with the principle of government of the Old French Republic. This attribution is not entirely reliable, insofar as the Roman ruler, Caesar, also used this tactic in earlier times. It is, however, borne out by the example of Gabinius parting the Jewish nation into five conventions, reported by Flavius Josephus in Book I, 169-170 of The Wars of the Jews (De bello Judaico) [1]. Likewise, Strabo reports in Geography, 8.7.3 [2], that the Achaean League was gradually dissolved under the Roman possession of the whole of Greece, owing to them not dealing with the several states in the same way, but wishing to preserve some and to destroy others.

In modern times, Traiano Boccalini cites "Divide et impera" in La bilancia politica, 1,136 and 2,225 as a common principle in politics. The use of this technique is meant to empower the sovereign to control subjects, populations, or factions of different interests, who collectively might be able to oppose his rule. Machiavelli identifies a similar application to military strategy, advising in Book VI of The Art of War [3] (Dell'arte della guerra [4]), that a Captain should endeavor with every art to divide the forces of the enemy, either by making him suspicious of his men in whom he trusted, or by giving him cause that he has to separate his forces, and, because of this, become weaker.

The strategy of division and rule has been attributed to sovereigns ranging from Louis XI to the Habsburgs. Its historical reception has been mixed. Thus Edward Coke denounces it in Chapter I of the Fourth Part of the Institutes, reporting that when it was demanded by the Lords and Commons what might be a principal motive for them to have good success in Parliament, it was answered: "Eritis insuperabiles, si fueritis inseparabiles. Explosum est illud diverbium: Divide, & impera, cum radix & vertex imperii in obedientium consensus rata sunt." [You would be insuperable if you were inseparable. This proverb, Divide and rule, has been rejected, since the root and the summit of authority are confirmed by the consent of the subjects.] On the other hand, in a minor variation, Sir Francis Bacon touts the cunning maxim of "separa et impera" in a letter to James I of 15 February 1615. Likewise James Madison recommends in a letter to Thomas Jefferson of 24 October 1787 [5], summarizing the thesis of The Federalist #10 [6]: "Divide et impera, the reprobated axiom of tyranny, is under certain qualifications, the only policy, by which a republic can be administered on just principles." In Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch by Immanuel Kant (1795), Appendix one. divide et impera is the third of three political maxims. The other being Fac et excusa and Si fecisti, nega. [1] Typical elements of this technique are said to involve

  • creating or encouraging divisions among the subjects in order to forestall alliances that could challenge the sovereign.
  • aiding and promoting those who are willing to cooperate with the sovereign.
  • fostering distrust and enmity between local rulers.
  • encouraging frivolous expenditures that leave little money for political and military ends.

The use of this strategy was imputed to administrators of vast empires, including the Roman and British, who were charged with playing one tribe against another to maintain control of their territories with a minimal number of imperial forces. The concept of "Divide and Rule" gained prominence when India was a part of the British Empire, but was also used to account for the strategy used by the Romans to take Britain, and for the Anglo-Normans to take Ireland. It is said that the British used the strategy to gain control of the large territory of India by keeping its people divided along lines of religion, language, or caste, taking control of petty princely states in India piecemeal.

Also mentioned as a strategy for market action in economics, it can be applied to get the most out of the players in a competitive market.

Contents

Examples of Divide and Conquer strategies

Africa

Western countries have used the divide and conquer strategy in Africa during the colonial and post-colonial period.

  • Germany and Belgium both ruled Rwanda and Burundi in a colonial capacity. Germany used the strategy of divide and conquer by placing members of the Tutsi minority in positions of power. When Belgium took over in 1916, the Tutsi and Hutu groups were rearranged according to race rather than by occupation. Belgium defined "Tutsi" as anyone with more than ten cows or a long nose, while "Hutu" meant someone with less than ten cows and a broad nose. The socioeconomic divide between Tutsis and Hutus continued after independence and was a major factor in the Rwandan Genocide.
  • During British rule of Nigeria from 1900 to 1960 different regions were frequently reclassified for administrative purposes. The British used conflict between Igbo and Hausa as a means of consolidating their power in the region. Regional, ethnic, and religious splits remain a barrier to uniting Nigeria. [7]

Cyprus

  • Cyprus was placed under British control on 4 June 1878 as a result of the Cyprus Convention, which granted control of the island to Britain in return for British support of the Ottoman Empire in the Russian-Turkish War.
  • Famagusta harbour was completed in June 1906; by this time the island was a strategic naval outpost for the British Empire, shoring up influence over the Eastern Mediterranean and Suez Canal, the crucial main route to India.
  • A British colonial strategy was to keep the Greek Cypriot majority and Turkish Cypriot minority of the island separate and discourage intermingling. The British hoped and succeeded to strengthen their hold on this strategically important colony. [8]
  • Cyprus Independence was attained in 1960 after exhaustive negotiations between the United Kingdom, as the colonial power, and Greece and Turkey, the cultural 'motherlands' for both of the communities in Cyprus. The UK ceded the island under a constitution allocating government posts and public offices by ethnic quota, but retained two Sovereign Base Areas. The British drafted constitution, reflected mutual distrust bred earlier between the communities by the colonial power. Today, two British Sovereign Base Areas are found in Cyprus and the divide et impera effects endure as the Cyprus dispute.

Europe

India

The British employed "Divide and Rule" in British India as a means of preventing an uprising against the Raj. The partition of India is often attributed to these policies [2].

In his historical survey Constantine's Sword, James P. Carroll writes,

"Typically, imperial powers depend on the inability of oppressed local populations to muster a unified resistance, and the most successful occupiers are skilled at exploiting the differences among the occupied. Certainly that was the story of the British Empire's success, and its legacy of nurtured local hatreds can be seen wherever the Union Flag flew, from Muslim-Hindu hatred in Pakistan and India, to Catholic-Protestant hatred in Ireland, to, yes, Jew-Arab, hatred in modern Israel. [Ancient] Rome was as good at encouraging internecine resentments among the occupied as Britain ever was." [3]

As has been noted by numerous scholars of British rule in India, the physical presence of the British in India was not significant. Yet, for almost two centuries, the British were able to rule two-thirds of the subcontinent directly, and exercise considerable leverage over the Princely States that accounted for the remaining one-third. While the strategy of divide and conquer was used most effectively, an important aspect of British rule in India was the psychological indoctrination of an elite layer within Indian society who were artfully tutored into becoming model British subjects. This English-educated layer of Indian society was craftily encouraged in absorbing values and notions about themselves and their land of birth that would be conducive to the British occupation of India, and furthering British goals of looting India's physical wealth and exploiting its labour.

In 1835, Thomas Macaulay articulated the goals of British colonial imperialism most clearly:"I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace the old and ancient education system, her culture, because if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them to be, a truly dominated nation."

The strategy was succinctly put: "We must do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, words and intellect." As the architect of Colonial Britain's Educational Policy in India, Thomas Macaulay was to set the tone for what educated Indians were going to learn about themselves, their civilization, and their view of Britain and the world around them. An arch-racist, Thomas Macaulay had nothing but scornful disdain for Indian history and civilization. In his infamous minute of 1835, he wrote that he had "never found one among them (speaking of Orientalists, an opposing political faction) who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia". "It is, no exaggeration to say, that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England". [4]

Middle East

  • Israel has supported Kurdish groups in Iraq, Syria, and Iran. The Israeli foreign-intelligence agency, Mossad, has allegedly conducted covert operations in Kurdish areas such as by training Kurdish guerrillas (or terrorists). This is denied by the Israeli government, yet supported by an anonymous source in the CIA. This is viewed as a means to reduce the power of anti-Israeli governments.[10] [11]
  • During Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon Israel installed the South Lebanon Army, a Christian-led proxy militia, to manage a 12-mile wide occupied zone along the border. Israel supplied the SLA with arms and resources to fight Lebanese resistance forces led by Hizbullah. Israel also used the Phalange as a proxy militia to fight Shia Lebanese and the Palestine Liberation Organization. This partly resulted in the infamous Sabra and Shatila Massacre, in which hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinian refugees and Lebanese Muslims were killed by Christian Phalangists, allowed to enter while the Israeli Defense Force surrounded the camps.

Mexico

see: the Chiapas conflict

See also

References


In politics and sociology, divide and rule (derived from Latin divide et impera) (also known as divide and conquer) is a combination of political, military and economic strategy of gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. In reality, it often refers to a strategy where small power groups are prevented from linking up and becoming more powerful, since it is difficult to break up existing power structures.

The maxims divide et impera or divide ut regnes are traditionally identified with the principle of government of the Old French Republic. This attribution is not entirely reliable, insofar as the Roman ruler, Caesar, also used this tactic in earlier times. It is, however, borne out by the example of Gabinius parting the Jewish nation into five conventions, reported by Flavius Josephus in Book I, 169-170 of The Wars of the Jews (De bello Judaico) [1]. Likewise, Strabo reports in Geography, 8.7.3 [2], that the Achaean League was gradually dissolved under the Roman possession of the whole of Greece, owing to them not dealing with the several states in the same way, but wishing to preserve some and to destroy others.

In modern times, Traiano Boccalini cites "Divide et impera" in La bilancia politica, 1,136 and 2,225 as a common principle in politics. The use of this technique is meant to empower the sovereign to control subjects, populations, or factions of different interests, who collectively might be able to oppose his rule. Machiavelli identifies a similar application to military strategy, advising in Book VI of The Art of War [3] (Dell'arte della guerra [4]), that a Captain should endeavor with every art to divide the forces of the enemy, either by making him suspicious of his men in whom he trusted, or by giving him cause that he has to separate his forces, and, because of this, become weaker.

The strategy of division and rule has been attributed to sovereigns ranging from Louis XI to the Habsburgs. Its historical reception has been mixed. Thus Edward Coke denounces it in Chapter I of the Fourth Part of the Institutes, reporting that when it was demanded by the Lords and Commons what might be a principal motive for them to have good success in Parliament, it was answered: "Eritis insuperabiles, si fueritis inseparabiles. Explosum est illud diverbium: Divide, & impera, cum radix & vertex imperii in obedientium consensus rata sunt." [You would be insuperable if you were inseparable. This proverb, Divide and rule, has been rejected, since the root and the summit of authority are confirmed by the consent of the subjects.] On the other hand, in a minor variation, Sir Francis Bacon touts the cunning maxim of "separa et impera" in a letter to James I of 15 February 1615. Likewise James Madison recommends in a letter to Thomas Jefferson of 24 October 1787 [5], summarizing the thesis of The Federalist #10 [6]: "Divide et impera, the reprobated axiom of tyranny, is under certain qualifications, the only policy, by which a republic can be administered on just principles." In Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch by Immanuel Kant (1795), Appendix one, Divide et impera is the third of three political maxims, the others being Fac et excusa and Si fecisti, nega. [1] Typical elements of this technique are said to involve

  • creating or encouraging divisions among the subjects in order to forestall alliances that could challenge the sovereign.
  • aiding and promoting those who are willing to cooperate with the sovereign.
  • fostering distrust and enmity between local rulers.
  • encouraging frivolous expenditures that leave little money for political and military ends.

The use of this strategy was imputed to administrators of vast empires, including the Roman and British, who were charged with playing one tribe against another to maintain control of their territories with a minimal number of imperial forces. The concept of "Divide and Rule" gained prominence when India was a part of the British Empire, but was also used to account for the strategy used by the Romans to take Britain, and for the Anglo-Normans to take Ireland. It is said that the British used the strategy to gain control of the large territory of India by keeping its people divided along lines of religion, language, or caste, taking control of petty princely states in India piecemeal.

Also mentioned as a strategy for market action in economics, it can be applied to get the most out of the players in a competitive market.

Contents

Examples of Divide and Conquer strategies

Africa

Western countries have used the divide and conquer strategy in Africa during the colonial and post-colonial period.

  • Germany and Belgium both ruled Rwanda and Burundi in a colonial capacity. Germany used the strategy of divide and conquer by placing members of the Tutsi minority in positions of power. When Belgium took over in 1916, the Tutsi and Hutu groups were rearranged according to race rather than by occupation. Belgium defined "Tutsi" as anyone with more than ten cows or a long nose, while "Hutu" meant someone with less than ten cows and a broad nose. The socioeconomic divide between Tutsis and Hutus continued after independence and was a major factor in the Rwandan Genocide.
  • During British rule of Nigeria from 1900 to 1960 different regions were frequently reclassified for administrative purposes. The British used conflict between Igbo and Hausa as a means of consolidating their power in the region. Regional, ethnic, and religious splits remain a barrier to uniting Nigeria. [7]

Cyprus

  • Cyprus was placed under British control on 4 June 1878 as a result of the Cyprus Convention, which granted control of the island to Britain in return for British support of the Ottoman Empire in the Russian-Turkish War.
  • Famagusta harbour was completed in June 1906; by this time the island was a strategic naval outpost for the British Empire, shoring up influence over the Eastern Mediterranean and Suez Canal, the crucial main route to India.
  • A British colonial strategy was to keep the Greek Cypriot majority and Turkish Cypriot minority of the island separate and discourage intermingling. The British hoped and succeeded to strengthen their hold on this strategically important colony. [8]
  • Cyprus Independence was attained in 1960 after exhaustive negotiations between the United Kingdom, as the colonial power, and Greece and Turkey, the cultural 'motherlands' for both of the communities in Cyprus. The UK ceded the island under a constitution allocating government posts and public offices by ethnic quota, but retained two Sovereign Base Areas. The British drafted constitution, reflected mutual distrust bred earlier between the communities by the colonial power. Today, two British Sovereign Base Areas are found in Cyprus and the divide et impera effects endure as the Cyprus dispute.

Europe

  • The Salami strategy of Hungarian Communist leader, Mátyás Rákosi.[citation needed]

India

The British employed "Divide and Rule" in British India as a means of preventing an uprising against the Raj. The partition of India is often attributed to these policies [2].

In his historical survey Constantine's Sword, James P. Carroll writes,

"Typically, imperial powers depend on the inability of oppressed local populations to muster a unified resistance, and the most successful occupiers are skilled at exploiting the differences among the occupied. Certainly that was the story of the British Empire's success, and its legacy of nurtured local hatreds can be seen wherever the Union Flag flew, from Muslim-Hindu hatred in Pakistan and India, to Catholic-Protestant hatred in Ireland, to, yes, Jew-Arab, hatred in modern Israel. [Ancient] Rome was as good at encouraging internecine resentments among the occupied as Britain ever was." [3]

As has been noted by numerous scholars of British rule in India, the physical presence of the British in India was not significant. Yet, for almost two centuries, the British were able to rule two-thirds of the subcontinent directly, and exercise considerable leverage over the Princely States that accounted for the remaining one-third. While the strategy of divide and conquer was used most effectively, an important aspect of British rule in India was the psychological indoctrination of an elite layer within Indian society who were artfully tutored into becoming model British subjects. This English-educated layer of Indian society was craftily encouraged in absorbing values and notions about themselves and their land of birth that would be conducive to the British occupation of India, and furthering British goals of looting India's physical wealth and exploiting its labour.

Macaulay, in his minutes, says: "We must do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, words and intellect." As the architect of Colonial Britain's Educational Policy in India, Thomas Macaulay was to set the tone for what educated Indians were going to learn about themselves, their civilization, and their view of Britain and the world around them. An arch-racist, Thomas Macaulay had nothing but scornful disdain for Indian history and civilization. In his infamous minute of 1835, in which he argued that Indians would be best served by a western education in the English language, he wrote that he had "never found one among them (speaking of Orientalists, an opposing political faction) who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia". "It is, no exaggeration to say, that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England".[4]

Middle East

  • Some argue that the development and propagation of the Bahai faith in the 1920s and onwards was a distinctly British tactic designed to add another "religious minority" to the Muslim fabric of the Middle-East, most notably in Iran and other lands with an Iranian populace. [9]
  • Israel has supported Kurdish groups in Iraq, Syria, and Iran. The Israeli foreign-intelligence agency, Mossad, has allegedly conducted covert operations in Kurdish areas such as by training Kurdish guerrillas (or terrorists). This is denied by the Israeli government, yet supported by an anonymous source in the CIA. This is viewed as a means to reduce the power of anti-Israeli governments.[11] [12]
  • During Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon Israel installed the South Lebanon Army, a Christian-led proxy militia, to manage a 12-mile wide occupied zone along the border. Israel supplied the SLA with arms and resources to fight Lebanese resistance forces led by Hizbullah. Israel also used the Phalange as a proxy militia to fight Shia Lebanese and the Palestine Liberation Organization. This partly resulted in the infamous Sabra and Shatila Massacre, in which hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinian refugees and Lebanese Muslims were killed by Christian Phalangists, allowed to enter while the Israeli Defense Force surrounded the camps.

Mexico

see: the Chiapas conflict

See also

References








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