The 33 Strategies of War – Robert Greene

Wooshy, Going Postal

We live in a uncertain times. Our politicians appear to have gone against democracy. We are being attacked on all sides by our enemies. Although we are on the back foot all is not lost. We are going to have to wage war on ourselves, our enemies. I advise everyone to read the Robert Greene Books on War, Strategy and Seduction. Below are a concise overview of the 33 strategies of war. Some of you will obviously realise that these have been used over time, in fact the full book goes into detail and uses historical examples of how each of these were used in different times. Indeed they will also be used against us. Some of you will also notice that some of these strategies are at odds with each other, but it’s about using the right strategy at the right time for maximum effect!

1: Declare war on your enemies: Polarity

Life is an endless battle, and you cannot fight if you haven’t identified the enemy. People are subtle, disguising their intentions, they pretend to be on your side. To gain clarity we must smoke them out, spot the signs and habits that reveal hostility. Once they are revealed inwardly declare war. Your enemies can fill you with purpose and direction. People who stand in our way, people we loathe, their reactions they are a source of energy. Do not be naive, some enemies there can be no middle ground.

2: Do not fight the last war: Guerilla-war-of-the-mind

What often weighs us down and brings misery is the past, repetitions of tried formulas and memories of old victories and defeats. We must continuously wage war on ourselves, react to the present moment. Strike out in new directions even if they involve risk. What we may lose in comfort and security, we gain surprise. Making it harder for our enemies to read our next move. Wage war on our own minds. No static lines of defence,  no citadel exposed. Keep everything fluid and mobile.

3: Amidst the turmoil of events, do not lose your presence of mind: Counterbalance

In the heat of the battle the mind tends to loose its balance. Keep your presence of mind in whichever situation arise, unexpected set backs, doubts and criticisms from our allies. Do not react emotionally, make your mind tougher by exposing it constantly to adversity. Learn to detach yourself from the chaos in the battlefield, let others loose their heads, your presence of mind will steer you clear of unneeded influence, keeping you on course.

4: Create a sense of urgency and desperation: Death-ground

You are your own worst enemy, we waste time dreaming of a future instead of engaging in the present. Nothing seems urgent and we only involve ourselves with half effort. We must change through action and outside pressure. Put yourselves in situations where too much as at stake to waste time or resources. Cut your ties and enter the unknown territory, place yourself on death ground where your back is against the wall and you have to fight like hell to get out alive.

5: Avoid the snares of groupthink: Command-and-control

The issue with leading any group is people have their own agendas, if you are too authoritarian they will resent you and rebel in silent ways. If you are too laid back they will revert to their natural selfishness and you will lose control. You have to create a a chain of command in which people don’t resent your influence but follow your lead. Simple man management, the right person in the right job. People who will take your spirit without being robotic, make your commands clear, inspiring. Focus attention on the team not the leader. Be seen to participate, but do not fall into group think.

6: Segment your forces: Controlled-chaos

Critical elements in war are speed and adaptability, this is difficult today. Where information is at our fingertips, making interpretation and decision making more difficult. Speed and adaptability come from flexible organisation, break your forces into independent groups that can operate on their own. Give the spirit of the campaign with goals to achieve, and then let them run.

7: Transform your war into a crusade: Morale

Motivate people by getting them to think less about themselves and more about the group. Involve them in a cause, a crusade against a hated enemy. Make them see their survival is tied to the success of the army as a whole. Lead from the front, be seen in the trenches, make sacrifices for the cause. Make both rewards and punishments rare but meaningful, a motivated army can work wonders making up for a lack of material resources. Infect your troops with enthusiasm.

8: Pick your battles carefully: Perfect-economy

We all have limitations, we can only go so far. Danger comes from trying to overextend ourselves, we become exhausted and vulnerable. Consider the hidden costs of war: time, political goodwill, an embittered enemy bent on revenge. Sometimes it is better to undermine your enemies covertly, rather than direct attack. If a fight cannot be avoided force the enemy to fight you on your terms. Aim at their weakness make war for them expensive and cheap for you. Fighting with perfect economy you can outlast even the most powerful foe.

9: Turn the tables: Counterattack

Let the other side move first. If the enemy is aggressive, bait them into a rash attack that leaves them in a weak position. Use their impatience and eagerness to attack you, as a way to throw them off balance. In a difficult situation do not despair or retreat, any footing can be turned around. Wait for the right moment to launch a counterattack. Weakness can become strength.

10: Create a threatening presence: Deterrence

The best way to deal with aggressors is to keep them from attacking the first place. Create an impression of being crazy, build a reputation that you take your enemies with you even when you lose. Uncertainty is better than an overt threats. If the opposition are not sure what messing you will cost they wont want to find out. Play on their fears and anxieties to make the think twice.

11: Trade space for time: Nonengagement

Retreat in the face of a strong enemy is not a weakness, it is a sign of strength. Resisting the temptation to respond buys valuable time. By refusing to fight you infuriate you enemy and feed their arrogance. Soon they will over extend themselves and become weak. Sometimes you accomplish most by doing nothing.

12: Lose battles, but win the war: Grand strategy

Everyone around you is angling for power, all promoting their own interests often at your expense. Your daily battles with them make you loose sight of the only thing that matters. Victory in the end. Grand strategy is the art of looking beyond the present battle and calculating ahead. Focus on your ultimate goal and plot to reach it. Consider the ramifications and long term consequences of what you do. Don’t react emotionally to people, make your actions more dimensional, subtle and effective. Let others get caught up in frantic small battles, let them enjoy their small victories. Grand Strategy brings you the ultimate reward: the last laugh.

13: Know your enemy: Intelligence

The target of your strategies is not the army you face, but the mind who runs it. Learn to read people, if you understand how their mind works you gain the key to controlling and deceiving it. Pick up on the signals people unconsciously send out about their intentions and thoughts. A friendly front will allow you to observe, be careful not to project your own emotions and mental habits on to them, try to think as they think. By finding your opponents weaknesses you can unhinge them mentally.

14: Overwhelm resistance with speed and suddenness: Blitzkrieg

In a world where people are cautious, speed is power. Striking first, before enemies have time to think or prepare will make them emotional, unbalanced, and prone to error. Striking again will catch your opponent off guard. This is best used with a setup, lull your opponent and hit them with unrelenting force. Acting with speed will give you irresistible momentum.

15: Control the dynamic: Forcing

Instead of trying to dominate the other side’s every move, work to define the nature of the relationship itself. Control your opponent’s mind, pushing emotional buttons and compelling them to make mistakes. If necessary allow them to feel they have the upper hand. But you control the dynamic and direction of the battle, anything they do will ultimately play into your hands.

16: Hit them where it hurts: Center-of-gravity

Everyone has a source of power for which they depend. When you look at your rivals look beneath the surface what drives them, that source, their core. Whatever it is that holds that structure together. Find out what he or she cherishes and protects and that is where you must strike.

17: Defeat them in detail: Divide and conquer

Separate enemy in to parts, and sow dissension and division. Look for the joints and weak areas in your enemy, this is where you must concentrate. Turn a large problem into small, eminently defeatable parts. Division is weakness, and the joints are the weakest areas in any structure.

18: Expose and attack your opponent’s soft flank: Turning

Frontal assaults stiffen resistance. Instead, distract your enemy’s attention to the front, then attack from the side when they over extend and reveal their weakness. Hit them where they are soft and unprotected, you create shock and awe, a moment of weakness for you to exploit. Approach stubborn opponents indirectly, when they reach out rake the with fire from the side.

19: Envelop the enemy: Annihilation

Offer no gaps in your defence, keep up relentless pressure from all sides and close off their access to the outside world. When you sense weakening resolve, tighten the noose and crush their willpower. Make your attacks unpredictable, use psychologically to encircle your enemies mind.

20: Maneuver them into weakness: Ripening for the sickle

Fighting is unimaginative, costly and exhausting. Before the battle begins, put your opponent in a position of such weakness that victory is easy and quick. Create dilemmas where all potential choices are bad. If your opponent holds a strong position, make them abandon it by leading them on a wild goose chase. Give them chaos and disorder from every direction. Confused and frustrate enemies are like ripe fruit on the branch, the slightest breeze will make them fall.

21: Negotiate while advancing: Diplomatic war

Before and during negotiations, keep advancing, creating relentless pressure and compelling the other side to settle on your terms. The more you take, the more you can give back in meaningless concessions. Create a reputation for being tough and uncompromising so that people are giving ground even before they meet you.

22: Know how to end things: Exit strategy

You are judged by how well things conclude. Know when to stop. Avoid all conflicts and entanglements from which there are no realistic exits. A messy or incomplete end can ruin your reputation in the process, never create bitter enemies that will embroil you in conflict at a later date.

23: Weave a seamless blend of fact and fiction: Misperception

Make it hard for your enemies to know what is going on around them. Feed their expectations, manufacture a reality to match their desires, and they will fool themselves. Disturb their focus and weaken their power, control people’s perceptions of reality and you control them.

24: Take the line of least expectation: Ordinary-Extraordinary

Upset people expectations. First do something ordinary and conventional, then hit them with the extraordinary. Never rely on unorthodox strategy that has worked before, it is conventional the second time. Sometimes the ordinary is extraordinary because it is unexpected.

25: Occupy the moral high ground: Righteousness

The cause you are fighting for must seem more just than the enemy’s. Questioning their motives and making enemies appear evil can narrow their base of support and room to manoeuvre. Aim at their soft spots, in their public image, exposes any hypocrisies on their part. When you come under moral attack from a clever enemy, don’t whine or get angry–fight fire with fire. Use guilt as a moral weapon.

26: Deny them targets: The Void

The feeling of emptiness is intolerable for most people. Give enemies no target to attack. Be dangerous and elusive, and let them chase you into the void. Deliver irritating but damaging side attacks and pinpricks. Your opponents will grow exhausted and irrational, make your guerrilla war part of a grand political cause, a peoples war that crests into a irresistible revolution.

27: Seem to work for the interests of others while furthering your own: Alliance

Keep shifting your network of alliances, to minimise bloodshed or exhausting resources, the art of this is choosing the right alliance at the time to fill the gaps in your power. Give them gifts, offer friendship, help them in that time of need, then get others to compensate for your deficiencies, do your dirty work, fight your wars. Sow dissension in the alliances of others, weakening opponents by isolating them. Keep free of negative entanglements.

28: Give your rivals enough rope to hang themselves: One-upmanship

We live in a time where we must maintain an act of consideration and civility. Instill doubts and insecurities in rivals, getting them to think too much and act defensive. Bait them with subtle challenges that get under the skin, triggering an over reaction and a embarrassing mistake. Make them hang themselves through their own self-destructive tendencies, leaving you blameless and clean.

29: Take small bites: Fait Accompli

If you seem to ambitious you stir up jealousy and resentment. Quick rises to the top often create distrust and suspicion. Take small bites to play on people’s short attention span. Stay under the radar and people wont see your movement., Before they notice, you may acquire an empire.

30: Penetrate their minds: Communication

The goal is to keep advancing and penetrate your enemies mind, learn to Infiltrate your ideas behind enemy lines. Sending messages through little details, lure people into coming to the conclusions you desire, and into thinking they’ve gotten there by themselves. Make your words a spark for action, avoid static the use of language, preachy or overly personal we don’t want passive contemplation.

31: Destroy from within: The Inner Front

Infiltrate your opponents ranks and work from within to bring them down. Give them no target to react against, the ultimate advantage. From within sow internal divisions, no structure can last when it is suffering from long term rot within. To take something you want, don’t fight those who have it, but join them. Then either slowly make it your own or wait for the right moment to stage a coup.

32: Dominate while seeming to submit: Passive-Aggression

Seem to go along, offering no resistance, but actually dominate the situation. Disguise your aggression so you can deny that it exists. Be noncommittal even act a little helpless, but make sure the dynamic revolves around you. Some may sense your plans and get angry, act innocent. If done correctly they will feel guilty for making accusations.

33: Sow uncertainty and panic through acts of terror: Chain Reaction

Terror can paralyse a people’s will to resist and destroy their ability to plan a strategic response. The goal is to cause maximum chaos and provoke a desperate overreaction. Melt invisibly into the population, tailor your actions to gain maximum reactions, create an illusion that you are everywhere and thus more powerful than they are. To counter terror, stay balanced and rational.


Obviously I know of the Art of War by Sun Tzu, it is a very very good book, but a much harder read. I found Robert Greene’s books much more “accessible”. Thank you for taking the time to read this, I wish all of Britain well and Godspeed. I fear this war may take longer than our mortal coils. But we cannot allow our country to fall under false pretences.

© Wooshy 2018

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