Divide and conquer: the strategy of America’s enemies
December 10, 2018
Roughly 231 years ago, James Madison proclaimed that to divide and conquer was the “reprobate axiom of tyranny.”
He was referring to the European empires that lurked around North America waiting to prey on the infant United States.
Today, America has worked its way to the top; her roaring economy, vast military and sprawling network of international alliances is unmatched by any nation on the planet.
Yet the world’s autocrats, knowing that freedom and democracy would spell their demise, sought everything in their power to unravel the U.S.-led world order.
United in hate, countries like North Korea, Iran, Syria and Russia form the new “league of evil.” Their disruptive actions, ranging from cyber attacks to assassinations and sponsorships of terrorist groups, have been aimed at upending American influence in every corner of the world.
While the enemy’s tactics are mercurial, its master plan still fits with Madison’s 200-year-old wisdom.
Take North Korea, a country known for its reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Despite repeatedly threatening to attack U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un reversed gears earlier this year, sending athletes to compete in the Winter Olympics and arranging a peace rally with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Yet there is a reason why all the confetti and heart-warming handshakes did nothing to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program.
When the games commenced, spectators and journalists alike were mesmerized by North Korean cheerleaders who mindlessly clapped their hands in unison, all the while Kim’s rocket scientists were still working around the clock.
Moreover, North Korea’s overtures toward its southern neighbor were likely designed to stir up hopes for peace and reunification among South Koreans. This plays into President Moon’s desire to repair inter-Korean relations, a major campaign promise.
Not wanting to blow its detente with the North, South Korea will be reluctant follow the Trump Administration’s denuclearization plan involving maximum sanctions and diplomatic isolation. Now that a wedge has been driven through the U.S.—South Korean alliance, the “crazy fat kid” gets to keep his toys for now.
On the other side of the globe, Russia’s Vladimir Putin is putting together an unholy alliance with far-right party leaders in NATO countries.
Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-EU National Front in France, admitted in 2017 to accepting loans from a Russian bank to finance her party’s election campaign. In a 2016 interview, Le Pen expressed desire for France to leave the abhorrent EU and establish close ties with Russia, saying that “the only reason we [the French] don’t [embrace Russia] is because the Americans forbid it.”
Hungarian President Viktor Orban also admires Putin. He condemned efforts to sanction Russia after the latter seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Hungary is a NATO member.
Though it is not to say these politicians want Russia to roll the tanks in, they are certainly doing Russia a favor by trying to dismantle institutions serving American security interests in Europe.
A stealthier plan to tear up Europe is Russia’s airstrikes against Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime. If it were not for all those bombs dropped, millions of refugees would never have arrived on Europe’s shores, an event empowering far-right parties to attack the EU and befriend Russia.
From the Japanese islands in the Pacific to the Oval Office, the late former President George H. W. Bush did not fight tyranny his whole life just to see its embers reignite upon his death bed.
Beware the enemy, for they can turn friend into foe.
Guzi is freshman in LAS.