Divide et impera

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By Francesco Paolo Sgarlata |

“Divide et impera” is a famous Latin sentence valid even today to define a political strategy that aims to favor the divisions in a territory avoiding that single entities, each holding a quantity of power, can unite and form a single center of power stronger and with common goals.
Whoever wants to avoid this, must divide and create disagreements among the single entities, pointing out the differences and not the common ground, so that they never find the possibility of a closer union.

In the case of the European Union, such a strategy can be promoted from the inside by some individual Member States with sovereignist governments, or by others that historically always refused a closer European integration, for the sole purpose of maintaining their power locally.

The same strategy can be promoted from the outside, ie from non-European states that have no interest in creating a strong concentration of power in Europe with which to confront, but on the contrary in keeping each member state divided, less powerful and therefore better controllable.

International political science teach us that divisions among states can be created not only by making convergences impossible or at least more difficult: this can be done by questioning the value and the importance of a closer union, by valuing institutional and diplomatic relations with states one by one and on the opposite by denying or diminishing the weight of a central authority, but also by granting aid or promoting privileged agreements with some states of the Union to the detriment of others.

In any bargaining it is better to act from a position of strength confronting many weak interlocutors rather than a united and stronger entity.
This is valid in any field: the small shareholders of a company, when divided, count for little against a majority shareholder, even relative, but when they join together they become a far more powerful entity. The same reasoning is also valid from the military point of view: as von Clausewitz teaches us, it is better to deal with a fragmented and non-cohesive enemy than with a stronger and organized one.

We should think about it, especially in a historical moment like the present one, with enormous global challenges facing Europe and with modern wars that are no longer done with weapons but through economy and finance.


Francesco Paolo Sgarlata – Editorial Director

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