What is a Divide and Conquer Strategy?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A divide and conquer strategy, also known as “divide and rule strategy” is often applied in the arenas of politics and sociology. In this strategy, one power breaks another power into smaller, more manageable pieces, and then takes control of those pieces one by one. It generally takes a very strong power to implement such a strategy. In order to successfully break up another power or government, the conqueror must have access to strong political, military, and economic machines.

Julius Caesar used a divide and conquer strategy to subdue the Celtic tribes.
Julius Caesar used a divide and conquer strategy to subdue the Celtic tribes.

Furthermore, in order to maintain power and influence, large governments will often work to keep smaller powers and governments from uniting. In fact, this use of the principles within the divide and conquer strategy is most common. It is much easier to prevent small powers from linking forces than to break them apart once they have aligned.

Nations may arm rebel groups that exist within the borders of their political rivals as part of a divide and conquer strategy.
Nations may arm rebel groups that exist within the borders of their political rivals as part of a divide and conquer strategy.

Leaders who use a divide and conquer strategy may encourage or foster feuds between smaller powers. This kind of political maneuvering requires a great understanding of the people who are being manipulated. In order to foster feuds, for example, one must understand the political and social histories of the parties intended to take part in the feuds.

The strategy also includes methods with which to control the funds and resources of the small conquered parties. For example, a powerful leader may encourage a less powerful leader to make unwise financial decisions in order to drain the smaller power’s resources. This is often successful if the leaders of the smaller powers have inflated egos and delusions of grandeur. It is important to note that this form is only effective if the smaller power allows itself to be influenced by the larger power.

The divide and conquer strategy has been widely used throughout history. Both the Roman empire and the British empire played small tribes and groups against one another in order to control their lands and territories. It was used by the Romans when they took Britain, when the British Empire took India, and when the Anglo-Normans took Ireland. A staple political strategy, divide and conquer is still used by many countries today.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


You're all part of the divide and conquer strategy when you: cheer for a sports team, express animosity for another race, gender, religion, class, nation, state, profession, etc., etc., etc. You don't even understand the nature of the psychological penetration into the human psyche our masters have garnered through millennia of experimentation on us. We are trained to be divided from birth through social conditioning. Realize it and wake the hell up. Know Thyself says the Oracle, Know when you are being manipulated. What do you think Hollywood's purpose is?


The dumbing down of citizens makes willing clients for destruction.


It is now a strategy not labeled as monarchy conquest but the economic downfall of the working class.

Its objectives include the demise of workers' rights and the unions which many are associated with. Furthermore, it does and will always infringe and abuse common human rights to which all men are supposedly entitled to, and is currently sanctioned by and endorsed by both the British and US governments.

For info on the new conquests, please research the Bilderberg group and the Queen's favorite, Baron Michael Ashcroft. Criminals, the lot of them.



Separation of church and state ensures that the authorities of each remain separate, but both must abide by a transcendent solid moral code in order to properly coexist. Morality forms the basis of a good state as well as a good church.



What about separation of Church and State? Morals aren't supposed to be involved in governments.


Divide and conquer strategies work on ineffective, corrupt, and fragmenting governments. A government which is a strongly democratic and balanced government buttressed by a strong societal moral code will not often fall prey to a new form of government. If, however, such a government loses its moral compass, it falls into disarray and eventually collapses.


What is the objective, the plan for the future in divide and conquer?

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