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Promoting adversaries

Promoting adversaries refers to a self-organizing tactical relationship between opposing organizations (can be countries, terrorist organizations, businesses, religious institutions, etc. - and mixes of any of these, i.e. terrorist org. vs. country) in which both opposing sides benefit (gain/concentrate power or wealth) by attacking each other. The relationship usually relies on either side never fully defeating the other, because the whole time their 'conflict' helps both sides (while each side also simultaneously takes occasional 'acceptable' losses).

The tactic is mutually beneficial, even though it occurs between opposing organizations.


Promoting adversaries in military, politics, and economics

Promoting adversaries works within a tendency where those opposed are increasingly polarized. When the tactic is used, it has the effect of making those involved in the relationship even more extreme than they were to begin with. Fundamentalist groups become more fanatical & more ruthlessly violent... and nations, agencies, militaries & political parties become more repressive and authoritarian -- as the time they oppose each other increases in quantity.

  • It is argued by some that the modern day military tactic of suicide bombing emerged from conditions in which 1 or more promoting adversaries relationships developed.

The term promoting adversaries was coined by Rawi Hage in his article about an example of this tactical relationship being used by Israel & Hezbollah. He referred to promoting adversaries as "the secret to fundamentalism". *Hage, Rawi "The Killing Formula", "Macleans", July 21 2006. Accessed June 022007.
He described it as a mathematical formula: minus times minus equals a plus (-1 x -1 = +1).

Modern examples involving violence:

United States vs. al-Qaeda
Israel vs. Hezbollah
Israel vs. Hamas

Promoting adversaries in pop culture and public relations

This tactic is dynamically similar to certain publicity techniques, and so can be used by individuals and products seeking to gain/concentrate power or wealth as well.

Some examples include: Donald Trump vs. Rosie O'Donnell
Paris Hilton vs. Nicole Richie
Paris Hilton vs. Lindsey Lohan
As well as aspects of manufactured conflict for ratings purposes on many "reality" shows on TV...

"Promoting Adversaries" has also been parodied most recently by Stephen Colbert on his show, The Colbert Report in which Stephen's brand of Ben & Jerry's ice cream (AmeriCone Dream) is pitted against Willie Nelson's brand of Ben & Jerry's ice cream (Country Peach Cobbler). Of course, it is obvious to note, that this public 'conflict' generates advertising for both products, which are owned by the same company.

Promoting adversaries is a similar concept to the term frenemy.

Further reading

  • Rawi Hage. "The Killing Formula." Macleans,21 July 2006.
  • C.R. Heist. Nothing is Better than God, 2007. ISBN 978-0-6151-4747-5
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Promoting_adversaries". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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