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Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally

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All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely. (Sometimes they have learned this the hard way.) If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: the enemy will recover, and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.

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Keys To Power

  • Your enemies wish you ill. There is nothing they want more than to eliminate you. If, in your struggles with them, you stop halfway out of mercy or hope of reconciliation, you only make them more determined, more embittered and they will someday take revenge.
  • Have no mercy. Crush them totally. Allow your enemies no options.
  • The goal of power is to control your enemies completely, to make them obey your will. You cannot afford to go halfway.


  • This law should rarely be ignored, but it does sometimes happen that it is better to let your enemies destroy themselves.


A priest asked the dying Spanish statesman and general Ramon Maria Narvaez (1800-1868), “Does your Excellency forgive all your enemies?” 

“I do not have to forgive my enemies,” answered Narvaez, “I have had them all shot.” 

The last resort, when words are no longer heard and the enemy cannot possibly be reasoned with, the chances for peace at their lowest, the only option is total destruction. Merely wound the enemy, he will recover and show no mercy in turn.

About The Book

The 48 Laws of Power (1998) is a non-fiction book by American author Robert Greene. The book is a bestseller, selling over 1.2 million copies in the United States.

Buy The 48 Laws of Power or Listen to it for FREE on Audible