Thomas Wictor

Negativity guarantees that you will lose

Negativity guarantees that you will lose

If you want to win a war, you can’t depend only on weapons, technology, training, skill, tactics, and strategies. You also have to be optimistic. Nothing will defeat you more quickly than your own negativity. This applies to life in general, of course. Not just the battlefield.

Negativity is suicidal

The unavoidable fate of military forces that embrace and spread negativity? Defeat. The imperial Japanese army allowed superiors to discipline their subordinates by punching them in the face. Men stood at attention while others broke their noses and knocked out their teeth.

Everybody did it to everyone else, and then the lowly privates committed unimaginable atrocities against civilians.

The Nazis had penal units that were used as cannon fodder. Native Americans tortured their captives to death in ways that would make you vomit if I described them to you.

This is a natural law: A deeply negative person will not persevere. The imperial Japanese killed themselves in pointless suicide attacks. During World War II, the only American military dentist to win the Medal of Honor was Captain Benjamin Lewis Salomon, 105th Infantry Regiment, US Army.

Look at his face.


He loved life and his fellow humans, so when the Japanese in Saipan attacked his medical tent, he picked up a bayoneted rifle and killed five enemy. He told his staff to evacuate the wounded; below are his last words.

“I’ll hold them off until you get them to safety. See you later.”

Then he ran outside and manned a machine gun by himself until he was killed. Salomon took 100 of the enemy with him. He had seventy-six bullet and bayonet wounds in his body when he was found the next day. The Japanese had carried out the largest suicide attack of the war, losing some 6000 soldiers, sailors, and civilians. What did their pathological negativity earn them?


Captain Salomon—one of twenty-seven American Jews awarded the Medal of Honor—saved the lives of countless men. Would a person who embraced negativity have done what he did? Of course not.

Negativity is blinding

One of the most toxic organizations on earth is Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah or Hamas. Their terrorist wing is the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Today the eleventh Hamas attack tunnel collapsed, killing five terrorists. These tunnels use prefabricated concrete walls and ceilings.


The tunneling method is called “full face”: The entire diameter of the tunnel is excavated at the same time. Hamas tunnelers use electric and pneumatic jackhammers to cut through the soil. One man does the digging while assistants remove the earth and put up the concrete walls and arched ceiling as quickly as possible. This speed is necessary because a tunnel is subjected to stresses from all directions, even from below.

To collapse a tunnel, all you need to do is crack the ceiling or walls with an explosive. Gravity does the rest. Every Hamas attack tunnel that has recently collapsed never even made it into Israeli territory. But Hamas isn’t ready to give up. Negativity leads to rigidity. A negative person is unable to quickly change course. And when faced with disaster, negative people are passive.

Negativity is a deadly limitation

Winning the Yemen and Syria wars required—yes, I use the past tense because the wars have been won—an influx of men who are courageous, imaginative, adaptive, selfless, highly trained, and optimistic. In the Yemen war, the Arab League and its allies suffered major setbacks. Twice the Houthis fired Russian OTR-21 Tochka (NATO code name SS-21 Scarab) tactical ballistic missiles that killed vital commanders and large numbers of troops.


On both occasions, the Arab League and allies used the confusion and demoralization of their own forces to cover surprise attacks that succeeded. Arab League and allied commanders must have an astonishing level of leeway in how a mission can be carried out. Individual initiative is clearly valued.

In western armed forces, the killing of the theater commander of special forces would cause everything to come to a screeching halt as the higher-ups tried to determine what had happened. I think that in the Arab League armed forces, they knew immediately what had happened: Someone had betrayed them. A Yemeni double agent had given the Houthis the location of the Saudi and Emirati commanders who were killed.

So instead of wasting time on recriminations, hand wringing, weird bureaucratic tail chasing, and attempts to evade responsibility, the Arab League and allied forces immediately attacked while the Houthis were still celebrating.

And when the wounded Emirati soldiers came home, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited them in the hospital.

Al Nahyan sent these family men into combat, and he could see for himself how terribly injured they were. One missile killed 65 Emiratis, the greatest single-day loss of life in the nation’s history. I promise you that Al Nahyan has done his share of soul searching.

But the Emiratis are optimistic. The culture isn’t crippled by negativity. And all of the Gulf Arab states are in the process of reforming themselves. They don’t announce major changes the way we do. But if you look, you can see amazing developments.


I don’t tell people what or how to think. It’s time that people stop telling me what or how to think.

Negativity is childish

Every day, I study developments in the Middle East. I read articles in English, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Kurdish, and other languages. When I write something, it’s based on knowledge. People with no factual knowledge contact me to tell me that I’m wrong. I dread opening my mailbox, so this is the result.


It’s inexcusable, and I’m really sorry. I know lots of you just want to talk. My problem is rage. When a stranger goes out of his or her way to insult me, and the person has absolutely no idea what’s really happening, it makes me furious. A few days ago, two cretins AT HARVARD told me that I’m wrong about developments in unmanned aerial vehicles. When I tested these “experts,” they not only didn’t know what was going on, they weren’t interested in learning.

That’s my worst fear come true: belligerent, unreachable idiots are put on pedestals, and those of us who can see their worthlessness are ostracized. There was a TV show called WKRP in Cincinnati, about a small radio station. One of the deejays was named Dr. Johnny Fever.

Dr. Johnny_Fever

He hated timidity, schlock, and phoniness. Another of the deejays was Venus Flytrap.


One night Johnny had a nightmare. He was in a comedy club, and Venus was onstage, doing a routine.

“How about those airports?”

The crowd roared with laughter and applauded.

“Shopping! Don’t you hate it?”

The crowd roared with laughter and applauded.

Johnny panicked. He stood up and shouted at the audience, “What’s wrong with you people? All you all insane? HE’S NOT FUNNY!

But everybody ignored him and kept on laughing and applauding for the smug non-comedian.

I saw that thirty-five years ago, and it still haunts me.