Sun Tzu's system of strategic analysis works because it shines a light on what is overlooks, but once illuminated, those aspect of a strategic position instantly make sense to most people. For example, Sun Tzu's strategy teaches that all positions must be advanced. All existing positions erode over time.
Looking at the current presidential race, we see a good example when we look at the calcified positions on the war in Iraq. All of the candidates take one of two positions on Iraq and the War on Terror. Either 1) Iraq is a necessary component to the War on Terror and must be won, or 2) Iraq was an expensive mistake, a distraction from the War on Terror and must be ended as soon as possible. The problem with both of these positions is that they are old and tired
, a useless Maginot line on the political landscape. A winning strategy on the War on Terror must carve out new territory in a way the leverages the existing climate. Interestingly enough, such new territory is available to candidate of either party if they have the courage to move.
What can that new territory look like? First, it would embrace aspects of both existing positions but go beyond them to something new. For example, a candidate could acknowledge that the War in Iraq has turned around and achieved a measure of success, which may or may not have been worth the costs, but to go beyond rehashing the history to a discussion about how to best use that new position it has given us in the Islamic world. I would maintain that the best president for the next stage of the battle is one that knows how to avoid the traps of physical conflict while engaging the Islamic terror on the key battle ground: its image in the media, especially within the Muslim world. The key is positioning Islamic terror as an enemy of Islam and Islamic people, rather than its champion. With the experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have a lot of weapons to fight this war for the psychological victory that will resolve this question over the long term.