GaryGagliardi's blog

Surprise to Change Momentum: McCain and the VP Choice

In Sun Tzu's The Art of War, surprise or, more specifically, innovation, has a very specific role. You use it at the right time to change momentum. When a standard move works, doing what is expected never changes momentum. For example, in the current presidential campaign, no attack on the opposition, no matter how effective, is going to change momentum because such attacks are expected. Sarah Palin on Vogue Magazine What kind of surprises could the candidates use?

Seeing the Connections: The Illusion of Avoiding Foreign Entanglements

In studying Sun Tzu's strategy, we seek to see the necessary connections between things than make up the hidden gears and pulleys that drive our world. George Washington famously warned about avoiding "foreign entanglements" in his farewell address, but we forget that in his era, the US was a lonely island of freedom and democracy in a sea of tyranny and monarchy. The spread of freedom and democracy around the world provide the best measure of America's success and the best contributor not only American but the entire world's wealth.

Understanding the Tradeoffs: Choosing the Value that You Prefer

Sun Tzu's strategy teaches us to look for advantageous trade-offs. There is no such thing as a free lunch, but we can buy what we value more using a currency that we value less. Free societies are more prosperous simply because they allow people more of these types of choices. The more control we give to government, the more "value" is determine by central authority and the fewer choices we are free to make.

Talk Versus Action: Did Tough Talk from Obama Stop Russia?

A reader Steve writes:
I'm a big fan of your books and blog and eager to learn your brilliant take on current events. I'm curious what you might think about "over" claiming as Gov. Tim Kaine appears to do in this video. Reminds me of your example of a rooster claiming credit for the sunrise. Ballsy or brilliant?
The quote to which Steve refers is from Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine who explained how Obama saved Georgia from the evil Russians:

Using the Strength of an Opponent against Them: The McCain Ads

One of the most non-intuitive aspects of Sun Tzu's strategic system is that idea that you cannot copy an opponent's strengths, so instead you use those strengths against them. A great example are John McCain's television ads focusing on Obama's celebrity status, a positive example of a good strategic move from a politician. McCain cannot duplicate Obama's charism or the adulation of the crowds that Obama draws, but McCain can change the meaning of those images by tagging Obama as the world's biggest celebrity.

Confusing Emotion and Gut Insticts

In this recent article, Richard Reeves call Obama a man of thought and McCain a man of emotion, but what he is describing is not emotion on McCain's part but gut instinct. As we discuss on our site in this and related articles on gut instincts, cognitive research shows that in complex, chaotic situations, experts make instant gut decisions based on their unconscious recognition of the situations key factors.

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