In the penultimate chapter of his book, Sun Tzu discussed fire attacks. In Sun Tzu's terms, a normal attack means moving your forces into your opponent's territory. Fire attacks are different. They leverage the forces in the environment against an opponent. Instead of using your own forces, you inflame the environment against an opponent. In our modern era, fire attacks leverage the government, the media, or the legal forces against an opponent. However, all the rules that Sun Tzu developed still apply.
For a great example, we need look no further than todayâ€™s headlines about Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor. The first rule for fire attacks is that the climate must be right and the environment provide the fuel for the attack. In this case, the closeness of the political battle between Obama and Clinton provides the right climate and Wright's statements on video provided the fuel. There are lots of rules about managing and defending against fire attacks, but right now, my advice to Hillary is simple: the first rule for the attacker is to distance yourself until the fire has done its damage. You wait for the environment or your opponent's mistakes to create an opening for you. My advice to Obama is equally simple: you cannot fight the environment. You can only remain calm, act quickly move away from the fire, put out what flames you can, and then wait for the fire to burn itself out. Most importantly, you must not add more fuel to the fire. The greatest danger is that, in either your inaction or your panic, you create openings for opponents. And in Obama's case, another danger is that this fire will ignite other areas, such as the Rezco case or his wife's earlier statements about her lack of pride in her country.