Sun Tzu says that it is critical for the warrior to “remain formless, like water”. Stonewall Jackson said “Mystify, mislead and surprise”, and from the 1984 version of the USAF Basic Doctrine Manual “Timing and tempo allow friendly forces to dominate the action, remain unpredictable, and create uncertainty in the mind of the enemy.”Do read the full piece if you have a chance though.
These are all goals a political campaign can aspire to. The intention should not be to act in a chaotic way arbitrarily, but instead to behave in a way which seems chaotic to one’s opponents without losing sight of the strategic objective.
Presenting a formless target within a political campaign may seem challenging, but maintaining a constantly flowing narrative, avoiding pre-briefings which give opponents the opportunity to issue “prebuttals” and shifting rapidly from one area of focus to another all create an environment which is difficult to react to.
Campaigns are now so used to knowing roughly what is coming next, due to the endless stream of staged leaks and pre-briefings, that without this roadmap, it is extremely challenging for them to operate effectively. What is often forgotten is that this activity is often commenced to generate good favour amongst the media, rather than to address a need within the campaign.
There exists an opportunity here for a highly disciplined campaign to create an air of uncertainty by communicating deceptive and contradictory information. This would baffle and ultimately ensure their opponents are unable to make swift and effective decisions. The campaign which does this will make few friends among journalists, but is far more likely to win.
Friday, 10 August 2012
I recently wrote a piece for Disruptive Thinkers on how Boydian strategy and tactics can be used in a political context. The full piece is avaliable here, but an extract follows:
Posted by Chris Cox at 08:09