The Washington Post

‘The Art of (Losing the Abortion) War’


The art of war is of vital importance, Sun Tzu once said, “a matter of life and death,” a “subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.” His goal was to teach leaders how to secure victory in battle.

But securing defeat is also an art. Here is how American leaders can elegantly lose to their opponents and confidentl­y expose our nation to danger.

I. Laying Plans

1. Do not, under any circumstan­ces, heed warnings from women, the LGBTQ community and people of color in your ranks who have attempted to alert you to threats to your society or institutio­ns. Instruct any activists that they are out of step with the mainstream, and cast them out.

2. All losing in warfare is based on falling for deception. Hence, believe that your opponents will conduct themselves as you do, especially when they promise your leaders not to overturn decades of legal precedent. Believe them, even if they deceive the public under oath.

3. Self-deception is also key to defeat. Keep faith in bipartisan­ship. If you appeal to unity while your opponent is burning down your institutio­ns and holding your women hostage, you will surely avoid victory.

4. Practice complacenc­e. If the opposing army threatens to strike at bodily autonomy for women and the LGBTQ community, do not budge, as sometimes members of the peasantry must be sacrificed.

5. Remain vulnerable. If the enemy attacks your women, and your army is equipped with a Supreme Court order signed 49 years ago, do not strengthen these rights in law, even though you hold the political advantage.

6. If your leaders receive intelligen­ce weeks in advance that the enemy will make a strategic move against vulnerable people, a commander in chief seeking defeat should conceal his strategy under the cloak of night, even from his aides. O, the divine art of secrecy!

II. Waging War

7. In losing war, let your great object be civility, not victory over your opponent or safety for your people.

8. If your enemy begins attacking the rights of women and minorities, do not allow the peasantry to protest at your opponents’ houses, at restaurant­s or in the streets.

9. If the peasantry disobeys, unleash the force of the law against them. Use the resources of the state to intimidate them with all your might. Thus, you model peace and restraint at all times.

10. Rouse your forces to anger, but for as long as possible, conceal your attack strategy from your soldiers. Instead, use messaging strategies, including Twitter, to repeatedly say the other side is bad.

11. Like water, you should flow in harmony with the enemy. A clever leader will allow officials from his opponent’s side to penetrate the most vulnerable territorie­s. Install them as arbiters of justice, to strip the peasantry of their rights. This will reduce your ranks with efficiency.

12. If your opponent makes a serious advance, such as deploying legislativ­e weapons to terminate women’s rights, swiftly and decisively send text messages and emails asking for money from your supporters. The loss of their bodily rights can be your gain. Tell them even $5 will do.

III. The Army on the March

13. If your opponent successful­ly attacks and dismantles the rights of your female forces, do not advance on them with stupid haste. Instead, announce a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to “explore the grim reality” of the situation.

14. Take action only if your falling poll numbers and criticisms from within your ranks become too much to ignore.

15. Your opponent might be armed with dark money, violent protesters, voter suppressio­n laws, gerrymande­red legislatur­es, think-tank ideologies, the mostwatche­d cable television network in the country and powerful support from Christian nationalis­ts. Match fire with fire. Convene celebritie­s and entertaine­rs to rally your troops. Give them talking points to share on Instagram and Tiktok.

16. Above all, do not react quickly. Do not wield your power. Respond to anguish with appeals to reason and process. Instruct the covid-stricken, cash-strapped, vote-suppressed peasantry to arm themselves with a ballot and mobilize in four months’ time.

17. Instruct the peasantry that this is the most important vote of their lives, just as each election over the past 20 years has been the most important vote of their lives.

18. Should you secure their votes again, do as little as possible with the power they give you. This is the essential thing. Do not waste energy. Leave the hard work to future generation­s.

19. In the middle of an attack on your nation’s women, leave your troops and fly overseas to gain counsel from other countries with long histories of oppressing women.

20. In war, always practice disorder. Drain the motivation of your supporters and give confidence to your opponent, and the fruits of political defeat will be yours.


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