The American national security complex has a long list of 21st century defeats to its name. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months trying to understand some of these failures. But if any meaningful reform is to occur and competence is to be restored too high office, it is just as important to identify and understand successes. Otherwise, there are no targets to reform the system towards.
The national security teams of Bush 41 and Bush 43, America’s most accomplished and most reviled set of statesmen officials… were the exact same set of people. The authors of America’s Cold War victory were the architects of America’s 21st century defeats. There lies the mystery! With more collective experience under their belts than any foreign policy team since the Founding Era, with a greater list of accomplishments than any group of national security elites since the creation of the modern national security state, the statesmen-officials of the second Bush administration should have accomplished glorious deeds. They should have lived up to their track records. Instead, they delivered failure and catastrophe. How could this have happened?
Twenty years ago a nation comfortable but aimless was thrust by violence into a new reality. “Does anybody but me feel upbeat, and guilty about it?,” asked one conservative columnist a few weeks later. “I feel upbeat because the country seems to be a better place than it was a month ago. I feel guilty about it because I should be feeling pain and horror and anger about the recent events.” But he was not the only one to feel this way.
If there is one lesson the world should learn from the great pandemic of 2020, it is this: we must discard the myth of panic.
Or at least this is the case I make in an essay I have just published in Palladium. Fear of mass panic was key to delayed action against the epidemic in the PRC:
Bri Buckley, Washington Dc Skyline (2015) “People, ideas, things—In that order!” —Attributed to Col. John Boyd (1927-1997) As announced earlier, I spent the last two weeks or so traveling about. Most of that was in Washington and its environs. While in DC I had the opportunity to brunch, coffee break, and do all those […]
軍國之要，察眾心。 The essence of the army and the state: investigate the minds of the people. —The Three Strategies of Huang Shigong (2nd century BC) 士民不親附，則湯武不能以必勝也。故善附民者，是乃善用兵者也。故兵要在乎善附民而已。 If the people and the nobility are not devoted, then even a Sage King could not guarantee victory. The man who is skilled at obtaining the support of the people is […]
Image source. Now that the heat of the election season has passed, it is possible to examine the heat itself. The election’s aftermath was a grand spectacle. Some convulsed in desperation and despair. Others surrendered to frenzied, twitter-fueled fits of rapture. In the midst of all this noise, a pattern arose. In simplest terms: there is a […]
Graphic source: Kevin Urmarcher, Kevin Schaul, and Dan Keating, “These Former Obama Strongholds Sealed the Election for Trump,” Washington Post (9 November 2016). There has been a bit of push back to my last post. A lot of it revolves around this fact: Donald Trump did not win the popular vote. Others point out that […]
Go, Soul, the body’s guest, Upon a thankless errand; Fear not to touch the best; The truth shall be thy warrant: Go, since I needs must die, And give the world the lie. —Sir Walter Raleigh, “The Lie,” (c. 1592) A question many of us should be asking: do I […]
We rush towards disaster and greet it with a smirk.I sketched out what this disaster might look like when Bloomberg broke the story of Andrés Sepúlveda, a man who claims to have help hack elections in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela, this spring: Andrés Sepúlveda is a challenge […]