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Radically Inept
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
  CEOs shouldn't run wars

Chocolate Morphine alerted me to this news item: War Management Follows the Wrong Corporate Model (washingtonpost.com):
"Or think of it this way: The reason the world's only superpower is stuck in the mud in Iraq is the same reason Xerox got into trouble with accounting, why Wall Street analysts and investment bankers didn't blow the whistle on WorldCom and Enron, and why much of the magic has gone out of Disney's Magic Kingdom.
Such generalizations are dangerous. But over the years I've noticed that companies that get into trouble, or lose their edge, have many of the same characteristics at the top: an overemphasis on hierarchy and orderliness; a penchant for secrecy and keeping decisions closely held; an instinct to discount information or dismiss views that don't comport with the company line; a habit of pronouncing rather than engaging intellectually with those outside the inner circle; an unhealthy arrogance and sense of entitlement.
When something goes wrong, the all-too-typical corporate response is to downplay its importance or bury it in bureaucratic processes. And if that doesn't work, the next line of defense is to pin it all on a few 'bad apples' and move aggressively to 'put the issue behind us,' without ever really admitting serious error.
That should sound familiar to anyone who has watched Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and John Snow on C-SPAN, or read Paul O'Neill's account of his ill-fated attempts to warn of the budgetary fallout from a second tax cut, or heard what Richard Clarke told the 9/11 commission about warnings of terrorist attacks that fell on deaf ears. It also describes to a T the process by which the administration has dealt with Iraq, from the original decision to go to war to the handling of the prison scandal.
Here's a little test: You are president of the United States and revelations about abuse of Iraqi prisoners has created the biggest crisis since Sept. 11, inflaming the Arab world, undercutting support at home and undermining our moral authority in the world. How do you spend the weekend?

If you answered "spend it at Camp David as planned, then drop in at the Pentagon on Monday to praise the defense secretary for doing a superb job," you just flunked, along with George W. Bush."
I think the
army should be run by leaders and not CEOs, so to that extent I disagree Pearlstein. In fact, the whole 'military should be run like a business' model is a piece of shit. The military's role is not to be an efficient profit generator. It's basic purpose is to close with and destroy the enemy. The only efficiency that counts is winning. Whether you suffered high or low casualties or whether the enemy did, is not really all that significant. Did you win? No, no...Not the battles, did you win the WAR?

That is the problem we're now facing logistically. We've switched to all this new fangled business models, so we have no surplus supplies (which would no longer be surplus); we don't have enough parts on hand, nor the capacity to make new ones quickly, and we've privatized our support structure to the point where the military is dependent on for-profits for virtually all its support. Which obviously, only supply support at a profit, not based on the needs of the nation nor the mission of the military, but on profits.

Well, that, and we have the dumbest CEO of all running the show, so what would just be bad to poor, is now a quagmire to fiasco situation.

Paul Helgesen over at CenterPoint - A Centrist Weblog has this to say:
"Well, I say that it is time to tell President Bush and his entire entourage:

You're FIRED

Respectfully, you have had more than enough on-the-job training. Regretfully, this noble experiment simply didn't work - your learning curve has been nothing but disappointment - and now we need to put somebody in place who can plan and execute without having his staff spend the majority of their time cleaning up the President's messes."
Which, I guess is a different way to frame the same point, but I think it lacks my stridency. Well, he has more to say on the subject.

Note: He also brings up Hersch's role in getting the prison photos out into the open, which Tom Dispatch remarks on below. 
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