Monday, January 26, 2004

One of my professional heroes, Grace Murray Hopper is widely given attribution for this pearl of management wisdom:
You cannot manage men into battle. You manage things; you lead people.

I mention this in response to Sean's article below, where he asks...
Are leadership and Imperialism synonymous in your view? I have no problem being Team Captain, Leadership by consensus is not by nature immoral. If we build the right institutions and relationships, will Imperialism really be the problem you believe it to be?

From my perspective, Imperialism is a theory of management. Part of it is the theory involving the process by which you organize some people into positions of leadership and others into positions where they can— well, how do I say this politely— where they can be An Army Of One. There is also the disembodied voice of Charles de Gaulle in the back of my head reminding me that...
"No nation has friends— only interests."

These are the ideas that come to mind when I'm asked if I think Leadership and Imperialism are synonymous. In simpler terms, you can have Leadership without Imperialism, but you can't have an Empire without Emperors.

I had another long drawn-out telephone conversation with drieux again today, and we were talking about this very subject. He is, of course, deep in his boy scout heart— a federalist. At one level, he agrees with Mr. Marshall that the world would be ever so much less dangerous a place if there were a One World Government with the official imprimatur for the legitimacy of the use of military force. On a whole other level, of course, he seems ready to agree the proposition starts to break down in very ugly ways when you begin evaluating the available transition mechanisms.

I'm an IETF guy, remember— so I spend a lot of time thinking about how to get away from using the stupid, broken protocols we limp along with today, and start using smarter, less broken protocols that will make the world a better place tomorrow. It is all about the transition mechanisms, baby.

So how do we get to the bright new World Of Tomorrow without turning ourselves into radioactive anthrax bombs in the process? Sure, I'll go along with the part of Josh Marshall's piece where he basically says the Destroy All Monsters school of foreign policy is a really lousy idea.

In the days of yore, we anti-imperialists used to think that the best way to export Americanism (assuming you believed it was a good idea) was to invite players in foreign countries to consider forming Republican forms of government, then ratify articles of annexation and assimilating them into the United States of America under the terms of Article IV of the Constitution. That's exactly what they meant by "the Flag follows the Constitution."

So if we're not going to carry the Constitution with us when we plant the flag in some foreign country, build permanent military bases there, and cut deals with the local warlords so our citizens in uniform are immune from prosecution under the local laws there— how do we want to go about establishing Pax Terra Americana?

Specifically, how do we plan to get the Americans to give over their nuclear deterrent and their how many carrier battle groups to some higher world governing authority invested with the legitimacy to delegate responsibility for conducting military operations to the capable organizations around the world?

Please— spare me the squishy language about being a "Team Captain" and "Leadership By Consensus" because, unless we're talking about something that gets the Americans out of the business of managing a global hegemony and spending more of its wealth on building out its national security apparatus than the entire rest of the world combined, then we're not talking about Anti-Imperialism— we're talking about the difference between how the Americans treated the Bear Flag Republic in 1846, and how the Americans are treating the former Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic today.

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