November 10, 2007

Condi Rice Couldn't Plan A Two-Car Funeral

Glenn Kessler has an article in today's Washington Post on the management failings of Condoleezza Rice as both a Secretary of State and as the National Security Council. How does this relate to COIN? Well, for those of you wondering why the Department of Defense always gets stuck being in charge of what should be inter-agency projects, it's because the military, for all its faults, creates good managers. (See: Colin Powell)

What's worse, presidents have this nasty habit of putting political scientists in charge of large bureaucracies -- only to discover they weren't taught anything in their graduate courses on comparative politics that prepare them leading a large organization.* The single biggest complaint about Paul Wolfowitz, for example, is not that he wasn't smart enough but that the guy didn't have a clue how to lead an organization. Ditto Douglas Feith. (Who is a lawyer, not a political scientist, but still.)

Management matters. And professional military officers are all trained to be, no matter their specialty, managers ("managers of violence" is how Huntington puts it). Until we start putting some energy into training our diplomats and political appointees to manage and lead, this is going to continually hurt U.S. efforts to spread the responsibility across the inter-agency process and spell the Dept. of Defense some of the load it currently carries.

*Charlie, it should be noted here, has a Ph.D. in comparative politics, but this wasn't a dig at her. Compared to Condoleezza Rice, Charlie is Dwight Eisenhower. Although they are, both, big fans of shoe-shopping.