Most bloggers are pleased when a post generates some decent traffic and an intelligent remark or two in their comments section or email box. Therefore, it was quite gratifying to see how many thoughtful and incisive thinkers took the time to critique "Modern Foreign Policy Execution
" at Democracy Project
the other day. ( I'd also like to thank Bruce Kesler
for kicking my butt into gear).
While I keep email correspondence private unless the author indicates otherwise, I've gathered some excerpts of the rebuttals that have appeared online below:Dave Schuler
at The Glittering Eye
- "And Never the Twain Shall Meet
":"Bureaucracies are not networks. And never the twain shall meet. Bureaucracies are hierarchical, rules-based, static, slow to adapt, and have a single, constant imperative: survival. Networks are flat, conventions-based, highly adaptable, and, consequently, varied. They can spring into existence when a need arises and vanish when the need has ended. Networks are a challenge and a rebuke to bureaucracies.....I think that Mark’s proposal, while interesting, is doomed. The existing bureacracies will fight any change tooth and nail simply because it is a change, simultaneously insisting that any new institutions be subsumed into their own bureacratic structures, effectively strangling them at birth."Steve Schippert at Threatswatch -"Monolithic Foreign Policy Needs A Net-Centric Overhaul"
" He continues to list the clear (and spot on) advantages that a flatter, net-centric approach affords over the ‘immovable objects’ of today’s bureaucracies. Those who have read Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy will have a jump-start and likely a fuller appreciation for his approach. The crucial issue is the existing institutions’ inability to regularly interact and cooperate with any alacrity, consistency or theater-level effectiveness. As a prime example of the absence of synergy, consider the foreign policy turf war on display recently in SomaliaThe apparent current search for a ‘Czar’ to address the same problems is not the solution. The current bureaucratic inefficiencies and ineffectiveness is akin to viewing State, Defense and other institutions as individual trains, bound to their own tracks and propelled by their own inherent inertia. The solution, as Safranski ably elaborates, needs to be implemented at the 1,000 ft. to ground-level in respective regions and/or theaters. It cannot possibly be effectively employed in this manner from the 25,000 ft. level of a Washington, DC über-bureaucrat."Bill's Bites's" Mark Safranski, below, writes a guest post for Democracy-Project readers which is MUST reading: ..."Cernig at NewsHog - "Good Theory, Shame About The Reality ":"It sounds great - in theory - and in theory I'm right there with him on this.But unfortunately, in practise the current administration would see such modular networks as an anathema to their rigid top-down heirarchy unless the whole process of creating these teams could be politically controlled and biased. Thus, team leaders would inevitably be cronies and yes men rather than actual experts. Or if experts at all would be hand-picked from the ranks of the neoconservative think-tankers favored by the likes of the Democracy Project who have made good use of the revolving door between those think tanks and the Bush administration to push their own failed ideology of American hegemony. "John Burgess
of Crossroads Arabia
( in Glittering Eye
Comment section)"A network of really smart people (I’m drawing a best-case here) can certainly come up with policies. But governance isn’t the same as finding the most efficient solution to a traveling salesman problem. It depends on politics and political will and that’s not just a matter of routing the salesman around a broken bridge. It’s also the matter of dealing with the salesman who won’t go over particular bridges because of factors non-essential to salesmanship, but vital for other reasons. It has to deal with the destination that simply won’t accept your salesmen or don’t want your product. When you try to figure out all the potential variables you simply run out of computing time.
I do think that networking as described can play a vital function within bureaucracies. Many–and I put State at the head of the list–are now dysfunctional due to their near-total top-down orientation"
More to come as the conversation develops.
Labels: feedback, foreign policy, networks