Monday, August 16


Fareed Zakaria defends John Kerry's position on Iraq as the most defensible answer to the question, given what we knew at the time, was toppling Saddam's regime a worthwhile objective?

Perhaps Iraq would have been a disaster no matter what. But there's a thinly veiled racism behind such views, implying that Iraqis are savages genetically disposed to produce chaos and anarchy. In fact, other nation-building efforts over the past decade have gone reasonably well, when well planned and executed.

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Other books by Fareed Zakaria"Strategy is execution," Louis Gerstner, former CEO of IBM, American Express and RJR Nabisco, has often remarked. In fact, it's widely understood in the business world that having a good objective means nothing if you implement it badly. "Unless you translate big thoughts into concrete steps for action, they're pointless," writes Larry Bossidy, former CEO of Honeywell.

Bossidy has written a book titled "Execution," which is worth reading in this context. Almost every requirement he lays out was ignored by the Bush administration in its occupation of Iraq. One important example: "You cannot have an execution culture without robust dialogue—one that brings reality to the surface through openness, candor, and informality," Bossidy writes. "Robust dialogue starts when people go in with open minds. You cannot set realistic goals until you've debated the assumptions behind them."

Say this in the business world and it is considered wisdom. But say it as a politician and it is derided as "nuance" or "sophistication." Perhaps that's why Washington works as poorly as it does.


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