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Chapter VII MINIMIZING STRATEGIC MISMANAGEMENT: AVOIDING INADVERTENT SECURITY DEFLATIONS INADVERTENCE HAPPENS. Mismanagement is always possible. Potential minor and major security deflations stem from misconceptions, misunderstandings , miscalculations, mistakes, misbehavior, and other “malfunctions of minds and machines.” Inadvertent possibilities have been attributed to careless decision making, psychological distortions, decisional biases, information gaps and intelligence failures, jumbled communications , organizational constraints, breakdowns in command and control arrangements, ambiguous directives and insufficient guidance of middle-level officials, their purposeful disobedience, and sheer accidents. Mismanagement has also been explained by the (all too full) fulfillment of preestablished decision-making arrangements, standard operating procedures , and both centralized and dispersed organizational responsibilities and routines. Since the Cuban missile crisis took us near the nuclear brink, diplomatic historians, political scientists, newspaper columnists, and government officials have focused upon the hazards of inadvertence.1 Doves and most hawks assumed that if a nuclear war were to befall the country, it would almost certainly emerge out of a superpower confrontation and its miscalculated, uncontrolled, or accidental escalation. The salient historical model was no longer just World War II, purposefully initiated by Germany and Japan. The transformation of a localized Balkan crisis into World War I was interpreted as the most tragic of largely unintended wars. It has been explained by Germany’s having preciously little choice in backing up its single ally despite Austria-Hungary’s patently excessive demands upon Russia’s Serbian ally, the fears inspired by the expectations that victory would go to the side whose arms were fielded first and fastest, and the rigid comprehensiveness of the mobilization plans, which precluded a partial, defensive mobilization. The explanations of inadvertence range from the equivalents of a Greek to a Christian tragedy. The security deflation may be comparable to the Greek kind, virtually foreordained from the outset, if not by the gods, then by the geographic givens of a difficult-to-defend common border , an inexorable science and technology imparting a decisive advantage to the offense, or a fanatically driven opponent. Alternatively, inadver- MINIMIZING STRATEGIC MISMANAGEMENT 161 tence can be more like an avoidable Christian tragedy, one that would not have occurred if different individuals—less sinful or otherwise less fallible ones—were making and implementing the decisions. Here the appropriate focus is upon the strategic middle ground. A security strategy can hardly alter what is structurally given. A strategy has little if any bearing upon the qualities of the particular individuals who happen to be its managers. However, a strategy is a matter of more or less appropriate choice. It can make decisions and their implementation sorely problematic, not just for “average” national security managers but for the most talented ones as well. Thus the questions: To what extent are inadvertent security risks attributable to the strategies themselves? More importantly for present purposes , how does a national strategy compare with adversarial and conciliatory internationalism in precluding inadvertence? The great diversity of explanations of inadvertence needs to be given a manageable order. A simple, comprehensive scheme is suggested by the three inclusive components of effective security management. Policy options are formulated and decisions are made in a cognitively well-considered manner. They are based upon the open-minded examination of— and only of—the available options’ security costs and benefits. And the decisions are made and implemented in a controlled manner. Departures from this rational policymaking model entail cognitive, psychological, and uncontrolled inadvertence. This chapter relates their likely emergence to the alternative strategies’ doctrinal and policy centerpieces. Cognitive mismanagement refers to the security risks and deflations brought on by the failure to fulfill the responsibilities of “quality” decision making—the careful consideration of the relations between ends and means and the latter’s second- and third-order consequences. Insofar as cognitive inadvertence derives from the strategy at hand, it is due to the latter’s difficult decisional requirements. It tends toward the complex and demanding, rather than the simple and easy. National security officials must confront formidable choices. The strategy’s successful decisions hinge upon the availability of extensive and reliable information. And the strategy entangles its managers in incompatible ends and means. Effective decision making involves considerably more than the careful assessment of the available options. It also entails their open-minded consideration , the absence of any nonconscious and thus patently irrelevant motivations. Psychological inadvertence refers to the nonconscious influences that distort rationally—realistically and relevantly—grounded decisions. Unconscious beliefs, emotions, biases, wants, and needs help shape decisional perceptions and assessments with little or no self-awareness of their...


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