Wednesday, June 11, 2014

the last book I ever read (Duty by Robert M. Gates, excerpt twelve)

from Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates:

All through 2010, at the bottom of the huge funnel pouring problems from Pandora’s global trove into Washington, sat just eight of us who, even though served by vast bureaucracies, had to deal with every one of the problems. The challenge for historians and journalists—and memoirists—is how to convey the crushing effect of dealing daily with multiple problems, pivoting on a dime every few minutes from one issue to another, having to quickly absorb reporting from many sources on each problem, and then making decisions, always with too little time and too much ambiguous information. Ideally, I suppose there should be a way to structure our national security apparatus so that day-to-day matters can be delegated to lower levels of responsibility while the president and his senior advisers focus on the big picture and thoughtfully make grand strategy. But that’s not how it works in the real world of politics and policy. And as the world becomes more complex and more turbulent, that is a problem in its own right: exhausted people do not make the best decisions.

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