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View Full Version : Trying to understand influence



Bill Moore
09-11-2012, 08:43 AM
http://houseofstones.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/trying-to-understand-influence-the-us-military-cant-see-past-a-line-and-block-chart/?goback=%2Egde_2137597_member_161346600


Much of the US Military is based on a fairly simple rule: if you want to get something done, go to the man in charge. Following the rule usually works efficiently.


If a certain block is causing trouble, you follow the line to the next block above it and you tell that block to tell the block below it to fall back in line and do it quick.

The author, correctly in my view, implies the U.S. uses mirror analysis when responding to states, insurgencies, etc. If we operate this way, so must others.....


All of these statements operate under the same basic assumption: if bad stuff in Pakistan is happening that we donít like, the way to stop it is to find the top block in the Pakistan line and block chart, and tell it to get all the blocks below it to do what it says.

The author focuses on Pakistan, but his points have relevance far beyond Pakistan. I do think we tend to have unrealistic expectations from our senior leader engagements. We should continue them, but realize other approaches are also required and theother approaches may actually be more effective.

Dayuhan
09-11-2012, 11:11 AM
The author, correctly in my view, implies the U.S. uses mirror analysis when responding to states, insurgencies, etc. If we operate this way, so must others.....

The author focuses on Pakistan, but his points have relevance far beyond Pakistan. I do think we tend to have unrealistic expectations from our senior leader engagements. We should continue them, but realize other approaches are also required and theother approaches may actually be more effective.

This paragraph stood out to me...


The self-enforced chain of command in the US military is a relatively new and impressive accomplishment for a human society. Itís taken a couple hundred years of relative internal peace to produce it. Pakistan hasnít had that, and they donít have that kind of chain of command. Thatís something I really wish at least the analysts of the US military and intelligence community could learn and help US military leaders learn. But as plenty of US military leaders have pointed out, they havenít.

All very well to discuss chains of command in the military, but in many cases we seek to exert influence in non-military situations, often with little regard for the political realities and processes of the country or countries involved. Even in the US, the government can't simply dictate what it wishes to be done at the behest of some foreign power.

I also think we're inclined to confuse influence with control. Expecting others to do what we want or to subordinate their perceived interests to ours is not a matter of influence, it's a matter of control. Talking about "influence" in terms of what you need to do "to get something done" represents a fundamental cognitive dissonance, a confusion between influence and control. Influence means you have some input, not that you get to decree what happens. Influence is shared: those we influence are also influenced by others. As long as we expect influence to assure that we get our way, we're bound to be disappointed, and we're likely to be seeking control rather than influence. That ends up doing little good, as those who seek control are often received... well, with about the same sentiment we'd apply to anyone who proposed to control us.

ganulv
09-11-2012, 12:05 PM
The author focuses on Pakistan, but his points have relevance far beyond Pakistan. I do think we tend to have unrealistic expectations from our senior leader engagements. We should continue them, but realize other approaches are also required and theother approaches may actually be more effective.

As bullet points:


Donít assume that vertical authority is the only kind. This has been a common Western error through the centuries.



Even when dealing with a system with a purported vertical structuring of authority ask whether that system is actually functional. If I understand the Pakistan situation correctly, for example, there are multiple interest groups competing with one another within the framework of a (supposedly) rational bureaucracy.



Be aware that publicly associating with an individual or institution may undermine their authority depending on the pre-existence of anti-American sentiment, &tc. Again, Pakistan.