Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Global Affairs: Everyone's Challenge

America has a problem.  A domestic problem.  A foreign problem.  However, so does almost every other country in the world.

By now, many of you will have read some of what I’ve been writing on American Domestic Policy and American Foreign Policy.  I will now explain the results of some of the fallacies we embrace to explain why we have problems.  Then, how to solve them.

Foreign Affairs--The Middle East.


For the purposes of analysis, we shall assume that the Libyan forces succeed in assuming control of Libya. 

When the rebel forces become the government of Libya, (the same forces that were recognised by European countries and ultimately recognised by American government), we in the US assume that there will be a Western Style Government.

What happens, however, when Libya is ruled by a Governing Council? A Council comprising the Tribal Leaders in different regions of Libya?  There is every indication that the Libyan people want American Style Freedom.  None that indicates that the Libyan people want American Style Government.

On to Syria.

Assume for the purposes of analysis that President Bashar al-Assad decides to retire from politics.  

He files to collect his pension, sells his home, and buys something on the Mediterranean.  

Further, assume, for analysis that the Syrian people eschew the Prime Minister/Parliament style government and embrace a Congress and President.  

Tribal Leaders will fill the Senate.  People will elect Representatives to The House.  The people will elect a President.  Now, what happens when the Government, in response to a referendum on foreign policy, rejects the US as a Syrian ally?

The above two examples are very likely outcomes of the changes in the Middle East.  

In the first example, the people choose freedom, but not our style of government.  

In the second example, the people choose freedom and our style of government, but reject us (US) as allies.

The United States is not prepared to deal with these eventualities.

As it relates to my discussion on Pakistan:

“Diplomacy: if you have to explain it, it isn’t diplomacy.”  The Quotations of Slim Fairview.

In our country, we have the need to talk about it.  Whatever it is, we feel it is best to talk about it.

I covered this problem in my monograph:  “Why I read newspapers.”

Why I Read Newspapers

Why do I prefer getting my news from newspapers? That is analogous to why I prefer writing to talking. When I write, you can’t interrupt me. You can disagree with me. You simply cannot interrupt me.

“No one agrees with someone else’s opinion, only his own opinion expressed by someone else.” – My Dad.

You can stop reading what I wrote. You can tear up the paper, you can scream at the screen, you can even make a peanut butter and banana sandwich and shoot the computer, but you can’t interrupt me.

In addition to your disagreeing with me, and the aforementioned options for reacting to what I wrote, you can rise up in opposition. You can write an opposing piece or speak out in forums that offer the option.

Now, you have two options.

1. You can express an opposing view.

2. You can express your opposition to my view.

The latter, however, leaves your audience at a bit of a loss without their being able to read what I wrote. 

You must, to make your position clear, reference what I said. 

If you are preaching to the choir, it doesn’t matter. However, if you are addressing people with a sincere interest in the topic, they will read what I wrote. At this point, you lose dominance over the audience. 

Your audience can read my monograph without interruption, form their own opinions, and draw their own conclusions. 

They may agree with you, they may agree with me. (Put your stick down. They can’t see you and they can’t hear you.)

Such is the way it is when I read the newspaper. I can read a columnist. I can read another. I can read two newspapers for opposing views. I can read the editorial, I can read an op-ed, and I can read the letters to the editor. I can form my own opinions. I can form my own opinions in quiet contemplation. 

This option is seldom available when TV News becomes entertainment.

When those with opposing views appear on television, they can express their opinions in turn, express them simultaneously, tell half-truths, or engage in evasions or misrepresentations. That is not news. That is not debate. That is pure theatre. The theatre of the perturbed.

Any questions? Well: “Don’t bother asking me. You don’t want to hear my opinion; you want to hear your opinion.” From The Quotations of Slim Fairview.

I’ve included the following to help to explain the problems the US is facing today.

Expert Opinions.

Here is an example on why we cannot and probably will not fix our economy.

You watch as experts explain the economy: 

One economist works for a company that makes red paint.  He says, “If you want to sell more widgets, paint the walls of your company red.”

Another economist works for a company that makes blue paint.  He says, “If you want to sell more widgets, paint the walls of your company blue.”

Well, the bias is obvious.  Less so, the supporting facts.

Red:  “We have a study that says employees in companies with red walls are more pumped up and make more widgets—increased productivity.

Blue:  We have a study that says employees in companies with blue walls are more serene and make fewer mistakes—higher quality.

What both sides don’t say:

Employees in companies with red walls make more widgets but make more mistakes resulting in many widgets being rejected for poor quality.

Employees in companies with blue walls make higher quality widgets with fewer mistakes, but make fewer widgets which results in lower productivity.

You can say both the Red Economist and The Blue Economist told the truth, half the truth, or half a lie [by omission]. 

Both sides misled the viewers about the benefits of the paint they sell.

This is the same problem we have with running companies, with foreign relations, and with our personal relationships.

The problems we have in Foreign Affairs and the problems we have in Domestic Affairs have the same root cause.

Much of our problems arise from various striations of within our culture.

It has become fashionable, (periodically) to discuss groupthink.  Groupthink, however, is the consequence of consensus building.  Consensus building is a product created by people to market themselves to companies looking to hire people, looking to promote people, or looking to solve problems with minimal opposition.

Unfortunately, the more people you add to the group, the more people are likely to line up with those who think like themselves or move to the centre to facilitate a solution and to look like team players.  More people will not bring about solutions whether you call it groupthink or consensus building or team building.

Team building.

I do not like sports analogies.  However, the image lends itself to pointing to the direction we need to go to solve problems.

The theory is, “There is no “I” in team.  The meaning?  We must all work together.  Good thought.  Poorly understood.

Take a football team.  Here are some of the positions.  Centre.  Quarterback. End.  Halfback.

Each member has a job to do.  The Centre “snaps” the ball to the Quarterback and attempts to stop members of the opposing team who want to tackle the Quarterback.

The Quarterback, receiving the ball, has the job of deciding whether to run toward the goal, of giving the ball to a “Back Fielder” to run with the ball, or of passing the ball to one of the Ends.  This is determined by conditions on the ground.  Here are two considerations”

What are the competitors doing?

What are my teammates doing based on what our competitors are doing?

One of the Ends runs forward a few yards, turns, and runs to the centre of the field.  The other End runs far down the field.

The Quarterback decides which End to throw the ball to based on conditions.  Not on his opinions of the End’s skills and abilities to catch the ball, but on each End’s ability to catch the ball based on ground conditions.  He is not concerned with whose turn it is to catch the ball.  He is not concerned with the opinions of his teammates.

Teams.  The team has a leader, The Quarterback, who makes decisions based on conditions.

Each member of the team has a job to do.  His own job, not someone else’s job.  We’ve lost that ability in our country.

We seek consensus, we seek opinions, we share responsibilities, and we make decisions based on input that is not related to achieving the goal.

In addition, we make decisions without regard to what the other team is doing.


I've studied groups. I’ve been a member of groups.  I was in a group that studied itself. I worked in groups. I worked on committees. I worked on a committee to form a committee to set up a programme to form committees (you read that correctly).  I dissected the different structures used to manage projects and explained why each does not work. (My emphasis on that which is prescriptive and not descriptive.)

This relates to the execution of strategy.

Impediments to Executing Strategy
I. The first impediment to executing strategy will be others who do not share your vision.

            a. Your vision competes with their vision.

            b. Your vision contravenes their assumptions.

                        1. If their strategy is based on their vision, your vision will threaten                                 their position.

                        2. If their assumptions are repudiated, their reputation will suffer.

II. There will be challenges to the data you use to substantiate your strategy.

            a. If you use the methods they use, your results will challenge their         competency.

            b. If you use different methods to arrive at your conclusions, their methods       will be challenged.

            c. Either a. and or b. will diminish either their self-image or their image            within the company.

                        1. If you challenge their self-image, they will become hostile.

                        2. If you threaten their image in the company, they will become                          devious.

All of the above assumes that the people you work with and work for like you.

If they do not, the job of executing your strategy will be even more difficult.

However, as I am adamant in my opposition to articles that are descriptive and not prescriptive, I included organisational charts in one of my PowerPoint Presentations to show which structures that won’t work and which structures that will work and why.  “Global Management: A shift in the paradigm of corporate America” located at   [This presentation also contains a section explaining group norms.  A serious matter in business as well as Global Affairs.]

The reason all this is so pressing is that the world can no longer afford to play a zero-sum game.  We lack the capacity to follow the path of the trajectory.

“The fact that you cannot predict the future is not the proper rebuff to someone who tells you to get off the tracks, the train is coming.”  Slim Fairview

The Path of the Trajectory

As we plan into the future, are we considering the path of the trajectory?

Case in point. The pendulum swings both ways. The farther it swings one way, the farther it swings back.

Globalisation: Will the path of globalisation eventually lead to a path of isolationism.

Information: Will the information that we are relying upon so heavily, eventually become a curse that will lead people to retrench? An information overload can make the information virtually worthless if too much information cannot be accepted as reliable, or information is exposed to too many people.

Technology: Will the technology that enhances our efforts become so "intrusive" that we are paralysed by its intrusiveness?

Politics: Will the politics of globalisation lead to "Superpower Centres" with a detente between i.e. The Asian Center, The African Center, The Middle Eastern Center, The European Center, The Latin American Center, and the North American Center?

Other factors must be considered.  Especially if you are not from the US and are looking for some insights.  To be efficient and to eliminate those who are not interested, I have links to the monographs that will explain various points.

Facts versus Opinions.

However, there is more to be said on the topic of experts than facts v. opinions or the colour of the paint you sell.


For every ten experts who say, "Do this!", you have ten experts who say, "Do that!"

Then someone else will come up with ten experts who say, "Do something else."

Another ten experts will say, "They're all right".

Another who will say, "They're all wrong".

Then another who will ask, "Who's to say what's right or wrong?"

Then the facilitator of the group will say, " There's no "I" in team! :-)”

If you don't believe me, ask an expert!

The problem of American Global Myopia

This is covered in, “More on Global Management.”

A stark look at how graphs are used to misrepresent facts, and how figures are used to misrepresent numbers:

Other Global Considerations that are being ignored.


China:  The Economy and a Word Beginning with the Letter P.

The above monograph contains links to other monographs on China.  As it has become fashionable in the West to discuss the Facebook Revolution, I have explained away the prognostications of the expert guests on News-Like Programmes.

As Molière’s Bourgeois Gentilhomme said, “All this time I thought I was merely reporting the news only to discover I’ve been speaking journalism.

Sincerest regards,


Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

For Monographs on The Middle East and The European Union, please visit