Wednesday, July 11, 2007


by Ken Houghton

Via Economics Roundtable comes an article on using Henry V* to learn Leadership at Wharton. What caught my eye was this:
"To be a great leader, you have to understand people," said Carol Adelman, who led the session with her husband Ken, founders of Movers & Shakespeares. After distinguished careers in government service, they have conducted sessions on Shakespeare and leadership in diverse business, educational, and government organizations.

Hmmm. Ken Adelman. And he wants to teach the students what:
With little discussion, Henry makes his decision to go into battle.

But before this meeting, Henry astutely had aligned the interests of all the major players. For the nobles, the conquest of France offered access to rich resources and plunder. The clergy, by offering a religious justification for the invasion, gained the king's support to kill a pending bill in Parliament that would have taken half of church lands and imposed heavy fines. The king himself saw the French campaign as a chance to demonstrate his leadership, secure his hold on the English throne, and make his indelible mark on history. None of these issues is discussed during the meeting, but the work in building coalitions was done beforehand. The meeting is a formality that ensures that everyone has bought into the plan. "It can be a very costly mistake if you don't do this kind of consensus building," said Ken Adelman.

Sounds like a smart guy, a consensus builder. But where have we heard that name before? Oh, yeah. This piece from 13 February 2002:
Two knowledgeable Brookings Institution analysts, Philip H. Gordon and Michael E. O'Hanlon, concluded that the United States would "almost surely" need "at least 100,000 to 200,000" ground forces [op-ed, Dec. 26, 2001]. Worse: "Historical precedents from Panama to Somalia to the Arab-Israeli wars suggest that . . . the United States could lose thousands of troops in the process."

I agree that taking down Hussein would differ from taking down the Taliban. And no one favors "a casual march to war." This is serious business, to be treated seriously.
In fact, we took it seriously the last time such fear-mongering was heard from military analysts -- when we considered war against Iraq 11 years ago. Edward N. Luttwak cautioned on the eve of Desert Storm: "All those precision weapons and gadgets and gizmos and stealth fighters . . . are not going to make it possible to re-conquer Kuwait without many thousands of casualties." As it happened, our gizmos worked wonders. Luttwak's estimate of casualties was off by "many thousands," just as the current estimates are likely to be.

I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps. [empahsis mine]

And what was Agincourt?:
Henry V invaded France for several reasons. He hoped that by fighting a popular foreign war, he would strengthen his position at home. He wanted to improve his finances by gaining revenue-producing lands. He also wanted to take nobles prisoner either for ransom or to extort money from the French king in exchange for their return.

Yep, that's what Ken Adelman should be teaching students, all right.

*Yes, I know the title of this post is from Richard III. Bear with me.

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