Best Defense

More on Rustin and strategic thinking

More on Rustin and strategic thinking

Karin Chenoweth, a friend who first mentioned the underappreceiated civil rights leader Bayard Rustin to me, wrote to me in response to the item the other day that Rustin, whom she knew, thought, "in terms of underlying principles, large goals consistent with principles, strategies to meet the goals, and tactics that served the strategies."

Read that again. That’s a good summary of effective strategic thinking and even above strategy, good overall conceptual thinking. When strategy is taught, the top end is often forgotten-which is that strategies must be designed to meet goals consistent with underlying principles.

Indeed, that sentence of hers could be used as a guide to critiquing American policy in Iraq. Did we go to war for principled reasons? Were our goals there consistent with our principles? Did we have strategies to meet those goals? Were our tactics consistent with our principles, goals and strategies?