Saturday, February 11, 2006

George W. Bush; Global CEO


I’ve been getting a lot of opposition this week to things I have written, so what better way to cap off the week than by pointing out the 1776-pound elephant in the room?

Readers will know that I have begun to pursue my Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA), and so I have also taken interest in the history of that degree’s development and certain related developments in which the MBA plays a part.

The MBA is a quintessentially American degree, so much so that in the world’s leading accrediting body for business schools, the AACSB International (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), which lists 515 accredited business schools, 434 are American (84.27%). The MBA was actually created in the United States more than a century ago, and has developed to meet the changing needs and increasing demands of the business world. This is because the world of business operates at a scale and pace unimagined just a generation ago, and so the stakes for effective management of operations has risen commensurately.

The political significance of the MBA then comes into focus, when it is considered that George W. Bush is the first holder of an MBA to be elected President of the United States. This means that unlike the lawyers and diplomats who held the office in the past, Bush carried real-world knowledge of economics and practical application of theory into the Oval Office. While prior Presidents had applied their experience to the job, Bush understood a perspective never before applied to the world order, and since he came in at a time when the United States was essentially a free actor, a significant force in any matter it chose to pursue, Bush naturally understood that the selection of doctrine would set the tone for a long time to come, provided he was wise in his choice.

As we know now, history chose Bush’s course for him, as the 9/11 attacks required a commitment to defeat Global Terrorism, and to defeat the more pernicious opponents likely to choose such weapons. This determined the need to attack Afghanistan and Iraq, and to replace the tyrannies in those nations with freely elected republics.

But Bush has done a great deal more than that. Where past leaders might have intervened in one place or another, or expressed an American interest in one part of the world at one specific time, the Bush Doctrine establishes the American intention to act wherever and whenever American interests are at stake. This effectively forces other nations to either accept that the US will act as it sees fit in any situation, or to oppose the United States through restraint. The United States, one may reason, will act within the terms of agreements and treaties, but will not allow foreign interests supremacy over American sovereignty. The effect of the doctrine establishes de facto US sovereignty over sea lanes and strategic territory, through the sole ability of the United States to back up its intentions with sufficient force at need in any single scenario. As a consequence, the doctrine also makes the American President the effective Chief Executive Officer of the planet. We don’t own the world, but we manage it.

Does it sound arrogant? Yes. Is it appropriate? Looking at History, yes. Is it the right course? Again, looking at the results so far, yes. But it must be understood that I am not suggesting an 'Imperial' America at all, but rather a sort of regency, where the US accepts (as it so often must) the role no one else wants, to protect what everyone needs. Ever since 1917, the world has pretty much called on the USA when bad guys start trouble. And ever since 1800 the world has gotten used to "Yankee Ingenuity" to come up with all sorts of things to make life better, and yes that includes new business paradigms. Before you laugh to think that a CEO can directly affect your life, consider how many people work in salaried or hourly-wage positions, for a company in a network of businesses. The better business runs, the better life is for these billions of employees and their families. And Bush is the first man to not only think about the operations of the world as though they were part of a broader plan, but also the first man to be in a position to make the changes needed to set the course for where we need to be.

That course can be described in 2 words: Ownership Society. We already know that people take better care of things they consider their property than what they consider public use, that people respect something they worked to receive more than what was handed to them. So yeah, that applies, even to the government level, even to the law we create and live by.

Something to think about.

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