Calming the Waters or Facing the Consequences

July 17, 2020

My Humanities Moment came earlier this year as I watched the news reporting on North Korea’s recent test launch of a ballistic missile coming on the heels of Iran shooting down a drone and possibly attacking oil fields and facilities in Saudi Arabia. Having spent twenty years in the military and ten more working for the ballistic missile defense agency I saw firsthand the importance of leadership and having an understanding of current events. Such events can be impacted by decisions made in the heat of the moment without having time to think about the factors under consideration.

Studying history to understand previous events and thinking through alternative scenarios, as pointed out by Clausewitz in his book On War is the only way for military and top government personal to work through issues before the fact. The opportunities are limited, thankfully, but when they do come up, only by thinking ahead can the person be ready.

Looking at the current events taking place I can see there is a likely opportunity for senior government leaders, military or civilian, to be in a fast moving environment where the wrong decision could lead to a catasrophe and I am wondering about how much time they have spent preparing for the moment and if our high school history programs put enough emphasis on developing decision processes in our students. If not, what can I do in my classroom to encourage students to develop their decision making process and how they can practice it in the classroom while doing their assignments?