Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 2, 2009

Wonks doing lunch

Filed under: Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on October 2, 2009

In a Wednesday post I offered (proposed? challenged?) that readers develop your own resilience strategy.   I promised to host a D.C. lunch where the “top” three proposals will be talked through.  Then we will use our various channels to encourage official consideration of a unified strategy.

Several have written with questions and suggestions.  I appreciate the interest, and here are my answers to the most frequently asked questions:

Deadline:  One month from today, November 2.

Format:  Less than ten pages, single spaced, 11 point font.  A lot less than ten pages is okay.  It is a strategy, not an operational proposal.

Delivery:  Use the comment function for this post.  I will, at my discretion, cut and paste your contributions as separate posts or pieces of posts.  I will also reserve the right to edit for clarity.

What do you mean by resilience?  If you input “resilience” in the “search site” function at the upper right you will see every mention of the term at The Watch.  But a big part of any strategy will be to define the term and its benefits.

What do you mean by strategy?  This can become a theological argument.  But for me an effective strategy describes what will be done, why it will be done, the advantages derived from doing it.  In dealing with what and why, it is often necessary to engage how opposition or other impediments to the strategy will be overcome. A strategy is much less attentive to who, when and where it is done.  Who, when, and where are usually (but not always) matters for operational planning.  UPDATE: Okay, okay… in response to those who complain I am ducking the real issue: Strategy involves the organizing and targeting of critical resources in advance of engagements (see Clausewitz) in order to generate anticipated advantages during engagements.

Will you pay airfare to Washington D.C.?  No.  Just lunch.

Will you accept anonymous entries?  Yes.  But I don’t buy lunch unless you show up person.  Disguises will be honored, but I will not avert my eyes.

What is a wonk?  The origin of the term is disputed.  In his Political Dictionary the recently departed William Safire defined policy wonk as, ” A grimly serious scholar of the tedious side of public affairs; stiff staffer steeped in study.”  While Safire is dismissive, since it is the word “know” written backwards, I have understood wonk to describe someone who knows something (usually obscure) forwards and backwards.

Finally, a careful colleague noted that my proposed location for lunch is only open for dinner.  Where was my staff of fact-checkers?  I suggest we finalize the venue depending on who will be present and their preferences.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn


Comment by Mark Wallace

October 2, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

While Safire is dismissive, since it is the word “know” written background, I have understood wonk to describe someone who knows something (usually obscure) forwards and backwards.

emphasis added

I rather suspect you meant “backward” vice background

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 2, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

Mr. Wallace:

Thanks for the catch. I have made the correction on the frontpage. While I don’t have the benefit of an editor, I am very thankful for attentive readers.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 2, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

Always thought of Willy WONKa as the ultimate expert on Chocolate Factory resilence. If you review the movie closely you will note he is the only one that can operate the factory both forwards and backwards, at different times or simultaneously.

Here is to more “Chocolate” and note the increase in worldwide demand and diminished production of coca beans. Suggest you and winners find a restaurant with wonderful chocolate desserts.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>