[February 25, 2021] By the time I reached my 20th year in the U.S. Army, I had become one of a few experts on large-scale combat and military construction Engineering. My specialty was Base construction in hostile combat zones. Yet, on several occasions, my ability to design, fund, construct and maintain large, complex bases failed. Experts can and do fail. I was one of them.
I learned from my experiences that experts could fail, and leaders who rely upon them can also fail.
On many occasions, the U.S. Army came to me and asked that I put together a military Base from which a sizeable military force could conduct combat operations. I won’t bore my readers with details, but bases in combat zones are typically designed from a few hundred to a few thousand people. Failure is never an option.
As an expert, I realized that anything could go wrong in any place along the path to completing a Base. In combat, everything that can go wrong usually does go wrong. I knew this from many years of combat and from discussing the subject with other Base construction experts. The big problem is that when the experts fail, those relying upon that expert also fail.
The modern take on “experts.”
Speaking with several young adults last week, we were having a friendly decision. Our conversation was about freedom of speech and how experts play into the narrative. I am sort of an expert on experts, being an expert and all. Well, that is what I told them anyway. My position was that all speech should be allowed (as outlined in the U.S. First Amendment to the Constitution). Their position was that certain forms of speech should be banned by the government, like hate and violent speech.1
When I asked the question ‘Who determines what is hate or violent speech?’ they said it should be left up to the “experts.” I asked about these so-called experts, what kind of training and experience they have, expert resources, their backgrounds, their history of success and failures, etc. End of conversation.
Who are the experts? Who chooses these experts? What authority do these experts have?
In the U.S. military, experts are chosen by Commanders, and those Commanders are fully accountable. This means – and it is fully understood ahead of time – that an expert’s failure will be laid at the doorstep of the Commander. If the Commander gives the expert authority to act on their behalf, or not, the Commander assumes all responsibility.
Not so in the civilian world. Experts are a class into themselves. They are not held accountable for their failures, and those who employ them are also absolved from any responsibility. Herein lies the problem of the expert class. When there is no accountability, failure will surely follow.2
- I’m aware of the intellectual trap of separating “hate speech” from “free speech.” It’s an old, time-tested formula used by SJWs and ideological leftists to win arguments.