Friday, March 30, 2018

John C. Hulsman's "To Dare More Boldly"

John C. Hulsman is president of John C. Hulsman Enterprises, a prominent global political-risk consulting firm. His books include Ethical Realism: A Vision for America's Role in the World, The Godfather Doctrine: A Foreign Policy Parable, and To Begin the World Over Again: Lawrence of Arabia from Damascus to Baghdad.

Hulsman applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, To Dare More Boldly: The Audacious Story of Political Risk, and reported the following:
Yes, I think Ford’s Page 99 test is a fair and good one, as it intriguingly gets beyond marketing and drills down to the actual worth of a book, of its thoughts and of the quality of the writing, which are the things true book lovers care about. So here goes. The first full paragraph on Page 99 of To Dare More Boldly: The Audacious Story of Political Risk states:
No, it is not for its brave bleakness that I am critical of The Prince; actually that is the quality of it that I admire. It is rather that, Machiavelli—like so many of his detractors through the ages—confused evil with effectiveness, seeing the charismatically dysfunctional Cesare Borgia as his ideal model prince rather than the far less morally grotesque (and far more politically successful) Pope Julius II as the true exemplar of the chess-playing creed.
The page comes from "Chapter 4: Gaming Out Chess Players; Machiavelli, Cesare Borgia and Pope Julius II." Every chapter of To Dare More Boldly amounts to an analytical commandment of political risk analysis, a conceptual ‘do’ or a ‘don’t’ for thinking, derived from history. For only by navigating the past can we make sense of the present and the future.

Here we are looking at chess-players, political decision-makers and analysts (and they are rare birds) who keep to an unchanging, long-term strategy, using supple and changing tactics to achieve these fixed objectives. The chapter looks at Machiavelli, Cesare Borgia and Julius II (with an inter-chapter on Alexander Hamilton and George Washington) seeing both stories as prime examples of chess-players in action.

Page 99 points out the irony that Machiavelli, supposedly the poster boy of chess-playing realpolitik, actually got his contemporary political analysis entirely wrong. Beguiled by the Bond-villain luster of Cesare Borgia, he originally planned to dedicate The Prince to him. But as Borgia’s rather inept efforts at risk analysis led to his ruin, the irony was that his vanquisher--the less picaresque but for more effective Julius—sat as an unacknowledged chess-player right in front of Machiavelli’s nose. History is full of irony, just as it is full of lessons.
Visit John C. Hulsman's website.

Writers Read: John C. Hulsman.

--Marshal Zeringue