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POWELL: The Border Crisis, a Failure in Strategic Management

Chaos abounds at the border that is spilling over onto the streets of sanctuary cities and college campuses. Tragedies are playing out daily in America stemming from President Biden’s failure as a strategic manager.

Peter Drucker said strategic management requires “analytical thinking” and a “commitment of resources” to resolve issues. Both are sorely missing from border management.

First, the issue was never properly framed, so the public understood the rationale for open borders. This mean a strategy to achieve an outcome could not be created because goals were not in place.

President George H.W. Bush set a clear goal of removing the Iraqi army from Kuwait. And once it was achieved, for a variety of reasons, including his commitment to the coalition, hostilities ended. The goal was not to destroy the army of Saddam Hussein but rather to remove it as an occupying force.

So, let us speculate about President Biden’s goal. Was it people living in poverty? The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index puts the number of people living in poverty at 1.1 billion.

Perhaps the issue is human rights? Reuters reports, “more than a third of the world’s population, or 2.6 billion people, live in nations and territories gripped by repression, corruption and human rights abuses.”

Was it about climate refugees? According to the United Nations, 110 million people in 2023 were considered “displaced people” for a variety of reasons, including climate, war and natural disasters.

Failure to properly frame the problem means we lack a clear pathway toward achieving success.

The second strategic management mistake is Biden’s failure to fully assess resources, assuming instead that our social safety net is sufficient to meet the challenges posed by mass migration. Arguably, the social safety net was not working that well before the migrant influx, and the president would have known this by performing a simple stress test.

The president would have found that the performance of urban public schools is appallingly low and that the trend of teaching English as a second language is not sustainable when you are drawing migrants from 150 nations. He would have discovered in New York City, there existed a lack of affordable housing, leading to 150,000 New Yorkers living in the shelter system. He would have concluded that the influx of migrants would only exacerbate a growing problem.

He would have uncovered that emergency Medicaid for migrants has the potential to overwhelm the healthcare system and that diseases would likely be reintroduced into America because of the lack of vaccinations in many feeder nations. An assessment of our legal system would have uncovered police forces are underfunded and our justice system defanged. Neither can deal with the number of bad actors coming from all over.

It is essential in strategic management to ensure that your first move is the right move to gain support and continue building momentum behind your goals. The first move for migrants was to expand their dependency on government services. It is estimated by Homeland Security that the migrant crisis could cost Americans $451 billion annually. The total annual expenditure cannot be estimated going forward without a clear border strategy.

Finally, when managing an issue strategically, at the beginning, you have asked and answered what success will look like after that crisis has abated. The Senate bill signaled that we cannot stop illegal migration into America. The lack of strategy has led to a fluid approach focused on problem management. This is antithetical to strategic management, which demands leaders anticipate problems and prepare to meet the challenges they create.

It is time for us to begin to hold our elected leaders to a higher standard as strategic managers and stop relying on spending, which is not linked to a clear executable strategy, to solve every issue.

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