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Memo to The World: Party’s Over

Office “memos” are meant to impart guidelines or instruction to the rest of the staff from the Boss regarding proper (improper) behavior. They may address business conduct, office decorum, sales techniques, timeliness, or any other conduct that may (may not) affect the business. They should normally be taken seriously, especially if one wants (likes) his job or position. One need not agree at all with a single sentence of the message, but be warned: if you want to stay in your job or continue to “put bread on the table,” obey the memo!

In addressing your new “memo” to the “People of the United States” regarding their conduct in the “Worldplace,” what would be the message that you (“Boss”) should impart?

First, what are your choices?

  1. You could congratulate the staff on their most recent performance. Sales are up, behavior is good, no complaints, most are pleased. Result: Christmas bonus, raises projected, better vacations, increase in staff, plus possibly new and better locations.
  2. You might give warnings about “problems” in the workplace, a decline in productivity and sales, poor business techniques, increased tardiness, sloppy dress codes, bad “attitudes.” Result: your memo is meant to “turn the situation around,” to offer incentives, advice, and encouragement for better output and conduct. Your advice is to inspire rather than to punish or shut down.
  3. The situation has become intolerable, beyond redemption. Personnel ignores all advice, conduct has gone from “bad” to “unruly,” sales have dropped to near-nothing, the staff seems not to care in the least, competition has overtaken the firm in areas where we once led. Result: memo indicates that the “party is over,” the business must drop all pretensions to leadership in the field, staff reductions are imminent. A new and smaller location is needed, and the possibility of “closure” is now real.

Regarding the condition of American foreign policy in the world, how would your memo address the issue? Which of the three (or more) choices would your memo use?

Result: Choice One is automatically eliminated. Nothing is that good, and U.S. foreign policy, even under the best conditions, never reached this degree of satisfaction.

Perhaps the closest was the original instruction from the original president: Washington’s “Farewell Address” (1796) that guided the nation until it grew into the Twentieth Century “superpower.” Next would be the immediate post-World War II years (1945-1950) under Truman where the World Order that still governs the globe first emerged. Third might be Reagan’s first Administration (1981-1985) wherein the Soviet Union and world Communism was eliminated peacefully under the “gun” of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and an indifferent, if not hostile, political climate.

Aside from those three historic chapters, we are left with the post-Cold War era (since 1991). In considering options two or three, the following main points governing the political globe should guide our thought:

  • The United States military has not won a war since 1945. It has become the best-financed, best-equipped, and “overworked” military in peacetime U.S. history but has yet to win a war!
  • With the demise of world Communism (1991), the United States has enjoyed the luxury of living in a strategic global environment that, minus incipient terrorism, has never, repeat never, been engaged in a rival, state or coalition, that challenges anything remotely close to “survival.” This means both literally or figuratively. When asked what was the greatest challenge to American “survival,” President Obama replied, “the climate.” That view is also pervasive within the culture: the weather is “public enemy number one.”
  • Since the end of the Cold War, every political administration, without a single exception, has been directed by an overall domestic agenda as evidenced by Inaugural Addresses, thousands of political speeches, and the political attention and personnel throughout the body politic. This doesn’t imply that there was NO foreign policy. It simply implies that the domestic agenda occupied first place, with foreign policy somewhere near the bottom ten. (For further proof, review the 2016 and 2020 televised presidential debates and count the times “foreign affairs” was covered.)
  • While there has been high-level attention to the idea of a foreign “threat,” coming from such as China alone or China and Russia together, one is reminded of the isolationist 1930s when nearly all of American public attention was on “survival” from the Great Depression. In a similar way, popular concentration has focused almost exclusively on domestic issues, especially “people of color,” “Black Lives,” and “White Supremacy,” and to include ideological items, inequity, inequalities, injustice, plus the myriad of other related issues that can only be solved (or delayed) at home.

Under such, inarguable, conditions (at the least) and without either rancor or remorse, how would your memo to the public on American foreign policy read?

Final result:
To: John (Jane) Q Public
From: Boss Man (Woman)
Re.: Future U.S. Foreign Policy

Ladies and Gentlemen of America:

For the past several decades, this country, as promised from our beginnings, has done all that could be expected to keep global peace and a promised order in the world-at-large.

As most of you know, certain conditions, or “circumstances,” have arisen that have come to our attention and the attention of our shareholders (“allies”). In recent years, but especially in our new century, these conditions have come to dominate our approach to both the American staff (people) and to our business and products as well.

Without belaboring these conditions, of which you all are very well aware, it has become necessary for America to adjust our strategies and output in several critical ways. In the next few months, and into the near future, America will have to take a number of very reluctant steps to adjust our business practices and world strategies to the challenges of a new era.

These will include greater attention on domestic priorities as the public has demanded, including a relaxation in our global obligations and responsibilities.

We sincerely regret these necessities and fervently hope that they will be temporary.

In the hope that these changes will be both respected by the public and may, in their own way, contribute to both stability and order throughout the globe, I remain,

Your loving Boss,

The People at-large

Read more by Dr. John J. Tierney, Jr.