Military Operations: The Harmful Effects of Hubris Influenced Leaders
NAVAL WAR COLLEGE NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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Military failures resulting from the fatal flaw of hubris have the potential for significant lost national treasure and blood. From a combatant commanders perspective, a military leader driven by the dangerous illusion of personal grandeur, arrogance, and narcissism endangers operational objectives and negatively influences current and future strategic objectives. The continual battle to resist hubris temptations requires inner personal humility. However, combatant commanders cannot assume their own success, or that of their subordinates, in resisting hubris. They must embark on a continuous evaluation, re-education, and, where necessary, removal process. A culture of 360-degree awareness regarding military leaders is critical to avoiding the negative impacts of hubris. Three historical cases provide situations in which hubris led to disastrous strategic effects Alcibiades expedition to Sicily during the Peloponnesian War, Napoleon Bonapartes attempt to conquer Russia in 1812, and L. Paul Bremers Iraqi government transitional leadership. All three examples provide a foundation for the claim that hubris exists as an inherent character flaw, and an individuals access to power serves only to set the azimuth of impact. While eradicating hubris entirely from an operational leaders character is implausible, leaders at all levels can strengthen their awareness of this trait and prevent squandered opportunities.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics