Johns Hopkins Magazine -- April 1998
Johns Hopkins 
     Magazine Home

APRIL 1998

P U B L I C    P O L I C Y &    &    I N T E R N A T I O N A L    A F F A I R S

Gleaning corporate strategy from General Lee... an exchange of ideas with Cuba... new new addition at Public Health... toward peace in the Middle East

Post-war analysis: battlefield lessons for the boardroom
Business lessons from the battlefield

Can lessons learned in the Battle of Gettysburg translate into corporate strategy? So teaches Patrick Martinelli, a senior faculty associate in the School of Continuing Studies' Division of Business and Management.

As part of his strategic planning business course, Martinelli takes students to the Pennsylvania battlefield that was a turning point in the Civil War. Students look at the management style of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and do a modern analysis of the battlefield decisions made between July 1 and July 3, 1863-- decisions that led to a Union victory and the North's advantage in the war.

"We take them on a staff ride of the battle," Martinelli explains. "It's an old military term for a tour that generals take with their staff for an `after-action review.' At Gettysburg, there were numerous strategic decisions made under trying circumstances --some good, some bad."

Take the infamous Pickett's Charge, in which Lee ordered 15,000 soldiers uphill across an open battlefield in the outdated Napoleonic style. Long-range guns wiped out the effort.

"Pickett's Charge was a complete blowout," Martinelli said. "You can see how leaders at Gettysburg fell back on traditional thinking. We are all prisoners of our past. But we have to look at alternate ways of doing things." The lesson there was to keep your eye on technology.

Using the three-day battle as a metaphor, Martinelli urges future managers to think creatively "outside the box." He also points out the dangers of overextending oneself (Lee's ill-fated foray into Northern territory with 75,000 men), and the need for communication (the Confederate troops were left blind when mounted Major General Jeb Stuart failed to locate and report the movements of Union troops).

Students also analyze Lee's management style. Communication on the battlefield fell apart partly because Lee gave "discretionary orders," advising his generals to move forward or stay back depending on which they thought best. "Lee would say, `If you think it's practical, take that hill,'" Martinelli says. "But decision making became unstructured."

Martinelli, who taught business at Loyola College for 22 years, teaches his Continuing Studies "capstone" course to students pursuing their master's in business, and another version to participants of the Police Executive Leadership Program.

"The police take to this like ducks to water," he says. -- JPC

Cuba Exchange marks a milestone

Hopkins recently marked a two-decade anniversary of its exchange program with Cuba. The longevity is no small feat.

Despite sometimes antagonistic relations between the U.S. and Cuban governments, a free exchange of ideas has flowed between academics and students in both countries since the program was established at Hopkins's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Launched in 1977, the Cuba Exchange Program is considered the oldest of its kind in the United States.

Since its inception, three groups of Hopkins undergraduates, and numerous graduate students and professors, have visited the island nation that's off-limits to most American visitors under U.S. sanctions. The travelers, because of their educational mission, have been granted licenses under the U.S. Department of Treasury.

In seminars in Havana and in the countryside, Hopkins students and researchers over the years have studied topics as varied as Cuban environmental problems, the history of tobacco and sugar, colonial architecture, African-based religions, the Catholic Church, Cuban folk music, and the nation's political history.

Most recently, a group of 16 undergraduates--most majoring in international relations --visited Cuba in January during Pope John Paul II's historic visit to the communist country that once barred Catholics from jobs and schools. Some students woke up at 4:30 a.m., and walked more than a mile, to attend the pope's Sunday Mass in Havana. Most said the visit opened their minds about Cuban culture.

"I came to Cuba with this image of people in the streets, food riots, and crumbling buildings. But you can see they still have a strong belief in the Cuban revolution, and yet they treat you as an individual, not as part of the U.S. government," says senior Anjali Kaur. "It's hard for us to understand socialism, or how they can survive on $10 a month. But I came back with a new perspective on Fidel."

The exchange program moved to Homewood's Latin American Studies Program in 1993, where it is now housed. Administrators, particularly visiting Hopkins professor Wayne Smith, the program's director, have scrambled to secure outside funding, and have garnered a four-year $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, which has helped sponsor student trips and scholarly research.

The Ford Foundation also funds the Hopkins newsletter, CUBAInfo, which covers Cuban policy issues and news stories and circulates on the island and in Washington. In 1997, that newsletter was one of a handful of news agencies approved by the U.S. for a bureau in Havana --along with the likes of The New York Times and Chicago Tribune. The Cuban government has yet to approve the bureau: "But we are more likely to get it," says Smith, "because we are small and they know us."

Other exchange efforts with Hopkins include a library preservation project. Hopkins archivists have given seminars in Havana on how to preserve documents in an environment in which climate control is hard to maintain. The School of Public Health also sponsors Cuban physicians who have come to Hopkins to study epidemiology and other subjects. --JPC

Courtesy School of Public Health
What's new at Public Health

The School of Public Health will soon break ground for a new addition to its recently completed Monument Street wing. The new new addition (half-jokingly referred to around campus as the NNA) was made possible through a $5 million commitment from an anonymous School of Medicine alumnus.

The eight-story addition will double the size of the existing new wing (completed in the spring of 1996), providing 110 offices for about 150 faculty, staff, and students. Public Health Dean Al Sommer says the additional space will be crucial for attracting top new faculty and doctoral students in such rapidly growing areas as risk sciences and public policy, global health management, and infectious diseases.

Talal Asad calls Palestinians the "victim of victims."
Photo by Jay Van Rennselaer
An international double standard?

Complicating efforts to negotiate peace in the Middle East, says professor of anthropology Talal Asad, is Arab resentment over what is seen as an international double standard.

United Nations resolutions against Israel, such as the demand that it withdraw from all territory occupied during the 1967 war, have not been enforced, notes Asad. Yet the United States and its European allies have been willing to go to war against Iraq to enforce U.N. sanctions there.

"Many people in the Arab world see an unevenness in the way these things are applied," Asad says. "Saddam Hussein is in some ways morally a thug. However, I think many would say it's unclear why this particular thug has been chosen to be dealt such force. There's something not quite honest here. The ordinary people will suffer in Iraq, not Saddam Hussein."

Arab observers note that the U.S. does not subject thuggish governments in other countries to the same sort of sanctions and threats of violence, says Asad. "What's the logic here? Many in the Arab world say it's because the Iraqis are Arabs and [in Western eyes] you can do that to Arabs."

Born in Saudi Arabia, Asad grew up largely in India and Pakistan, was educated in Britain, and has lived in the United States since 1989. As an anthropologist, he has worked in Sudan and Egypt. He believes that progress in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians depends on concessions. The tough question has always been who will make them. Asad argues that both sides must concede something, but that it is the Israelis who need to make the bigger move. And he thinks the United States should do more to convince Israel of the long-term practical value of doing so.

In negotiations, he says, the strongest party with the most to give has to make the bigger concession. Asad believes that Israel should stop building settlements in occupied territory and withdraw from the West Bank, conceding this land to a new Palestinian state. This would remove a great source of Arab resentment: "The way to disarm the extremists is to gradually push people toward some sort of resolution. If this isn't done, there will be constantly simmering trouble that goes on and on and on, and erupts from time to time. Why would any Israeli want to live in that sort of frontier condition?"

Asad calls Palestinians the "victim of victims," noting that they are a group of people "who have been pushed out of their land since the beginning of the century." After World War II, he says, "it was not Germany or Britain or France that was asked to give up its territory [to create a Jewish homeland]. It was Palestine, a colonial country. There was that sense of Palestinians being natives of little account."

Asad believes that in return for recognition of their state and other concessions, Palestinians need to assert control over their violent elements, such as the terrorist group Hamas. And among Arabs in general, he says, there needs to be greater recognition of the trauma suffered by the Jews during the Holocaust, though he points out that the Holocaust was perpetrated by Europeans, not Arabs. --DK

Written by Joanne P. Cavanaugh and Dale Keiger.