About This Blog

A QualitEvolution is intended to capture positions and experiences as a participant in the evolution of the Quality profession into the 21st century. From its origins as the brainchild of Corporate Industrial Statisticians, our profession has transformed and evolved to incorporate and adapt to the demands and expectations of our modern existence.

The scope of the subject matter within A QualitEvolution extends to the furthest ranges of quality, business transformation, management science, and quality issues especially pertinent to the members of ASQ in Canada.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

WCQI in Texas - An Historical Background

There are several opinions being expressed about the acquisition of Ukrainian territory by Russian forces, operating under the leadership of Russian President, Vladimir Putin.  I would like to share, and subsequently comment upon, a most curious and interesting commentary from the esteemed American conservative columnist, former Presidential advisor and political candidate, Patrick Buchanan.  In a column published on April 18 on the www.humanevents.com website, the following passage was included.

"Perhaps some history is in order.
Compare how Putin brought about the secession and annexation of Crimea, without bloodshed but with popular approval, with how Sam Houston and friends brought about the secession of Texas from Mexico, and its annexation by the United States in 1845.
When the Mexicans tried to retrieve a disputed piece of their lost Texas territory, James K. Polk accused them of shedding American blood on American soil, had Congress declare war, sent Gen. Winfield Scott and a U.S. army to Mexico City, and annexed the entire northern half of Mexico, which is now the American Southwest and California.
Compared to the Jacksonian, James Polk, Vladimir Putin is Pierre Trudeau."

Knowing that Patrick Buchanan had served in the Nixon and Reagan administrations, I can only imagine that former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau would be seen as the epitome of a leader advocating peace and civil liberties, as demonstrated in a most tangible manner by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Trudeau’s recognition in 1984 of receiving the Albert Einstein Peace Prize.  Notwithstanding the fact that both Putin and Trudeau were advanced practitioners of judo and similar martial arts, and both demonstrated their physical fitness during their times in power, the two leaders frankly have very little in common.

What I would prefer to address is the implicit slandering of two formidable American historical figures who were instrumental in overcoming the tyranny of Mexican oppression led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.  As Buchanan correctly stated, Polk was such a close protégé of President Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson that his nickname was “Young Hickory”.  In addition to the southern border, Polk peacefully negotiated with the British Empire to divide the then termed “Oregon Country” at the 49th parallel, avoiding a return to a potentially costly and destructive war with the British.

Unlike the Crimean region, which was already populated and civilized within the established sovereign state of Ukraine (the violation of which contravened the stipulations of the Budapest Memorandum of 1994), the Texas region of the 1840s was dependent on American settlers to populate and civilize the vast and expansive agricultural area.  Mexico itself was an unstable and volatile nation, having recently gained its independence from the rule of the Spanish Empire.

Sam Houston, with previous political experience that included a stint as the Governor of Tennessee, served the Republic of Texas as its military Commander in Chief and President.  His defeat of Santa Anna’s army at San Jacinto put an end to the ruthless and inhumane tactics of the Mexican army, who were merciless against their defeated adversaries.  In contrast, Houston demonstrated his statesmanship and gained tremendous stature with the respectful treatment of the captured Mexican army and leadership.  

Unlike the militaristic Putin, who stands proudly as his military demonstrates their might during Red Square parades, President Polk would be described in today’s terms as a dry technocrat.  According to a description within Lions of the West by Robert Morgan,
Polk was solemn and serious, sober and industrious, and apparently without a sense of humor.  For all of that, he was a master politician, sometimes described as the most successful president in American history. … By the time he left office in 1849, he would have accomplished all he had promised.”

The immense and advanced Russian military would easily overwhelm that of Ukraine, a bankrupt and destitute nation currently dependent on extensive foreign aid.  In the Mexican-American war, it was the American army at a disadvantage.  Polk’s generals, Zachary Taylor (who would eventually become President) and Winfield Scott distinguished themselves and their armies by overcoming a larger army and capturing territory rapidly, with an impressive battle record.  As quoted in Lions of the West, “Impressed by his leadership and humanity, a delegation of Mexican leaders would offer the presidency of the country to Winfield Scott, but he would refuse.”

Another historian, Daniel Walker Howe, quoted in his volume What Hath God Wrought, “The conquest of that large republic (Mexico) by the small armed forces of the United States, despite formidable geographical difficulties and in the face of a hostile population, constituted one of the most amazing military achievements of the nineteenth century.”

The tyranny of Mexican dictators was replaced by American democracy.  The legacy today is that Texas is a prosperous and innovative state within the United States of America.  Its people are not oppressed by tyranny, and Texas is one of the most influential states of the nation, characterized by its libertarian and free enterprise mentality.  In contrast, the Russian dominated Soviet Union overtly intervened not only within its own territories, but in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 to strongly discourage and oppress those contrary-minded individuals with political opinions at a variance to the established order.

Interestingly, if history does repeat itself, then there is a curious fact.  Two junior officers who distinguished themselves during the Mexican-American war were Captain Robert E. Lee and Captain Ulysses S. Grant.  A generation later, these distinguished officers would oppose each other during the U.S Civil War as they were the respective commanders of the Confederate Army and the Union Army.  It is reasonable to speculate that today’s Russian officers could one day oppose each other in the largest civil war the world will ever observe.

To summarize, I respectfully disagree with Buchanan that on an historical continuum, patriots like Sam Houston and James Polk are considered to be more extreme imperialists than Vladimir Putin.  Polk continued the work begun by Jefferson, with his Louisiana Purchase, to settle and civilize a sparsely populated land mass toward the Pacific Ocean.  In contrast, Putin, with his command of espionage, insurgency, commerce, and technology, is a more formidable and threatening figure to the civil liberties of citizens in adjacent countries.  Through the deployment of intensive and interactive techniques, Putin has demonstrated his capability to disrupt and disconnect entire territories from sovereign states, absorbing them into Russia, without retaliation or consequence from the international community.

As for Pierre Elliott Trudeau, his response to an insult by President Richard Nixon (Buchanan’s former boss) still applies perfectly to Buchanan comparing him to Putin, “I’ve been called worse things by better people”.

Monday, April 14, 2014

WCQI - Keep your schedule full

In response to the View From The Q post, my simple answer is to always have something going on.

Using the Big Rocks analogy, if you put the big rocks in the glass first, then the smaller rocks and pebbles will find their way as well.

Target your time to fit the "must-attend" events, and with the time remaining, make the most of the opportunities to explore new elements.

I also encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and attend sessions or events that are outside of their industry.  This not only helps you, it keeps the audiences diverse and interactive.

As a speaker, I always enjoyed and made time for anyone with follow-up questions or requesting more in-depth knowledge.  The 40-60 minute sessions are really the tip of the iceberg, and speakers would most likely find it flattering to make new contacts.  This would help your own network and intensify the conference experience.

Above all else, enjoy WCQI and if you find yourself bored or stalled, go somewhere and get engaged and involved.