I would be interested to hear what our veterans and those who have served in the military feel about this subject. It is a complex subject with many variables. The disaster at Dunkirk could easily be laid at the feet of the politicians who committed a poorly equipped and unprepared force vs. a pure military explanation. However, some would argue that the military heirarchy can cause this to occur. In his book, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, Norman F. Dixon notes that nearly every military disaster that was caused by incompetent leadership was because the leader had an authoritarian personality with the following four characteristics:
- an obsessive attention to neatness and detail and a need for an ordered tidy world with few complexities and complications
- emotional coldness where they don’t really empathize or warm to colleagues
- excessive deference to superior authority, which meant that they often reversed this and bullied those who they saw as their inferiors
- an excessive fear of failure and of getting things wrong, which meant that they were less likely to innovate or do something different or make radical changes.