Last year marked the fortieth anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, now best remembered in the West for the misinformation peddled to Israeli intelligence preceding the attack.
Prior to 1973 Israeli national security were aware of Arab war plans. However, basing their likelihood of attack at near to zero based on assumptions they had supposedly qualified, Israel dismissed any and all war warnings. Sure enough, on October 6th 1973 an Arab coalition, which supposedly didn’t exist, launched a joint surprise attack on the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar – Yom Kippur. So surprised and ill prepared were Israeli forces that they suffered huge casualties and lost immediate ground to the invading forces. After three weeks of fighting, Israel were able to regain the upper hand in the battle and were soon after deemed victorious in driving the enemy from their back yard from whence they came.
The chink in Israel’s armor lay in the fact an assumption had been accepted as an absolute truth, which had remained unchallenged by anybody with any ability to impact the outcome. Israel had evidently forgotten a key lesson; that to assume will make an ASS out of U and Me.
After having some time to cool down post conflict, it became readily apparent to the Israeli’s where the problem lay – their war council’s willingness to agree with a dominant ideology and/or dominant personality. Thus, in response to the unqualified disaster they had recently encountered in Intelligence operations, Israel reacted by adopting a policy that would be implemented across the board in matters of military importance and national safety. The policy stipulated that in any group situation, were a consensus to be reached unanimously, one member of the council would assume the responsibility and obligation to loyally oppose the group’s rationale and present reasoning as to why the dominant ideology was flawed. When played, this position was to be known as ‘The Devil’s Advocate’.
Although it is not expected such a dramatic situation as needing to protect a nation will befall you, it might be worth considering what assumptions, laws or “known” facts you are relying on when making your next decision. Always think, what would the Devil’s advocate say in this situation? Alternatively, we can just keep on keepin’ on and doing as we have always done. If everybody says it is the case, it must be. Right? Right?!