The answer is straightforward:Certainly it's the weak and the poor who have the most interest in overturning any given system. But Peters, though not wrong, has only half the answer. The problem isn't just that the elite is both insular and so detached from the real world as to be largely immune to the pain their bad decisions cause. That's true, but it's not the whole truth.
* Social insularity: Our leaders know fellow insiders around the world; our enemies know everyone else.
* The mandarin’s distaste for physicality: We are led through blood-smeared times by those who’ve never suffered a bloody nose.
* And last but not least, bad educations in our very best schools: Our leadership has been educated in chaste political theory, while our enemies know, firsthand, the stuff of life.
[W]hen new blood does enter — through those same “elite” institutions — it’s channeled into the same old calcium-clogged arteries. And we get generals with Ivy League Ph.D.s writing military doctrine that adheres cringingly to politically correct truisms and leaves out the very factors, such as the power of religion or ethnic hatred, that prove decisive. Or a usually astute commentator on Eastern European affairs who dismisses Vladimir Putin as a mere chinovnik, a petty bureaucrat, since Putin was only a lieutenant colonel in the KGB when the Soviet Union collapsed and didn’t go to a Swiss prep school like John Kerry.
That analyst overlooked the fact that Hitler had been a mere lance corporal. Stalin was a failed seminarian. Lenin was a destitute syphilitic. Ho Chi Minh washed dishes in the basement of a Paris Hotel. And when the French Revolution erupted, Napoleon was a junior artillery officer.
The other half of the problem is the old problem of scale. We talk about this here often under the heading of Schumpeter's economic principle; it's more familiar to military science as the OODA loop. Our institutions are so large and so intricate in their approval chains that there's a huge advantage in terms of how fast a decision can be made and acted upon for streamlined organizations. Putin just issues orders, after all. ISIS isn't very big. USEUCOM or USCENTCOM has to socialize a plan among all their staff sections, who reach down to subordinate commands for input and then hash out a plan among themselves before they present it to their general. Most likely, he will need to push that plan up to the Pentagon if it represents a radical change to existing strategy. They have their own process before an answer comes back down, and the easiest answer is to push the suspense for the decision to the right while we ask a few more people. If the change requires a change from an interagency partner, their bureaucracies have to get involved too.
Even if the President were replaced with someone with new-blood ideas and the will to enact them, the bureaucracy would still have to go through at least a basic staffing process to ensure that it carried out the decisions in an orderly fashion. Because the bureaucrats are part of the existing order, there will be many who drag their feet or otherwise resist firm leadership (remember the CIA's campaign of leaks to the press about Bush's programs?).
In the absence of firm leadership from a President with such ideas, the system is almost too ossified to move at all. This is a real issue even for those leaders who are correctly motivated and trying to do the right thing.
What has to be done to address these challenges is to create a new way of responding to them -- one that isn't part of the bureaucracy, and that doesn't answer to it. A lot of the success of the special operations community comes from the fact that it operates on a much shorter chain. Were Congress to issue a letter of marque to a private organization tasked with fighting ISIS, that organization could act with Congressional authorization without any need to be directed by the State Department or the other executive bureaucracies at all.
It's absolutely true that we need new blood from outside of this elite, people who are more familiar with and in more direct contact with real life. We also need for them to be able to move fast and hard. They need to be able to make a call and make it happen with the same speed that our enemies can leverage. Otherwise, even our great strength and wealth will but little avail us.