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Who is to blame, politicians or nameless, faceless bureaucrats?


It is easy to blame politicians for all the negative things taking place in the world today. However, often they are not the real problem.

According to British historian, Niall Ferguson, many times the blame should be directed at the nameless, faceless, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats lurking in the background who are pulling the strings on the political decisions.

In an address at the Chalke Valley History Festival, sponsored by the Daily Mail, Ferguson spoke of the Challenger shuttle that exploded shortly after take off in 1986. The mainstream media was quick to blame then President, Ronald Reagan, for the disaster, stating he rushed the launch, so it could be included in his Presidential address to the nation.

But Ferguson says there is more to the story, including a shadowy figure known as Mr Kingsbury.

The Daily Mail explains:

But there was no substance to that, said Mr Ferguson, and ‘in reality NASA engineers knew there was a one in 100 chance it would blow up.’ 

However, NASA bureaucrats – including ‘an enigmatic figure [called] Mr Kingsbury’ had changed the risk into one in 100,000, a ‘significantly lower probability of disaster’.

Mr Ferguson said ‘there is a Mr Kingsbury in every disaster’ and it is not the people at the top that make the fatal errors but ‘someone in the middle management, in an obscure layer of bureaucracy’.

Ferguson alleges that Mr Kingsbury actually changed the numbers, so the risk for the launch wouldn’t appear so bad.

Ferguson added that, today, many of the lockdowns and COVID decisions are being driven by bureaucrats pressuring politicians to make rash decisions.

READ: Why pen-pushers cause disasters – NOT our leaders: Obscure bureaucrats are often at fault for bad decisions blamed on top politicians, historian says

I recently did a podcast on an agency, known as simply SPI-B, that powerfully influenced the British government in its COVID lockdown decisions, that included using some rather inflated COVID numbers:

72 | SPI-B and a Spirit of Fear

And we even have a Biblical example of a rogue bureaucrat in the Kingdom of Persia named Haman, who manipulated the King of Persia into approving a mass genocide of the Jews:

Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.” (Esther 3:8-9 NIV)

Fortunately, God raised up Queen Esther to stop the massacre.

In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, the Apostle Paul urged believers to pray for Kings, but in his exhortation he also included “all who are in high positions.” This includes the bureaucracy.

Perhaps, we should be praying that our elected politicians will have the strength to reign in rogue bureaucrats so that “we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

(As an aside, there are good bureaucrats who want what is best for the country and the people. I personally know of some. Often they are pushed aside by those who aren’t.)

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