Leaders and war
I was browsing the BBC's Have Your Say forum. One of the posters suggested the idea that wars can only be started by those who are willing to spend the entire war at a distance no greater than, say, 5 kilometres from the front. As impracticable an idea as this is, and he acknowledges that it would never be implemented, it does raise an interesting question. Would, say, Clinton have gone into Kosovo or Bush into Iraq, if their own personal safety had been on the line?
I think the same logic applies to those who send suicide bombers to their deaths. Come on, Osama, show us your mettle. Join the next suicide bombing.
For me, the above ideas tell us something revealing about leaders. We elect people on the basis of soundbites, their ability to "charm" us, their ability to promise the earth and yet they are never accountable. We pick people for their "homespun" qualities. I don't want a leader who is homespun or charming. I want one who is exceptional.
That person should be in the top percentile for intelligence. They should be obsessively hard working, ruthless but compassionate (i.e. willing to make the hard decisions, but doing so with a heavy heart), morally sound, they should understand complex ideas, other nations and cultures, they should constantly look to learn. When it comes to sending other people to die, they should understand the ramifications of war. Perhaps those who haven't served should be made to watch the uncensored footage of war with its flying limbs, screaming, death and so on. The only leader I can think of who actually fought in proper combat in recent times was Bush senior. I think that made him more thoughtful and meant that he didn't engage in killing for the sake of it. He was someone who carried a lot more respect in the world as a result.
What do people think? How do we get to a point where leaders are statesmen again, as they used to be?
Re: Leaders and war
I agree with your assessment of Bush, but I disagree with your characterization of his use of restraint. I saw no reason whatsoever for our involvement in Gulf War I. I saw the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait as a minor regional conflict that could have been resolved by the other local governments if they wanted to. They chose not to. They called in their mercenaries from America. We had no business there, IMO. I will give him points for not going to Bagdhad, though. Saved tens of thousands of human lives.
Unfortunately, as things are now in the US, the next POTUS will be very much like the POS we have now. There have to be sever curbs on the use of the media for elections in order to raise the consciousness of the voters, and Americans really aren't interested in that. It has never been that way here. Once in a while, we get lucky and a truly great man (or someday, woman) surfaces, but that is dispite our system, not because of it. Outside of a cultural revolution, I see no set of laws or process changes that will improve our siduation anytime soon...just s--t luck.
Re: Leaders and war
I do not agree with what is going on in Iraq, with that being said I find that those who have served more credible than those who have not. An example of this is John Murtha, who did more than his share of boots on the ground, however his stance has become a talking point to discredit his service. OTOH I find McCain's comments regarding "whack a mole strategy" during last weeks hearings also very telling. I am not sure who will be elected next time, my hope is someone who will look at the effects of war, not only on our country, but that country and the world as well. There was a very shoddy plan going into Iraq, and now that is on the verge of civil war it shows what a poor plan it is. The next president also has to have a divergent group of people who he or she will listen to, like minded people make like minded mistakes.
Re: Leaders and war
Interesting idea! Although it didn't stop Richard the Lionheart from spending his entire reign in the Holy Land...
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