Worlds & Time

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What is Leadership?

Here’s an interesting question for the political types out there:

What is leadership?

Pardon me if I’m wrong about this, but isn’t the President supposed to be a leader? Considering that he is the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces? Perhaps, for lack of something with fewer syllables, The Decider?

Because as I watch the President of the United States threaten to veto a bill for billions of dollars and then try to claim that Congress is trying to cut off funding for the troops, I wonder if he knows what “leadership” means.

The argument that Bush is using is that it is taking the decision away from the Generals “on the ground” in Iraq and handing out troops a defeat.

The problem is that the Generals “on the ground” should not be making the decision about when to withdraw our troops from Iraq. You, Mr. President, are the leader of the armed forces. Yes, they can make suggestions about when to withdraw troops, but you are the person that makes the final call. The “decision” if you will, which seems appropriate for “The Decider.”

Now, another person that is often blamed for our continued need to remain in Iraq is the government of Iraq. “We’ll step down as they step up,” I believe is the catch phrase that your administration uses to describe this strategy.

Now, if that was the case, then that would be a matter between the Iraqi government and you. Further, I’m sure that the Iraqis are not in a position to issue orders to you, the President of the most powerful country on the planet. So, once again, you should be leading in this matter. You should listen to your advisors, consult the Iraqi leaders, and then make a decision.

The Presidency, the most powerful position on Earth, does occasionally require the person filling it to make a decision about the disposition of the military forces he controls.

True, that power is not infinite. You can’t actually declare war, nor can you arbitrarily spend whatever money you want in any manner that you choose. Those powers belong to the four hundred and thirty five members of the Congress of the United States of America.

So, when they say “You can have your money, but you have to pull out of Iraq,” that’s a communication that I would urge you to pay attention to.

You can choose to veto that money, if you want. That’s your check on them. But you can’t pretend that you aren’t making that decision. Yes, they’ve got you between a rock and a hard place, and I don’t envy the though decision that you have to make, but this is the job that you signed up for and it will be your responsibility. Didn’t you read the fine print on the Constitution?

Here’s something you might not know: In Iraq right now, the military commanders “on the ground” have suspended most of the proactive missions and are doing their best job to keep soldier casualties at the barest minimum.

Do you know why they are doing that? It is because they are preparing for an eventual withdrawal from Iraq.

That might surprise you, considering that you haven’t made a decision to that effect. However, they can see the result of the choice in front of you. On one side, if you approve the budget, you accept that you have only about a year left before the vast majority of our troops will be withdrawn from Iraq. On the other side, if you veto the budget, all of those soldiers in Iraq aren’t going to be paid.

You might be an idealist, but try not paying the troops and see how much idealism those soldiers have to keep fighting.

Do you know why Congress eventually screwed you? Because they never saw you make a decision. There was all of this talk about secret plans and time tables for victory that you couldn’t tell us about if we wanted to win.

Eventually, almost everyone in the country got sick of it, and because you wouldn’t decide, Congress did for you. If only you had given us a time table (even a vague one!) you would have enough support to do what you wanted.

Leadership is an open thing. You must be seen to lead or it will slip away from you.

Our society is an odd one. Did you know that we don’t care about the individual positions that our candidates hold on the issues?

I doubt that very many of the people that voted for you in 2000 voted because they liked “No Child Left Behind.” It was enough that you had an education plan. The specifics didn’t matter as long as you had the plan.

The same thing goes for the military. We don’t care what you do with the military, as long as you have a plan. True, the liberals are going to complain, but the conservatives would be the ones complaining if you were a Clinton.

So, while the troops in Iraq try not to die, you have to make the decision. And, as the President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the military, and The Decider your decision will be your responsibility.

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