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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Leadership and Media

Yesterday was the birthday of Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady of the United Kingdom. In spreading the word on Michelle's Facebook group, it became apparent that Mrs. Thatcher was not a well-liked figure by the Left. Wishes of rotting in Hell, accusations of personal political greed and all the various other accusations that the Right should be accustomed to after the Bush era. When you cross the Left's moral line, beware.

In spite of the Left's objections, the world should be thankful for people like Mrs. Thatcher, her American counterpart Ronald Reagan, and all the other stalwart leaders of West during the Cold War. Post-World War II Earth was not a place for the wishy washy foreign policy pillow talk. Out the destruction of three dangerous imperialisms came the unfortunate birth of a new, more dangerous power. While the fascist powers were overtly imperial and used their military might to show it, the Soviet Union had its forth column of fellow travelers, spies, satellite countries and useful idiots. What was a war of might from 1939 to 1945 became a war of ideas from 1945 to 1991.

In a war of ideas, it goes way beyond one's ability to be a diplomat, a general or a dreamer. For 50 years, the United States and the Soviet Union danced around places like Berlin, Hungary, Suez, Israel, Cuba, Vietnam, Angola and Afghanistan. In each one of these conflicts, both cold and hot, the soldiers were only one part of the equation. The press, especially in the West, was unbelievably important to influence. For example, the Tet Offensive was a massive psychological blow to the war effort due to the press's assumption the war was lost. You ask a random person, and if they know what the Tet Offensive is, there is good money that they think it was a military victory for the Viet Cong. In fact, the Tet Offensive severely crippled the once vast resources of the Communist insurgents. But, for the pictures, video and commentary, no to mention the future President Nixon on the horizion (we all know how much of a backbone he had), by all common sense, Tet would have been a conclusive victory.

The whole world, from the intellectuals to the peasant, is watching us more than ever. From the Mullahs to the enslaved soldier. From the Prime Minister of Israel to the Palestinian child. One could wavier and not be noticed 50 years ago, even more so 100 years ago. But today, a President is under a 24-hour microscope and there is no agreement to what is seen. Leadership of today has to be strong. It has to be steel. It has to be both feet in the dirt Hoplite-style. The enemy must be crushed by your immovable will. Otherwise, they will see the crack, they will expose the crack and they will bash it open into a chasm to which the world you detest will pour in like a mudslide.

This doesn't mean you can't debate all you want privately and publicly, but once you set your feet down, don't move it. Otherwise, you'll lose your footing, you'll teeter and fall. Sometimes being a stubborn ass is the best thing, especially when a leaf on the wind may be blown over a cliff.

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