S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Politics vs. leadership in foreign policy

Politics and leadership are not the same thing.
(Leadership qualities highlighted in red below)
Power, influence and authority are the keys to leadership, according to management theory. Today's post concentrates on the multiple proposed personnel changes within the current administration's intelligence and foreign affairs functions.

Politics put the Democrats in control of Congress as the new leaders. Now they must exercise power effectively if they are to influence the administration to change direction. Politics defeated the Republican leadership, diminishing their influence, and implicated the leader of the party, our current president (OCP). The American people demanded a new direction for the country in 2007-08, including its foreign affairs policies.
New appointments - Though OCP has the constitutional authority over foreign policy, his over-exercise of power via the so-called "unitary presidency" has actually lessened his influence here and abroad. The foreign policy of OCP has been an incredible disaster, but he has never admitted as much. OCP is now making huge changes among the foreign policy and intelligence leaders in his administration. Hiring and firing authority is one of the jobs of a leader. Changing people will not necessarily change policy. It remains to be seen whether better people can make bad policy successful. The president's stubbornness has not diminished, according to Fully Myelinated. In a way, it is like he is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titantic, to drag out a cliche.
Good people may be able to help -But if the wrong policy stays in place, we will still not be successful. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad will become Ambassador to the United Nations. Highly respected for his knowledge of the Middle East, Kalilzad will perhaps revitalize the U.S. presence at the UN. The two top military commanders in the Middle East are being replaced with people possibly more supportive of the administration's current Iraq war strategies. Reuters news service reports on the shifts:
President Bush is planning to name a new ambassador and will likely pick new military commanders for Iraq as he prepares a new strategy for a worsening war that has mired his administration.
The changes are part of a major realignment of administration personnel as Bush seeks to adjust his approach to Iraq, where nearly four years of a large U.S. military presence has failed to bring stability and an end to violence.
The current U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Ryan Crocker, is expected to replace Zalmay Khalilzad in Baghdad as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Khalilzad is expected to be nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, three senior U.S. officials said on Thursday.
ABC News said Bush was expected to nominate Adm. William Fallon, the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific, to replace Gen. John Abizaid as the head of U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus was expected to become the top ground commander in Iraq, replacing Gen. George Casey, ABC said, citing unnamed officials.
But there is little expectation that changing faces will mean a radical shift in policy called for by some opposition Democrats, who took control of the U.S. Congress on Thursday after an election dominated by the Iraq debate.
Personnel changes in the military were covered in an in-depth article by Michael Gordon and Thom Shanker of the New York Times. One of those profiled, General Petraeus, is very respected in the military. He has been a very tough, smart innovater, skilled in building trust as well as fighting. Admiral Fallon is perhaps less well known. To quote,
General Petraeus participated in the initial invasion of Iraq as the commander of the 101st Airborne Division. The division fought its way toward Baghdad and was later sent to Mosul in northern Iraq, where the general focused on political and economic reconstruction efforts.“We are in a race to win over the people,” read a sign in his Mosul headquarters. “What have you and your element done today to contribute to victory?”
. . . Officials also said Admiral Fallon received a persuasive recommendation from the Joint Chiefs as one of the military’s stronger commanders of a geographic theater, with his current command including the challenges of North Korea and China.
National Intelligence Director to change, according to the NYT. National Intelligence Director, John Negroponte will become Deputy Secretary of State, a position with which he will probably be much more confortable, and where his diplomatic skills can flower. More and better diplomacy is desperately needed in the Middle East. Perhaps Negroponte can "beef up" the State Department. A Financial Times story about the change used words such as "experience" "turf wars" "not enough control" "inadequate powers" "concentration of power" to describe the leadership qualities Negroponte's recent NID work involved. Yahoo!News reports that Negroponte will be replaced by a military man, unfortunately further enhancing the power of the military over the intelligence community,

Bush set is to nominate retired vice admiral Michael McConnell, a former head of the National Security Agency, to be the director of national intelligence, a top aide said speaking on condition of anonymity Friday.
A last point about authority - a conservative view of an "authority deficit," by tks on National Review online, is headlined, "The Global 'Authority Deficit' and the 2008 Primaries." I close with a quote of the author's provocative questions,
Can’t anybody here play the governing game?
Why do so few leaders in the West want to spend money on their militaries, and/or actually engage in combat in places like southern Afghanistan? Why do so many ordinary workers around the world feel that globalization is a menace, and that the solution is to build walls and withdraw from the world? Why do states from Russia to China to Pakistan to North Korea feel so free to sell the deadliest of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons to dangerous regimes around the globe? And how can we entrust the United Nations to address any of these crises, when they can’t weed out sexual abuse of children from the ranks of its “peacekeepers”? Are China’s free-market authoritarianism and Putin’s iron-fisted state-run thugocracy the governing models of the future?
Will these big questions even come up in the 2008 primaries? Or will all the campaigns boil down to the generic trope, “I stand for true American values”?

Previous posts on "leadership:" 109 total

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