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A duty to lead

Many a young child, still trying to fashion his or her dreams, has been known to express a wish to be the leader of his or her country. Indeed, the more ambitious of the innocent would even harbour dreams of being president of the United States.

In fact, the elevation of Barack Obama as the first black American to become president, would have heightened the dreams and aspirations of Blacks all over the world, fuelled no doubt by a simple logic: If he can do it, I can do it too!

Sober minds and watchers of world politics, however, are much more cautious with such dreams. We would go so far as to say that even at the local level, while rational, normal adults would think twice about putting a damper on a child’s dreams, they themselves would not accept the job of Prime Minister, even if it had been handed to them on a silver platter.

For all of its prestige and avenues for personal enrichment, financial and otherwise, it can be a thankless job, one in which the old adage — heads you lose, tails you lose — is never too far from your decision-making process.

We make this point in light of the current dilemma facing President Obama in the United States regarding how he should act in relation to Syria and the alleged use of chemical weapons by the dictator there against his own people, notwithstanding the fact that they are fighting to remove him from office.

Even at this early stage we make clear the following. As part of a predominantly black society, we remain delighted and proud that there is a black man occupying what is arguably the most powerful political office in the world. But we also hold the view that Obama has fallen well short of delivering on the promises he made while seeking office; and that while we cannot hold him responsible for it, the promises that were naturally attendant to his ascension to such a high office are as close to fulfillment as when arch conservative Ronald Reagan was US president.

Certainly, we challenge any Caribbean leader to demonstrate where the presence of a black man at the helm of United States politics has enhance life for the predominantly black societies of the region and their governments that have always been fiercely loyal to their northern neighbour, even when reciprocation was doubtful.

What we find most interesting in the current Syrian situation is that Obama appears to recognise the “heads you lose, tails you lose” potential in what ever decision he makes and wants to create the opposite — heads I win, tails I win”.

If the United States Congress votes not to support his “wish” to punish the Syrian president with missile strikes [as British lawmakers did], then he can say that America’s failure to act was the fault of legislators in Washington. In contrast, if he acts and the outcome does not please Americans, then he has the fallback position of shifting much of the responsibility on the shoulders of the same Congress, with whose support he would have acted.

In essence, he will be free of all the national condemnation that was still heaped on the head of his predecessor, George Bush, for his decision to invade Iraq.

It is entirely possible that we could be wrong, but somehow we got the impression that the very raison d√tre for being a leader was to lead. The high words of condemnation followed by back-pedalling amounts to nothing more that high-office dithering that is really unbecoming of someone held in such high regard internationally.

We are not saying the answer to the possible war crime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is invasion or bombing by the US, France or any of their allies, although we are also not saying that such action should not be an option. Our point is that dithering makes a leader look timid and cowardly. It is unbecoming!

Leaders lead and they should be of such character that they take their licks.

One Response to A duty to lead

  1. Tony Webster September 5, 2013 at 6:11 am

    Sir, while your telling analysis of leadership is illustrated by Pres. Obama’s almost impossible position, it forcefully struck me whilst reading, that it equally applies to leadership generally: those in the U.S.A. ; those in the Caribbean, and dare I say, even those very close to hand here.
    No wonder we are enjoined by the Good Book, to pray for our leaders. Yes, I do….but based on “outcomes”…it seems I’m dialling thru on a “bad line”. Or maybe, God is just very, very, busy taking such calls.


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