Monday, September 24, 2012

Tom Friedman on Red Lines

Tom Friedman is right about the current failures of leadership.  About Netanyahu he writes:
Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel has been loudly demanding that America publicly draw a “red line” in respect to Iran’s nuclear program that would delineate exactly when the U.S. would launch a strike against Tehran. Bibi is Winston Churchill when it comes to demanding that the U.S. draw red lines, but he is a local party boss when America asks him to draw a “green line” delineating where Jewish settlements in the West Bank will stop and a Palestinian state might start. Oh, no! Can’t do that, Bibi tells American officials. “I would lose my coalition.” So America is supposed to risk a war with Iran, but Bibi won’t risk anything to advance a deal with the Palestinians that might create a little more global legitimacy and sympathy for Israel, and America, in the event of a war with Iran. Thanks a lot.
When visiting Israel I met with an MK from Hadash an opposition party.  Here is a self-proclaimed pacifist party in Israel.  Most of its Members of Knesset are Arab but Dov Knenin is Jewish.  There was a certain self-righteousness that can only be afforded to members of the opposition.  Governing is of course messy and involves compromise most especially in a parliamentary democracy.  From the opposition you can be comforted by your disagreements.  Governing coalition says yes, you say no.  It says yes you say no.  I am understanding of the pressures on Netanyahu and Obama.  I am forgiving of how challenging it must be to govern and serve as prime minister and president. 

Nonetheless leadership is about courage.  It is about laying out a direction for the nation and plotting the course.  It is about inspiring people to sacrifice so that we can change direction.  If it is only about staying in power, or getting re-elected, then it loses much of its claim.  Israel and the United States must change course, not in every and all areas, but in some key areas.  We long for inspired leadership.
As for Obama, he’s been at his best when he has dared to lead without fearing the politics: taking out Osama bin Laden, securing health care without a public option, racing to the top in education and saving the banks rather than throwing all the bankers in jail, which they deserved. And he has been at his worst when he’s put politics first: spurning Simpson-Bowles, doubling down on Afghanistan for fear of being called a wimp and dropping “climate change” from his speeches. 
Even when leadership inspires us to disagree it serves the common good.  Read the entire article here.

No comments: