Leadership 101

Anyone who has borne the responsibility for an organization has, by instinct or experience absorbed a few lessons. A key lesson is that management and leadership are two very different things.  Management is the guiding of expertise, planning, analysis and goal setting.  Leadership is how you define the context that expertise operates within; ethical and moral parameters, how decisions are made, organizational priorities and philosophical construct.  You learn to make judgments based on symptoms, as that is, frequently, all you have to work with.  You learn that a big part of leadership is sending messages consistent with your construct.  Messages delivered by word and deed.

No one should be surprised that Mr. Abdulmutallab, our failed Christmas bomber was spirited off to the civilian justice system in advance of significant interrogation.  While the President, likely, did not make that decision specifically, his organization knowing of the President’s intent to move the likes of Sheik Mohammed to civilian courts got the leadership message.  The lead FBI Special Agent probably got a call from the U.S. Attorney advising him to do just that; no specific direction required as the organizational message was already well defined.  Attempts at terror are a law enforcement matter, period the end.  Getting Mr. Abdulmutallab a lawyer was a concern that overrode following up on his contention that there were “dozens more like him”. Again, a clear message.

It should also come as no surprise that Ms. Napolitano staggered in addressing the attempted bombing.  When a world view comes into conflict with reality it can be comprehensively confusing.  Wait a minute, we don’t use the word terror anymore, we don’t have a war on terror we have oversees contingency operations, the President reached out to the Muslim world in his Cairo speech, we’re closing Gitmo; why have not these “man made disasters” disappeared?  Confusing indeed, if you believe that any of those activities will actually alter the security landscape and mitigate radical ideology! 

The President’s contention that members of the intelligence community be prosecuted is a significant message as well. The message that shifting political winds can and will determine what is acceptable.  Not performance, not risk taking, not results, not any variety of extraordinary methods or efforts; politics.

Leadership is also reflected in how you react to crisis.  The President’s initial reaction was to label Mr. Abdulmutallab as an “isolated extremist”.  The message, despite all evidence to the contrary; “it’s not a campaign of terror we face; it’s just these sad misdirected, disconnected souls”.  Evidence quickly became so overwhelming that the President felt the need to make another statement, this time addressing Yemen.  His first comment and his first instinct was to identify “crushing poverty” in reference to the backdrop of Yemen.  Again, a message; it’s not radical ideology and hate; it’s poverty that represents the true nexus of the terror problem. The leadership message to the President’s organization was and is clear and thus defines the manner in which his organization will respond and react. 

Leadership is reflected in who you choose to represent your agenda, leading us to Mr. Brennan’s obtuse, oxymoronic appearances on the Sunday shows where he simply could not define what, if any, was the downside to handling Mr. Abdulmutallab as an enemy combatant.  Again, no surprises if you maintain some familiarity with Mr. Brennan’s background and former comments.  Best to let Mr. Brennan’s comments speak for themselves.  On August 6th in a speech titled “A New Approach for Safeguarding Americans” he said:

“Even as we condemn and oppose the illegitimate tactics used by terrorists, we need to acknowledge and address the legitimate needs and grievances of ordinary people those terrorists claim to represent”.  It remains unclear exactly what Mr. Brennan considers legitimate needs and grievances.  We do, however, know what al Qaeda’s grievances are: are; support for Israel, the presence of Americans in Arab lands, most aspects of American foreign policy and culture, the majority of the current regimes in Arab countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Yemen and the presence of non Muslims in Arab lands.  One must wonder which of these concerns bear legitimacy in Mr. Brennan’s world view.

Mr. Brennan rejects connections between violent extremism and Islam adopting the politically correct delineation of Jihad as self directed purification as the correct use of the word and the proper way to consider Jihad.  Mr. Brennan has, apparently, not kept up with hundreds of Islamic clerics and fatwa’s that contend exactly the opposite is the true definition of Jihad.   

Mr. Brennan’s well know tendency toward Internationalism is reinforced in his comments as he identifies nuclear weapons in the hands of extremists as the most immediate and extreme threat; his answer?  “Leading the effort for a stronger global nonproliferation regime, launching an international effort to secure the world’s vulnerable nuclear material…., and hosting a global nuclear summit.”  In other words, let’s have a meeting!  Mr. Brennan seems to operate with complete ignorance of the often stated self interest of the dangerous players he needs to actually cooperate in his “meetings”.    

Mr. Brennan goes on at some length to discuss poverty and education, but ends up drawing a difference without a distinction.  He contends that sic “poverty and a lack of education do not cause terrorism, but a lack of education and a job make people more susceptible to the ideas leading to terrorism”.  Mr. Brennan is again, a little short on the factual; there are a variety of studies that show poverty and education are not key drivers of radical ideologies.  As a matter of fact, it is the Islamic educational structure that operates in primary support of the radicalization process. 

Mr. Brennan’s elevation as the President’s Assistance for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism is a symptom that speaks volumes regarding the attitudes of leadership in the White House, but he is, unfortunately, and expectedly just one of many.

  • JD

    Landreaux – “if you believe that any of those activities will actually alter the security landscape and mitigate radical ideology!”

    The question isn’t will it change the landscape today but will it change it tomorrow or in the next decade. The extreme Radicals exsist because of decisions made in the past and because we can not travel back in time there is little our policies can do for them today but the next generation is what is in question.

    A good foriegn policy takes into consideration tomorrow as well as today.

    Landreaux – “Mr. Brennan rejects connections between violent extremism and Islam adopting the politically correct delineation of Jihad as self directed purification as the correct use of the word and the proper way to consider Jihad. Mr. Brennan has, apparently, not kept up with hundreds of Islamic clerics and fatwa’s that contend exactly the opposite is the true definition of Jihad. “

    I, of course agree with Mr. Brennan and disagree with you. Violence is violence… weather is is a christian doing it under the name of God or an muslim claiming it under Jihad. It makes no difference of Race, color, religion, and political affiliation; humans have and continue to murder with any justification they can find because murder justified is patriotism.

    Name the last time you changed a persons mind by punching him or her in the face? “Violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation” Almost all the great movements in history started when a person turned the other cheek.

    Now this does not mean violence can’t be used for good but, I would suggest, that good violence is used as a sheild and not a sword. America did not win its independence and then invade england right after…

  • landreaux


    In the first case thank you for the time and attention you pay to the posts on the site, agree or disagree I appreciate it, but I’m going to respectfully disagree on a few points.

    I don’t believe current policy is going to change the landscape in the future, that is my great fear. Islamic radicalism began before we were significantly engaged in the Middle East and well before there even was an Israel. Policy may have contributed but it is far from the original motivation. Fundamentalist Islam goes back to the time of Saladan and was used as a strategy to politically unify what, at the time, was disparate political forces in the Middle East. Religion and politics cannot be separated in Islam, Islam prohibits that manner of separation.

    You are right that good foreign policy considers the future, in fact I believe that it must look to the future as a primary consideration. My most significant concern is that we are not doing that, most especially in terms of demographics and the long term impact of appeasement.

    I have frequently been confronted with the violence is violence statement and the best I can do is answer it with questions.

    Do Christain clerics as a matter of faith endorse violence?
    Does Christian dogma and teachings condone violence as a valid application of political tactics?
    Can you identify groups associated with organized Christian violence as a primary tactic for getting their message heard?
    Are the statistics associated with political violence and terror overwhelmingly associated with Islam or Judea/Christain sects?

    Murder is one thing, individuals who apply violence are reprehensible. However, organized, religiously validated violence associated with terror is another thing altogether. When Islamic clerics, which they have in large numbers, praise the Fort Hood shootings or the attempted Christmas plot you have to draw a line between individual violence and dogmatic violence, they are not the same.

    JD, no I’ve never attempted to change someone’s mind with a punch in the mouth, in fact I’ve never punched anyone in the mouth. I would remind you that the idea of turning ones cheek began as a Christain value.

    You are also quite right that violence is sometimes a necessary evil leading to a good result and typically violence leads to violence. I would, however, say that you have to look to who commenced the violence, who as a matter of faith condones the violence and you also have to accept the idea that in some cases violence only ceases when one side comes to realize the the violence is simply not worth it anymore.

  • JD

    First, let me say that I enjoy reading your pieces even if I don’t agree with them 100% (then again who ever agrees 100% of the time) but I pride myself in being open to new ideas and criticism. You have the most coherent articles but most of what attracts me to read them is that your pieces are based around an ideal or idea and I think in life we are meant to evaluate, improve, and communicate ideals.

    Landreaux – “I have frequently been confronted with the violence is violence statement and the best I can do is answer it with questions.

    1. Do Christian clerics as a matter of faith endorse violence?”

    To answer that question you have to ask yourself a few questions…During what time period? Are we talking about Christian clerics in history or in the last decade?

    Christianity had Popes who lead crusades in the name of faith and loyalty to the cross and called it a Christian duty to fight the Muslims.

    Even today there are priests and pastors who say we must protect Israel by all means because it is the Christian holy land and they say everything but the word war. Politically correct Christian leaders aren’t they…

    2. Does Christian dogma and teachings condone violence as a valid application of political tactics?

    The teachings do not but the religion notoriously has. The beautiful thing about the bible is that you can pick and choose which part you want to believe in and scriptures have been found to justify most political Christian movements from the burning of heretics at the stake to invasions of other nations. If Christianity was allowed into the state then they would take it. So lets be clear when talking about church and state…Christianity was kicked out of state.

    3. Can you identify groups associated with organized Christian violence as a primary tactic for getting their message heard?

    Again Historically or now?
    Northern Ireland – Catholic vs. Protestant.


    Nazi extermination of the Jews – Hitler was quoted asking the pope what the big deal was…The Catholic church killed millions of Jews for 1500 years…

    Army Of God

    Christian Identity and Christian Patriot Movements

    How many Abortion doctors have been killed because of Christian beliefs?

    4. Are the statistics associated with political violence and terror overwhelmingly associated with Islam or Judea/Christain sects?”

    Again Historically or now?

    Personally, I think both secs have killed quite a bit but it depends what you call violence for religion. For example when Syrians invade Israel they do so for their country and religion. When Israel invades they do it for the same reasons.

    I think it is difficult to separate the two… I know there are Christians who join the US military and feel that it is ok to kill Muslims. Are they doing it for god or country? If Christianity speaks of peace then why is it ok to kill for country? Is country higher than god? Or is god considered to be “for” their country?

    Point being that it is hard to tell sometimes what motivations are… but to be clear Christian hands are not clean at all.

    Landreaux – “I would remind you that the idea of turning ones cheek began as a Christain value. “

    There have been plenty of separate peaceful religions. Buddhism for example started in the early 5 century BC and as part of its 5 Precepts is “Do not Kill”. Hindus also have theirs so did many others… Christianity was not the first ones to turn a cheek.

  • landreaux


    You make good points. Generally speaking I was addressing the comments in the context of western Judeo-Christain thought and dogma in the modern time.

    In a way you make my point regarding extremism. While I am far from expert on the “troubles” in Northern Ireland, I am left with the impression that the use of religion was applied within the attempt to justify a violent political situation. Same with Radical Islam.

    The other group, of which I am not specifically familiar with the exception of the KKK also in my vague understanding used the cloak of religion to apply a fundamentally political agenda.

    Just so you understand the context of my comments I’m not a Christain if anything you could call me a disinterested agnostic. I have no interest in justifying fringe or extremist religious groups on any level. It is, I believe, from that perspective that extremist Islam is a significant concern for me.

    There is also a question of scope. If radical Islam is only 10% of the Muslim population that represents 100 million adherents. This ideology is also international from Indonesia to South America and HERE! It is a very fundamental difference to the groups you mention which were by comparision highly localized.

    You are quite right to opine that you can pick and choose specifics to justify nearly any point of argument. The unfortunate reality with this ideology is that ther’re counting on exactly that set of arguments being made by the folks they will endeavor to exterminate. the degree of success that they have had is frightening to me having spent more than a little time studying it over the past seven years.

    There is also a question of evolution. The Pope, in the modern day, does not attempt to exterminate Jews. Their faith is respected. The Hindu’s in India can speak directly to the attempted repression of Islam in a relatively modern context.

    No one’s hands are clean in a historical context, but I believe it is intellectually disengenous to judge a current set of circumstances by historical circumstances that are no longer applicable. History is a valuable source of context and understanding but I’m not prepared to judge modern day Germans by the standards in place in 1938. Nor would I judge Christain dogma by the standards of the Crusades. The Jihadists however do apply that judgment. The Crusades justify today’s behavior.

    Good points but I urge you to view a larger set of circumstance. And……… if you ever do find yourself agreeing with me 100% of the time I’m pretty sure we can get you help with that.

    Best to you, It’s a pleasure to communicate with someone capable of making cogent well structured arguments.

  • Bill Hedges

    “Sarah Palin Signs Multi-Year Deal with Fox News Channel”




  • Bill Hedges

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    “If George W. Bush Had…

    “If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?”

    “If George W. Bush had given Tony Blair a set of inexpensive and useless (to Tony Blair’s UK video formatting) DVDs, when Tony Blair had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?”

    “If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have approved?”

    “If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, would you have approved?”

    “If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent “Austrian language,” would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?”

    “If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current on their income taxes, would you have approved?”

    “If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?”

    “If George W. Bush had proposed to double the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?”

    “If George W. Bush had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved?”

    “So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive?”

    “Can’t think of anything? Don’t worry. He’s done all this in 10 weeks — so you’ll have three years and nine-and-a-half months to come up with an answer.”


  • Bill Hedges

    “ Nevada Sen. Harry Reid was impressed by ‘light-skinned’ Obama’s lack of ‘Negro dialect’ ”

    January 9, 2010


    I am a racist by merely being against health care bill.

    Harry Reid insulted Bush and was not sanctioned. He did not apology to this day.

    Recent a Congressman spoke out, with truth, and got in trouble.

    Yet, “ ‘light-skinned’ Obama’s lack of ‘Negro dialect’ ” is ok ?


    “The following letter was written by Lt. Jason Nichols, a Naval officer who is currently serving in Baghdad. He is also the head of Appeal for Courage, a group of American active duty and reserve service personnel who are appealing to Congress to stay and finish the war.”

    “Senator Reid:”

    “When you say we’ve lost in Iraq, I don’t think you understand the effect of your words. The Iraqis I speak with are the good guys here, fighting to build a stable government. They hear what you say, but they don’t understand it. They don’t know about the political game, they don’t know about a Presidential veto, and they don’t know about party politics. “

    “But they do know that if they help us, they are noticed by terrorists and extremists. They decide to help us if they think we can protect them from those terrorists. They tell us where caches of weapons are hidden. They call and report small groups of men who are strangers to the neighborhood, men that look the same to us, but are obvious to them as a foreign suicide cell.”

    “To be brief, your words are killing us. Your statements make the Iraqis afraid to help us for fear we’ll leave them unprotected in the future. They don’t report a cache, and its weapons blow up my friends in a convoy. They don’t report a foreign fighter, and that fighter sends a mortar onto my base. Your statements are noticed, and they have an effect.”

    “Finally, you are mistaken when you say we are losing. We are winning, I see it every day. However, we will win with fewer casualties if you help us. Will you?”

    LT Jason Nichols, USN
    MNF-I, Baghdad


    “Senator Harry Reid blocks ACORN probe”


  • Bill Hedges

    I heard on O’Reilly show (what a guy) something liberals should pick up on. Yes I enjoy helping liberals. If not me, who ?

    Gitmo supposedly is a recruiting tool for terrorist. Good golly obama said so, so must be true.

    So what about Drones. What a recuiting tool. They kill innocent by-standers. Solders are held to a higher standards than Drones.

  • Bill Hedges

    “Bill Clinton Talks Obama “Serving Coffee” To Ted Kennedy”

    “Ole Bill Clinton, well, there is another quote that is coming out in that brand new book, Game Change, to hit the bookstores on Tuesday this week, and the quote is a big let down. According to what is written in the pages of this new book, former President apparently told Ted Kennedy that president elect would be “getting us coffee” a few years ago.”

    “Well, just what type of coffee, Bill? White or black? Wow! And this is coming from the president (Clinton) that many called the black president! Now they know. Hmmm. This is a real shame. But then you have good ole Ted Kennedy, a man who didn’t allow color to phase him at all – hurray – not endorse Hillary because of this statement being one of the reasons. WOW! The not so secrets in the White House. That’s not all Billy said to our friend Ted. Check this – apparently, Bill Clinton, according to this new revealing book told Ted Kennedy point black blank that the only reason that he was endorsing Obama is because he is black.”

    “Are these not some of the most racist comments being revealed coming from who some recall as the president that was for black people? Glad I never made that mistake. WOW! I see your true colors shining through, I see…well, let’s leave all that to Cyndi Lauper.”


  • Bill Hedges

    A very important Senate race is coming soon in Massachusetts.. The polls show it is tight race.

    Unknown Republican Scott Brown is close to winning. Democrat candidate is using negative ads. Not so for Republican.

    Is outstanding that Republican candidate is using Kennedy in his ads. Not Teddy. But JFK. He refers to John F. Kennedy’s tax cuts. Which increased government revenues. Teddy must be turning over in his grave. Using Kennedy’s family shameful deep dark secret.

    If Republican is elected, will be interesting to see if his swearing in occurs in time to vote against health care. I would not delay that Reid if it is your duty to set up.

    Could this election be a factor in rush to pass health care bill ????

    If Republican wins, Watch out…

    Saw it on Fox of course.

  • Bill Hedges

    Another interesting fact came out on Hannity at Fox about Massachusetts Senate race.

    Both the Republican and Democrat candidates has gotten a bunch of money recently for their campaign. Republican candidate got a lot of small donations. Democrat had fund raiser in Washington DC at a dinner. With drug companies.

    That tells me Republican has a chance…

    Why are drug companies backing Democrat who is for health care bill ? Considering all those cuts on drug prices obama says he will get us after bill passes. Volume you say ? Maybe !

    Maybe there is more than meets the eye.

    If good bill why do Congress members have to be bought to get vote ? Why no transparcy ? Why not on CSPAN ?