The world we live in today is besieged by violent conflicts that sometime shake the foundation of civilized societies. Terrorism has resulted in the brutal killing of many people and has threatened the security of many countries. This was evidenced recently in the attack on the office of the French satirical weekly magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Twelve people were killed in this attack that triggered a massive manhunt that resulted in the killing of two of the terrorists who carried out the attack.
In recent years the world has witnessed the escalation of terrorism that the terrorists call a holy jihad. Not all terrorism falls under the Islamic jihadist brand. Some have been carried out against Jews by people who are anti-Semitic. It is the Islamic brand of terrorism, however, that seems to be more frequent and barbaric. In Iraq and Syria where the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operates, that group has beheaded a number of journalists, killed innocent civilians, and cause the mass exodus of people from their homes. The world has also witnessed the atrocities of Al-Qaeda, Nigeria’s, Boko Haram group, and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The terrorism that Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haran, the Taliban, and the Charlie Hebdo attack unleashed under the Islamic banner since they are carried out as a holy jihad that requires killing infidels. This terrorism then is presumed to be a religious conflict between Islam and the Western world – especially the US, Britain, and France. This conflict is not entirely a religious conflict as it is also a conflict of values and politics.
With terrorism perceived as a major threat to the security of the non-Islamic countries (although it occurs in Islamic countries) it tends to overshadow other conflicts that originate out of social chaos and political corruption or mismanagement. Consequently, it is easy to perceive terrorism as the number one problem in the world today. From my perspective, leadership is the number one problem. Poor leadership is the reason that terrorism of all types occur.
Throughout history the atrocities, human rights abuse, and genocide that occurred were the result of poor political leaders who were tyrants or despots. For example, Nazi Germany under Hitler ravaged Europe and presided over the genocide that killed six million Jews (the Holocaust). While Hitler’s Nazi machine did this, the Christian religion represented by the papacy in Rome remained silent.
Similar to the papacy’s silence in World War II, the Islamic leaders have remained silent while terrorists carry out their holy jihad. The failure of the Islamic leaders to condemn terrorism or disassociate the Islamic religion from these barbaric acts is in itself a failure of leadership. Good leadership controls their followers and they denounce those who try to subvert their religion or organization.
Where ever a conflict, human rights abuse, and civil rights abuse occur, you don’t have to look far to find the source of the problem. That source starts with poor leadership. The behavior of Russia to annex Crimea and the Ukraine is a testimony to poor political leadership. That poor political leadership resulted in large number of deaths (including the shooting down of a commercial passenger airplane) and extensive property destruction.
Whether it is on the national or global stage, poor leadership is interconnected to global problems. Countries that are weakened by poor political leadership are exploited by more powerful countries that have no principles or concerns for others (again poor leadership). Russia’s poor political leadership in trying to annex Crimea and the Ukraine was emboldened by the perception that America has been weakened by its involvement in wars caused by poor leadership. The same poor leadership that has spent the last six years trying to demonize President Obama and making it more difficult for him to perform his presidential duties.
Poor leadership is what is missing in the world today and it exists at every social institutional level – government, religion, civic organizations, and the justice system. Here in America institutional leadership is a real problem and it is evidenced in the very institution that runs the country – the government. We have a president that is disrespected and hated because his opponents have promoted negativity, propaganda, conspiracy theories, and hatred against him.
Good leaders have principles, integrity, and character and they do not disparage, demonize, and unjustly attack their opponents. They also do not mislead people, or incite divisiveness, and hatred. You do not see President Obama reacting negatively to the behavior of his opponents. And it’s not because he’s smarter than them (although it certainly looks that way) but because he has principles, integrity, and character.
One of the consequences of poor leadership is that poor leaders sometimes attract overzealous supporters. This unfortunately helps poor leaders to remain in position of power. We need to call out poor leadership whether it’s the Islamic leaders who stay silent on terrorism, those who seek to destroy President Obama, and those who seek to annex neighboring states using aggression. To glorify poor leaders and help them to continue to perform poorly is a disservice to society, their respective country, and the institutions they serve. Poor leadership is simply unacceptable as it lead to all kinds of social malaise and atrocities.
Yes terrorism is a major problem that must be eradicated. To do this will require good leaders who have the courage to unite and fight the scourge of terrorism. Like the message of the 1965 popular song, What the World Needs now is Love (and the world really needs lot of love), what the world needs now is good leaders.
- Too Much Hatred and Divisiveness
- Speaker Boehner and the State of the Union Address