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Leadership Matters

by Karen Kwiatkowski from Military Week Believe it or not, "Leadership Matters" is a key theme of the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign. As a pol

by Karen Kwiatkowski from Military Week

Believe it or not, "Leadership Matters" is a key theme of the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign.

As a political slogan, it is very nice. Highly paid political consultants, advertisers and Extremely Smart People in Washington picked a fine one. Pithy, eye-catching, looks sharp in red, white and blue.

For people who serve in the military, leadership is beyond important; it takes on an almost mystical and compelling value, becoming a holy grail of sorts. Officers and NCOs seek to be known as leaders, to embody leadership qualities, to be seen as those with leadership potential. We spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about it, reading about it, talking about it.

We know it when we see it. We talk about it when we don't see it. In fact, knowing what leadership is not is a key part of our professional education.

Leadership is rarely seen in the senior officer who doesn't know his core skill area, whether that is flying airplanes, killing the enemy in ground combat, whether engineering or accounting. Incompetence can, of course, be remedied by the ability and willingness to learn. Incompetence without an observable ability to learn was bad news. Any sign that the suspect officer had simply no clue that he might be in severely bad kimshee and hence might possibly need to learn something was even worse news.

Some smart person ought to have mentioned this to George W. Bush when they approved the "Leadership Matters" theme.

An absence of leadership qualities in our military leaders gives rise to terms like "Seagull" Colonels and Generals, a species known to swoop in, make a lot of noise, crap all over everything, and then fly away. But our seagulls had an advantage over Bush and Cheney. Regardless of the mistakes made and not remedied, regardless of the illogic, stupidity and sheer idiocy of our present unit's existence under a seagull commander, at least we could be 100% sure they wouldn't be around for long.

High level incompetence seems to be the natural sea-state of our militarized foreign policy, launching forth with the proud Guardsman George W. Bush at the helm and Dick "Other Priorities" Cheney as navigator. More

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