Saturday, July 16, 2016

Nice, France Attacker Reportedly Underwent Rapid Radicalization

Purported image of Bouhlel, who killed
84 people in Nice, France, Thursday
Credit: L'ALSACE/MAXPPP VIA ZUMA PRESS 
The attacker in the Nice, France, truck attack, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, was apparently radicalized at such a fast pace that he had had not yet shown any signs of radicalization, according to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. Bouhlel killed 84 people on Thursday by driving a truck onto a crowded boulevard during Bastille Day celebrations. Three hundred and three others were injured, 26 critically.

Bouhlel, born in Tunisia, had reportedly been relatively non-religious leading up to the attack, though the Islamic State (IS) has claimed Bouhlel as a "soldier" of the terrorist group. The word "soldier" used in IS media elicits doubt that the attack was directed by IS, leading some to believe that Bouhlel acted as a lone wolf, radicalized but not directed by IS. The Islamic State used the same language to describe Omar Mateen, who killed 49 in an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Thousands Arrested, Hundreds Dead after Failed Turkish Coup

Demonstrators in Istanbul denounced the attempted military coup
against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Friday.
Credit: Reuters/Murad Sezer
Thousands have been arrested, thousands more politically purged, and 285 more reportedly dead following a dramatic attempted coup against incumbent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Friday. The coup was led by a portion of the Turkish military which is opposed to the civilian government, led by Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (abbreviation AKP in Turkish).

Erdogan, who has presided over a more politically Islamist turn in Turkish politics, is opposed by more secular forces in the political establishment, which likely was one of the major drivers of the coup attempt.

Erdogan was vacationing in the southern part of Turkey when the coup began. Once alerted of the attempt, Erdogan beseeched his supporters to take to the streets to oppose the military forces supporting the coup. And they listened.

Thousands of supporters of the AKP and the government took to the streets, with security forces clashing with protesters in Ankara, Turkey's capital, and Istanbul, Turkey (and Europe's) largest city. The large mass of demonstrators succeeded in stopping the advances of the military, though Erodgan's presidential palace and the Turkish parliament were both bombed.

With the coup failing, Erdogan has begun a post-coup purge of disloyal forces and judges. In addition, he has demanded from the United States the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania. Erdogan has accused Gulen of orchestrating the coup, a charge which Gulen denies. US Secretary of State John Kerry has said he will consider the request, but will only honor it if Turkey proves direct involvement by Gulen.
Erdogan (center, behind banner) appears in Istanbul following
attempted coup against his AKP-led government
Credit: Reuters

Turkey, a member of NATO, is partner in the global coalition against the Islamic State (IS), and a major political shakeup in the nation, as the coup would have accomplished if successful, would have major implications as to the future trajectory of the war on IS and Turkey's role in NATO.

Trump, Pence Appear for First Time Together as Running Mates

Pence (L) shakes hands with Trump (R) at an Indiana rally
a few days prior to Trump announcing Pence as his running mate
Credit: Getty
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and his newly picked running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence appeared for the first time together since Trump announced on Twitter that he had chosen pence as his vice presidential candidate. Trump said Saturday, "I am here to introduce the man who will be my partner in the campaign and in the White House to fix the rigged system. I found a leader who will help us deliver a safe society and a prosperous society.”

Pence, thanking Trump, said, “I thank Donald Trump for having the confidence in us. I accept your invitation to run and serve as vice president of the United States."

Pence was one of three reported finalists for Trump's running mate, along with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Pence, who holds mostly mainstream conservative Republican positions, was seen as a relatively safe choice for Trump, known for his populist style and his many non-mainstream Republican positions.

Pence, who served in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013, was a high-ranking member of the Hosue Republicans for the latter part of his tenure, serving as House Republican Conference Chair and was often seen as third in command under John Boehner and Eric Cantor. Pence announced that he would not run for reelection in 2012 for Indiana's 6th Congressional District so that he could run for governor of Indiana to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels. Pence defeated his Democratic opponent (and current Democratic gubernatorial candidate) John R. Gregg by 3 points.
Pence (R), Cantor (Middle), and Boehner (L) during Pence's tenure
in the House of Representatives
Credit: Charles Dharapak/Associated Press

Pence attracted national attention for signing into law a bill aimed to allow owners of businesses who had moral objections to service same-sex marriages and similar events to refuse services, which led opponents of the law describing the law as discriminatory and morally objectionable. The law, while amended, remains in force in Indiana.

As Trump's running mate, Pence is not allowed to run for Indiana governor under Indiana law. Indiana Republicans will choose a candidate to replace Pence on the ballot.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Theresa May Becomes New British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson Becomes Foreign Minister


Theresa May (L) curtsies as she ceremonially meets Queen
Elizabeth II (R) to request permission to form a government
Credit: Reuters
Conservative politician Theresa May became the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Wednesday, following weeks of political uncertainty following the referendum in which a majority of British voters voted to leave the European Union (EU). Former Prime Minister, David Cameron, who had called for the referendum, campaigned heavily for the UK to remain in the EU.

May, who was seen as an immediate frontrunner to succeed Cameron along with former London Mayor current Member of Parliament Boris Johnson, who campaigned heavily for the UK to leave the EU. Johnson decided against running for the Conservative leadership position after his former political ally, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who also campaigned for the UK to leave the EU, decided to also run for the leadership position.

At the final round of voting, May and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom, remained the only remaining candidates. Leadsom's unexpected withdrawal from the race left May the only contender left and essential assured her the Prime Minister position.

In another surprise move, May appointed Johnson as foreign minister. Johnson, known for his assertive and boisterous personality, was not seen as a likely contender for this position in the government, though Johnson serving in a government position was not out of the question given his prominence in British politics.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Inadvertent Leadership Secrets of Alexander Hamilton’s Boss

By Bruce L. Brager

Leadership, simply, is getting yourself, your people, your project, or your company from Point A to Point B. Leadership is evaluating context and situation, examining resources, human and otherwise, and selecting appropriate and realistic goals and objectives to represent the goals. Leadership is motivating your people to follow you, starting with being sure they have the skills they will need and that they trust your judgment and character.

Leadership is recognizing the need for focus on goals, for remaining persistent until the goal is reached. Effective leadership recognizes the need to pick proper and appropriate goals, whether the leader is the ultimate source or has bosses. Leaders need to choose preliminary objectives, preliminary check points to be sure that they are headed in the proper direction. Leaders plan. But leaders also recognize that plans fall apart. Leaders need to monitor plans, using the interim checkpoints.  Effective leaders recognize that goals are immutable, methods changeable.

Leadership skills are most recognizable in leaders already leading. You don’t want to start out the leadership process like a 22-year-old Virginia militia commander running operations in western Pennsylvania in 1754. George Washington botched two straight operations and touched off a world war. Washington provides an excellent case study of what not to do as a leader. 

Washington was in command of an independent unit, part of a British force sent to chase the French out of disputed territory near the Ohio River. On May 27, Washington learned of a small French force seven miles from his location. Washington, with 47 militiamen and some Indian warriors, found and attacked the French camp. According to Washington's diary, his men fired only when discovered by the French. He mentions that the fight took 15 minutes until the smaller French force was defeated. The leader of the French force and nine others were killed. Washington later wrote "the Indians scalped the dead." Washington went on in his diary to state that he thought the French might have been faking a diplomatic mission as an excuse to attack the English. Washington's report stated that the Indians had scalped the dead, with no mention of how they got to be dead.

The French claimed that their dead were killed, after trying to surrender, by Washington's men or by his Indian allies. French claims were partly based on uncertain evidence, though Washington's diary lends some credence to the idea that he might have lost control of the Indians with his party.

What most likely happened is that a firefight started when the Virginians reached the French camp, though each side later claimed the other fired first. After a few minutes, the wounded French commander, Ensign Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville, asked for a cease-fire. He tried to explain his mission to Washington, but in the middle of the explanation the Indian leader, Tanaghrisson walked up to Jumonville. He called out "you are not yet dead, my father," invoking the powerful but kind role representatives of the French king claimed in dealing with the Indians. He then raised his hatchet and smashed it into Jumonville's skull. Before Washington could stop them, the Indians had killed the other wounded Frenchmen.

Tanaghrisson was probably motivated by a desire to regain personal power he had lost over the past few years by returning to the Iroquois with his new British allies. Washington did not know it, but he had been given a lesson in the importance of the Indians in the rivalry between Britain and France in North America – a major part of his management environment. Immediately after the Jumonville Glen incident, Washington and his men returned to their camp a few miles to the east, at Great Meadows, about 50 miles southeast of what is now Pittsburgh.

Washington anticipated French retaliation. He ordered his men, and reinforcements who had arrived after the Jumonville Glen incident, to build a wood stockade, which he named Fort Necessity. Washington thought this was a good fort. "We have just finish'd a small palisado'd fort, in which, with my small numbers, I shall not fear the attack of 500 men." Washington might have been right, had the French not shown up with twice that number. A force of 700 French and French Canadian soldiers, and 350 Indian allies, led by the half brother of Jumonville, attacked Fort Necessity on July 3, 1754. Washington had 180 men. Never much for lost causes, his Indian allies, including the one who had started the whole mess, had left the scene. A few hours of intense fighting followed, in a driving rain. Washington had only cleared a 60 yard "field of fire" between the fort and the woods, less than the killing range of the weapons of the day. The French forces were able to take shelter in the woods, and shoot down into Fort Necessity.

Fort Necessity soon became flooded, ruining most of the Virginians' gunpowder.

Roughly one third of the British colonial force was killed or wounded compared to only a handful of enemy casualties. Later that evening, the French commander offered Washington the chance to surrender. Since the British and French were not at war, Washington and his men would be permitted to return to Virginia. All Washington had to do was sign the terms of capitulation.

Washington, due to a mistranslation, thought he was confirming that his men killed Jumonville. The actual French word, "l'assassinate," was more loaded, meaning murder rather than just kill. To make things worse, the document also mentioned that Jumonville had been on a mission to deliver a communication from the French government to the British government; in other words, a diplomatic mission. Washington might have learned this earlier, had a letter Jumonville was carrying been fully translated before Tanaghrisson acted, and been able to restrain the Indians.

After signing a surrender, at a little before midnight on July 3, Washington and his men were permitted to head for home. In a historical irony, Washington and his men left Fort Necessity on July 4th. Indications are that Washington later would appreciate the irony. On July 20, 1776, while awaiting the British attack on New York, Washington wrote a friend and former colleague from the Virginia militia. After describing his current crisis, he ended by remarking that "I did not let the Anniversary of the 3d or 9th of this [month] pass without a grateful remembrance of the escape we had at the Meadows and on the Banks of the Monongahela...”

Washington appears to focus on the minor parts of the battles, as well his own reputation. In a letter home written between the two battles to his brother John Augustine Washington, Washington did not mention the earlier massacre of the French prisoners. He did write his brother that "I heard Bullets whistle and believe me there was something charming in the Sound." The remark made it into the Virginia newspapers, and even reached London. None other than King George II is supposed to have commented "He would not say so, if he had been used to hear many.”

The French were given a dandy tool should they wish to escalate the fighting. The Marquis Ange Duquesne de Menneville, the French military commander in North America, commented after reading Washington's confiscated diary that "He lies very much to justify the assassination of the sieur de Jumonville, which had turned on him, and which he had the stupidity to confess in his capitulation...There is nothing more unworthy and lower and even blacker than the sentiments and the way of thinking of this Washington.”

Washington acted without understanding of information and situation. He did not know his people. He refused to accept responsibility for his actions. Worst of all, he signed a document he did not read, accepted admitting the people under his command murdered a soldier on a diplomatic mission. The Jumonville Glen incident, and its barely believable aftermath, spiraled into a world war. The world war spiraled into the American Revolution.

Twenty years later, Washington’s learning curve moved back a bit, but he gradually learned what he needed to do to win the Revolutionary war – stay around and keep his army intact, take advantage of any opportunities given him by the not always expert British commanders, and let the diplomats do their work. Washington’s first command, in the context of his later career, is a valuable study in leadership and management: learning from your mistakes is a vital leadership skill.

The Washington Jumonville Glen case study raises the interesting question of had he not made careless mistakes, the United States might not have become independent, at least not under the same conditions. Is it ever right to do minor bad for a major good? How can we tell?

Washington himself was not perfect, neither as a general nor as President. He was never the perfect marble man he was supposed to be. He had learned from experience that mistakes happen, that he had to get as many facts as possible before a decision, if the decision was wrong, or even a seemingly correct decision that did not work, correct the decision and move on. We can learn a lot from this case.


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