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Marty Linsky

Marty Linsky

Co-founder of the leadership-focused consulting firm, Cambridge Leadership Associates, Marty Linsky teaches at the Harvard Kennedy School, co-authors the advice column, Leadership House Call and blogs at Linsky on Leadership .

Gen. David Petraeus, with runners-up

General David Petraeus has brilliantly and skillfully used the apparent success of the surge and the lame-duckness of the Bushies to redefine the strategy of the so-called war on terrorism as engagement with the Muslim world rather than the demonization of it.

My runners up:

Australian PM Kevin Rudd who ended a 30-year standoff with his country's indigenous population by apologizing;

Gordon Brown who told his community that the economic meltdown was systemic and worldwide and would require unprecedented measures long before any of his peers internationally were courageous enough to do so;

and Bill Richardson, who had the courage to incur the Clintons' enmity for what he believed was right in endorsing Obama.

By Marty Linsky

 |  December 30, 2008; 10:03 AM ET
Category:  Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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General Petraeus and his staff, including Gen. Odierno saved the United States from abdicating its duty in Iraq and accepting defeat, which would have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands. If you thought our loss in Vietnam was a good thing, you would have loved the religiously fueled violence as AQ, the Sunni states in the Gulf, and the Shi'a extremists funded by Iran turned Iraq into Lebanon circa 1982.

I don't know about the serial number bit, but don't believe that even accepting the truth of the statement that it makes Petraeus personally responsible and a bad leader (accepting that a military leader is responsible for everything his subordinates do and fail to do). As for paying not to be attacked, first that's simplistic. The men were paid to keep the area secure, and because there were insufficient jobs created to employ them, which would have otherwise led them to violence - a parallel can be drawn to the work projects under FDR or what Pres. elect Obama is proposing (not saying that there are groups waiting to get violent in this country, but there had been even a march on Washington after WW I of unemployed veterans, which nearly became ugly until they were dispersed by force). Second, unemployed Sunni were receiving money to attack US forces from Wahab extremists, and Shi'a were being paid to attack Americans by the Iranian IRGC. So sometimes it is necessary to pay people, especially when they are paid by others to kill Americans.

As for Charlessmith's comments, he offers no support for his accusations of throwing an election, etc., which I attribute to Bush derangement syndrome. Leadership is doing what needs to be done, and having the convictions to say so even when unpopular. Petraeus was willing to testify to Congress and provide a course of action he believed was right, regardless of the slanders of MoveOn.org in the New York Times, the castigation by politicians such as Hillary Clinton who claimed he was a liar, and others who pontificated for votes and the camera. The man did all this for a tiny salary in comparison to the obscene pay CEOs receive in the private sector, and having been separated from his family for years at a time.

General Petraeus is more than a leader for 2008, but a hero for the first decade of this century.

Posted by: publius88 | January 1, 2009 11:06 PM
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P*&^%$#@! Petraeus! As a leader! This is the man who let 110,000 AK47s and 80,000 pistols (9mm) slip into the hands of the various Iraqi ( almost exclusively Shiite) groups. Apologists claim there was "No time," that the guns needed to get into the hands of the (alleged) guys fighting (unknown). There is absolutely no excuse, anywhere, anytime, to issue a weapon without recording the serial number. Ever. As in Forever. But that's not all this illustrious general has done for us (and them). He has also bribed the Sunnis to not attack American soldiers. If we have to pay people not to attack us, why are we over there in the first place? Petraeus is the worst of the wreckage that is the modern American military. Despite our inclination to hero-worship, this guy is bad for business--unless you're a Shiite or Sunni.

Posted by: ascer8 | January 1, 2009 6:07 PM
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General David Petraeus tried to influence an election for Republicans, did not protest any of the policies of a President who led us into this pointless conflict in Iraq (at the cost over over 4,000 troops killed, 30,000+ severely injured, 100,000+ suffering from emotional injury, over 300,000 troops with their lives disrupted, and the forgotten, uncounted Iraqi citizens, human beings who had the misfortune to be in George Bush's way) and has not spoken out against torture as an illegal, immoral and ineffective practice. This is not leadership.

I cannot believe that all three panel choices are completely undeserving of any recognition as leaders. The decline of the Washington Post is appaling.

Posted by: charlessmith8 | December 31, 2008 6:33 PM
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