On Leadership
Video | PostLeadership | FedCoach | | Books | About |
Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

Coro Fellows
Young Leaders

Coro Fellows

As part of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, these 12 Southern California fellows are engaged in a full-time, nine-month, graduate-level leadership training program that prepares individuals for public-affairs leadership.

Laying with the enemy

After World War II, U.S. military leaders made the controversial decision to keep the Japanese emperor in power. Though the responsibility he bore for atrocities committed in the Sino-Japanese War and World War II was contested, American leaders recognized they could potentially achieve long-term stability and continuity in Japan by cooperating with an erstwhile enemy.

As treacherous as it may sound, U.S. leaders might consider capitalizing upon entrenched Afghan power structures. They could seek out moderate and pragmatic leaders of the Taliban and other "enemy" groups and work within these established organizations to foster a lasting change that might appeal to more Afghans. Though the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality might be perceived as conciliatory or defeatist, the worsening situation in Afghanistan merits unorthodox approaches.

Considering that little success has been achieved through working with expatriate and Westernized Afghanis, the U.S. might want to look at how the U.S. has managed cultural and political realities in the past to accomplish its own political goals. --Sean Holiday

The Los Angeles model

Recently I had the opportunity to ride along with the world-class Los Angeles Police Department. The sergeant I shadowed, like many of his counterparts, had military experience and, most importantly, an understanding that leadership's role is to better the community. In the past decade the Los Angeles police experienced major changes in their operations and leadership as a result of direct investment by citizens--through neighborhood watches and community-based programs, among other efforts. Partnered with communities, the LAPD has been able to effectively decrease crime. The department takes pride in its culture of committed leadership making direct change.

So how can the City of Angels serve as a learning tool for Afghanistan? Days following yet another inauguration for Hamed Karzai, President Obama will announce an increase in troop levels in Afghanistan. Leadership requires investment from the citizen population. In order for the United States forces to nurture leadership among Afghani forces, they must implement an exit strategy that emphasizes community involvement.

Once Afghani citizens believe in the work of Karzai's government, new accountability will take place. Training leaders serves its purpose only after ideal conditions are achieved. Leadership in Afghanistan, much like in Los Angeles, will be effective when the entire community buys in.--Parsa Sobhani

Charlie Wilson's War

I hesitate to respond to this question because my knowledge of the political situation in Afghanistan does not extend beyond what I learned watching the film Charlie Wilson's War and reading articles in print media. However, I have learned that the power structure of Afghanistan is vastly different from our own, and I think it is wise to work with it rather than attempting to spread "American-style" democracy around the world.

Imagine what we would think if a foreign power invaded our land and told us that tribal government is really much better than our antiquated democratic system. How much faith would we have in them and in the government they set up for us? How much authority would that government actually have?

Violence and hatred of the West flourishes in areas with few jobs, less education and little hope for a better life. That situation needs to be addressed. How? I have no idea. People who have knowledge and experience with Afghanistan's culture, customs, and political terrain are much more qualified to explore those possibilities. --Elizabeth Willis

Uncle Sam, the substitute teacher

The U.S. cannot develop Afghani leaders. Doing so imposes American perceptions of leadership as universal and can be damaging not only to the development of democracy in Afghanistan, but to the US image on the world stage.

The best way for U.S. forces to nurture leadership in Afghanistan is to step away. Warren Bennis says, "Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself." Afghani forces nurtured by the U.S. will result in Afghanistan mirroring the U.S. instead of embracing its own identity.

Still, Afghani forces can learn from Uncle Sam. Like a substitute teacher who has some knowledge and some experience, students should take some things and disregard others. --Clayton Rosa


By Coro Fellows

 |  December 1, 2009; 12:54 PM ET
Category:  Wartime Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Taking "exit" out of the strategy | Next: 18-month miracle?

Comments

Please report offensive comments below.



I don't think the Coro fellows were suggesting the US turn around or appease. It sounds more like the trend is that they are saying if the U.S. is teaching leadership to other countries, they can't force their values onto another culture. With the Japan example it is saying that there the US didn't just turn Japan into a mini USA, but worked with the culture to open up democracy. Even if Japan was nuked they could have protested or resisted, but because the US embraced their culture in the process things ended up better there.

Posted by: dogbear75 | December 4, 2009 1:56 AM
Report Offensive Comment

I don't think the Coro fellows were suggesting the US turn around or appease. It sounds more like they are saying if the U.S. is teaching leadership to other countries, they can't force their values onto another culture. With the Japan example it is saying that there the US didn't just turn Japan into a mini USA, but worked with the culture to open up democracy. Even if Japan was nuked they could have protested or resisted, but because the US embraced their culture in the process things ended up better there.

Posted by: dogbear75 | December 4, 2009 1:49 AM
Report Offensive Comment

Hmmmm.....so let's get this straight....the Coro Fellows are suggesting that after 8 years, trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost trying to oust the current leadership in Afghanistan(in reality its the Taliban and not the US's puppet democracy), the US should turn around and just appease the current political structure. The same political structure, mind you, responsible for draconian laws oppressing women and providing safe-haven for Al Qaeda. Working with the current power structure will do nothing except waste the efforts we've put into the War on Terror over the past 8 years.

Also, the Japan example doesn't apply. They were atomic-bombed into submission.

Posted by: Thunderkats09 | December 2, 2009 6:09 PM
Report Offensive Comment

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company