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Mickey Edwards
Political leader

Mickey Edwards

Former U.S. Congressman, Mickey Edwards is vice president of the Aspen Institute, where he directs the Institute's Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership.

Getting the facts straight

Q: Israel's deadly attack on Turkish activists now confronts President Obama with a classic challenge for all sorts of leaders: How do you behave when a close friend and ally misbehaves?

The question presupposes Israeli misbehavior. The leadership challenge, for the president and Congress, is to first gather as much information as possible to ensure knowing where blame lies, despite considerable pressure to act precipitously.

When Israel announced the building of new housing within Jerusalem city limits while the American vice president was on a visit to Israel, there were demands that Israel be condemned for its alleged agreement-breaking expansion of settlements; but there was no agreement broken and those were not settlements. The president made a fundamental error in his attempt to exercise leadership: not getting his facts straight before opening his mouth.

In this case, the blockade was not an Israeli blockade but a blockade established jointly by Israel and Egypt; the Israelis had offered to accept the materiel, ensure that it did not contain weapons to be used against Israeli citizens, and facilitate its passage into Gaza, just as it has facilitated the movement of a great deal of humanitarian aid into Gaza despite continuing missile attacks on the Israeli population.

It now appears that when Israeli forces boarded the incoming ships (all nations, including the U.S., enforce blockades in this manner), the Israelis were attacked and responded to those attacks.

This broader overview is important because leaders are always subject to intense pressure to act quickly before all the facts are known; true leadership refuses to be stampeded into action before facts are known.

By Mickey Edwards

 |  June 2, 2010; 7:04 AM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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It is funny that all the commentators before Mickey Edwards, Blamed Israel without knowing all the fact. Fact 1: IDF army board the "Love boat" with toy guns so they will not accidently shoot civilians - they had only hand pistols in their belt. 2: The Love boat "peace" activities charged IDF with stun graneds, knifes and steel clubs 3: the soldiers felt in life risk and had to shoot 4: and most importantly, Turkey made very big political gain from blaming israel - good for them...

Posted by: NB101 | June 3, 2010 7:28 AM
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Shame on you!!!!One of the most known and widely used stalling tactics is to DEMAND a careful gathering of the FACTS. Those that call for it always hope that while all this gathering is going on people will lose interest in whatever happened. By the time the report comes out the confusion mixed with disinterest will be complete, or so those who love this tactic believe. No way is this going to happen this time. The videos are out and speak for themselves. Between 9-19 people are dead as a direct result of this assault on a civilian vessel by the Israeli Special Forces. Thank God more were not killed. Of those that survived 75 were wounded.
Where the flotilla was relative to the international bondaries has been established. Whether the Israelis broken any international laws is going to be up to the international courts but the question of whether they are morally wrong is without serious dispute. Unfortunately for Israel, it can't ever afford to be morally wrong or its done internationally. It is just a matter of time before all support for the country is gone.

Posted by: safiyah111 | June 2, 2010 9:38 AM
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