Ever since the South Carolina Republican presidential debate, reporters have continued to challenge me for not having a specific plan for our nation’s involvement in Afghanistan. They continue to think that if you are running for president, then you must have an answer for everything. I don’t! A real leader has the right questions for everything.
When asked about what I would do about our involvement in the war in Afghanistan during the debate, I answered by asking the questions that should have been asked before we got involved many years ago. What is our mission? How does it serve our interest? Is there a path to victory? If not, then what is our exit strategy?
I ask these questions instead of “shooting from the lip” because there is obviously a lot of classified information to which I do not have access. There are dozens of experts and military leaders from whom I would seek advice before I could make an informed decision about a real clear plan for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. Similarly, a real clear strategy for every country with which we have relationships would be developed, regardless of whether or not we are involved in a military conflict.
To be clear, I want to be out of Afghanistan and all war-torn countries as much as the next person. But I am not going to propose a half-baked plan based on half the information I would need to make the right decision, just to pretend I know everything.
On the other hand, I do know enough about our solid relationship with Israel from decades of observations that I would make it even stronger, a move that isn’t just about dollars. And, I would not be hesitant to let the rest of the world know that we will stand by and with our friends.
I succeeded in business for more than 40 years by asking the right questions of the right people about the right problems to get to the right solutions. That’s what most successful people do, and I would do the same thing as president of the United States of America.
Aside from the fact that I disagree with many of President Obama’s policies, practices and decisions, consider some of the decisions and statements I’m sure he wishes he could do over. He promised to be out of Afghanistan by July 2011. It’s not going to happen. He wanted to close the Guantanamo military prison facility and put the prisoners, mostly terrorists, in our federal prisons. It didn’t happen.
He said passing the $787 billion stimulus bill (before extenders which pushed the total closer to $1 trillion) would get the unemployment rate back under 8 percent. The unemployment rate has not been under 8 percent since the stimulus bill was passed, and it was recently reported for April at 9 percent.
President Obama also said that a lot of the stimulus spending would go toward “shovel-ready” projects, only to admit later that there are no such things as shovel-ready projects. Maybe he should have asked somebody, or maybe he thought we wouldn’t notice. We noticed!
As president, one may not make all the correct decisions, but you improve your success rate if you make decisions based on as much of the right information and advice as you can get. Maybe President Obama has just been getting bad advice. If so, he didn’t surround himself with the right people.
Working on the right problems, asking the right questions, surrounding oneself with the right people and removing barriers to success – now that’s real leadership.
It’s much better than shooting from the lip.