by Paul Syers
Two nights ago, the President gave his third televised address from the Oval office. Given the important location and format, the country took notice, expecting a bold plan of action, hoping for stirring words from a strong leader to stir a change of national or global scale.
The President’s address wasn’t that — it certainly wasn’t anything memorable — which made me feel the pang of the absence of great leadership in this country right now.
Can the role of a good leader really be appreciated enough? Some famous leaders happened to fall into leadership roles, riding the crest of a wave of change that was going to happen with or without their presence. Some leaders create great change through their own will. It is most evident in their absence. The movement they built begins to falter and die off soon after their death. Their mark on the world is mainly from the momentum they build while they are on this earth. The empire that Alexander the Great built fell apart quickly after he passed. Apple changed a number of different industries (computers, phones, music, etc.) with Steve Jobs at the helm, and since his death it has slid to merely following the pack. Amazon is another singular giant in its industry, expanding from online commerce to microelectronics, and now they have overtaken SpaceX in the race to re-use launch rockets.
Complex problems may end up being solved, but true leaders often act like catalysts to produce a solution far faster. Everyone agrees that a solution to the fight against ISIS exists – for the survival of free thought, it must – but everyone also agrees that finding and implementing the solution is complex. The solution will almost certainly involve a coordinated effort amongst the world’s major powers, but current circumstances make that unlikely. We need the catalyst of a true leader: someone with the will, gravitas, and mind to hold the coalition together and steer it with a singular purpose.
I hoped that Obama’s address would be an announcement to do just that. With those hopes dashed, I’m looking for another way to do SOMETHING; I’m looking for a plan B. In the absence of a truly great leader, here’s a radical idea, harness the talents of someone with a forceful will: Putin. No one can deny that he has exerted his singular will in his own country and increasingly abroad as of late.
Many may see him as just another tyrant, but France, Great Britain, and the U.S. allied with Stalin during WWII, so there is precedent. Granted, the aftermath of that took us into the Cold War, so making such a similar choice today would have significant risks. It’s not an ideal solution. I’d much prefer a different leader, but in the absence of one, maybe we need to go with plan B.