Down with the Bad Guys – and Up with the Good
It’s been a great week for those of us intent on stopping bad leaders – and one equally excellent for those of us intent on supporting good leaders.
First and foremost finally, more than ten years after he was indicted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, Radovan Karadzic was arrested. I have been writing and talking about this man for years. In fact, in my book, Bad Leadership, I used him as the exemplar of “evil leadership,” for there is nearly no doubt that during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, he was responsible for the death of thousands, most obviously in connection with the massacre (of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims) at Srebrenica.
The court has charged Karadzic with genocide and other crimes. And Richard Holbrooke, the former State Department official who brokered a sort of a Balkan peace, described him as “the worst,” a racist believer, who “really enjoyed ordering the killing of Muslims.”
The question I often raised was why was this man not being brought to justice? He was, after all, not hiding in a cave somewhere on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Quite the contrary – somehow everyone knew, or at least strongly suspected, that Karadzic was sticking close to home, out of sight perhaps, but still, somewhere close by. Now we know that most of the time he was in fact very close by, disguised by a full white beard and distinctive garb, but nevertheless out and about and hardly impossible to identify. So even now I wonder how it happened that fully a decade passed during which Karadzic was able to avoid being caught. Is this anyone’s idea of having the punishment fit the crime?
Along similar lines, though the development is less dramatic, is the reining in of long time tyrant, Robert Mugabe. After all the hue and cry (including from this blogger) about the stolen election in Zimbabwe, not to speak of its catastrophic circumstance more generally, there was an announcement that Mugabe had agreed to power-sharing talks with his longtime rival, opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. The agreement between the two men was brokered by outsiders and it is, at best, fragile, as in both preliminary and tentative. Still, it’s something and it’s better than nothing, better than either a miserable stalemate or, heaven forefend, than allowing Mugabe to continue to rule with an iron fist.
The international community would make a mistake, however, if it backed off, slacked off from keeping close vigil. Bad leaders never ever backtrack of their own volition. Their feet must be held to the fire without fail – which is why Mugabe should be watched at every turn, lest he return, which he would if he could, to the bad old days.
Finally, time to accentuate the positive – to shine a light on a man by the name of Peter Singer. Singer is the most important and influential of all kinds of leaders – he is an intellectual leader. A philosopher by trade, in 1975 Singer published a book titled, Animal Rights. The impact of this work, outlandish as its ideas seemed at the time, is by now impossible to overestimate. The animal rights movement is one of the most important socio-political movements in our recent history. Its impact has been worldwide, and on how we do business, and on what we legislate, and on how we conceive of creatures other than those that are human.
Singer did not, of course, accomplish all this alone. He has been aided and abetted by countless activists, led by, among others, the formidable Ingrid Newkirk, longtime head of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). One of the most significant of their collective triumphs occurred just a week or two ago: the passage in Spain of a resolution granting to great apes some legal rights.
Suffice it here to say that whatever your opinion on animal rights, and on how far they should be extended, it’s worth recalling that some non-human animals are not so different from you and me. Great apes in particular are biologically very close to humans – chimpanzees and humans have in common fully 98 percent of their DNA. So a bow to Singer the leader, who provides proof positive there is nothing so powerful as a great idea whose time has come.
:: Source: Barbara Kellerman @ Harvard Business