The Collateral Damage of
Naïve Leadership and Delusional World Views


Leonard Zwelling

“So long as our relationship is defined by our
differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who
promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people
achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between
the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest
and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not
exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share
common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the
dignity of all human beings.”

Barack Obama, President of the United States,
June 4, 2009, Cairo, Egypt

         Even before
he became President, Barack Obama took a spin around Europe and mesmerized the
populations there with his message of hope and change. It was a striking
contrast for the Western Europeans–a true departure from the previous US
bellicose messages of the Bush-Cheney years following the 9/11 terrorist
attacks and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. They loved it! The crowd
went wild.

having taken office, the new President went to Cairo and gave his now famous
speech pledging to create a new beginning with the Muslim world. Could anything
have been more naïve? Since then we have had the overthrow of the Arab Spring,
the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt first in, then out, the War in Gaza and ISIS
and now more than 20 killed in Tunisia after similar massacres in Paris and
Copenhagen (NB, these are in Western Europe). I don’t see American or European interests
and those of many Muslim countries aligning, do you?

       I am
reading the book In the Garden of the
by Erik Larsen. It tells the story of FDR’s initial ambassador to 1933
Berlin, William Dodd, as he gradually begins to understand the consequences to
the world of the new leadership in Germany. Many Americans, including Dodd’s
own daughter, were lulled into a false sense of security by the order and
progress they saw the Nazis bring to a once economically decimated post-WWI
country. Then night set on Europe and the world.

back, despite his Nobel Prize, I suspect President Obama now fully realizes
with whom he was dealing when he entered the Muslim political world. The Arab
Spring is largely gone and replaced by the new bosses who are the same as the
old bosses (sorry, Peter Townsend). These are a series of totalitarian sheikhs
and potentates who keep women in chains and most of their people in poverty while donating to American medical centers.

There is only one democracy
in the Middle East and its survival depends on its leadership never being
lulled by naivety into that false sense of security about those who surround Israel
on all sides. If the Israelis lay down their weapons, they die. If the Arabs
lay down their weapons, there is peace. That a US President should not
understand this and not act accordingly is frightening. Fortunately, all
Israeli politicians do understand this and even the most liberal of them would
never let security lapse or cut a deal with Iran even remotely like the one
that is purported to be under consideration by the Obama Administration leaving
centrifuges spinning, infrastructure in place, and only a finite time for Iran
to be constrained from acquiring nuclear weapons, if they even consent to
meaningful inspections.

is a greater threat to freedom than a less than clear-eyed democratic leader
who deludes himself or herself into believing his or her own capability of
reversing evil. Brutality does not bend to kindness. It does not bend at
all.  It can only be broken by strength
and resolve.

       It is
remarkable to me that the current UT leadership in Austin cannot see this
scenario playing out here in Houston. Clearly they cannot or will not, for denial
is the second most powerful force in the universe behind stupidity.

the leaders in Austin believe that somehow their efforts to coerce the MD
Anderson faculty into a sense of family accord with the MD Anderson leadership using
the force of the Austinites’ well-cultivated personalities will cure what ails
the faculty, they are more than a little delusional.

this point, after the nepotism, the conflicts of interest, the self-dealing,
the expensive furniture, the firings and the general unpleasantness of the MD
Anderson President’s personality associated with a major case of believing his
own hype, if the Chancellor and Executive Vice Chancellor think that some
program of unmitigated kindness, the singing of Kumbayah and the eating of
brown rice is to repair the damage, they are sorely mistaken, naïve, and
foolish. Even if they don’t believe in their own powers of persuasion to the
extent the Chancellor suggests, he needs to do more than simply acknowledge the
faculty’s pain.

He needs to say the four magic

I have vision for the future.

I have a plan to get us there.

It won’t be easy.

It will be worth it when we succeed.

Then he needs to match the
words with deeds.

Obama in Egypt and Ambassador Dodd in pre-WWII Germany, the leadership in
Austin is setting the stage for a massive collapse of freedom and shared
governance by pandering to the basest of authoritarian leaders in the hopes of
being afforded a place at the head of the table of benevolence. As they say in

       The strong-armed
forces at work in these places understood and understand one thing only, power.
Meet them with anything less, and they will turn on you like rabid dogs and you
will wonder how you could have missed the signs. You missed them because you
wanted to. It seemed easier then.

       In 6
months, it will seem easier to Austin to have done what it has been doing
instead of dealing with its problem, but that will just be a

From Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill:

Michael: I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two
or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.

Sam Weber: Ah, come on. Nothing’s more important than sex.

Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

you ever seen an administrator go an hour without one?

Leonard Zwelling