Leadership in organizations people believe in
The assassination strategy the US pursues is interesting, not in what it says about the US’s foes, but what it says about the US’s leaders. Al-Qaeda’s “#2” man has been “killed” so often that it’s a running joke, and Taliban leadership is regularly killed by assassination. Bush did this, Obama really, really does this. Probably a lot of them are BS, but it’s probably safe to assume that a lot of leadership is killed.
The Taliban is still kicking the coalition’s ass.
Leadership isn’t as big a deal as people make it out to be, IF you have a vibrant organization people believe in. New people step up, and they’re competent enough. Genius leadership is very rare, and a good organization doesn’t need it, though it’s welcome when it exists. As long as the organization knows what it’s supposed to do (kick Americans out of Afghanistan) and everyone’s motivated to do that, leadership doesn’t need to be especially great, but it will be generally competent, because the people in the organization will make it so.
American leaders are obsessed with leadership because they lead organizations where no one believes in the organization’s goals. Or rather, they lead organizations where everyone knows the leadership doesn’t believe in its ostensible goals. Schools are lead by people who hate teachers and want to privatize schools to make profit. The US is lead by men who don’t believe in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Police are lead by men who think their job is to protect the few and beat down the many, not to protect and serve. Corporations make fancy mission statements and talk about valuing employees and customers, but they just want to make a buck and will fuck anyone, employee or customer, below the c-suite. They don’t have a “mission” (making money is not a mission, it’s a hunger if it’s all you want to do), they are parasites and they know it.
Making organizations work if they’re filled with people who don’t believe in the organization, who believe that the “leadership” is only out for themselves and has no mission beyond helping themselves, not even enriching the employees or shareholders, is actually hard. People don’t get inspired by making the c-suite rich. Bureaucrats, knowing they are despised and distrusted by their political matters, and knowing that they aren’t allowed to do their ostensible job, as with the EPA generally not being allowed to protect the environment, the DOJ not being allowed to prosecute powerful monied crooks and the FDA being the slave of drug companies and the whims of politically connected appointees, are hard to move, hard to motivate, hard to get to do anything but the minimum.
So American leaders, and indeed the leaders of most developed nations think they’re something special. Getting people to do anything, and convincing people to do the wrong thing, when they joined to actually teach, protect the environment, make citizens healthier or actually prosecute crooks is difficult. Being a leader in the West, even though it comes with virtually complete immunity for committing crimes against humanity, violating civil rights, or stealing billions from ordinary citizens, is in many respects a drag. A very very well paying drag, but a drag. Very few people have the necessary flexible morals and ability to motivate employees through coercion required.
So American leaders in specific and Westerners in general think that organizations will fall apart if the very small number of people who can actually lead, stop. But that’s because they think that leading the Taliban, say, is like leading an American company or the American government. They think it requires a soulless prevaricator who takes advantage of and abuses virtually everyone and is still able to get them to, reluctantly, do their jobs.
Functioning organizations aren’t like that. They suck leadership upwards. Virtually everyone is being groomed for leadership and is ready for leadership. They believe in the cause, they know what to do, they’re involved. And they aren’t scared of dying, if they really believe. Oh sure, they’d rather not, but it won’t stop them from stepping up.
So Obama kills and kills and kills and somehow the Taliban is still kicking his ass. Al-Qaeda in whatever country you care to name has its #2 killed every few weeks, and somehow there’s always another one. Because these people believe. There’s always another believer, if it’s a functioning organization, and on it goes.
The declaration of the Haqqani network as terrorists made me laugh. You read about them, and this is what you discover–the founder was a minister in the Taliban government. So, let’s get this straight. His country, which he is a minister in, is invaded, and 10 years later he’s still fighting. And he refuses to negotiate with the US, because hey, he figures he’s winning.
Imagine if the US was invaded, occupied and a puppet government was set up. A cabinet minister escaped, went underground, and set up a resistance network. What would you call him? A terrorist? Sure, if you’re the occupying power. If you’re a citizen? Well, maybe not, eh? Sure he fights nasty, but the nation which kills so many civilians with drones can’t really cast the first stone, can it?
And one day, they’ll probably kill him.
And it won’t make any damn difference.