What Our World Needs Most: True World Leaders

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In this Op-Ed, Mohammad S. Moussalli analyses the detrimental aftereffects of indecisiveness and inaction of the international community and world leaders on the world. He argues for a change in the criterion through which people select their leadership.


We often hear many senior citizens, parents, and grandparents talk nostalgically about the good old days of their time. They always reminisce about the serenity of social life, the sufficiency of economic opportunities and the good leaders they had several decades ago. They praise foregone world leaders, like Abraham Lincoln, F.D. Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, Charles de Gaulle, John F. Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Mahathir Mohamad and the likes, for their rectitude and leadership skills.

While, in contrast, they blame contemporary heads of state, policymakers and political leaders for the continuing degeneration in the socioeconomic and sociopolitical conditions of the world. Thereon, our inquiring minds try to discern what our oldsters had then and we do not have nowadays.

It is typical to acknowledge that technological advancements and digital innovations have provided the means and systems through which people can communicate, transact, and socialize in a more interconnected world. Nonetheless, the fact remains that older people have relished more quality life compared to the present robotic life settings. As comparative as it could be, they had calmer peace of mind, higher moral standards, finer socioeconomic standing, and most importantly, headier dignified leaders more than most of our present-day leadership.

Given that reality, the unavoidable question revolves around the side that is responsible for this prolonged degenerative state of affairs. Is it the national leaders, politicians, political parties, governing bodies, ideologists, business magnates, religious establishments, or what? Is it the world leaders, the international community and world organizations like the UN, SC, WB, IMF, etc.?

Actually, on the national front, all leaders are one-way or another responsible for the current degeneration of their states. While, on the international arena, the primary responsibility falls on the international community, especially on the leaders of the P-5, or G-something. Since they have failed, individually and collectively, to combat poverty, circumvent tyranny, and stop the bloodshed—let alone preserve world peace.

Researchers who seek to bare this unfortunate reality have no other way but to unearth why and how economic meltdowns, armed conflicts, terrorism and regional wars were­ geared up, fueled and set to burst out afterward. To find the truth, they also have to contemplate who benefit from those warlike conflicts and economic crises. To give a hint, they are the same profiteering clique: mainly the banking and war machines industries among many others.

In any attempt to analyze and spot what is in common among those fiery havocs, hostilities, armed conflicts, and atrocities. We will find that tyranny, poverty, human underdevelopment, poor education, social injustice, and exploitation of the working classes, are embedded in the fundament of most world troubles. However, the hard ones to trace are the aftereffects of indecisive policies of the so-called world leaders and inaction of the international community on world affairs, which have transformed these solvable ill-beings into ticking bombs.

The first of many cases of indecisiveness and dormancy is the deliberate six-decade-long of the inaction of the international community and world leading countries to the evils of autocratic regimes and radicalized states.

The second is the chronic failure of the P-5+1 and UN Security Council to handle the Iranian nukes Issue. They neither forced the Iranian regime to abide by the international law and thus terminate its nuclear program on its start nor shut it down by force. Instead, they imposed a series of gradual mild sanctions, which led to long years of talks and fly-by-night agreement. While, in return, they dimmed the lights on the malicious meddling of Iranian mullahs in Arab countries—let alone turning a blind eye to the spread out of Iranian militancy and pro-Iranian Shiite militants in the Middle East.

This imprudent trade-off politics, however, have reinvigorated antagonism between Sunnis and Shia in most of the Muslim world, encouraged Iran to become more confrontational in its proxy wars, and reignited radical fundamentalist movements of both camps, which destabilized the entire region and thus the spread of terror activities here and there.

The third is the nonexistence of credible world power that has the will and stamina to stop aggression, arbitrate and enforce durable solutions to the long-drawn-out armed conflicts and territorial disputes in most of the world.

The fourth is about the western world abandonment of their democratic values for the sake of economic interests and profit-maximization, which impelled most western countries to ignore the violations of civil liberties and human rights of third world governments—not to mention child labor and labor abuses.

Besides all that, one cannot repudiate that the first base for this political decline is the low caliber of leaders of heavyweight countries, such as the U.S., UK, China, Russia, France, and other weighty countries, whose moralities and leadership skills would not have enabled them to win or hold office.

photo source-www.one.org

Since the mid-60s of the twentieth century onward, trustworthy leaders became scarce on the national and international political spectrum alike. Honesty, fairness, transparency, and similar moralistic merits became texts of speeches and dialogue of interviews, not binding words to observe in the decision-making process and political practices of most leaders.

This reality, however, has set off many political thinkers to analyze the perspective of political leadership and compare the traits of modern leaders with some memorable leaders. Unsurprisingly, all analyses showed a strong preference of many preceding leaders over modern-day ones.

Nearly all political scientists and intellectuals emphasize the importance of consultation and power sharing as the best correct method to lead and achieve goals. However, when it comes to Middle East politics, we find some one-sided politicians and political analysts still heedlessly hypothesize the advantages of authoritative governments in non-western countries. Since, in their uneven calculus, it has provided general order, political stability and security in the recent past. Disregarding that in so advocating, they devoid all those self-proclaimed values of the free world: democracy, civil liberties, and human rights—let alone brushing aside that authoritative leaders always turn into bloody tyrants and mass murders.

Obviously, the reason behind such hypocritical surmise is to wash hands from the responsibility to stand firm against tyranny and radical militants. Ignoring, more knowingly than not, that most of those militants were not to be nursed and armed without being harbored by autocratic regimes, like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, for instance, and without the concealed facilitation of some western powers. Along with that demagoguery, they dismiss noting the fact that the vast majority of more than 1.6 billion Muslims rebuff all radical fundamentalist militants as much as they demonize bloodthirsty dictators, if not more.

Evidently, nearly all Middle East troubles originated from the protracted rule of brutal autocracies and absolute monarchies, lack of human development and absence of real secularization, which paved the way for rigid religious establishments and radical organizations to mislead the uninformed, the poor, and the repressed people.

Undoubtedly, the world needs to have astute and trustworthy leaders. To make the change, people have to tune up two crucial factors before all else: the criteria through which they evaluate the qualities of leadership, and the magnitude of their participation in public issues.

In advanced democracies, malcontented citizens have to recalibrate their preference of political candidates in which they select, free from party nomination, trustworthy and morally qualified leadership to lead not only their nation, but this global village as well, toward peace and prosperity—taking into account that their choices could have crucial consequences on the whole world.

However, in semi-democratic countries, citizens have to step up their direct political engagement, energize their reform movements, dynamize their human and women’s rights organizations and support civil advocacy groups to have enough momentum to stand against the immoral policies of heads of state and policymakers. To all intents, active citizens need to set up nonpartisan activist groups to reflect the voice of the silent majority away from party politics, clerics’ falsification, profiteering interest groups and hired double-tongued politicos.

In autocratic countries, where people are suppressed and have no soft-landing options, like in Syria, Iran, and N. Korea, for instance. Alas, they either rise up against tyranny and face their destiny or continue to live in imprisonment.

A great political leader and historic liberator once said:

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems”

                                        Mahatma Gandhi


Mohammad S. Moussalli is a renowned Lebanese writer. He has a reputable journalistic record with well-known regional English newspapers, magazines and web-based gazettes. He holds a long list of esteemed published Op-Eds and online articles mostly centered on civil liberties, human rights, socioeconomic and sociopolitical issues.

Mr. Moussalli is a corporate consultant and former managing director with years of top executive experience in the Middle East and Gulf region. He devises reorganization plans and restructuring schemes, provides advice on business planning, administration, operations, pay and benefit scales, and other business issues.

Mr. Moussalli blogs at http://middleeasttribune.wordpress.com & tweet @msm54lb

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Mohammad, thank you for this brilliant article. As a political analyst, I am sharing so many of your thoughts but you have expressed them with much more elegance and erudition.
    You have the knack of putting your fingers on sensitive points. You can answer our questions with ease and knowledge and the fact that you are living in Lebanon makes you a true expert on the Middle East. My only regret is that I have not been notified of all the previous articles that you have written these past years. I will make sure to catch up with them as I know where to find them now.Please keep writing ! We all need your wisdom.

  2. Mohammed:

    We easily sense the depth of your concern about the quality and wisdom of leadership. Our own perception is that the times are changing, and that the age of waiting for a political, military, are other kind of “leadership” messiah is over.

    It seems to us that this is The Citizens’ Century, and that creativity and leadership will come from small circles of imaginative, courageous citizens who innovate and time-test the needed new ways of living together with each other and with Earth herself.

    • I do agree with you on the second paragraph. As for the first, I believe we need reliable and skilled leaders more than ever, basically for the same reason you described as “times are changing”. Seeing that our perception about leadership should not be changed in accordance with time.
      Thank you

  3. Dear Mr. Moussalli, Mohammad:

    Each time you write an article, you nail hard the actual causes with vivid implications, weighing in many fronts and alternatives. I truly like to read more of this treasure, opening the world’s eyes on what we need most. Thank you for a treasured article.

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