For someone who doesn’t go to church (except once in a while to hear my sweetie sing), I do seem to talk a lot about faith. I do because I believe that on a fundamental level, it is the intangible that really drives people; it is their faith in the future and each other that makes them willing to step up and shoulder burdens, take risks, accept loss, to move out of present comfort into pain in order to move to a future about which we can’t be certain.
I flippantly mentioned this below, in talking about Tyler Hamilton’s incredible performance in the Tour de France this year – riding with the leaders and even winning a stage with a broken collarbone. He could have withdrawn with no damage to his career, but some intangible drive…some inner fire, some commitment, some faith…kept him on the bike.
We’ve been having an e-mail conversation about this post on Stratfor:
The Bush administration’s continued unwillingness to enunciate a coherent picture of the strategy behind the war against al Qaeda — which explains the war in Iraq — could produce a dangerous domino effect. Lurking in the shadows is the not fully articulated perception that the Iraq war not only began in deception but that planning for the Iraq war was incompetent — a perception driven by the realization that the United States is engaged in a long-term occupation and guerrilla war in Iraq, and the belief that the United States neither expected nor was prepared for this. Ultimately, this perception could erode Bush’s support base, cost him the presidency and, most seriously, lead to defeat in the war against al Qaeda.
This is congruent with some of the critical things I’ve said about Bush; specifically that he hasn’t articulated or sold his plan. I think it is necessary that he do so, because ultimately this war will be won by the side with the stronger faith; we are matching our faith in our vision of the future against our opponents’.
Trent thinks my position is silly, and makes some strong arguments that I’ll leave to him to fill in; in summary, his view is that Bush has a plan, but can’t articulate it for political/diplomatic reasons, and that we need to simply trust him – that we can simply rely on his character.
My reply is “nope”.
Even if I stipulate that Bush has grown immensely wiser and more credible than he was in his early life…and I do believe that he has grown, although I’m not convinced that he’s grown immensely…I just can’t accept the notion that we’re sending our sons and daughters – hell, that I may send my son – because GWB says so.
And I don’t think that I’m alone.
Modern leadership involves propagating your vision – of a project, or a business. It involves creating faith which can motivate people to accept discomfort, pain or loss. When a team shares a vision, they have some understanding of the high-level plan which will make them more tolerant of not knowing the low-level plans.
But you can’t ask people to accept burdens based solely on one’s character any more. We are past the point of kings.
Clearly, this limits his freedom to practice Richelieu-like diplomacy by deception, as Trent suggests he may be doing.
Tough. I have a lot of faith in the American people, and I believe that there are a whole lot of those – like me – who would be willing to follow a President in spite of disagreements if we believed in and understood his vision and the overall path he proposed to take to get there.
Bush has set out parts of a vision, but we’re missing some key pieces. And I haven’t seen an path yet.
So I support him against the Hesiod Theogenys of the world…for now.