Take Me to Your Leader - If You Can Find One in the Process They Change the World; A World in Conflict and Crisis Is Crying out for Someone to Show the Way Ahead. but Mario Basini Finds It Hard to See Anyone with the Right Qualities

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

Take Me to Your Leader - If You Can Find One in the Process They Change the World; A World in Conflict and Crisis Is Crying out for Someone to Show the Way Ahead. but Mario Basini Finds It Hard to See Anyone with the Right Qualities


Byline: Mario Basini

In the United States, the call for a world crusade against terrorism in the wake of September 11 falls largely on deaf ears. In the Middle East a local conflict involving two small states escalates to the point where it could plunge the planet into World War III.

In Africa, terrible famines and massacres combine to produce a portrait of a continent in disintegration.

A petty warlord like Saddam Hussein busily manufactures weapons of mass destruction that could bring the United States and its allies to their knees.

The world in the 21st Century hosts the most technologically-advanced civilisation it has ever known. Perhaps for the first time in history, we have the capacity to produce more food than our crowded planet needs.

Where once it took years to circumnavigate the globe, the same journey now takes a matter of hours.

Yet we lack some of the things our ancestors took for granted. Among them is that elusive quality, leadership. The man we have come to categorise as the most powerful in the world is the President of its only superpower, the United States.

The present incumbent, George W Bush, should be in the perfect position to display his qualities as a world leader.

Yet as the crisis in Afghanistan and the conflict in the Middle East have proved recently, President Bush is impotent to exercise the authority we expect.

Indeed, the nation with which the United States has, perhaps, closer links than any other, apparently takes considerable delight in defying him.

Israel has been financed and watched over by its giant protector. Yet when President Bush urged the Israeli premier Ariel Sharon to leave Palestinian territory, Sharon rejected his pleas.

The incident underlined a lesson the Americans had thrust upon them by the Vietnam War.

Leadership involves far more than the mere possession of massive economic and military power.

It requires charisma, unshakeable belief in your cause and, more importantly, the communication skills to persuade others that what you believe is right.

Perhaps the modern world is too complex to be controlled by one man, however powerful.

What mankind needs now is a framework through which the international community can exercise its authority and police a world in which conflict and mayhem seem to increase in direct proportion to advances in knowledge and technology.

Such a body already exists. Within the UN debating chamber the nations of the world should be able to reach a consensus about what needs to be done about a crisis.

And we should be able to produce the resources needed to handle that crisis. But in war after war, the intervention of the United Nations has been ineffectual.

For the organisation to be effective, it has to be bolstered by the forces and the resources of a few countries like the United States and Britain.

In the medieval world, it all seemed much simpler. In the Christian half the universal Roman Church had the moral authority to provide a forum within which many international disputes could be resolved.

And in the Pope it possessed a figure who was a natural arbiter in cases promising major conflicts.

It would, of course, be entirely misleading to present too rosy a picture of the medieval world.

That world's passionate commitment to religion sparked conflicts between Christianity and Islam.

The Crusades involved carnage on a scale the 20th Century would have recognised as familiar. Nor did the fact that they shared loyalty to a single and united church prevent some of the great dynasties of Europe indulging in long, bloody and debilitating wars.

But the ferocity of conflicts, such as the Thirty Years War, that broke out once Christendom had split into Roman and Protestant churches, shows that the unity the church imposed was partially effective in policing it. …

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Take Me to Your Leader - If You Can Find One in the Process They Change the World; A World in Conflict and Crisis Is Crying out for Someone to Show the Way Ahead. but Mario Basini Finds It Hard to See Anyone with the Right Qualities
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