Leadership Lessons from The West


Osama Bin Laden Day, the eleventh of every month since November 2001, is commemorated in the United States and worldwide as shown on CNN, BBC World TV and Time Magazine. I asked myself what lessons could be learned from the sequelae of September Eleven events. The important lessons are about world leadership.

The wise and rich leader, Solomon,[1] advised leaders to,  “do what is right, just and fair”, with integrity, giving praise and glory to the Most Merciful Almighty God. This must be one of the greatest standards against which world leaders must be measured.

It is clear that arrogance, stubbornness, haughtiness, grandiosity and megalomania cannot not help in conflict resolution. The leadership of Mr. Bush and Mr. Tony Blair has not been exemplary in its approach to the events following Osama Bin Laden Day. These leaders chose the short-sighted route of vindictiveness, revenge and of out-doing the “terrorists” in their methods. They seem to operate on the premise that, “might is right”, and the Rule of Law only applies when expedient. They by-passed and sidelined the United Nations Security Council, and bullied the majority of other state leaders by stating that those who were not with Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair in their cowboy-style leadership, supported terrorism and would share the fate of the terrorists.

Gladstone said in 1879: “Remember the rights of the savage, as we call him. Remember that the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan, among the wintry snows, is as inviolable in the eye of Almighty God as can be your own”. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: ‘Human rights are easily crushed unless we are prepared to ensure them for the people we hate.’

World leadership seems to, “defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked.”[2] The leaders do not heed the Psalmists advice to, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” When sensible human rights activists question the rulers of America and Britain, as well as those of Zimbabwe and Israel on their failure to do what is right, just and fair, they get no satisfaction. It is often at this point that extremists from the non-governmental formations use unacceptable methods to make their voices heard and advance their cause. Remember Nelson Mandela and the Rivonia Trialists?

Terrorism is created by the failure of those given power and responsibility by the Almighty God, to carry out the mandate of doing what is just and right and fair, always giving praise and glory to the Creator.

What kind of person would sacrifice his or her life in support of a cause? I perused the bible to find examples, being persuaded that no Satanist would sacrifice the self. Shadrach [3], Meshach and Abednego, said to the all powerful and rich Nebuchadnezzar that the God they served would save them from a burning furnace, “But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” There must be even more such self-sacrificing leaders from Islam and other religions, who can be cited by my colleagues. The matter is that there are people who are committed to their God, and to doing what is right and just and fair under all circumstances, and are prepared to die for their cause. It is not surprising then that people sacrifice their lives in the hope of “attaining martyrdom”, and citing that their lives are better expended for the benefit of all rather than be destroyed by terrorist nations in pursuit of “justice” for “collective accountability and guilt,” of a defenceless people, as practiced in Palestine by the Zionist state of Israel and its mentor, the United States of America.

No less than a thousand evangelists in America and Britain teach the law of sowing and reaping. In short, this law says sowing love creates the possibility of reaping oodles of it: the same goes for sowing arrogance, stubbornness, vindictiveness and terrorism. Why Mr George Bush and Tony Blair do not practise what they presumably have learned at their churches beats me! They have not appreciated that the quest by the majority of the world citizens for what is right and just and fair in life cannot be quenched with aerial cluster bombs, incarceration, torture and assassination! God will not allow this to happen.

Have western leaders satisfied themselves that they are doing what is right and just and fair with regard to their disregard for the Human Rights of the people of Palestine? Are they proud of the way Mr George Bush and his lieutenants arrogantly disregard ethics and the principles of treating prisoners of war from other nations as they would that Americans and Britons captured in war should be treated? Has the United Nations any credibility in global affairs anymore, given the blatant disrespect toward it demonstrated by the dollar-drunk America? I urge that Mr George Bush and world leaders bent on ignoring the respect for Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the global arena, be cautioned to introspect urgently!


[1] Proverbs 1:3 to 33

[2] Psalm 82: 1-8

[3] Daniel 3:16-18 “Obey God and lose your life.”

Dr. Rangaka is Chairman of the Physicians for Human Rights, South Africa (PHRSA).