While watching Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address our U.S. Congress, I realized that I was listening to one of the world’s last remaining true leaders. While our president, vice president, and secretary of state hid, the leader of the Jewish state stood solidly in the abyss, pleading the case for his people and for the world.

Will his warning be heeded or will Iran get the nuclear bomb, thus sending us careening down the road to Armageddon? How sad that it is left to a courageous leader of the tiny independent state of Israel to sound the alarm and to plead the case for the survival of civilization. In the halls of the American Congress, as he quoted from the words of Moses posted in the gallery, Netanyahu’s speech was an inspiration to free men and women everywhere.

If we reach an agreement with Iran, it must be predicated on a single principle: The free world will never succumb to fear. Peace through strength and conviction remains the only course of defense that can save us. A weak, apologetic leader, if making the wrong deal with the devil, will threaten our existence.

In 2007, former Chrysler CEO Lee Iaccoca wrote a book in which he offered nine C’s of leadership:

  • Curiosity. “Listen to people outside the ‘Yes sir, crowd.’ If a leader never steps outside his comfort zone to hear new ideas, he grows stale and doesn’t put his beliefs to the test. Never stop learning.”
  • Creativity. “Go out on a limb; produce new ideas. Never be afraid to think outside the box.”
  • Communicate. “Face reality and tell the truth. Nobody … tells it straight anymore.”
  • Character. ” Know right from wrong, and practice what is right. Have the guts to do the right thing.”
  • Courage. There is no substitute for intestinal fortitude. “Tough talk isn’t courage. Courage is a commitment to negotiate, to find answers.”
  • Conviction. “Have fire in your belly, passion for the cause. You’ve got to really want to get something done.”
  • Charisma. The ability to inspire others to follow you. “Charisma depends on trust.”
  • Competent. Be a problem solver and surround yourself with the best people. “You have got to know what you are doing. More important, surround yourself with people who know what they are doing.”
  • Common sense. Have the ability to reason and to embrace the obvious. “The only thing you’ve got going for you as a human being is the ability to reason and to use your common sense.”

Iacocca wrote his book at a previous time of crisis for America. Like many Americans, he was frustrated by the paucity of courageous leadership. Unfortunately, nothing has changed. Iacocca, who was never a fan of either President George Bush (a feeling I did not share), was a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners executive, who had much to do with saving a major automobile manufacturing company and many jobs.

“Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis,” he said. To which I will add the following questions: Who will fill the void of leadership? Who will save us from ourselves?

A familiar song asks these same questions, framed around the deaths of well-known American leaders. “Abraham, Martin and John” was recorded by Dion in 1968, after the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

“Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham? Can you tell me where he’s gone? He freed a lot of people, But it seems the good they die young. You know, I just looked around and he’s gone.

“Anybody here seen my old friend John? Can you tell me where he’s gone? He freed a lot of people. But it seems the good they die young. I just looked around and he’s gone.

“Anybody here seen my old friend Martin? Can you tell me where he’s gone? He freed a lot of people, But it seems the good they die young. I just looked around and he’s gone.

“Didn’t you love the things that they stood for? Didn’t they try to find some good for you and me? And we’ll be free some day soon, and it’s a gonna-be one day…

“Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby? Can you tell me where he’s gone, I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill, With Abraham, Martin and John.”

Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country. Where have all the leaders gone?

Don Roberts, a former city councilor and former vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta, is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District.


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