The teachable moment of MH17

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My years in the U.S. Army taught me that in times of crisis, leaders are supposed to have the ability to quickly issue initial guidance, conduct a personal analysis of the situation, reconvene staff and subordinate leaders for assessment and evaluations, issue follow-up guidance, and develop an initial plan of execution. They don’t head off to have a burger and a fundraiser.

Contrast this image of leadership. Once we had a president who stood valiantly at the Brandenburg Gate and commanded a Soviet leader to “tear down this wall” while now we have a president who quietly whispered to a Russian leader, “after reelection I will have more flexibility.”

Last week after the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines 17, you may have seen the initial assessment I posted on Facebook and the greater detail here.

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Sadly enough, it seems the worst parts of those assessments were accurate, as a report by confirms: “Within minutes of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashing to the ground in eastern Ukraine Thursday, people began arriving at the scene. Reporters, area residents, and Russian separatists surveyed the scene, took photos and videos, and, quite possibly, interfered with investigators’ ability to properly assess the crash site. “It’s a contaminated site,” said CBS News Transportation and Safety Analyst Mark Rosenker, who is a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. “It’s absolutely horrible. Parts could be missing.”

It appears Russian separatist forces – armed to the hilt — have gone in and secured the site, and are refusing entry to Ukrainian officials and others. Reports are that the flight data and voice recorders — the black boxes — are being secured by these terrorists and shipped off to Moscow. As well, the bodies of the dead are being collected by the same forces in refrigerated trucks and shipped off who knows where. This is what happens when current leadership focus more on flexibility, eating burgers and attending fundraisers.

The abysmal excuse from the White House is that President Obama doesn’t want to do or say anything that alarms the American people. I hate to inform the president and his staff of chuckleheads but with a 24-hour news cycle, we are quite informed and are looking for leadership at a time of crisis.

We know from whence this attack came, and whether it was an accident or purposeful is of no consequence. What we in America — and indeed all across the world — are witnessing is a non-state, non-uniform belligerent force thumbing its nose at the rule of international law, with abject disrespect to sovereign nations and the family members of the victims — with a resolute impunity. And we sit seemingly neutered as it all unfolds.

CBS reports “Rosenker said it is critical to first have local authorities securing a crash site until crash investigators arrive, something that apparently wasn’t done on Thursday. The most important piece of evidence investigators need is the plane’s black box, which records conversations in the cockpit and the flight data, but investigators will also need critical parts of the aircraft including the nose, tail and wings.”

“Those parts will be necessary to determine where exactly the plane was struck by the missile that brought it down, and any explosive residue left on the pieces will provide evidence about what type of missile it was. Furthermore, the bodies of the passengers, which will likely be recovered by local authorities, need to be examined to determine how exactly they died.”

We’ve lost the initiative and the evidence necessary to know what happened to MH 17 from a ballistics standpoint, and may never know — unless you place your confidence in Vladimir Putin and his propaganda machine.

A true leader doesn’t say, “hey, I’m not concerned, it’s all cool and I don’t want to cause you alarm.” A true leader states, “here is the issue at hand but here are the solutions and the actions we are going to take to rectify and solve this in our favor.”

The actions of truly committed and convicted leadership encourages others to follow — not lead from behind – down south, we call following. It’s not about asking what others are doing, it’s about what WE as a nation — not I, are doing.

The “teachable moment” of this incident, the shoot down of a civilian aircraft by armed belligerents, is that so far, they’ve gotten away with it. That will only embolden others. It is the lesson of resolute leadership versus flexible appeasement.

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