Chapter 1: Another Book About Leadership?
Whither a man wishes to go, there he is led. (Rashi) On 24 July 1945 General Carl Spaatz, head of the US Air Force Strategic Command, received an order to use the atomic bomb against Japan, thus fulfilling the recommendation of the Special Committee (comprising the Secretary of State, Defense Secretary, two representatives of universities, two delegates from the Navy and the State Department, and Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory) to activate the bomb without warning. On that day President Truman himself, without putting the issue to vote, made one of the cruellest decisions in human history. Yet the term cruel is not associated with Truman’s leadership. In retrospect this decision was one of the building blocks in the construction of the myth of Truman as a leader who occupied a place of honour in the pantheon of world leaders. A look at the life stories of people like Ataturk, David Ben-Gurion, Winston Churchill and George Washington – who were among the most outstanding leaders in history – reveals similar themes; although called by different names such as determination, foresight, decisiveness and ability to convey clear messages, the implied meaning (and it is always implied) is unmistakable. It is the ability to take harsh decisions. This introduction of the subject may seem provocative to many people, but the bare facts (without the interpretations and their origins, which will be discussed later) are unequivocal. For example, George Washington, one of the few leaders identified as the Fathers of the...
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