Friday, January 27, 2006

What if the shoe were on the other foot?

The Big Idea
When things go wrong - whether in your personal or professional life - chances are you resort to quick-fix plans, strategies and techniques for altering and improving your environment. Often, the problem is caused by a misalignment of your actions and decisions with the correct principles. To solve it, you need to alter not the external circumstances but your perspective.


Principles are like compasses that point us to our true direction. They are objective, unchanging natural laws that are correct and relevant regardless of the external circumstances. They are timeless, universal behavioral standards that have governed the social values of all the great human societies and civilizations. They apply to all people and all roles at whatever time and place and in whatever situation. Examples are fairness, equality, justice, integrity, honesty and trust. . . .

Principle-Centered Leadership
By Stephen R. Covey

Free Press, 1992
ISBN 0671792806

I was listening the President Bush's press conference on his reaction to Hammas, and his statement on what they have to do to be "partner in peace" or get back on the "roadmap" to peace.

Q Mr. President, is Mideast peacemaking dead with Hamas' big election victory? And do you rule out dealing with the Palestinians if Hamas is the majority party?
On the other hand, I don't see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as part of your platform. And I know you can't be a partner in peace if you have a -- if your party has got an armed wing. The elections just took place. We will watch very carefully about the formation of the government. But I will continue to remind people about what I just said, that if your platform is the destruction of Israel, it means you're not a partner in peace. And we're interested in peace.

This reminded me of a passage I once read on Vietnam War and the US position during the negotiations to end the war. Then the shoe was on the other foot....

The voices from Hanoi, however, continued to insist otherwise. North Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh, in his own New Year's message, proclaimed that "this year the United States aggressors will find themselves less able than ever to take the initiative, and will be more confused than ever, while our armed forces … will certainly win many more and still greater victories." At the same time, though, Ho's foreign minister, Nguyen Duy Trinh, said over Hanoi radio that his government would enter talks if the United States would "first unconditionally cease bombing and all other acts of war" against North Vietnam.

At home, pressures were increasingly building on Johnson to do just that. Robert Kennedy in a speech in San Francisco three days later argued that "it would make some sense to go to the negotiating table and see if we can resolve the conflict. It is possible we can go to the negotiating table and they will not be genuinely interested in finding a solution … [but] we have to at least take the first step."

The hawks would have none of it. Chairman L. Mendel Rivers of the House Armed Services Committee urged Johnson "to consider no cessation of bombing unless Hanoi agrees immediately to exchange of American prisoners, or at very least inspection of prisoners by the International Red Cross." And William P. Bundy, the assistant secretary of state for Far Eastern affairs, threw cold water on the idea. "I am not sure that they are anywhere near the point of being ready to yield," he said in a television interview. In the Hanoi statement, he said, there was "no mention of whether they themselves would exercise any kind of restraint." The danger, he warned, was that the enemy could "take advantage of things and pour down more divisions, and play the thing as what they call … fighting while negotiating."

And so there was no bombing halt. Instead, LBJ sent his ambassador to India, Chester Bowles, to Phnom Penh to discuss with the Cambodian chief of state, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the possibility of American "hot pursuit" over the Cambodian border. Vietcong and North Vietnamese forces were suspected of using Cambodia as a sanctuary. Sihanouk in an earlier interview had indicated he would permit such raids under certain circumstances. But in his conversations with Bowles he resisted the idea and instead joined the call for a halt in bombing North Vietnam.

The Year the dream died

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