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Thread: Who were/are the Greatest Political Leaders

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattC86 View Post
    Not to re-open the whole Vietnam debate, but Ho faced the A team rendered blind and dumb by the strategic stupidity of its civilian and military leaders. . . and Ho (and especially Giap) took plenty of what Mao was feedin' em. . .

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    I have become convinced that the single greatest skill of a great strategist is an unerring ability to pick a stupid enemy. That's the only reason the British are considered good counterinsurgents.

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    Would also add Ghandi
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Otto was also smart enough to adopt the idea of a

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    That may be, but in Bismarck's case he didn't just happen to be in office at the conclusion of an armed struggle. Old Otto did much more than that, and managed to achieve something that previous gifted German leaders had not been able to do with any long-term success...unify Germany. And unlike some of his predecessors (and successors), Bismarck knew when to stop fighting and when to avoid conflict.
    modern welfare state to keep the masses quiescent.

    FDR learned well from Otto in several spheres...

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    Just to add a few names:

    Dwight David Eisenhower. Vastly underestimated, simply oversaw 8 years of peaceful economic development during which occurred the economic underpinnings for the development of two of the technological growth areas for the US economy, and the world economy (being the initial development of both transistors [microprocessors] and broad spectrum antibiotics).

    Pope John Paul II. Sometimes the best pols out there aren't political leaders at all.

    Václav Havel, 1st President of the Czech Republic. Showed everybody else how to transition a nation into a market economy. Very impressive work, and getting it done basically flying under the radar screen.

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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    While I was away from the desk Havel came to mind (darn your eyes for beating me to him).

    Eisenhower certainly deserves it, politicians in peace time do have an uphill struggle for recognition.

    As detestable as many of the policies and practices of mainland China, I suspect that Hu Jintao may prove out over the centuries. He's gently pulling the fangs from the PLA leadership, and making them enjoy it. Time will tell.

    Again, as loathesome as the man, his government, and their policies, Castro was the longest sitting leader in the Americas of the XXth century, and maintained power while in conflict with the U.S. Either he's really good, or we've had some really bad leaders. By the same criteria, the Kim family in North Korea...

    Queen Liliʻuokalani of Hawai'i certainly deserves consideration, especially for her efforts to preserve Hawai'ian culture even after she was deposed.

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Since we're on an Eisenhower theme here, let me point to a little ditty I did as a child.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question I suspect

    Quote Originally Posted by Van View Post
    While I was away from the desk Havel came to mind (darn your eyes for beating me to him).

    Eisenhower certainly deserves it, politicians in peace time do have an uphill struggle for recognition.

    As detestable as many of the policies and practices of mainland China, I suspect that Hu Jintao may prove out over the centuries. He's gently pulling the fangs from the PLA leadership, and making them enjoy it. Time will tell.

    Again, as loathesome as the man, his government, and their policies, Castro was the longest sitting leader in the Americas of the XXth century, and maintained power while in conflict with the U.S. Either he's really good, or we've had some really bad leaders. By the same criteria, the Kim family in North Korea...

    Queen Liliʻuokalani of Hawai'i certainly deserves consideration, especially for her efforts to preserve Hawai'ian culture even after she was deposed.
    both Castro and the Kim's would not have been quite so longevitous without some serious assistance from some of their formost military leaders and in both cases some fairly hefty outside assistance/intervention.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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    Muhammad

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    Default Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Elizabeth I

    Peter because he was able to wrangle the boyers and push Russia towards its first modernization, created a real army and navy, looked towards real strategic survival by going south towards the Black Sea, all while fending off numerous assassination attempts, the orthodox church (which sometimes supported him and sometimes didn't) and various other achievements.

    He didn't always succeed, but I believe he was extremely far thinking and moved Russia towards its future empire under both the monarchs and the bolsheviks.

    Catherine for some obvious and not so obvious reasons. I mean, you have to give it to the lady, she was a nobody outsider in the court and wrangled it into the crown of an empress. She kept the men jumping to her tune, made the army grand again, kept the empire together and basically whipped the boyers and the church into obedience. Oh...she made Russia rich. took the fight to the Ottoman. Gained the Crimean peninsula and finalized Peter's drive to get access to the Black Sea.

    then there is the whole arts and culture renaissance and the somewhat on again of again religious protections. Seriously, you cannot have a list of "greats" without Catherine the Great.

    Elizabeth I. 45 years on the throne, fending off all sorts of power grabs and intrigues. kept her head. navigated the perils up to and directly after the ascendancy to the thrown. Various assassination attempts. Defeated the Spanish Armada. Kept a post Henry VIII England together. Over saw the expansion of the British Empire, exploration to the United States and colonization. Kept the French at bay. Shakespeare. Marlowe.

    None of these were perfect, but they were very good when it was needed.
    Kat-Missouri

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A mixed bunch

    A few quick thoughts, not in priority and my list would include:

    Winston Churchill (for WW2 leadership)
    David Lloyd George (for WW1 leadership)
    Elizabeth the First (defeating the Spanish Armarda)
    Nelson Mandela (helping those first years of a new South Africa)
    Margaret Thatcher (waking up the UK)
    Helmut Schmidt (West German PM in the Cold War)
    FDR (leading a reluctant USA into WW2)
    King Juan Carlos (helping Spain emerge as a democracy)
    Vaclev Havel (same for Czechoslovakia)
    Pope John Paul (the Pole who reminded us of mankind's better qualities)
    Jospeh Stalin (reluctantly included ruthless b)

    davidbfpo

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    Chinese history quibble: Mao didn't learn anything from Sun Yatsen, IMO. SYT is vastly overrated. He had very little role in the 1911 Revolution that overthrew the Qing and if anything the overly militarized government he established led directly to the weakness and centralization of the Chiang Kai-shek regime.

    Mao also gets too much attention as a military leader. Most of his best tactical advice on guerrilla warfare was cribbed from Zhu De, Su Yu, He Long, Zhang Guotao, and others who actually led the operational detachments of the Red Army in its revolutionary days.

    If you're calculating greatest political leaders, I'd nominate Deng Xiaoping instead of Mao. Deng's military cred is as good as any, having led the final offensive that finished off the Nationalists. Unlike Mao, China actually benefited from his domestic policies as opposed to sinking into near-anarchy and mass starvation. Deng also avoided pointless, expensive foreign conflicts.
    Last edited by tequila; 05-02-2008 at 08:30 AM.

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    Default If you go with Mandela for the reasons

    you give, David, I think you have to include his partner (and sometime adversary) F. W. de Klerk.

    In a similar vein, harking back to steve Metz' comment on Duarte: I would not propose him alone for the same reasons as gave you qualms, but along with Freddie Cristiani there is real political leadership.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    I can't believe nobody has mentioned David Palmer

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    you give, David, I think you have to include his partner (and sometime adversary) F. W. de Klerk.

    In a similar vein, harking back to steve Metz' comment on Duarte: I would not propose him alone for the same reasons as gave you qualms, but along with Freddie Cristiani there is real political leadership.

    Cheers

    JohnT
    Agree. Mandela was one of the first ones I thought of but decided that while he is a great political leader, he can't really be considered a great war time one. He was on Robbin Island during most of the war.

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    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
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    Have to go with Nguyễn Ái Quốc over Mao since anything positive Mao did for China was offset by the "Great Leap Forward" and the "Cultural Revolution."

    Gustavus Adolphus

    Napoleon (for developing the Code Napoléon)

    Niccolò Machiavelli (one of the few who's name is now a pejorative term)

    Simón Bolívar
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

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    Default Only the Good Die Young

    Eden,
    David Palmer died before he could truly establish himself as a world statesman. His work in times of terrorist crises was impressive - but an incomplete resume
    Hacksaw
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umar Al-Mokhtār View Post
    Have to go with Nguyễn Ái Quốc over Mao since anything positive Mao did for China was offset by the "Great Leap Forward" and the "Cultural Revolution."

    Gustavus Adolphus

    Napoleon (for developing the Code Napoléon)

    Niccolò Machiavelli (one of the few who's name is now a pejorative term)

    Simón Bolívar
    I'm not so sure that Ho would have avoided the same pitfalls. He did launch some purges in the later 1950s, and it's hard to say what he would have done in the South had he lived to see 1975-76.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    Eden,
    David Palmer died before he could truly establish himself as a world statesman. His work in times of terrorist crises was impressive - but an incomplete resume
    Wait a minute--I thought he just gave up the White House so that he could concentrate on making Allstate commercials. I'm so confused.

  19. #59
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Umar Al-Mokhtār

    Niccolò Machiavelli (one of the few who's name is now a pejorative term)
    The greatest irony of the pejorative term is that Machiavelli was a proponent of democratic values (Machiavelli's Art of War, he believed in Athenian democracy, along with the encumbent personal responsibilities for the defense of the state).

    Still, a good thought, and in keeping with the Dukes of Venice who were his contemporaries.

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    Temujin (aka Genghis Khan)

    Reasons: United the many Central Asian plateau tribes, developed a civilian and military code for the governance of the expanding Mongol Empire that was tolerant of different ethnicities, cultures and religions, administrative advancement based on merit not ethincity or family (except his own family), oversaw the development of a very successful military organizational structure and way of war, and granted a degree of autonomy to his Generals (who were very adaptive in adopting others tactics and technologies in warfare).

    Oh, and he created one of world’s largest empires - or maybe that should be fought and marauded his way to - one of world’s largest empires; albeit a rather fleeting one that was split up after his death. His downside was he and his Generals were seriously ruthless.

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