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Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 04:33 AM PDT

On Drones.

by RFB

Robert Wright’s recent piece in The Atlantic – “Hidden Causes of the Muslim Protests: What are the sources of simmering hostility toward America that helped fuel these demonstrations? – is an important must-read for everyone grasping to understand recent hostilities in the Middle East toward the United States.

Because Americans are inundated daily with public opinion polls, I urge you to study the graph Wright uses to support his article closely: “Widespread Opposition to Drone Strikes”.

Pew Global Attitudes Project
62% of Americans surveyed by Pew Global Attitudes Project approve drone strikes.

People in Tunisia (72%), Turkey (81%), Egypt (89%), and Jordan (85%) strongly disapprove.

To put it in another context, how would Americans answer this poll question:

Do you approve or disapprove of [insert Arab country] using drones to kill Americans within the borders of the United States?

Americans hold an ambivalent attitude toward our use of drones. As I point out in my interview with Wright (video), when the United States use drones, Americans only see news that terrorists have been killed, with scant mention of other casualties. People in the Middle East see those “other” casualties for what they really are: innocent bystanders.

What half the world sees as collateral damage, the other half mourns and denounces. When a drone strikes, it obliterates. If you are near the impact zone walking to the market or tending to your garden in your own home, you are gone in a violent instant. There is no rational, diplomatic explanation for the sudden destructive death of innocent men, women and children. There is only extreme grief, shocking unexplainable loss and righteous rage.

Wright’s article goes on to discuss other causes of anti-American anger throughout the Middle East, namely Palestine-Israel and US troops in Muslim countries, but from my vantage point the current ongoing and increasing use of drones will continue to forge distrust and justified disdain toward the United States.

Americans can continue to turn to tabloid-style Newsweek “Muslim Rage” sensationalism to forever fuel a lack of understanding, or as Wright points out, have the conversation: ”… when American policies have bad side effects, Americans need to talk about them…”

The presidential debates between President Obama and Mitt Romney would be a good place to start the discussion.


(Originally posted on @rbecker51's blog)

About the author: Robert Becker is a political consultant based in Cairo, Egypt and a Partner at WellsBecker MENA. For two decades Becker has been managing political campaigns, as well as designing and implementing communications strategies for clients across the globe.


With the end of the US Presidential election fast approaching, Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, offered some pretty blunt advice to Mitt Romney’s campaign in her Wall Street Journal column, ”Romney Needs a New CEO: How to save a listing campaign, the Baker Way.“

She “politely” observed that Romney was ”a damaged and flawed candidate”… blasted the RNC’s failure “to relaunch a rebranded Romney”… marveled at his “stunning” response to the Libya crisis… and polished it off with the “47% comment” not being helpful. Ouch.

Further, Noonan called Romney’s campaign “incompetent” and a “rolling calamity.” Politely. Double ouch.

I am of course, less polite, because I would summarize Romney’s campaign thus far as a cluster[intercourse].

But fear not my Republican friends, Ms. Noonan offers RomneyLand a last ditched plan for salvation: Call in Winston “The Wolf” Wolfe.

No, not Harvey Keitel… James A. Baker III.

Yes, it is now the set of Pulp Fiction in RomneyLand: There is a dead man with his head blown off in the back seat of Mitt’s car outside his Boston headquarters. They are standing in Jimmy’s kitchen and Team Romney… does… not… know… what… to… do.

Bring in The Wolf – Mr. James A. Baker III:

“… This was a man who could run a campaign… Mr. Baker, who ran things that are by nature chaotic and messy—campaigns and White Houses—with wisdom, focus, efficiency, determination and discipline…. Mr. Baker’s central insight: The candidate can’t run the show. He can’t be the CEO of the campaign and be the candidate… He has to learn to trust others—many others. Mr. Baker broke up power centers while at the same time establishing clear lines of authority—and responsibility. When you screwed up, he let you know in one quick hurry. But most of all he had judgment… He didn’t like hacks, he didn’t get their point, and he knew one when he saw one…”
As someone who has managed campaigns for over twenty years, there is merit to Ms. Noonan’s recommendation. Romney’s staff and advisors have proven time and again their amateur status. But having executed a few “hostile takeovers” of campaigns in trouble, the staff in Boston won’t be the problem should they heed Noonan’s advice. Mitt Romney will be the problem. I can actually visualize Romney as Vincent Vega (John Travolta), standing in his kitchen with a bloodstained shirt, commanding Mr. Wolfe to say, “please”.

VIDEO: I’m Winston Wolfe. I solve problems.

“… Get it straight buster – I’m not here to say please, I’m here to tell you what to do and if self-preservation is an instinct you possess you’d better fucking do it and do it quick. I’m here to help – if my help’s not appreciated then lotsa luck, gentlemen…”

“… If I’m curt with you it’s because time is a factor. I think fast, I talk fast and I need you guys to act fast if you wanna get out of this. So, pretty please… with sugar on top. Clean the fucking car.”

Not going to happen.

Romney doesn’t have the character to admit his 6-7 year campaign is a total failure and entrust it to someone like Mr. Baker. Few candidates do.

In 2008, I was hired to take the helm of Jared Polis’ then lagging campaign for Congress in Colorado. The first few weeks were not pretty, as the “pink slips” flew, and the campaign’s staff, message and strategy were completely overhauled. Working with Jared, we instilled a new sense of discipline and focus and urgency, which included him getting out of the headquarters and strategy sessions, and out talking to voters. Not only did we close the double-digit polling deficit we faced, we won handily in the end.

It took guts for Jared to bring me in and shake up his own campaign. And while I got pegged as someone ”you don’t hear a lot of nice personal things about” by some pundit in a post-election article, we now call Jared Polis, Mr. Congressman.

Noonan’s very accurate portrayal of what a winning campaign looks like, runs completely counter to Mitt Romney’s stated worldview: “A campaign is a communal exercise. It isn’t about individual entrepreneurs. It’s people pitching in together, aiming their high talents at one single objective: victory.”

Romney will never rebrand (again) his campaign around the theme of “people pitching in together.” Instead, Romney as CEO and entrepreneur extraordinaire, will continue to run his campaign like he ran Bain – with a healthy dose of disdain for the little people and his own sense of superiority.

I once managed a campaign for a millionaire (inherited) businessman (failure) who insisted that we needed to run his campaign like he ran his businesses (I refused). Mercifully, I was fired. Predictably, he lost. Badly.

As a supporter of President Obama, I hope Romney completely ignores Noonan. Seven more weeks of Boston minor league hacks running around with their etch-o-sketches will be pure joy.

Romney should realize Mr. Baker is “thirty minutes away” and he’d “be there in ten.” But he won’t do it. He doesn’t have the guts.

Besides... not even Winston Wolfe can clean up Mitt's mess.


(Originally posted on @rbecker51's blog)

About the author: Robert Becker is a political consultant based in Cairo, Egypt and a Partner at WellsBecker MENA. For two decades Becker has been managing political campaigns, as well as designing and implementing communications strategies for clients across the globe.

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