The US Needs a Bipartisan Approach to Foreign Crises

Throughout our history as a nation, the President typically spoke for the US when dealing with foreign crises. The political party leaders and politicians either supported the President or they remained quit on the subject in an effort to show a united front in responding to foreign crises. With this protocol, it would be the responsibility of the President to take the initiative to discuss how the US should respond with his cabinet officials and key members of both parties in Congress. The lines of communication and consultation must be wide open during any foreign crisis, especially where the US has vital interests in the area. Once a plan of action is created, then the President can implement it and keep the Congress apprised during the process regarding further developments and need for any additional responses. Following this protocol ensures that the United States speaks with one voice and with the concurrence of Congress. Additionally, the President would be in contact with key foreign leaders to gain their perspectives on the situation with back briefs to the leadership of both parties in Congress. The development of a strong consistent course of action with periodic updates by the President to Congressional leadership and key allies is extremely important because much of the world looks to the United States for leadership during troubled times.
Lately, however, the White House and the Congress have ignored this practical protocol and what we have now is the President formulating the US response with minimal or no input from Congressional leaders. Consequently, many members of Congress are speaking out with their own plan of action which is typically very critical of the White House’s plan. The President needs to provide the leadership to work with the leaders of both parties to pull together the differing viewpoints in Congress and forge a bipartisan plan to deal with foreign crises. If our elected representatives cannot do this and instead, insist on presenting to the world a fragmented and ineffective US response to crises, then it will be extremely difficult to build a coalition of countries to form an international response. We need to return to the common sense protocols of joint White House and Congressional communication and consultation to present a united America with a strong bipartisan voice to the world.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer and a director of a human resources office in the Department of Defense. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders. The book also explains how to deal with poor performing leaders before they cripple an organization.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA,” visit
http://PaulOkum.com/
http://PaulOkum.WordPress.com/

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The Arguments for and against “Leading from Behind”

This phrase of “Leading from Behind” has been used by many in the White House and Congress lately. Some say that this is an appropriate strategy that allows the US to influence situations from behind the scenes without getting fully engaged. With this approach, the US encourages other nations and coalitions to step up and take the lead with the US providing a supporting role. To the contrary, others say that the US as the last super-power, should always be visibly out in front leading the way to deal with crises around the world. With this approach, those who disagree are labeled as isolationists who want to retreat from the world stage thus inviting another terrorist attack on the US.
While both points of view have some merit, let me be perfectly clear, good leaders do not lead from behind. This catch phrase reflects a weak strategy that the US falls back on when it’s unsure of how best to respond to the latest crisis or handle multiple crises simultaneously. That’s not good leadership. By all the polls, Americans are tired of war and over 70% say that we should either maintain our current level of involvement or reduce the US’s role in the world. We cannot be the policeman for the world. I say this not as an isolationist, but as a practical citizen who recognizes that the US does not have the resources and most importantly, the will of the American people to sustain a policy to get involved in virtually every conflict by insisting that it’s in our nation’s best interest. To lead, our elected leaders have to be clear about where we are going and why and give weight to the opinions of Americas because they are the ones we ask to go fight and die in some foreign land. If we do get involved then we need to take command and control of the process both in public and behind closed doors. We must be willing to commit the resources needed and learn from Vietnam and now Iraq and Afghanistan that fighting insurgents within a population is a mistake. When the enemy does not wear uniforms and can melt back unrecognizable into the local populations after a battle, we cannot win such conflicts on the battlefield. In these cases, a diplomatic solution must be found.

Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer and a director of a human resources office in the Department of Defense. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders. The book also explains how to deal with poor performing leaders before they cripple an organization.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA,” visit
http://PaulOkum.com/
http://PaulOkum.WordPress.com/

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Once a Leader, Always a Leader

Leadership isn’t something that you acquire over time with training and experience. It isn’t something outside of you that you strive for or a thing that can be obtained. Rather it is a piece of your personal genetic code that prepositions you with the innate talent to possess the capacity to become a good leader. If you have the leadership DNA, then leadership training and experience will enhance your innate ability. And if you have a significant degree of this ability, then this talent will find a way to express itself despite a lack of leadership training and experience. A person with the leadership DNA will possess the natural leadership ability and a sixth sense on how to apply this God-given gift. Good leaders recognize this and consequently are at the same time very confident and very humble regarding this inherited talent. Good leaders understand this and accept that their leadership accomplishments are the result of this innate leadership talent and not something that they did entirely on their own. Each person has their own personal set of DNA talents and we spend a considerable amount of time exploring and discovering what talents we actually possess. Some seem to know what they are gifted in early in life. Others may not know until much later in life. This process of discovery is important because the more we can align our lives with the talents we have, the more successful and fulfilled each person will become.
What is distressing is when a person chooses not to develop the talents that he or she was born with, instead, letting them waste away undeveloped. Regardless, if you have leadership talent then it is a part on you, part of your very being and it can’t be separated from you. Therefore, once you possess leadership talent, you will always be a leader; it’s in your DNA.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer and a director of a human resources office in the Department of Defense. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders. The book also explains how to deal with poor performing leaders before they cripple an organization.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA,” visit
http://PaulOkum.com/
http://PaulOkum.WordPress.com/

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It’s All About the “L” Word: Leadership

Leadership has always been the key ingredient in any recipe for government and business success. From leadership flows an organization’s vision, values, structure, concept of operations, and approach to create and maintain a robust workforce. The reality is that there is nothing that impacts an organization and the people in it more than leadership. That’s why it is of paramount importance to staff organizations with the very best leaders and especially, the head of an organization. That individual by his or her’s actions, words, and selections for subordinate leaders will establish the climate and culture of the organization for better or worse. The other leaders and the workforce will have to function and carry out their duties and assignments within that overarching environment. Once these fundamental building blocks are in place, then the senior leader will ensure that the elements of this culture are cascaded down the organization’s structure to the workers. If the senior leader possesses innate leadership talent, then this process and recipe for good leadership will position the organization for success. If he or she does not possess the “L” word, then it’s only a matter of time before the organization will experience external issues with its customers and internal problems with its leaders and workers. And regardless of the number of levels of supervision in an organization, the senior leader is ultimately responsible for any failures. If the senior leader does not accept and live by this fundamental tenet of good leadership, then without a doubt that senior leader does not possess the “L” word.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer and a director of a human resources office. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA,” visit
http://PaulOkum.com/
http://PaulOkum.WordPress.com/

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The Veterans Administration is Big Government at its Worst

The 9/11 Memorial Dedication Ceremony was held May 15th in New York City to honor the approximately 3000 who were killed by terrorists at the World Trade Center. A very moving ceremony, the speakers cited stories of courage, sacrifice, and survival. The new “Freedom” tower and complex will be a solemn reminder of the horrific and heroic actions that took place there. As Americans, we must never forget these events and the innocent people who died that fateful day.
Conversely, it appears that we’ve forgotten the men and women of our military and veterans who were killed or badly disabled in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a nation, we cannot let our weariness of those wars cause us to forget about the need to take care of the physical and mental trauma cases resulting from these horrible wars. We have an obligation to provide our veterans and their families with the best care our country can offer. Multiple deployments and disabling amputations have left returning soldiers and veterans struggling to fit back into a family unit that had to repeatedly survive without them for long periods of time. On May 18, 2006, then Senator Obama as a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee stated, “… when a young man or woman goes off and serves our country in the military, that they should be treated with the utmost dignity and respect when they come home. That should especially be true for those who suffered disabilities on the battlefield… we’ve got an obligation to make sure that just as they are fighting on our behalf that we are going to make sure that we fight for their behalf when they come home.” With 22 military suicides a day, nearly 150,000 homeless vets, approximately 140,000 vets in prison, and an average wait time of 320 days for vets to receive their disability benefits, President Obama is not living up to the words of then Senator Obama. And the latest revelations of altered wait time data at the various Veteran Administration clinics and the possibility that some vets died waiting for medical help is further evidence that we are not honoring our solemn obligation to our vets. There is little doubt; the VA does not have the leadership necessary to honor our nation’s commitment to our military members and veterans. The VA should create forums of veterans around the country to provide recommendations for improvements. We need a grass roots effort of veterans who have had to utilize the VA bureaucracy and know where the bottlenecks and barriers exist. As a former Army officer and Veteran, I would volunteer to assist in this effort. Like the fallen on 9/11, we cannot forget our veterans nor leave their fate to the VA.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA,” visit
http://PaulOkum.com/
http://PaulOkum.WordPress.com/

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Another 911 Call to the White House from a Country in crisis

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll showed that Americans are weary of war. Only 19% of those polled say that they want America more involved in foreign affairs while 77% say that the US should either maintain its current level of involvement or reduce its role in the world. The long and questionable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the complex issues in Iran, Syria, North Korea, Egypt, Libya, Israel, and now Ukraine and Russia have combined with a growing number of severe natural disasters, to place America in the middle of all these volatile situations. For better or worse, countries around the world look to the US as the nation with the resources, technology, and military to maintain order in the world and provide humanitarian assistance.
Yes, America does have abundant resources, state of the art technologies, and the world’s most powerful military; however, for decades we’ve dedicated a large portion of our national budgets to defense to ensure that America is the strongest country in the world. But, we cannot be the first responder every time one of the 195 countries in the world needs help. With each new trouble spot in the world, America is finding it harder to answer the 911 calls given the shrinking defense budgets and need to reduce the national debt.
As the leader of the free world, America recognizes its responsibility to build coalitions and support our allies by standing together to promote peace, democracy, and human rights in the world. However, We cannot; however, be expected to do it alone. The United Nations and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) must be committed to taking the lead on a number of these problem areas. And most importantly, each country should be better able to defend itself. The defense plan for many countries is to simply rely on the US for protection and consequently, there is little investment in the defense of their own homelands. While diplomacy is the preferred method to deal with international problems, it must be backed up by a strong military. There remain far too many dictators and tyrants in the world today to not respond to the next 911 call. For Americans, the question is when do we reach the point where we are so over-extended that we put our own country in jeopardy? If that day comes, we will be of little value to ourselves and the world if our power and capacity to respond is dissipated by answering one after another global 911 calls.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA,” visit
http://PaulOkum.com/
http://PaulOkum.WordPress.com/

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To Support and Defend the Constitution of the United States – updated

Should all US citizens take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States? The President, Vice President, Federal Government officials and employees of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, the military, State officials plus individuals sworn in as new citizens all must take an oath supporting the Constitution. This requirement has its genesis in Articles II and VI of the Constitution. Our Forefathers clearly saw the need for an oath for certain officials and put that requirement in the first law passed by the very first Congress. Taking the oath establishes a publicly sworn personal pledge and commitment to support the Constitution and democracy.
Given the historical significance of the oath, the time has come for all US citizens to take a public oath similar to the following example: “I [name] do solemnly swear(or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.” I personally took an oath comparable to this one when I went into the US Army as an officer and then again as a Federal Government employee. As citizens of this great Republic, we all have a personal and collective duty to protect and defend the Constitution. It can be argued that since our Republic is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, as citizens we are therefore, all government officials in a fundamental sense and thus subject to the requirement to take an oath to support and defend the Constitution. The oath formalizes our citizenship, our belonging to one nation and an appreciation of the freedoms and rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Taking the oath is also a historic and solemn event that binds us to the men and women of past generations who fought and died for our independence and freedom. Our Constitution is worth swearing to and fighting for “So help me God.”

Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA,” visit
http://PaulOkum.com/
http://PaulOkum.WordPress.com/

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