Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chavez will celebrate anniversary with summit

Waste money, why don't you?

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will celebrate 10 years in power next week by holding a rare summit with some of his closest leftist allies in Latin America.

Venezuelans will be asked in February whether or not Hugo Chavze should be allowed to run for a third term.

Attending will be leaders or representatives from a group called the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our Americas, better known as ALBA. Chavez and his allies started the group a few years ago in attempt, they said, to counterbalance United States influence in Latin America.

Chavez announced the gathering Monday on state-run Radio Nacional de Venezuela, commonly called RNV. He called it "an extraordinary summit of ALBA ."

Bolivian President Evo Morales, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and Dominican Republic Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit will attend, RNV said on its Web site.

Cuban President Raul Castro will not be there because he is on a trip to Asia, El Universal newspaper said.

At ALBA's latest meeting in Caracas in November, the leaders began discussion on the creation of common currency throughout the region, El Universal said. Officials talked about creating a currency called a "Sucre," a Spanish acronym for "Unified System of Regional Compensation." Sucre is also the constitutional capital of Bolivia, where the Supreme Court meets, and the main currency in Ecuador.

A meeting scheduled for mid-December to discuss regional economic integration was canceled, the newspaper said.

Chavez was elected president of Venezuela in 1998, six years after a failed coup attempt to depose then-President Carlos Andres Perez. He was sworn in on February 2, 1999.

He was re-elected in a special election in July 2000 after a new constitution was adopted and again in 2006.

The new constitution limits him to two consecutive six-year terms, but the Venezuelan congress recently approved a referendum for February 15 that would allow Chavez to run for a third term in 2012. Venezuelans narrowly rejected a similar measure in a December 2007 referendum.

Chavez has been campaigning hard in favor of the referendum.

Bolivians approved a new constitution Sunday that will allow that nation's president, Morales, to run for another five-year term in December

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Treat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America

Chavez Poses Real Danger, Authors Say

Doug Schoen and Michael Rowan, both long-time observers of Venezuelan politics, have written a blockbuster expose of the anti-American agenda of that nation’s President Hugo Chavez and warn that his nation should be added to the list of terrorist sponsors .
In their book, “The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America” (Free Press), the authors make it clear that Chavez poses a real threat to the United States through his country's sponsorship of terrorists. [Editor's Note: Get Doug Schoen’s new book, “The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America” — Go Here Now.]
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax, Schoen explains why this clear and present threat to this nation’s interests and security has largely gone unnoticed. “Arguments that should have been made a long time ago, and for a variety of reasons — Chavez is a clown, he’s been anti-Bush, is currying favor with a massive PR campaign in the West, particularly among liberals — he's managed to operate under the radar with a lot of his nefarious activities.”
Schoen tells Newsmax. Schoen ominously adds, “He is an avowed supporter of Hamas. He says what Israel is doing is a Holocaust. He says that Hamas is welcome anytime in Caracas. He is training Hezbollah's fighters in Venezuela. "Just this week, the Turks interdicted a shipment of what they believe were explosives, but were called tractor parts, that were heading from Tehran to Caracas. This is just a random week in the life of Hugo Chavez and look what's going on.”
Newsmax: In the book you stress how Chavez has been able to use huge oil revenues to promote his anti-American agenda. Now that the price of oil has plummeted, won’t this somewhat cripple his efforts?
Schoen: This is a man who first and foremost puts his militaristic and expansionist and aggressive tendencies first. While it's certainly going to hurt him, I think it is only going to make him more authoritarian and aggressive. He is still buying Russian arms and he is still supporting anti-American interests around the world.
Newsmax: Won't the loss of revenues have an effect on his relationships with his bought-and-paid-for allies?
Schoen: There will be less money available to do that for sure. But I don't think he's going to cut back doing it in any way. For example, this week Chavez was going to cut off low-cost oil to Kennedy's Citizen Energy program in Massachusetts. But he got a little bad press, so he's going to keep doing it because it gives him political cover — and that gets him the Kennedy family supporting his activities. It's been completely cynical, because it's not as if he had any commitment to poor people in the United States. It is just his way of saying, Look, I can do good things.
Newsmax: Talking about his commitment to poor people, a lot of his own people's loyalty has been bought with his oil revenues. Will not that be affected?
Schoen: I think it will when he substitutes intimidation for blandishments. There have been more than a few opponents of the state who have been either economically hurt or imprisoned. I think that what this means is he is going to just clamp down harder and be more aggressive. Newsmax: Isn't there a growing opposition to Chavez in Venezuela?
Schoen: There is, and I've worked with it over the years. The problem is that it is not organized. It is not cohesive, and he buys it off, he threatens it, he intimidates it, and he will cheat in counting the votes. A combination of those factors makes it very difficult for an organized coherent opposition to exist. In the case of the Philippines with Marcos, or Serbia with Milosevic, we worked directly with the opposition . . . We haven’t engaged directly with the opposition in Venezuela, and we should. It's just not an organized and disciplined counterforce to Chavez.
Newsmax: Does he now have complete control over the military, which in the beginning was very much opposed to him?
Schoen: Absolutely. [After Chavez instituted] the referendum on extending term limits two Decembers ago, the military came to him and said, "Hugo, you're not going to steal this one, too." And so they let him say that it was a 51-49 defeat and that he had just narrowly missed. But he didn't narrowly miss. The vote was like 60-40 or 65-35 against him. But the deal he made with the military was, We'll let you appear to have a close vote as long as you back off being president for life.
Newsmax: In short, you don’t think there is any chance he’s going to be overthrown?
Schoen: No. He is going to have another referendum next month on extending term limits. I think he's going to try to cheat if he can get away with it.
Newsmax: How should the United States deal with the Chavez threat?
Schoen: First, I think that Venezuela must be declared a state sponsor of terrorism . . . [Chavez] supports terror, supports Hezbollah, Hamas, has said nice things about al-Qaida, and is in alliance with Iran . . . We should also break our dependence on foreign oil generally, and particularly, on his oil. And we need to have a Marshall plan for Latin America, where we engaged economically and democratically, with opposition groups who support our values. Newsmax: What are his connections with Iran?
Schoen: Chavez has made seven trips to Tehran, and [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad has made five or six trips to Caracas. There's no reason for those countries to be engaging, other than to oppose the United States.
Newsmax: Given our current economic situation, do you see any possibility he will attempt to further cripple our economy?
Schoen: He's made it very clear he wants to hurt the United States, and one of the practical things he's done is try to get OPEC to cut production so that oil prices could rise. He's also tried to get OPEC off the dollar standard onto a euro standard to undermine the American dollar. The facts in this case paint a picture of a man who is chillingly and dangerously threatening our interests in many ways.
This is a problem of very, very serious proportions that has not been seriously addressed. [Editor's Note: Get Doug Schoen’s new book, “The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America” — Go Here Now.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Los Angeles Times. Venezuela tolerates FARC rebels in border region, residents say

Obama is right, Chavez support the Colombian terrorist group:"FARC"
vdebate reporter
From the Los Angeles Times
Venezuela tolerates FARC rebels in border region, residents say
Indigenous communities in northwestern Zulia state complain that Colombian rebels are encroaching on their towns, taking their land and supplies and eroding their culture.
By Chris Kraul

January 21, 2009

Reporting from Tocuco, Venezuela — Members of Colombia's largest rebel group live openly on or near several Indian reservations in western Venezuela with at least the tacit approval of President Hugo Chavez, indigenous leaders here charge.

Although the border area has long absorbed Colombian refugees fleeing decades of war, members of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have become visible as never before in the last two or three years, buying supplies, looking for medical assistance and forging relationships with indigenous women, said Venezuelan Congressman Arcadio Montiel, a Wayuu Indian.

Leaders of several Indian communities clustered around this town in a wild rain forest area that forms the border with Colombia told The Times over the weekend that the FARC's presence is harming their culture and youth.

"They have replaced the caciques, or chiefs, as authority figures and so who do the youths now want to emulate? The rebels," said Javier Armato, a Yupa Indian who is a former Zulia state deputy and onetime Chavez supporter.

During his 10 years in office, socialist Chavez, a fierce critic of the United States, has often expressed admiration and affinity for the FARC. In 2007, Chavez said his country shared a border not with Colombia, but with territory controlled by the FARC.

Chavez has toned down his pro-FARC rhetoric since March, when Colombian officials said data from a laptop recovered in a raid on a rebel camp in Ecuador indicated that the Venezuelan leader may have had contact with FARC leaders, even offering them material support. Chavez denied any such contact.

"Chavez sees the rebels as a line of defense in the event of U.S. interference or a civil war," said Montiel, another former Chavista who broke with the president over the presence of the FARC in his home state, Zulia, and joined splinter party Podemos. He was interviewed last week in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital.

Montiel and several community leaders say the FARC operates camps in the Perija Mountains to the west, where they say the rebels rest and recruit and train Venezuelan Indian youths.

In an interview last year, Chavez political advisor Alberto Muller Rojas acknowledged the presence of Colombian rebels, saying that Venezuela has been a safe haven for more than 1 million Colombians fleeing war over the last several decades.

Muller Rojas said the rebels are more Colombia's responsibility than Venezuela's, as long as they don't harm residents.

But Indian leaders here say the rebels are slowly corrupting their cultures with arms, drugs and values that are anathema to their ways. They are also slowly taking control of Indian lands by squatting and by marrying indigenous women

On many Saturdays, rebel mule trains descend from the rugged Perija Mountains through the two dozen Indian communities that surround this town, indigenous leaders said.

After parking their mules in foothill pastures, the rebels continue on by bus into Machiques, the nearest big city, to make telephone calls, run business errands and go to a market, they said. The supplies are taken back up into the mountains.

At other times, they suddenly appear at doorways, seeking food, clothing or medicines.

"They don't pay for anything, it's always for 'solidarity. ' But you can't say no to them. Nor can you complain about them to others, because someone might inform on you," said one indigenous leader, who requested anonymity because of security concerns.

One reason more rebels are visible in Venezuela is the much more aggressive pursuit by Colombian armed forces under President Alvaro Uribe. But Montiel said it's also because the rebels are here at the "pleasure" of Chavez.

An official at the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Machiques, which provides help to 800 Colombians registered as refugees, said that nobody from his office has had direct contact with Colombian rebels, but that he has received an increasing number of complaints from Indians over the last two years.

Some in the government insist that the supposed rebels are actually displaced Colombian civilians. But all indigenous leaders interviewed here last weekend disputed that.

"Everyone in the area knows who the displaced are because they register with the U.N. Believe me, the people we see are FARC. How do we know? Because they identify themselves as such," said one local leader, who like others interviewed declined to give his name for fear of reprisal

A Roman Catholic priest in the region says the rebels' presence has brought acts of terrorism. "I can't talk to you about them because they'll kill me," said the priest, who also requested anonymity for security reasons.

Although there is a National Guard post 20 miles southeast of here, leaders say the Venezuelan armed forces make no effort to monitor or control the rebels' presence, said Armato, who has had to live in the state capital, Maracaibo, since he first denounced the rebels several years ago.

There is a general climate of insecurity in the border area, with the Chavez government blaming it on Colombian paramilitary forces who cross the border to chase the rebels, while ranchers say the rebels are responsible for a recent wave of kidnappings

"Instead of making friends with the guerrillas, Chavez should be defending the diversity and plurality of the nation," Montiel said.

chris.kraul@ latimes.com

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Chavez lets West Make Oil Bids as Price Plunge

January 15, 2009
Chávez Lets West Make Oil Bids as Prices Plunge
CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez, buffeted by falling oil prices that threaten to damage his efforts to establish a Socialist-inspired state, is quietly courting Western oil companies once again.
Until recently, Mr. Chávez had pushed foreign oil companies here into a corner by nationalizing their oil fields, raiding their offices with tax authorities and imposing a series of royalties increases.
But faced with the plunge in prices and a decline in domestic production, senior officials have begun soliciting bids from some of the largest Western oil companies in recent weeks — including Chevron, Royal Dutch/Shell and Total of France — promising them access to some of the world’s largest petroleum reserves, according to energy executives and industry consultants here.
Their willingness to even consider investing in Venezuela reflects the scarcity of projects open to foreign companies in other top oil nations, particularly in the Middle East.
But the shift also shows how the global financial crisis is hampering Mr. Chávez’s ideological agenda and demanding his pragmatic side. At stake are no less than Venezuela’s economic stability and the sustainability of his rule. With oil prices so low, the longstanding problems plaguing Petróleos de Venezuela, the national oil company that helps keep the country afloat, have become much harder to ignore.
Embracing the Western companies may be the only way to shore up Petróleos de Venezuela and the raft of social welfare programs, like health care and higher education for the poor, that have been made possible by oil proceeds and have helped bolster his popular support.
“If re-engaging with foreign oil companies is necessary to his political survival, then Chávez will do it,” said Roger Tissot, an authority on Venezuela’s oil industry at Gas Energy, a Brazilian consulting company focusing on Latin America. “He is a military man who understands losing a battle to win the war.”
While the new oil projects would not be completed for years, Mr. Chávez is already looking beyond the end of his current term in 2012 by putting forward a referendum, expected as early as next month, that would let him run for indefinite re-election.
In recent years, Mr. Chávez has preferred partnerships with national oil companies from countries like Iran, China and Belarus. But these ventures failed to reverse Venezuela’s declining oil output. State-controlled oil companies from other nations have also been invited to bid this time, but the large private companies are seen as having an advantage, given their expertise in building complex projects in Venezuela and elsewhere in years past.
The bidding process was first conceived last year when oil prices were higher but Petróleos de Venezuela’s production decline was getting impossible to overlook. Still, the process is moving into high gear only this month, with the authorities here expected to start reviewing the companies’ bidding plans on new areas of the Orinoco Belt, an area in southern Venezuela with an estimated 235 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Altogether, more than $20 billion in investment could be required to assemble devilishly complex projects capable of producing a combined 1.2 million barrels of oil a day.
Mr. Chávez’s olive branch to Western oil companies comes after he nationalized their oil fields in 2007. Two companies, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, left Venezuela and are still waging legal battles over lost projects.
But Venezuela may have little choice but to form new ventures with foreign oil companies. Nationalizations in other sectors, like agriculture and steel manufacturing, are fueling capital flight, leaving Venezuela reliant on oil for about 93 percent of its export revenue in 2008, up from 69 percent in 1998 when Mr. Chávez was first elected.
In the past year, with higher oil prices paving the way, Mr. Chávez also vastly expanded Petróleos de Venezuela’s power, inextricably linking it to his political program. He directed the oil company to build roads, import and distribute food, build docks and shipyards and set up a light-bulb factory. He even expanded it into areas like milk production, soybean farming and the training of athletes after a weak performance at the Beijing Olympics.
One of the oil company’s ventures sells subsidized food and extols Mr. Chávez’s leadership at its stores across Venezuela. At one frenzied store in eastern Caracas, posters hung from the ceiling last Saturday showing Mr. Chávez arm in arm with children beneath the heading, “fortifying agrarian socialism.”
Petróleos de Venezuela has also carried out nationalizations in other industries, absorbing companies like Electricidad de Caracas, the utility serving this city of five million. Top executives like Eulogio del Pino, the Stanford-educated vice president for exploration and production, spent much of 2008 negotiating unfinished deals like the takeover of a cement company.
But all the while, Petróleos de Venezuela has faced its own difficulties. It claimed it produced about 3.3 million barrels a day throughout most of 2008. But other sources, like OPEC, of which Venezuela is a member, place the figure closer to 2.3 million and show a fall of about 100,000 barrels a day from a year earlier. When Mr. Chávez rose to power a decade ago, Venezuela was producing about 3.4 million barrels a day.
Rafael Ramírez, the energy minister and president of Petróleos de Venezuela, did not respond to requests for an interview. But energy executives here with contacts within Petróleos de Venezuela said Mr. Ramírez, a confidant of Mr. Chávez, has been waging a struggle within the company to refocus operations toward producing more oil.
After weathering the turmoil of recent years, Western oil companies here are loath to speak publicly about their plans. “We don’t elaborate on bidding processes beyond the fact that we evaluate every opportunity and our decisions will be based on economics and other factors,” said Scott Walker, a spokesman for Chevron.
But energy executives here speak with restrained optimism. Nineteen companies paid $2 million each last month for data on areas open for exploration, twice what such data costs elsewhere.
Oil companies say they recognize the risk of investing in Venezuela, given the country’s abrupt shifts in the past. But they focus on the long-term potential of its petroleum reserves. Venezuela poses little risk in the search for oil since geologists have known for years where it lies in the Orinoco Belt.
Venezuela also differs from top oil nations like Saudi Arabia and Mexico, where national oil companies have monopolies. Petróleos de Venezuela let private companies remain as minority partners after the nationalizations, despite Mr. Chávez’s often aggressive anticapitalist stance.
Moreover, foreign oil services companies like Halliburton, which has done business in Venezuela for 70 years, have even expanded their activities in the country as Petróleos de Venezuela grew more dependent on contractors to help extract oil from aging wells.
Still, doubts persist over the chances that the new bids, which are set to conclude in June, will ultimately result in finished oil projects. Risks of operating here were underscored again last week when Venezuela ordered new production cuts along with other OPEC members, impacting ventures with private partners.
Under the current bidding rules, the onus for financing the new projects lies with the foreign companies, even though Petróleos de Venezuela would maintain control. Banks might balk at such a prospect. Distrust also lingers in dealing with Petróleos de Venezuela.
“An agreement on a piece of paper means nothing in Venezuela because of the way Chávez abruptly changes the rules of the game,” said a Venezuelan oil executive who has had dealings with oil companies from China, Russia and other countries.
“In 10 years, not one major oil project has been built in Venezuela,” said the oilman, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. “Chávez has left his so-called strategic partners out to dry, like the Chinese, who have been given the same treatment as Exxon.”
But the severity of the drop in oil prices may ultimately dictate the terms on which Venezuela re-engages with foreign oil companies.
“Chávez is celebrating the demise of capitalism as this international crisis unfolds,” said Pedro Mario Burelli, a former board member of Petróleos de Venezuela. “But the irony is that capitalism actually fed his system in times of plenty,” he said. “That is something Chávez will discover the hard way.”

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Venezuela: Dictatorship for Dummies

Venezuela: Dictatorship for Dummies
by Mary Anastasia O'Grady

Optimists have long theorized that Venezuela's Hugo Chávez would meet his Waterloo with the burst of the petroleum bubble. But with oil prices down some 75% from their highs last year and the jackboot of the regime still firmly planted on the nation's neck, that theory requires revisiting.

It is true that popular discontent with chavismo has been rising as oil prices have been falling. The disillusionment is even likely to increase in the months ahead as the economy swoons. But having used the boom years to consolidate power and destroy all institutional checks and balances, Mr. Chávez has little incentive to return the country to political pluralism even if most Venezuelans are sick of his tyranny. If anything, he is apt to become more aggressive and dangerous as the bloom comes off his revolutionary rose in 2009 and he feels more threatened.

Certainly "elections" can't be expected to matter much. Mr. Chávez now controls the entire electoral process, from voter rolls to tallying totals after the polls have closed. Under enormous public pressure he accepted defeat in his 2007 bid for constitutional reforms designed to make him president for life. But so what? That loss allowed him to maintain the guise of democracy, and now he has decided that there will be another referendum on the same question in February. Presumably Venezuela will repeat this exercise until the right answer is produced.

All police states hold "elections." But they also specialize in combining the state's monopoly use of force with a monopoly in economic power and information control. Together these three weapons easily quash dissent. Venezuela is a prime example.

The Venezuelan government is now a military government. Mr. Chávez purged the armed forces leadership in 2002 and replaced fired officers with those loyal to his socialist cause. Like their counterparts in Cuba, these elevated comandantes are well compensated. Lack of transparency makes it impossible to know just how much they get paid for their loyalty, but it is safe to say that they have not been left out of the oil fiesta that compliant chavistas have enjoyed over the past decade. Even if the resource pool shrinks this year, neither their importance nor their rewards are likely to diminish.

Mr. Chávez has also taken over the Metropolitan Police in Caracas, imported Cuban intelligence agents, and armed his own Bolivarian militias, whose job it is to act as neighborhood enforcers. Should Venezuelans decide that they are tired of one-man rule, chavismo has enough weapons on hand to convince them otherwise.

Yet the art of dictatorship has been greatly refined since Stalin killed millions of his own people. Modern tyrants understand that there are many ways to manipulate their subjects and most do not require the use of force.

One measure that Mr. Chávez relies on heavily is control of the narrative. In government schools children are indoctrinated in Bolivarian thought. Meanwhile the state has stripped the media of its independence and now dominates all free television in the country. This allows the government to marinate the poor in Mr. Chávez's antimarket dogma. His captive audiences are told repeatedly that hardship of every sort -- including headline inflation of 31% last year -- is the result of profit makers, middlemen and consumerism.

The Orwellian screen is also used to stir up nationalist sentiment against foreign devils, like the U.S., Colombia and Israel. The audience has witnessed violence in Gaza through the lens of Hamas, and last week Mr. Chávez made a show of expelling the Israeli ambassador from Caracas.

Investments in revolution around South America may have to be pared back as revenues drop. But outreach to Iran and Syria is likely to continue since those relations may serve as a source of financing Mr. Chávez's military buildup. In December, the Italian daily La Stampa reported that it has seen evidence of a pact between Caracas and Tehran in which Iran uses Venezuelan aircraft for arms trafficking and Venezuela gets military aid in return. This month Turkish officials intercepted an Iranian shipment bound for Venezuela that reportedly contained materials for making explosives.

Despite all this, the most effective police-state tool remains Mr. Chávez's control over the economy. The state freely expropriates whatever it wants -- a shopping center in Caracas is Mr. Chávez's latest announced taking -- and economic freedom is dead. Moreover, the state has imposed strict capital controls, making saving or trading in hard currency impossible. Analysts are predicting another large devaluation of the bolivar in the not-too-distant future. The private sector has been wiped out, except for those who have thrown in their lot with the tyrant.

The drop in oil revenues may impoverish the state, but the opposition is even poorer. Organizing a rebellion against a less-rich Chávez remains a formidable task.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Where have all the leaders gone?

Excellent article....... to any country in this world. I don't understand why America have let so many jobs gone overseas... How a country can get better that way?
vdebate reporter

Remember Lee Iacocca, the man who rescued Chrysler Corporation from its death throes? He's now 82 years old and has a new book, 'Where Have All The Leaders Gone?'.
Lee Iacocca Says:
'Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder! We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, 'Stay the course.'
Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned, 'Titanic'. I'll give you a sound bite: 'Throw all the bums out!'
You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore.
The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq , the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving 'pom-poms' instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of the 'America' my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?
I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have. The Biggest 'C' is Crisis! (Iacocca elaborates on nine C's of leadership, with crisis being the first.)
Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It's easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else's kids off to war when you've never seen a battlefield yourself. It's another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.
On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. A hell of a mess, so here's where we stand.
  • We're immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving.
  • We're running the biggest deficit in the history of the country.
  • We're losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs.
  • Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble.
  • Our borders are like sieves.
  • The middle class is being squeezed every which way.
  • These are times that cry out for leadership.
But when you look around, you've got to ask: 'Where have all the leaders gone?' Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, omnipotence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.
Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo?
We've spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.
Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm.
Everyone's hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn't happen again. Now, that's just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you're going to do the next time.
Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when 'The Big Three' referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, what are we going to do about it?
Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debit, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.
I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn't elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don't you guys show some spine for a change?
Had Enough? Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire. I'm speaking out because I have hope - I believe in America. In my lifetime, I've had the privilege of living through some of America 's greatest moments. I've also experienced some of our worst crises: The 'Great Depression,' 'World War II,' the 'Korean War,' the 'Kennedy Assassination,' the 'Vietnam War,' the 1970's oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11.
If I've learned one thing, it's this: 'You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it's building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That's the challenge I'm raising in this book. It's a "Call to Action" for people who, like me, believe in America'. It's not too late, but it's getting pretty close. So let's shake off the crap and go to work. Let's tell 'em all we've had 'enough.'
Make your own contribution by sending this to everyone you know and care about. It's our country, folks, and it's our future. Our future is at stake!!