Volume II No.6
WORLD, REGION & NATION
Published 21 April 2021
“There can’t be a crisis next week,” Henry Kissinger once famously exclaimed. “My schedule is already full.”
Henry Alfred Kissinger is a US statesman and diplomat who served as Secretary of State and National Security Adviser under Presidents Nixon and Ford. He was the icon of American diplomacy who handed to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono a “World Statesman Award” in 2013. He is also known to make witty statements like the one just quoted.
But, yes, Henry old boy, we know you were only kidding: there are crises seething today, and next week, and many weeks after, whatever is your schedule. One of them is called the Covid-19 Pandemic. Another is the power-grab by the generals in Myanmar.
If you believe the Norwegian Refugee Council, ten African nations are now in a state of crisis. And if you believe any of the wire services, Russian troops are massing across the eastern borders of Ukraine for what could be a brazen invasion. Riots are raging in Northern Ireland, as groups loyal to the UK feel Brexit has isolated them.
And here in Southeast Asia, as if the crisis in Myanmar is not enough, China’s military is sending grim signals that it could be invading Taiwan any time soon.
Before you begin to think that you are hearing all this from a Prophet of Doom, let me assure you this is just your regular Briefer Jamil Maidan Flores writing from Jakarta and trying to make sense of what’s happening in the World, Region and Nation we live in.
And the only way I can make sense of all these crises seething all over the world is that perhaps they are part and parcel of the human condition. In that case, what kind of leaders should rule in this crisis-addicted world? One intriguing answer is that they should be women.
Are Women Better Leaders than Men in a Crisis?
According to the Reykjavik Index—a study on public attitudes towards women in leadership roles, which covered the G7 countries and India, Nigeria and Kenya—there is widespread and hefty prejudice against women in positions of leadership. The study was issued in 2019.
Since then, there has been plenty of anecdotal evidence that women who lead national governments have in general done better in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic than most of their male counterparts. That does not mean that the prejudice against women leaders has receded.
Another intriguing question is: Why have women leaders in general performed so well – so far – during the Covid-19 pandemic? Bernie Quimper, a journalist, farmer and psychologists has explored this question and has written for PinterPolitik what she believes to be the secret of the success of such women leaders as Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and, of course, Angela Merkel of Germany, and several other stars of the global struggle against the pandemic.
To read what Bernie has written about women leaders, proceed here.
To find out more what the prejudice against women leaders is all about, click here.
No tears for Trump
Still speaking of leadership, the Covid-19 pandemic has served as the litmus test to leadership styles. On the whole it has exposed what type of leadership works and does not work in a global crisis in which each nation faces a public health emergency. And it turns out that there is one kind of leadership that particularly does not work in critical times—and that is the macho type of leadership exemplified by former US President Donald J. Trump.
To be sure, Trump is not the only practitioner of this blustering type of leadership. There are quite a few, including Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. Some of the things they have in common? An abysmal lack of empathy is one. A disregard for the restraints on power that mark a democracy is another. And, at least in the beginning, they all minimized the severity and the tragic consequences of the pandemic.
One individual who has closely studied the lore of leadership and who has looked closely at Trump’s style of governance is Dr. Fred Utanes. He believes passionately that the youth should be taught to reject this kind of leadership for the sake of humankind’s future. Fred has a military background, having graduated at the top of his class at the Philippine Military Academy, but he is a believer in the transformative kind of leadership that has nothing to do with machismo.
For more of that Fred Utanes thinks of Trumpism, proceed here.
One military person who would heartily disagree with Fred Utanes’s views on leadership is the Senior General who now rules Myanmar with an iron hand that has snuffed the lives of more than 715 citizens of the country, whose only crime is a fervor for democracy.
Myanmar and the politics of genocide
That is why the crisis in Myanmar will not go away soon. The people of the country will not live in bitter peace under a military leadership that has no regard for the decencies of a democracy.
The regime that holds sway in Myanmar today is worse than your garden-variety military dictatorship—it is also a genocidal regime. And it carries out its practice of genocide most rampantly in Rakhine State, on the Rohingya, the most persecuted people in the world.
For the readers of PinterPolitik, Pinehas Danu Arvito has written a piece that sums up the history of genocide in Rakhine State, the international efforts to hold its perpetrators accountable, and the plight of the Rohingya as refugees in neighboring Bangladesh. Pinehas Danu Arvito is a podcaster, a holder of a degree in Islamic Management and Finance, and a student of International Relations Communication, who feels strongly about the plight of fellow Muslims everywhere.
To read his take on the misfortunes of the Rohingya people, click here.
Another crisis that won’t go away soon is the Covid-19 pandemic. At least in this case, there is light at the end of the tunnel—although that tunnel may extend up to 2024. There won’t be any real herd immunity from the coronavirus until all the countries that it has invaded has overcome the virus and all its variants.
And don’t think that just because you are vaccinated you can throw all precautions to the wind. Although all the vaccines will protect you from the virus, no vaccine is 100 percent effective. The prudent thing to do is to keep on taking precautions: wearing a mask in crowded situations and keeping the prescribed physical distance from other persons in public places.
So stay safe and healthy, dear Reader. And I hope to be with you again some time very soon.