Should Leaders Spin?
As a retired Navy Captain, I have been grappling with this question since President Bush’s recent spin on Iraq: “The increase in attacks in Iraq is a sign of our success.” If and when attacks in Iraq reduce, the President will no doubt indicate that this is a sign of our success. So, whether attacks in Iraq increase or decrease, we are succeeding. This is truly award-winning spin. The Superintendent of The United States Military Academy recently addressed The Philadelphia Scholarship Foundation, a charitable organization that gives scholarships to young Philadelphia scholars in need. He repeatedly emphasized that a sign of success in West Point’s military training is that their recent graduates do not, and will not, spin. So, should leaders spin? If there is one clear lesson from Vietnam, strategically, when the President and Congress should be leading a national debate on why there is absolutely no alternative than to go to war, they should never spin! In the build up to the Iraq war, while there was non-specific general mention of the length and difficulty of the struggle, the overwhelming spin falsely connected Iraq with 9/1l, we would be treated as liberators, ere would be no financial sacrifice because Iraqi oil would pay for any costs, large number of troops would not be needed for a lengthy time, and most importantly, that the threat of terrorism would be reduced. Tragically, our children are relearning the lesson of Vietnam in blood, and they and their children will pay for this lesson for years to come through unprecedented national debt. In going to war, leaders should not spin!