When Political Leaders Fail, Evil Grows

By | November 8, 2018

[November 8, 2018]  If you are one of the doubting-ninnies that thought the terror group ISIS was just another religious movement meant to bring a different brand of Islam to the Middle East, you were wrong.  Now that ISIS has been pushed back and large swaths of Iraq territory retaken, the evil of their ideology is finally being exposed.

Not unlike the evils of Nazism and Communism, which demand total conformity, extremist Sunni Islam supporters have banded together to destroy cities and towns across Syria and Iraq.  Ah, that’s the way our media have portrayed it.  In reality, however, death and destruction followed wherever these ideologies have prevailed.

Over the past few months, a number of humanitarian organizations have combed the grounds once occupied by ISIS.  They are finding hundreds of mass graves filled with women, children, and old men.1  Those who refused to conform were tortured and killed.  This harks back to the ovens of Nazi Auschwitz and Stalin’s graves of Bykivnia.

During the lead up to WWII and after, political leaders looked the other way as some of the most appalling atrocities ever in the history of humankind.  Then U.S. president Barack Obama called ISIS a “JV Team” – meaning they were amateurs at playing with the big boys like the U.S.  This was one time that Obama seriously underestimated a real threat that came back to kill thousands of innocents.  This is what happens when political leaders fail.

And then the West doubled down on their ignorance of ISIS and pulled troops from Iraq and reduced its footprint in numerous Middle Eastern countries and averted our eyes to the tragedies there.  This allowed not just ISIS but the resurgence of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, and a number of Islamic-centric groups.  When they grow in power, people die.

Will ISIS finally be destroyed?  I asked this question many times over the past few years (see links here, here, and here).  No strategy intended to defeat Islamism can succeed if Islamism itself and its violent expression in jihadism are not first named, isolated, and understood.

The answer is, unfortunately, obvious to those who study terror groups.  Until you destroy the ideology, you will never destroy its evil.  When political leaders fail, evil grows.


  1. https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/06/middleeast/mass-graves-isis-un-intl/index.html
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

24 thoughts on “When Political Leaders Fail, Evil Grows

  1. Terri Issa

    Guess I’ll be taking some heat on this one!

    First, crazy Islamists like ISIS and the hardline adherents will disappear much like the way Nazis did. While Nazi Germany was defeated some of the despicable ideology still survives…around the globe. Unfortunate, but true. We have only to look in our own country.

    Second, I was watching the WH press conference yesterday and yes, it was a very heated exchange. BUT, when Trump won’t answer a reporter’s question and that reporter persists in asking, there’s simply no reason for the leader of the free world to go on a personal attack. It was ridiculous. Like it or not, journalists are the gatekeepers of our democracy. When a leader surrounds themself with “yes” people and lapdogs, it’s difficult for them to deal with others who don’t fit into that niche. Leaders of such ilk set themselves up for failure.

    Third, in dealing with ISIS, Obama should have looked back to the extremely WEAK and non-existent response Bill Clinton provided during the Rwanda genocide. It was shameful…but, then again, Rwanda doesn’t have any oil resources.

    And finally, in re politics, I’m looking for bridge builders – not bridge burners.

    1. Anita

      Pres Clinton also refused to take out Osama Bin Laden when he had the chance and laughed (literally) at Colonel Oliver North when he expressed a fear of bin Laden. Obama calling ISIS a third-rate team showed he lacked the requirements of a good leader. Regarding the WH press conference, there is a big difference between being tough and being nasty, disrespectful and stupid (Costa doesn’t know the difference).

      1. Terri Issa

        Neither did Trump know the difference and I don’t believe two wrongs make a right. At one point in the exchange Trump left the podium and looked like he was going to physically go after Acosta. Like I said, the whole thing was ridiculous.

  2. Kenny Foster

    CEOs at the major news networks are more interested in pleasurable, if false, symbolism than real information. That is why people say ‘fake news’ whenever they see something from CNN and others. CNN has disgraced itself once again.

  3. Drew Dill

    We see daily how the US media (less so other nations) like to whip up “resistance” against a US president. I don’t think they understand the impact they are having on the country or they simply don’t care. My friends tell me it’s the latter; they don’t care. I’m inclined to believe them.

  4. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    In future years, I expect that the fall of CNN will be analyzed and studied to see how bad leaders can cause your organization to fail. How quickly CNN and others like MSNBC, ABC, etc. have fallen to below acceptable journalistic standards.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      There are no journalistic standards. That is the real problem.

    2. Bryan Lee

      You’re right Dale, there are no standards of journalism – at least not any more – and that is the problem.

  5. Albert Ayer

    People get the govt they deserve. If you are unwilling to stand up and do the right thing you will be like Iran, Cuba, Syria, Venezuela, or most of subsahara Africa. Got any doubts about what I wrote, just take a trip to any one of these places to see what they do to people like you and me.

  6. Lynn Pitts

    More good info from Gen. Satterfield. Thanks for making this great point. Too many average citizens simply overlook this point.

  7. Nick Lighthouse

    I think we can all agree that ISIS and examples like the mass shooting last night as noted below are evil. The biggest problem is senior leaders who lack the moral courage to do anything about it. Worse are those senior leaders are encouraging it.

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      I couldn’t have said it better. Lack of moral courage, however, doesn’t mean violence to stop something. Although in the case of ISIS or that mass shooter, violence works well. But remember that to discredit the ideology is the longer term solution.

  8. Gil Johnson

    Great article today. I like the fact that ISIS has been beaten back but the underlying cause – radical Islam – has not been dealt with properly. There will continue to be Muslin terrorists across the globe until the ideology that spawns it is discredited.

  9. Eric Coda

    Yes, when senior leaders fail really bad things happen. To fail means you say or do the wrong thing. If someone may misinterpret what you are saying or doing, then it is the responsibility of that leader to clarify things right then and there.

    1. Mike Baker

      CNN’s “reporter” had his Whitehouse credentials suspended because the reporter pushed away an intern who tried to take the microphone away from him. Jim Acosta from CNN was yelling at the President. CNN should also censor such behavior but, of course, they will not do so. CNN is “fake news.”

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      Good point Doug, our politicians have blood on their hands. Past US President Obama has been showing his divisiveness over the past few weeks also. It shows his lack of character.

    2. Jerome Smith

      CNN has become the worst network that does more to harm the US than any other crazy, hysterical media outlet.

    3. Wesley Brown

      CNN has fallen so low in such a short time, it shows how poor leadership can have the most dramatic effects in little time. Too bad. I’m sure there are good journalists there. They must be frustrated.

    4. Andrew Dooley

      The mass shooter is dead. Good. In this case, evil is destroyed. But what pushed that evil is yet to be determined but the mass media like CNN certainly will play a significant role.

Comments are closed.