In critical times, the poet in leaders leaps out
November 22, 2015 21:56:41
October 24, 2017 21:01:14
"To forgive them is up to God, but to send them to him is up to me". This quotable quote reportedly goes to the credit of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Not many have taken it gracefully -certainly not the Islamist jihadists who are evidently the targets of this cryptic but strong-willed remark. Others who took mild exception to this tweet on the social media complain that it was unlike a president of a country. They think a character like Rambo alone can mouth this kind of aggression.
Whatever reservation some may have, the majority of social media followers have liked it. They have made it amply clear that they endorse the Russian president's attitude. With his strong KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti in Russian and Committee for State Security in English) background though, Putin can truly challenge the silver screen Hollywood hero. He has shown his guts. No wonder, he, according to the Forbes, now heads the list of the most powerful people on the planet ahead of US President Barrack Obama who is number three after German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Putin has reasons to take the fight to the terrorists. It has now more or less been established that a bomb planted on board the ill-fated Russian passenger jet caused its disintegration and death of all 224 passengers and crew members -almost all of them Russians - over Egypt on October 31 last. The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the planting of the homemade bomb.
French President Francois Hollande was driven by a similar compulsion to intensify his government's campaign against the IS in Syria. Hollande has not gone for any quote; he simply declared an all-out war on the IS immediately after the latter's Paris attacks in which 129 people were killed and more than 300 people left wounded. The two unlikely allies have now opted for coordinated attacks on the terrorist groups in Syria.
Sure enough, iconic leaders have uncanny presentiment. In the most critical moments they are capable of giving cryptic expression to feelings everyone harbours and yet finds not within his or her grip. The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln and March 7 speech by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman are two of the finest examples of oration mankind has ever known. These addresses capture the defining moment of history as well as give the guidance the people in America and Bangladesh respectively were looking for, at that juncture of history in the making.
Following the Paris attacks, Hollande made a speech but it is not one that will withstand the test of time. However, the subsequent actions speak for him. It is now known that another planned attack on Paris has been foiled and the mastermind of the November 14 attack was killed along with his associates in a successful operation by the police in an apartment.
Putin's statement is however disputed. Ms Remi Maalou, a news anchor with the TV channel Russia Today, who tweeted it quoting Putin has clarified that she had taken it off a Facebook post. On verification it came out to be false, she latter retwitted and regretted the slip. However the Russian President is yet to accept or deny his claim to the highly popular quote.