On Leadership: Trump and Obama

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There has been a lot of comparisons on the leadership capabilities of President Trump and Obama. Before the presidency it was hard to draw a comparison between the two as they are from different worlds. I waited for a while before commenting on the subject as I was waiting for a good area to draw some examples from. The middle east presents a good opportunity for this as both parties were able to implement their strategies relatively free from partisan interference.

Active and Passive

One of the hallmarks of leadership is that they would like the initiative to remain with their team. This allows them to control the situation and gives them the opportunity to act for their benefit.

Obama is actually terrible in this regard. His main solution to the problems of the middle east is the Iran deal. It essentially gave Iran a huge amount of money and allowed them to resume their nuclear tests in exchange for regular inspections. In addition to the nuclear issue it was supposed to build better relations with Iran and normalize their standing with the international community. This deal gave all the initiative to Iran as all the benefits, the cash and recognition, was given to them up front. It is them dependent upon their goodwill to continue the terms of the agreement in the future.

Trump is the polar opposite. He gave the initiative to our allies in the region. Saudi Arabia and our other allies were given free reign to deal with the threat of Iran in the region with our support. All barriers were removed to give them more options to deal with the threat. Whatever happens in the region will depend on the US and its allies as opposed to Iran.

Permanent and Temporary

A leader would seek for permanent solutions to problems instead of temporary band aids.

In this regard Obama fails as well. The Iran deal empowered Iran at the cost of our allies in the middle east. There is a delicate balance of power in the middle east which have endeavored to stack in favor of our allies. Moving this balance the other way causes more problems in the future as both sides fight longer. In effect the Iran deal is a tribute to keep Iran quiet until the end of Obama’s term requiring his successor to deal with it.

The solution proposed by President Trump has the potential to solve the problem for good. By giving the Saudis carte blanche to deal with the shia muslims they have the potential of breaking the power of Iran for good. We already see initial moves in this game with the diplomatic isolation of Qatar. For all intents and purposes Qatar is the lifeline of Iran and the most friendly Sunni state to it as it shares the worlds largest natural gas field. Forcing Qatar to remove this cooperation would cripple Iran’s economy.

Good leaders work to get things done themselves and thru their allies and solve problems permanently. Trump is a good leader. Obama is not.


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