The great thing about business, as opposed to politics, is that there’s a bottom line.
You can spin all you want, but once the quarterly reports are out, the spinning stops and the market adjusts. Then the boss either gets a bonus or gets canned. You just can’t talk your way out of the bottom line.
But politics is a very different matter. Folks who regularly fail get re-hired or even promoted.
Take the folks that run the United Nation Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Now I’ve talked about this before, so I won’t go into much detail about their failures. Suffice it to say that UNIFIL’s record on enforcing U.N. mandates — like disarming Hezbollah — is abysmal. But that didn’t prevent UNIFIL from getting the job of maintaining and monitoring a ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. In fact, the front man for this project, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, told Jim Lehrer the other night that this time Hezbollah “will be disarmed.”
Now we’ve been paying these guys $100 million a year to restore peace and security in Lebanon, and they've failed. We’ve been paying these guys $100 million a year to empower the Lebanese government over groups like Hezbollah, and they've failed. Based on that track record, how are we to believe that they will now succeed in bringing peace and security to Lebanon? No business would be allowed to carry on after such failure. It’s as though people are staring right through the real world into some make-believe world that they desperately want to believe exists.
Related to this is the unwillingness to accept the word of those who threaten us, as if their threats are idle. Like Jerry Seinfeld’s TV mother, who used to ask, “How could anybody not like my Jerry?,” we just can’t really believe that folks really do hate us. We found out how wrong we were about Bin Laden on 9/11. And it looks like we’re making the same mistake about the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mike Wallace, from “60 Minutes,” interviewed President Ahmadinejad and told our own Sean Hannity that the Iranian leader is not anti-Jewish, only "anti-Zionist." But if denying the holocaust and suggesting — through Iranian propaganda — that Jews are sub-humans worthy of extinction isn’t anti Jewish, what is? President Ahmadinejad also believes that blowing up innocents is a way of praising God, even if those killed include Muslims. He also believes that his own interpretation of Islamic law trumps any other law in the world. That’s what allowed he and his buddies to invade the U.S. embassy and kidnap U.S. diplomats in Tehran back in 1979. It’s also what allowed his spiritual mentor, the Ayatollah Khomeini to issue death warrants for public figures in other countries who he felt were straying from the party line.
For Ahmadinejad, there are no borders for God’s law. So why should we expect him to follow international edicts about Lebanon, nuclear weapons or anything else? Ahmadinejad believes he answers to a higher authority than U.S. law, international law, or even “60 Minutes.” He’s at war with the West, and the sooner we take his rants seriously, the better we can prepare for what he has in store.
Bottom line is that we’d all be a lot better off if we applied the same rules of business to the world of politics. If someone has a lousy track record, don’t re-hire them … fire them! If a competitor says he’s going to bury you, try to bury him before he carries out his threat. If we keep dealing with the world as we’d like to see it, instead of as it really is, we’ll find out real soon that we could not only lose market share. We could lose the whole business.
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David Asman is the host of "Forbes on FOX" which airs on the FOX News Channel, Saturdays at 11 a.m. ET.