This is not an easy time to lead a prominent nation. The verbal brickbats come fast and often. Perhaps President George W. Bush suffers more than most as the leader of the world's only superpower.
A few of the more recent headlines in Britain illustrate the point: "Bush's Problems Keep Mounting," "Casualty of War," "Downhill for Bush Since Katrina," "End the War Chorus That Bush Can't Control" and "A Year of Setbacks Costs Bush His Political Capital."
President Bush's approval rating is even lower than Richard Nixon's at the comparable time in their careers. The president's "saving grace" is that the approval rating for his Democratic opposition in Congress is even lower.
Likewise, the media pressure directed at British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been relentless. Some of the recent headlines read: "The Final Whistle for Blair," "Blair a Security Threat for the Nation," "Maestro of Self-Delusion," "The Beginning of the End," "Blair's EU Flop," "Blair Now Unhinged," "Blair Revolt Deepens" and "Blair Losing His Grip."
France, Germany and California
Jacques Chirac of France is not faring any better. The 72-year-old president is portrayed as losing his grip down in the bunker. Many days of ethnic riots turned portions of Paris and other parts of France into a battlefield between police and rioters.
Angela Merkel of Germany has just been inducted into the chancellor's office, but the closeness of the election and her socialist coalition partners have forced her to virtually abandon key economic reforms profusely promised during her candidacy.
On a more regional level of leadership, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California has found it hard going in a highly public backlash against his proposed reforms to revive the economic fortunes of the Golden State. Four of his proposals designed to revitalize public finances and break the state's political gridlock went down in a resounding defeat. This occurred only two years after Californians voted him into office on the promise of a new beginning in state leadership.
Assessing the United Nations
Institutional governing bodies around the world are gradually losing their authority and influence. Consider the United Nations as an example. It is often accused of corruption, nepotism and gross incompetence. Journalists who travel extensively report that these criticisms are justified. As an article in The Sunday Times put it, "Nobody who visits poor parts of the world and sees the UN in action can doubt its maladministration."
The words of those who say that the United Nations is the sole possessor of moral authority in a politically immoral world have a hollow ring of vain jangling. Most simply do not believe it.
According to Ann Leslie in the Daily Mail, reports emerged out of Romania and Moldova of young prostitutes being forced to consort with UN peacekeeping troops, and in the Congo of UN employees abusing young girls they were charged with protecting.
These two accounts are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of alleged sexual and financial scandals. But to give dedicated workers their due, Ann Leslie did pay tribute to "many UN employees in various parts of the world who have impressed me with their idealism, their realism and their self-sacrificing hard work in often appalling conditions."
Blaming the men at the top?
Simon Jenkins is a longtime veteran feature writer for the leading national newspapers in Britain. He made the observation that "the world is losing touch with the art of government . . . [Leaders] have lost any ability to keep these huge cosmic bureaucracies fluid and accountable. Government is an art—never a science—and one that seems to be going the way of great painting and architecture. Nobody does it well anymore" ( The Sunday Times, emphasis added throughout).
But Mr. Jenkins is not unsympathetic with the arduous and awesome task facing prominent national leaders in the political world today. He reminds his readers of huge public expectations and the incredible demands on government—and their own responsibility.
He states: "We have become lazy participants in democracy. We look only to some 'man at the top' and saddle him with duties beyond his capacity to deliver."
"You ain't seen nothin' yet"
Al Jolson, one of the premier singing entertainers of the 20th century, often promised his live audience after a warm-up song or two, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."
Bible prophecy predicts a future time "when a man takes hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying, 'You have clothing; you be our ruler, and let these ruins be under your power.' In that day he will protest, saying, 'I cannot cure your ills, for in my house is neither food nor clothing. Do not make me a ruler of the people.' For Jerusalem is stumbled, and Judah is fallen" (Isaiah 3:6-8).
Here the Hebrew prophet Isaiah talks of a time of national calamity. These two brothers (themselves types of Judah and Jerusalem) are also in principle a type of what will happen to whole nations in the Western world—mainly to the descendants of the 10 tribes of Israel and to the present state of Israel in the Middle East. (For further understanding of this important point, please request our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.)
Notice what is said in the beginning of the chapter. "For behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, takes away from Jerusalem and from Judah . . . the mighty man and the man of war, the judge and the prophet, and the diviner and the elder; the captain of fifty and the honorable man, the counselor and the skillful artisan . . ." (verses 1-3).
In other words, certain Western nations will become bereft of competent leadership in all fields of endeavor, including the art of government. The cupboard will be swept clean. A residue of incompetents and no-hopers will man the ruling establishment. Complain though you may of today's leaders, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."
Notice Isaiah's prediction: "I will give children to be their princes [rulers], and babes shall rule over them" (verse 4). This passage is not speaking of literal children and infants, but future leaders who will lack maturity, wisdom and common sense. King Solomon tells us that "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child" (Proverbs 22:15), and the rulers of the future will behave as children sometimes do—very foolishly.
A more sinister brand of leadership
Simon Jenkins concluded his feature article with this telling comment: "The real danger in demanding ever higher and stronger leadership is that one day we might get it. A truly strong leader might emerge and start calling all the tunes. He is unlikely to be liberal or democratic. Just now the Western world is having a Weimar moment. We should know where that led."
This is, of course, referring to the Weimar Republic of the 1920s and early '30s, a weak German government that paved the way for the rise of the cruel, dictatorial Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.
The biblical books of Daniel and Revelation describe a political and religious dictatorship coming in Central Europe that will shock and astonish the whole world. You need to read more about it. Please request our free booklets Are We Living in the Time of the End?, You Can Understand Bible Prophecy and The Book of Revelation Unveiled. WNP