Disastrous Leaders

Ian Mitroff
3 min readMar 22


I’m publishing this series of articles to share and discuss my ruminations on coping with a troubled and messy world. You can “follow” me to never miss an article.

In a thoroughly depressing column, Thomas L. Friedman analyzes the disastrous Leadership, if it even rises to the level of Leadership at all, of Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu[i]. He could have easily added a slew of others with Trump and DeSantis leading the list.

Friedman rightly denounces Putin and Netanyahu for deluding themselves and for getting things so terribly wrong. Putin tricked himself and his followers into thinking that he could capture Kyiv in just a few days and thereby enabling Russia’s quick and easy takeover of Ukraine at essentially no cost at all. And Netanyahu and his coalition thought they could pull off a quick coup of Israel’s Judicial System thereby restricting its independence.

In the process, Putin has not only alienated his own people who don’t want to fight in a war they don’t want any part of, but he’s solidified opposition from Sweden, Finland, Poland, Germany, and other members of the EU.

Netanyahu has caused unprecedented waves of opposition by both Israeli and American Jews.

In the process, both are blaming outside agitators for their own self-inflicted troubles. Thus, Friedman calls their ill-conceived actions perfect examples that are “right out of the dictators’ handbook”.

In closing, he minces no words in declaring that while “Russia can survive a leader who plays Russian roulette. Israel may not”.

Back at home, we’re burdened by the daily assaults of DeSantis who has labelled Russia’s ill-fated war a “territorial dispute that is not in our interest”. In doing so, he’s produced a strong backlash from his own Republican Party many of whom believe that it’s a grave mistake for America not to stand up to dictators. And of course, DeSantis is thoroughly embroiled in his own wars against the Press and Free Speech. Thus, he wants to make easier to sue the Press for what he sees as Libel regarding anyone who would critique him in any way. And of course, he continues to press against LGBTQ’s and especially against Transgendering.

In Trump’s 90-minute speech to CPAC, he said that “the U.S. is becoming a ‘crime-ridden, filthy, communist nightmare’”[ii]. He thereby cast himself as the “Republicans’ sole hope in an ‘epic battle’ against ‘sinister forces’”.

Who was it who so aptly said, “Stop the world, I want to get off?” No, it’s too easy to want to give up and do nothing. We have no choice but to stand up to dictators no matter who and where they are.

[i] Thomas L. Friedman, “Why Bad Things Happen to Bad Leaders,” The New York Times, Wednesday, March 15, 2023, P A22.

[ii] The Main Stories, “At CPAC, Trump promises ‘retribution’”, THE WEEK, March 7, 2023, P 4.

Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He Is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid, Springer, New York, 2022.

Image by S K from Pixabay



Ian Mitroff