• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Never give up trying

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One of the great lessons of life is that there are some people who just do not scare easy. Barack Obama, the president of the United States of America, is one of such. The Senior Elder Citizens/statesmen who are ex-KPMG partners remain firmly in that category even while awaiting their gratuity and pension. The time they spent with Obama over Christmas and the New Year was most invigorating and refreshing – a marvellous elixir.

Officially, Obama was on vacation in Honolulu, Hawaii, but in reality he was on duty round the clock. He made light of his New Year resolution: “Never Give Up Trying” (NGUT). Like wildfire it has gone viral on Twitter and Facebook.

Perhaps I should add that the second part of the Global Risk Assessment and Management (GRAM) was originally scheduled to hold in Zimboda but at Obama’s insistence, we have had to switch to a secret location in Hawaii. All that stuff about Obama buying ice cream for his charming and amiable first lady Michelle and his lovely daughters Malia and Sasha was just a decoy. The guy was busy working very hard for the US – the land of the free and home of the brave. He probably shot himself in the foot when he announced shortly after his inauguration on January 20, 2009 as the 44th president of the US: “I will rather be a one-term great president of the United States of America than a two-term mediocre president.” It has come to haunt him. One of the most savage criticisms was a soccer punch delivered by Cornel West, a former professor at Harvard University and Princeton University’s Centre for American-African Studies. West has accumulated a huge

reputation as a moral philosopher.  He is a black-American. He said: “Obama posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives (and the auditors) go free. The war crimes in the Middle-East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he is just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are – we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our schools systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in

Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think we needed somebody – a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility. Obama is a black mascot for Wall Street.”

Obama is determined to put matters right and secure his place in history. As for the Senior Elder Citizens/statesmen, it would be immodest of us to claim the entire credit for the Global Risk Assessment and Management programme. Although it was originally conceived by our firm, JK Randle Professional Services, we have been vastly assisted by academics from Cambridge University; Oxford University; Princeton University; Stamford University; Yale; Harvard, and numerous think-tanks across the globe. What started off as a basic concept has developed a rigour of its own. In reality, it is a derivative of Criticism of Conflict Theory/Functionalism which is best explained by the following quotation: “Conflicts theory presumes that everything only benefits the ruling class; presumes that the working class do not realize their subordination; presumes that the working class do not rebel against the norms and values set by the ruling class; does not explain how

the individual is affected; very deterministic. On the other hand, the functionalist theory presumes that society benefits everyone; does not see how the individual is affected; presumes that every institution is beneficial to the whole of society; does not see the negative aspects of society and its institutions.”

Obama is focused on the much larger picture and that is the task he has set his team of advisers and well-wishers. His concern is not confined to the scathing and vicious attack from Cornel West, his erstwhile supporter now turned vitriolic critic. It is history that beckons. Indeed, it is the future, especially what Obama is able to do (or not do) during the remainder of his tenure, that matters.

Barack Obama is a very demanding taskmaster. What he wants us to deliver is a template which will drastically reduce his response time to global crises of whatever nature – ranging from shipwrecks, earthquakes, air crashes, tsunamis, hurricanes, nuclear meltdown, floods, hi-jacking; wild fire and snowstorms to nuclear tests (by Iran), territorial encroachment (by Israel), insurrection, coup d’états, kidnappings, assassinations, suicide bombers; territorial gains by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, election rigging, invasion of Ukraine (by Russia), etc. The list of the explosive, simmering or dormant conflicts on the US radar is virtually limitless. What is important is that the US as the global superpower must be on full alert every hour of the day and night – ready to respond. Of course, North Korea is permanently on the US radar.

The truth of the matter is that, although Edward Snowden has already revealed the vastness of US intelligence networks, critical gaps still exist in crucial areas. Obama (and indeed the United States of America) hate to be caught unawares thereby hampering or totally incapacitating its response. A case in point is the massacre of four Jews at the kosher market in Paris as well as the brutal execution of twelve journalists at “Charlie Hebdo”. The bodies of the four French Jews killed in a jihadist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris last week were laid to rest in Jerusalem at a ceremony marked by grief, resilience and outrage. The ceremony at the Givat Shaul cemetery was attended by Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Rivilin and other Israeli ministers and officials, including a French minister. Also Tuesday, Front National leader Marine Le Pen warned that “France is at war with Islamist extremism”.

Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen and Francois-Michel Saada were among 17 people gunned down in Paris during three days of bloodshed that shook France to the core and sent shock waves through its Jewish community, the third-largest in the world.

We had somewhat similar challenges when we launched the Global Risk Assessment and Management programme (as a Risk Model) for banks, oil and gas companies, insurers, telecommunication companies, multinationals, Fortune 500 companies, Financial Times 500 companies, etc. The target response time was twenty-four hours. They would have none of that. It was too late. We managed to negotiate ninety minutes response time. They reluctantly agreed to give it a try. However, they are now demanding Instant Response Real Time (IRRT)!

The US president is demanding even more than that. He wants the US to be ahead of the curve by being ready for any eventualities through a rigorous and robust process which should be able to raise the red flag ahead of any eruptions.

J.K Randle