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Posts tagged with Terrorism

George Bush understood strategy. His brother does not.

Posted on November 16, 2015 by Leave a comment

After starting a war that has become a plague, which will likely last decades, and leaving the economy in shambles, I never thought I would feel complimentary toward President George W. Bush. But watch this CNN interview with Jeb Bush and see if you agree.

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In the interview with Jeb Bush, he says 5 or 6 times that “we need a strategy to deal with Islamic terrorism.”

When asked what the strategy should be, he lists a bunch of tactics including enforce a no-fly zone, give aid to the Assad opposition, etc. He never suggests a strategy.

The interviewer eventually shows a speech by former Governor George W. Bush in which he says, “The face of terrorism is not the true face of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

Therein lies a strategy. If you can position terrorists as not being Islam and acknowledge Islam as one of the world’s great religions, you can (1) put terrorists on the defensive in their cultural and social campaign; (2) rally the Islam world in showing support for their religion; (3) stand more chance of gaining support from Islamic political and religious leaders that we all need to fight against terrorism.

President Bush’s problem was that he chose the wrong tactics to pursue the strategy and that brought disastrous consequences. You can’t say you’re one thing and then, go out and act like another.  When he got his MBA, he must have passed the strategy course and flunked the one on implementation.

The next question to Governor Jeb Bush after showing his brother’s statements was “Is Islam peace, Governor?”

To which he responds, “You know what? I know what Islamic terrorism is and that’s what we are fighting in ISIS, Al Qaeda and all the other groups and that’s what our focus should be on.”

In this response, he first equates Islam with terrorism, which, if a strategy, is self-defeating as there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. That’s almost one-quarter of the world’s population. If you’re going to go out of your way to offend a religion, pick the Wiccans. I don’t know what they believe but they’re only 134,000 of them. (That’s up from 8,000 in 1990 so maybe we should be looking into their affairs.)

I think the lesson here is that if you’re going to run for President, don’t assume everyone you’re talking to is an idiot. Some of us understand that tactics without strategy is like running in circles. You might make a lot of noise, but you’ll never reach your objective.


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A difficult year to create a holiday cartoon

Posted on December 20, 2012 by 1 Comment

As many of my friends and associates know, I create a holiday cartoon every year with my good friend and former business partner, George Hughes.  This is the twelfth year that we’ve created a cartoon as the centerpiece of our holiday card.  George and I used to own an advertising agency together and we began to create cartoons there as one of the agency’s creative teams.  Now, as owner of my strategy consultancy, Futureshift, and George, who has gone onto wherever old artists go, continue to take on this annual project.

George illustrates and I write, although our best work has always come from equal collaborations.  When I moved to New York in 2000, through a series of coincidences, the famous cartoonist, Jules Feiffer, saw a few of our cartoons, liked them and sent me to The New Yorker to meet with their cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff.  When I called Mankoff, I used Feiffer’s name, which I’m sure is the only reason he took my call.  He told me to come in the following Tuesday and bring a lot of work.

I showed up at the appointed time with around a hundred cartoons.  Mankoff went through about 30 of them, never cracked a smile, told me most of them were terrible and before I could run to the door, said, “Show up every Tuesday with new work.”  That’s the way of the The New Yorker, I suppose.

For the next six months, I showed up every Tuesday with 7 to 10 new cartoons.  However, being a cartoonist wasn’t my day job nor was it George’s.  Mankoff always would tell me how we weren’t funny or our jokes didn’t work and then he’d hold onto a couple to take into their final grouping of 50 to choose from for that week’s issue.  Our problem, he lectured me one week, is that we were a team and he didn’t like the idea of teams.  After a few months, he began to support our work more but eventually, we ran out of steam in the face of having other priorities.  Maybe he was right about teams.

We didn’t view it as failure but as a call to take a different, more relaxed approach to cartooning and so we formed Gigundo Industries, the world’s largest, non-existent, virtual company, which is a subsidiary of an even larger, non-existent, virtual company called Enormco.  You can visit the websites for either company at gigundoindustries.com or enormco.com and there you’ll find dozens of cartoons to look at and even buy for your presentations, brochures, etc.  (A little crass commercialism doesn’t hurt now and then.)

The process of coming up with a good cartoon is not all that different from developing a marketing strategy.  Strategy formation requires taking a complex set of both internal and external inputs and distilling them down to a single direction that fulfills unmet needs.  Cartooning does the same but it ends with turning the situation upside down or placing it in a prison, doctor’s office, caveman times or some other real or unreal situation we can all envision.

Today, George and I come up with fewer cartoons but we always work on one for the holidays.  Typically, we talk about the year’s news and try to work up ideas based on what people have been talking about that is still current or top-of-mind.  Some years have been a lot tougher than others.  I think the most difficult year for us was 2001 following 9/11.  It was impossible to come up with an idea that would be funny or ironic.  I don’t recall now what triggered the idea of the cartoon below that was the result, but it seemed right for the times.  There was no caption.  There was nothing that needed to be said.

2002 was an extraordinarily tense year and you’ll recall the heightened security everywhere in New York and in other major cities around the world.  But at the same time, we began to laugh again and take ourselves a little less seriously.  That was the year we sent this cartoon out:

By 2004, the country was beginning to relax a bit more but still always conscious of our enemies around the world.  Santa, too, we thought, would have similar concerns and we came up with this.

By 2009, we felt we could move on to other topics and that was a year filled with the lunacy of the tabloids, or is that every year?  We decided that even Santa couldn’t be immune from tabloid scandal and this cartoon resulted:

We’ve moved around to a lot of different topics including the economy, labor, health and nutrition and last year, focused on the 1% who have become so wealthy during the last decade, even Santa.  All of our Christmas cartoons can be seen at the Gigundo Industries website and that brings me to 2012.

This has been a year in which we had a nasty and competitive Republican nomination race, a tough presidential campaign, the debt ceiling negotiations, President Obama’s re-election, the fiscal cliff and this past week, the horrific mass shooting in Newtown, CT of 20 young school children.  There simply is nothing but shock, dismay and sadness that can be expressed about losing these beautiful children and six of their teachers in such an awful incident.  The murders have been followed by outrage and arguing between defenders of gun rights and advocates of gun control.  While the majority of voices seem to be on the side of doing something about the seemingly endless stockade of automatic weapons in this country, we again seem so polarized in every societal issue that comes before us.  Where is there humor in that?  It’s hard to find but when you think about Santa’s world, you have to wonder how our times are affecting him.  Is his world as polarized as ours?  Of course, we’d like to think not, but then Santa has to decide whether we’ve been naughty or nice and you have to admit this has not been an easy year for him to make that decision.  That idea set our minds to wondering…and we came up with this for our 2012 holiday cartoon:

What else is there to say?  We’ll all find out on Christmas how Santa decided.  I hope that you and your families have a day filled with love, peace and joy.


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