Reputational Risks For Entire Countries…?

Michael D. Moberly   February 9, 2015   ‘A blog where attention span really matters’!

I have written frequently about ‘reputation risk’ in my blog, primarily at the company/corporate level, i.e., what it is, contributing factors, how companies‘ shoot themselves in their foot’, the various ways it can adversely affect companies, how to monitor it, and strategies to try to mitigate – recover from it once it materializes.

But, admittedly, I had not given much thought to sovereign countries experiencing reputational risks other than what I would experience through the lens of my own travels or the generic ‘country reports’ produced by the U.S. State Department, Office of U.S. Trade Representative, and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Both New York Times columnist David Brooks and Syndicated Columnist, Mark Shields concurred on last Friday’s PBS NewsHour, which I respectfully paraphrase here, much attention this past week, as well it should, was riveted on revulsion to the immolation of the Jordanian pilot, something which Brooks believes the U.S. should avoid an overreaction, but nevertheless prompted many to examine the Obama administration’s strategy for dealing with terrorists, particularly IS.  These are acts of terror, they constitute taunts and provocations designed to make people feel afraid and helpless and they are insults to a sense of humanity. But, Brooks cautioned not to overreact because that gives IS power’.

The U.S. (administration) should remind itself, Brooks suggests, of its mission for democracy, absent that, doing what resources, prudence, and politics will allow to contribute to the Middle East becoming more receptive to pluralism and democracy is all the more challenging with any moral high ground being at risk. Then, it is no longer about morality, rather about barbarism, which IS appears to want to be in charge of, with the West responding, Brooks argues.

The U.S. does need to do what it can however, each option embedded with complexities and trade-offs beyond most imagination. But, the things the U.S. and other allied countries are doing now, Brooks believes, appear insufficient, but should include…

  • degrading IS, which it is occurring with the bombing campaigns in Iraq and a few towns in Syria which Brooks translates as IS will forever have a refuge for wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.
  • the U.S. recognizing it should not involve itself in on-going battles’ over its status and its capabilities vs. their status and their capabilities, i.e., they kill one of us, the U.S. or the Jordanians will kill two of them. This constitutes a descent into barbarism.

Both Brooks and Shields hope that particular act will serve as recognition that will cannot be imported! In other words, the will to degrade and defeat IS must come from within.

But, if the U.S. becomes so offended by IS acts that it meld into a de facto ally of yesterdays’ adversary, that’s not a circumstance any country in the West should covet, but, as Brooks points out, when the U.S. appears to be switching between the two, that becomes a recipe for long-term reputational disaster!

As always, reader comments are respected and encouraged.


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