Croatian Born NATO’s Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic And Ethical Leadership That US Government Impasse Could Benefit From

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Assistant Secretary General NATO Photo: MORH

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Assistant Secretary General NATO
Photo: MORH

O.K., the opposition and the government are not what one might call a team but both have the responsibility to ensure that the whole nation functions like one good team. Not happening in USA at the moment, as we well know – the government shutdown causing all sorts of havoc, much of which has strong hues of doom and gloom that’s fast spreading far and wide.
So, what did go wrong in the US? Could it be that the opposition and the government have reached such an egocentric battle-point for power that the nation as a whole is threatened to crumble?
As I write this post, Obama (Democrats) insists he will not negotiate until Congress raises the debt ceiling and sends hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers back to work.
Republicans want to see spending cuts to help tame the country’s outsized debt, but the party is split over whether closing government or threatening a debt default is the right way to achieve the goal.

Croatian born Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, NATO Assistant Secretary General, has according to the article written by US based journalist Jadranka Juresko-Kero for Vecernji List, has prepared a commissioned text for the next issue of US Naval War College journal.
While the US Naval War College website remains closed, i.e. not updated due to government shutdown, Juresko-Kero reports that Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic opens her above said essay with an Abraham Lincoln quotation:

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”.

Ethical leadership means that we behave towards others as we would like others to behave towards us, with dignity and respect …ethical leadership also carries the responsibility for the betterment of life of others ”, said Grabar-Kitarovic in her essay as reported by Vecernji List.

My life was permeated by ethical challenges that helped me to learn a great deal about myself and the world around me… I grew up in a communist country in which the individual was hidden behind some form of collectivism – whether it was a political party, leading elite or trade unions. Individual human rights were suppressed…” Grabar-Kitarovic wrote.

I’m not saying here that power has adversely affected Barack Obama’s mind but when he ran for office, his promise was that he would transform US politics. He would appoint men and women of unblemished integrity who would serve the public interest. He boasted in 2010 that he had put in place the toughest ethics rules in history. His administration would be the most transparent in history. And all of this would restore faith and trust in government.

So, the US government is shut and transparency very scanty and very murky from where I stand, and at this very moment it all reminds me of how distressing to the individual life things were during the times of communist rule in the former Yugoslavia to which Croatia used to belong. The recent NSA scandal that uncovered the organised and prolific surveillance of citizens is but a symptom of the promised transparency gone terribly wrong, but so akin to the lack of it that afflicts communist regimes!

Since 2009, the Obama administration has prosecuted more people as whistleblowers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all former presidents combined,” writes Kira Goldenberg of Columbia Journalism Review.
Exposing “waste, fraud and abuse” is considered to be whistle-blowing. But exposing questionable government policies and actions, even if they could be illegal or unconstitutional, is often considered to be leaking that must be stopped and punished. This greatly reduces the potential for the press to help hold the government accountable to citizens’.

See what I mean: reminds me of dreaded communism even though it is occurring within a democracy! No wonder there’s so much unrest on US public squares and streets when it comes to government’s moves.
So, if the impasse in Democrats/Republicans negotiations continues, if the economic and political havoc happening in the US is to spread its distressing effects beyond US borders (and it is), if the political wheeling and dealing resembles communism (totalitarian regime) more than the democracy it’s supposed to uphold (and it does) and which US citizens deserve, then perhaps the top US man, Barack Obama, would do well by looking into what Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, one of the most influential women on the international political scene has to say about power, ethical leadership and team work. She is certainly well experienced and focused on achieving results that match her idea of ethical leadership – betterment of life of others.
The US federal government shutdown has, as I see it, done serious harm to the public and threatens to create even more havoc as it veers toward a once unthinkable US default next week, when the government would stop paying its bills! And we all wonder how in the world did America get itself into this mess.

It’s obvious to me that basic human rules of dignity and respect for the people at large are called for and those are contained in the words of Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic addressed to the US Naval War College – what an apt and opportune moment to hear them; to remind ourselves of them! And if one is inclined to think that the matter is much more involved and complicated than what getting back to basic human dignity and respect can offer, one would be very wrong, for solutions to most threatening of problems always lie in these best and most basic of human qualities. They surged to the surface in late 1980’s and early 1990’s when people (human) power hit against oppressive communist regimes in Europe and there is every indication in the restlessness of American street-scape at the moment they will surge forth there too, toppling the government like a brittle tower of people-control that cannot be sustained any more. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. Seems that Obama’s camp is struggling with its own, hastily-concocted “Plan21”. Populist promises with little substance followed by the inability to carry through with plans on account of the shaky ground they’re founded on. Sounds familiar.
    Certainly a well-chosen context for the Lincoln quote. Grabar-Kitarovic is on my wish list for our future premier. Luka Misetic as either Minister of Justice or Chief Prosecutor, and we all know who we would like to see as President!

    • Brankec, the disease of promises not meant to be kept can in my mind only be eradicated via people’s actions that are as determined as stubborn as the individual/political parties that make the promises. The Abe Lincoln quote is so relevant today in Croatia – we see it in various sharp clashes between the government and the people/ e.g. issue of Cyrillic in Vukovar, medical staff strikes… and the US example of sheer power play and stubbornness may, unless basic human reasoning and consideration prevails, bring about an utter catastrophe for a nation caught unawares of perils that hid behind Populist promises. Without compromise, without human dignity and respect the catastrophe looms. There’s certainly no dignity or regard for the people in the impasse at Capitol Hill. I like you vision of future Croatian leadership, by the way.

      • There are a small handful of senators and reps that understand what the mandated health care program is all about. It is not about the 16 million folks who don’t have it, rather it is all about seizing the entire health care system from the private sector. Follow the money and control. My congressman flat lied. He was against the plan, and he was against amnesty for illegal residents. Now he is for both. These law makers (breakers) expemted themselves!
        We have become a very corrupt nation. We the People have just about lost everything that made our nation great.

      • Thank you on comment The Conservative Hill Billy, perhaps the people can make it great again although the lasting personal debt and weakening purchase power of individual/loss of earning opportunity etc have slowly made the people into slaves and “yes men” or are making them such and so its harder to organise, act and return the greatness lost, it is still possible for the very nature of human beings is that they do have a level of tolerance beyond which a boiling point stands… hence, revolutions in history and history repeats itself

  2. therealamericro says:

    I spent years arguing with classmates at college and with random folks at many bars and restaurants across the US and globe about the legitimacy of the Patriot Act and its necessity in defending the US.

    But I must say that this bulk surveillance, this massive fishing expedition, goes way too far even for a fan of a robust security apparatus.

    Lets not even talk about the risk, no matter how low, of the government servers that contain all of that information eventually getting hacked, or any other scenarios (government employee releasing information on an individual or an organization for money, for revenge, etc.).

    Sitting on that much personal information is begging for abuse at one point or another, by individuals, or by organized groups of individuals, or a sinister government or a sinister cabal within government at one point or another.

    Human nature – corrupted when faced with absolute power over someone / people – cannot magically go away because someone has a security clearance.

    Way too much unnecessary privacy intrusion and way, way too many bad scenarios that can arise from that.

    Basically, what the Snowden leaks demonstrate is that we shouldn’t say anything of any personal importance in any email or phone conversation – we can’t actually – because that could be potentially used against you / us in the future.

    That is not freedom, that is fear.

    The focus should be on the real terrorists and criminals, not the average citizenry.

    • The irony for the American people who voted in belief of Obama’s promise of a transparent government, therealamericro, would seem to be is that he actually meant that he was going to make their lives transparent for his government and not the other way around

  3. Indeed, how hard can it be to agree not to ruin our country? For God’s sake it’s OURS!
    Another human voice speaks: Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wants lawmakers to come together to resolve their political gridlock. And he’s giving away free coffee to customers who set an example how to do it. Perhaps good coffee and basic human decency will help?

  4. Milesfromhere says:

    Good call! The ghost of Abraham Lincoln is talking through, breaking news: Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty all set to reopen after state governors have just reached agreements with federal government despite ongoing shutdown. Bit by bit, sense must prevail.

  5. It may not be communism that’s taking hold of America but it sure as hell feels like it, so we could learn much from those who have gone head-on against it. Good call Croatian minds 😀

  6. Watchingoverus says:

    Vets, their spouses, children, friends, neighbors – everyone who thinks enough is enough! Million Vet March October 13

  7. Watchtower says:

    And not before time to take some lessons from countries that have seceded from communism – there are strong secessionist movements afoot in several US states such as Maryland, Colorado, California, Michigan, Vermont … such things happen when major political parties ride a high horse and see only power

    • Yes Watchtower, history has taught us that disillusionment with those in power opens up new ways to bring life back on the people’s track. Thank you on your comment

  8. It is the time to ponder whether what we are seeing in Washington these days is punishment for democracy? We give politicians power and we can take it away – this is what we forget often. The people vote and those we vote in get to think they can do what they like! It is a sad, sad state for humanity when a nation is brought to its knees because Democrats and Republicans are on a roll to outsmart each other, sink each other and we the people suffer. A time for change, a time to get back to basics of humanity for this is not humanity when we wake up one morning to discover that those we voted in have squandered our futures away. I like this article of your Ina Vukic, American Democrats and Republicans really must stop inventing problems and work where there does not have to be any (so threatening anyway).

    • Thank you on your comment Jeff, it does seem that both people and politicians do forget the power of democracy. The power in the people it seems weakens with every step on dependence, but when people reach a point of having nothing much to lose then that dependence becomes a mighty force for change, I think.

      • Računovodstvo says:

        Perpetuating problems is what keeps politicians in power. One party comes into power and blames the outgoing one for years saying they “inherited a bad situation”. Every new executive inherits something “bad” so, instead of blaming someone else, just make it better.

      • And Racunovodstvo they’ll keep doing it until they get it that it’s not on, that they have to do better than the previous government and that is why they were elected etc – and they’ll get that it’s not ok to blame others if people force do something about it – either next elections or overthrows in between or threats of overthrow…

  9. Concerned says:

    Human dignity and respect for others have been lost on Capitol Hill – someone must find them and reinstate them as the guiding light for all and that someone are leaders of both Democrats and Republicans.
    “There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that leaves a country without direction, in stagnation, without a budget and potentially without the wherewithal to settle its debts,” writes UAE businessman Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor in The Arab Times.
    “Obama must get his own house in order not only for the sake of the American people, but also to retain his nation’s revered top slot in the global economic and geopolitical hierarchy before the world concludes the US is just an aging tiger without teeth.”
    Overseas leaders are also expressing their concerns – particularly in Japan and China, the two largest foreign holders of US national debt.
    International Monetary Fund official Jose Vinals said that if the US defaults, it “adversely affects advanced economies, emerging markets, low-income countries. It will be a worldwide shock.”

    • Concerned, there is no doubt that many across the world are biting their fingernails in anticipation of the coming week. Thank you on your comment and links for relevant and current news and concern

  10. Bob Worth says:

    And what a lovely lady Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is. She is most likely very clued in as to American ways too for I understand from NATO’s website besides her degree from Zagreb University she was also a Fulbright Scholar at the George Washington University, a Luksic Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a visiting scholar at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.

  11. Our problem is that none of these leaders will admit they’re wrong or have been wrong. They will blame each other and anyone or anything else rather than stop, pause and think like ordinary human beings whose lives their decisions touch (destroy)

  12. Thanks for the thought Ina, but madness has deepened and I think nothing short of a major change of people in Congress will save this impasse. These already in it have mostly demonstrate that their thinking is completely on the different course than what respecting other peoples lives is! Let’s pray they surprise us pleasantly very soon

  13. No to NATO, …!!!

  14. Thank you for your like !

  15. Great reflection on leadership. In Croatia like elsewhere everyone is to blame from politicians to news media and academics to citizens. There is so much need across the country that it seems overwhelming. There has been so much time and energy wasted. Not enough has been done to prioritize and focus on what is most important for the present and long term future of the country – we can’t see the forest from the trees. Here is a sobering projection about Croatia – in less than 50 years the population will decrease from 4.2million people to 3.1 million by 2051. Nearly a million people gone…who will fill this population vacuum, how will Croatian identity survive? Serbia with a population greater than 2x that of Croatia and with ambitions on Croatian territory will gladly fill the void. Sure, you may think that this is hysterical thinking, and it may be, but it is also a distinct possibility. All Serbia has to do is wait us out. All they have to do is play ‘soft politics’ with us; so called smiling assassins.

    • no Sunman it’s not hysterical thinking at all – it’s realistic and it’s something that should occupy an important part in planning. Croatia should do much much more on family and birth rate and retaining young people etc

  16. Constantin says:

    Your lovely HDZ is notorious in Europe for corruption.
    Why so much enthusiasm?…

    • Constantin – I can tell you’ve been brainwashed by the communists – HDZ cannot be corrupt, individual people can just the same as the communist system did not murder innocent people like Zagreb court said in case of communist crime before it for mass murders post-WWII – people did

Leave a Reply

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: