Connecting Statecraft in Wartime – Joop


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© cc photo: UN Women

On the eve of Women’s Day, we want to reach out to our leaders to send an empathic message directed directly at the Dutch people.

We live in a time of war where citizens need vision and direction. But where is the connecting leadership in our polder? While in Germany Chancellor Scholtz addressed parliament three days after the raid, and Macron addresses the nation in France, even neutral Swiss and Finnish leaders speak out, things remain quiet in Torentje.

Our Prime Minister tweets about his phone conversations with the heroic President Zelensky and even with Turkish President Erdogan, with Trudeau, with Johnson. He spoke to the Ukrainian people, fortunately. For the past two years, the prime minister has held a press conference almost every two weeks, but now that the war has reached Europe’s borders, he apparently doesn’t think it’s necessary.

We live in an age where more happens in a week than in a decade. There are more than enough reasons: nuclear threat, an energy crisis and sky-high grain prices. Are the upcoming elections the ones that make you prefer not to show any color and be invisible? Is it difficult as a liberal to have a message for all individual citizens? With clear goals that everyone can support?

And then we also have our royal head of state, who tweeted royal blue after the Russian invasion and then boarded a plane for another well-deserved vacation, this time to the ski paradise of Lech. Which obtained the permission of the Prime Minister. Both failed the wartime leadership stress test. There he too was calm.

Fortunately not in our society. Rarely has there been such unanimity. It feels refreshing and healing in polarizing times. All citizens know what to do in their area. Monday a big fundraiser on TV. The joint emergency services are working overtime. The person in charge of Gazprom in the Netherlands presents his resignation. Hackers in attic rooms take down Russian websites. Children collect returnable bottles by turning 555. Russian cats are banned from international beauty pageants. People are already offering their houses to refugees and emptying their rooms. Collection points are buried under cans of tuna, lots of diapers, blankets, shoes and clothing. In the capital, 15,000 people observed 2 minutes of death silence in solidarity and cried together in Dam Square. “Peace is a verb”, it sounded.

However, there is a need to unify leadership at this time. The rhetoric of war is already creating new victims, due to shocking differences in how ‘refugee types’ are treated. And misplaced hatred and exclusion of ordinary citizens of Russia and Belarus in our country. Our statesmen have not invested in community, connection, solidarity, selflessness and courage. It is no wonder that the Netherlands is at the bottom of the list of European countries that are willing to take up arms and defend their own country, only 15% of the Dutch manage to do so.

In a crisis, a country must show the best of itself, where the enemy shows the worst. You cannot survive without empathy and unity. Leaders have the task of channeling and directing fears and hopes. Instead, the King and the Prime Minister have been made redundant in a war that threatens Europe. They missed the point that should have been their main function: showcasing political savvy with a story that brings them together at a pivotal moment.

On the eve of Women’s Day, we want to reach out to our leaders to send an empathetic message to the Dutch people directly: the world has changed. At this time it is important to be shoulder to shoulder. We are proud of the citizen initiatives of young and old. For all walks of life. Unity is poignant in times of polarization. We can overcome this crisis because we are able to subordinate our own interests to a higher common goal. Defend freedom, justice and international law.

We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, who are fighting Goliath like David. Courageous, in the certainty that justice is on your side and will prevail. The worthy future of the Ukrainian people is ours. Additional offers can be expected. Sometimes we are afraid and we are unduly tempted to hate or exclusion. Only together can we bring our freedom and democracy in which everyone has a place. However, the government will lead by example by sharing the pain fairly. We appreciate.

To inspire you, an example of strong and present female leadership poignantly tell yourself of Queen Elizabeth I, 1588: ‘Now I am among you, not for pleasure or distraction, but determined to be in the heat of battle among all your. live or die; to lay my honor and my blood before my God, and before my kingdom, and before my people.”

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