Explanations or excuses?

first_imgCHASKA, Minn. – Phil Mickelson keeps making the autopsy public, and there’s a danger in that. There was an unpleasantness to exhuming the body of yet another failed American Ryder Cup captaincy the way Mickelson did Wednesday that makes people outside the European team uncomfortable. Mickelson carved up Hal Sutton’s captaincy as an example of why the American Ryder Cup culture is flawed. It’s a 12-year-old corpse. As Mickelson seeks to justify the American mutiny at Gleneagles two years ago and the American Ryder Cup task force’s work, he threatens to alienate a segment of fandom. He threatens to go too far. Where does the explanation end and the excuse-making begin? How much are past captains to blame for the American woes and how much are players to blame? Dragging Sutton back into this, Mickelson makes that the defining question this week. Sutton was 0-1 as a captain. American teams are 2-8 with Mickelson on the roster. Mickelson isn’t a playing captain at Hazeltine, but he might be the first playing spokesman in Ryder Cup history. It’s a big job trying to win and sell how it’s being won. The Europeans know it, and you wonder how much they’re relishing watching Mickelson juggle the tasks. “You don’t win Ryder Cups with your mouth,” Sergio Garcia said this week. “You win them out there on the golf course.” Garcia wasn’t talking about Mickelson specifically, but this whole American Ryder Cup overhaul is the story that can’t be explained enough this week. Twelve years removed from his controversial decision to pair world No. 1 Tiger Woods and No. 2 Mickelson at Oakland Hills, Sutton is back at the Ryder Cup. Sutton was so bitter about the blame he got for that loss at Oakland Hills, he went into a self-imposed exile for four years. Apparently, he has made his peace with his history, because he mingled with players in the American team room Tuesday night, joining former captains Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins and Corey Pavin. Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos That’s what made Mickelson’s autopsy of Sutton’s captaincy awkward. He made Sutton an example of why the American system required change, of how captains in that antiquated system could put players in position to fail. Mickelson explained that Sutton set him up to fail telling him two days before the Tiger pairing that he was going to play with Woods and he was going to have to play Woods’ Nike ball. “It forced me to stop my preparation for the tournament, and stop sharpening my game, and stop learning the golf course in an effort to [take a] crash course and learn a whole different golf ball,” Mickelson said. “Had we had time to prepare, I think we would have made it work.” American captain Davis Love III was asked in his news conference Wednesday if Mickelson’s calling out Sutton again was appropriate. Love indicated Mickelson is in some ways playing defense. “Unfortunately, some analysts just keep bringing it up over and over and over again, things that have happened in the past,” Love said. “Sometimes, you have to set the record straight.” Mickelson’s effort to overhaul the American team construct is all about the nature of leadership. It’s something he’s passionate about, because he wants to win the Ryder Cup. It’s just that in defending the American overhaul he can come off as if he’s making the captains scapegoats for the American mess. “It all starts with the captain,” Mickelson said. “That’s the guy that has to bring together 12 strong individuals and bring out their best and allow them on a platform to play their best. That’s the whole foundation of the team.” The essence of Mickelson’s message when he challenged Tom Watson’s leadership after the loss at Gleneagles two years ago is that the captain’s most important function is to put players in position to succeed. “When players are put in positions to fail, most of the time they tend to fail,” Mickelson said. The Americans have been trying so hard to create a team construct the Europeans make look so easy. “What a massive pat on the back and confidence booster it is for Europe that Team USA needs to create a task force!” Lee Westwood tweeted when the task force was formed. Mickelson has acknowledged the Americans are trying to create a model similar to what has worked so well for the Europeans, a model that is more “inclusive,” allowing players to have more “input,” and a model that creates more “continuity” from one American team to the next. “We saw that Europe was a little bit more organized than us and a little bit more thinking long-term, and we decided to change our game plan,” Love said. European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke is flattered the Americans are trying to model their team after Europe’s construct. “I think the highest compliment that anybody can pay, is to try and maybe copy, or take a look at a few of the components that make up our success,” Clarke said. “The task force I look at as a huge compliment to the European Tour.” Come Sunday, the American effort may be judged on whether another autopsy is needed and whether the players deserve the lion’s share of credit or blame.last_img read more

The rose that lost its blush

first_imgThe Georgian state, previously considered close to failure, became much stronger. The government initiated reforms in almost all areas of life, replacing corrupt police with much more efficient patrol units, liberalising the economy and strengthening the country’s military capacity. The supply of electricity, once intermittent, became constant, and the country’s once neglected economic infrastructure began to be modernised. Tbilisi re-established control over the region of Ajaria, after years of autocratic rule by Aslan Abashidze.However, some deficiencies of the political and economic process in Georgia became visible early on, although Western governments preferred to ignore these early harbingers of future problems. In 2005, US President George W. Bush called Georgia a “beacon of democracy”, but in 2004 dubious changes had already been introduced into the Georgian constitution that strengthened the president’s powers at the expense of those of other branches of power. Parliamentary elections conducted in the spring of 2004 produced a parliament dominated by a single political force, and through it, by the incumbent president. A weakness in strategic thinking was revealed when limited military action to bring secessionist South Ossetia back under Tbilisi’s control failed dramatically. Numerous violations of human rights put in doubt the moral basis of governance. The government prioritised moderni¬sation and state building at the expense of the democratisation process and development of democratic institutions. The situation deteriorated further, as – in parallel to economic growth, a military build-up, rapid economic liberalisation and other reforms – more control was established over electronic media and the government’s disregard for the views of the political opposition and civil society increased. Any who opposed the government’s innovations were labelled as traitors against the national interest. Relations with Russia rapidly worsened and, with that, the risk grew of new tensions in South Ossetia and a second secessionist region, Abkhazia. While low-level corruption was indeed reduced, at the top level it remained less affected, and scandals followed many privatisation tenders.Dissatisfaction in the policies of the government led to the deep crisis of November 2007, when the government used excessive force to disperse peaceful protesters. It became obvious that the early promises of EU and NATO accession, as well as those of restoring the territorial integrity of the country, were little more than populist rhetoric.However, the real disaster was brought about by the war of August 2008. No mistakes by the Georgian leadership could justify Russia’s invasion and bombardment of Georgian cities and civil infrastructure. Nonetheless, it is clear that the government did commit grave mistakes and fell into the Russian trap, sacrificing human lives and territories. What we have today is a weakened state, political volatility and insecurity caused by the Russian military presence in big chunks of Georgian territory; control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia lost for years to come; a political opposition in disarray and a government whose popularity and legitimacy have been dramatically reduced. Tens of thousands of internally displaced people continue to live in misery, as do many ordinary citizens. The prospects for the Georgian economy are unclear, and there is a fundamental degree of unpredictability about both the internal political situation and about security and the risk of another invasion. The emergence of a genuinely pluralistic political system – one based on mutual respect and an essential degree of co-operation between government and opposition, with effective checks and balances and a peaceful rotation of power – remains distant. Six years ago on 2 November, Georgians went to the polls in what would prove to be a vote profoundly marred by fraud. Twenty days later, on 22 November, a dam of public protest broke and supporters of the opposition entered parliament, carrying roses, to prevent a compromised legislature taking office. Since then, the hopes and expectations of the Rose Revolution have blossomed and faded. Six years after the revolution, how justified is the disillusionment?Undoubtedly, there have been both achievements and failures, but it will be some time before they can be judged objectively on the scales of historical analysis. But, first, about the achievements:The new generation of politicians came to the fore, bringing with them core Western values, skills and education received in Western universities, the decisiveness of youth and greater international support. They could tap into a huge reserve of trust, both on the part of Georgia’s population and from democratic states around the world. The Georgian economy, after years of stagnation started to grow rapidly, foreign direct investment and budget revenues rocketed, and low-level corruption was dramatically reduced. Rather a bleak picture, indeed. The only reason for moderate optimism lies with the population of Georgia, strongly pro-Western and pro-democracy, as it has proven on a number of occasions. However, without decisive external support, Georgia’s people will find it difficult to escape despair.George Tarkhan-Mouravi is the co-director of the Tbilisi-based Institute for Policy Studies and chairman of the PASOS network of think-tanks.last_img read more

Trail King appoints LeBresh

first_imgLeBresh will support the sales teams in the states of Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.LeBresh previously held territory manager roles for Caterpillar and John Deere dealerships. Most recently, he served as vice president of sales and marketing for Cordova Outdoors.www.trailking.comlast_img