Thomas L. Friedman Essays In The New York Times 2003

Watching this Iraq story unfold, all I can say is this: If this were not about my own country, my own kids and my own planet, I'd pop some popcorn, pull up a chair and pay good money just to see how this drama unfolds. Because what you are about to see is the greatest shake of the dice any president has voluntarily engaged in since Harry Truman dropped the bomb on Japan. Vietnam was a huge risk, but it evolved incrementally. And threatening a nuclear war with the Soviets over the Cuban missile crisis was a huge shake of the dice by President John Kennedy, but it was a gamble that was imposed on him, not one he initiated.

A U.S. invasion to disarm Iraq, oust Saddam Hussein and rebuild a decent Iraqi state would be the mother of all presidential gambles. Anyone who thinks President Bush is doing this for political reasons is nuts. You could do this only if you really believed in it, because Mr. Bush is betting his whole presidency on this war of choice.

And don't believe the polls. I've been to nearly 20 states recently, and I've found that 95 percent of the country wants to see Iraq dealt with without a war. But President Bush is a man on a mission. He has been convinced by a tiny group of advisers that throwing ''The Long Bomb'' -- attempting to transform the most dangerous Arab state -- is a geopolitical game-changer. It could help nudge the whole Arab-Muslim world onto a more progressive track, something that coaxing simply will not do anymore. It's something that can only be accomplished by building a different model in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world. No, you don't see this every day. This is really bold.

And that leads to my dilemma. I have a mixed marriage. My wife opposes this war, but something in Mr. Bush's audacious shake of the dice appeals to me. He summed it up well in his speech last week: ''A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America's interest in security and America's belief in liberty both lead in the same direction -- to a free and peaceful Iraq.''

My dilemma is that while I believe in such a bold project, I fear that Mr. Bush has failed to create a context for his boldness to succeed, a context that could maximize support for his vision -- support vital to seeing it through. He and his team are the only people who would ever have conceived this project, but they may be the worst people to implement it. The only place they've been bold is in their military preparations (which have at least gotten Saddam to begin disarming).

What do I mean? I mean that if taking out Saddam and rebuilding Iraq had been my goal from the minute I took office (as it was for the Bush team), I would not have angered all of Europe by trashing the Kyoto global warming treaty without offering an alternative. I would not have alienated the entire Russian national security elite by telling the Russians that we were ripping up the ABM treaty and that they would just have to get used to it. (You're now seeing their revenge.) I would not have proposed one radical tax cut on top of another on the eve of a huge, costly nation-building marathon abroad.

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Geisha J. Williams

President and C.E.O.

PG&E Corporation

Geisha J. Williams is Chief Executive Officer and President of PG&E Corporation. She joined the company in 2007, and has more than three decades of experience in the energy industry. Under Williams’ leadership, PG&E is responsible for providing safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy to 16 million people in northern and central California. In her prior role as President, Electric, Williams led PG&E’s electric business, including transmission, distribution, power generation, nuclear operations, energy procurement and customer care. During her tenure at PG&E, the company has become a leader in renewables integration, grid modernization and smart grid technologies, while also achieving the best electric reliability in company history. Williams came to PG&E from Florida Power and Light Company (FPL), where she was Vice President of Power Systems, Electric Distribution. Prior to that, she served as FPL’s Vice President of Distribution Operations, and held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility in FPL’s customer service, marketing, external affairs and electric operations departments. In addition to serving on the PG&E Corporation Board of Directors, Williams is a director at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO). At EEI, she also serves on the Executive Committee and is the CEO co-Chair of the Customer Energy Solutions Policy Committee. In addition, she is on the board of the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD). Williams is a trustee of the California Academy of Sciences and the University of Miami, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering. She also holds a master’s degree in business administration from Nova Southeastern University.


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