Dal LaMagna (rhymes with Lasagna) is running for president by working to end the Iraq War. The independently wealthy businessman just returned from a trip to Amman, Jordan and Baghdad, Iraq where he met with members of the Iraq Parliament, Iraqi tribal leaders, representatives of the resistance and U.S authorities, including Generals Petraeus, Lamb and Newton. He told me that the road to the White House is through Iraq.
Dal has been working to end the war for several years. He was the executive producer of three feature length Iraq War movies: The Ground Truth, The War Tapes, and Iraq For Sale. I met Dal when he moved to Washington, DC to work with Congress to end the war. He was hopeful that after the Democrats 2006 victory the party leadership would move to end the war.
Dal developed a niche for himself in Washington, DC by playing the role of bringing the voices of Iraq to the United States. He developed a power point presentation of his previous trips to the region, created a satellite video conference between Iraqi Parliamentarians and a bi-partisan groups of Members of Congress. But, Dal learned the frustration of getting things done in official Washington. And the media, rather than covering the momentous event of legislators from both countries talking –ignored the whole thing.
Dal is not one to give up. He wants the "killing and maiming" in Iraq to end. And, after meeting with many key people in Iraq he has come to the conclusion that a complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq has the best chance of ending the violence. His experience with Iraqis dispels many myths that Americans have about Iraq. Two key myths are particularly important:
First, Iraqis consistently tell him that the violence will start abating when the U.S. announces plans to leave. One Iraqi tribal leader reversed Bush’s rhetoric and said "when the U.S. stands down Iraqis will stand up." The consistent view is that the root cause of the violence is the occupation.
Second, there will not be a civil war if the U.S. leaves in fact the chance of civil war increases if the U.S. stays. Iraqis do not need the U.S. to deal with the sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia. There is not a sectarian civil war in progress nor will one erupt. Over and over Dal heard from Iraqis that they have mixed marriages. One quipped "I am Sunni my wife if Shia I don’t need American soldiers to protect me from my wife." What is brewing is a political civil war the nationalists vs. the separatists.
Dal has provided transcripts, video tapes and summaries of his meetings with Iraqis on his website.
While Iraq is first and foremost on Dal’s issue list he is also running with a philosophy of transparent government. He was the founder of the Progressive Government Institute (PGI), a non-partisan, educational organization dedicated to ensuring transparency and accountability in the executive branch of the United States federal government. And, as part of his campaign he plans to gradually announce his executive branch appointments as he runs. He wants the public to see the team they are electing if the vote for him.
And, Dal is an advocate for "responsible capitalism" and has been an executive in a multi-national company that practiced it. Dal LaMagna is also known as Tweezerman, the name of the company he founded in 1980, built it into a multi-national, premier personal care tool brand and sold in 2004. His company practiced responsible capitalism which LaMagna made part of the company’s mission. The mission included benefiting all stakeholders –including financial partners, employees, customers, vendors, the community and the natural environment. As a result when LaMagna sold Tweezerman his U.S. employees kept their jobs and shared $10 million dollars in capital gains because each one was a shareholder in the company.
LaMagna received his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1971 and his master’s in public administration in 2002 from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. LaMagna is a long standing member of the Social Venture Network (SVN), a group of responsible capitalists promoting social and economic justice through their businesses. He served on its Advisory Board of Directors for two years. He now serves on the Board of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute which offers an MBA in sustainable business.
LaMagna is convinced that American voters are tired of business as usual. With the unpopularity of the president, the Congress and both political parties, LaMagna is going to be taking a different approach to politics. And, because the top issue on the voter’s agenda is Iraq, LaMagna is going to use his campaign to show the public that the war can be ended –quickly and responsibly. He plans to begin to run television advertisements that will feature Iraqi’s speaking to Americans directly.
This will be a campaign to watch as it will be different from any other –different not only for the 2008 campaign but different from any that has come before it.