When Sam Yorty was mayor of Los Angeles, a large dam was found to be at risk of collapse. Yorty ordered 2,000 homes evacuated while the dam was repaired. The move was only temporary and the risk of not moving the people in the path of a potential flood was high.
The LA police moved the people out.
Put that story in perspective along side the evacuation of thousands of Israeli settlers last week. The settlers were moved out by police and an army. They were being moved out permanently. They were not being moved for their own survival, but for the good of the nation.
This is the first time in the history of democracy that a government has forced a large number of its own members, thousands, to move their homes for the good of the nation. The move was the most politically elegant exercise of civil power ever demonstrated. A good description is in the Wall Street Journal (8-23) by Michael Oren (a public intellectual and a major in the Israeli Army).
I nominate the man who conceived and executed this democratic masterpiece as one of the greatest leaders in the history of democracy: Ariel Sharon.