America the Beautiful has not only become the leader of the Free World, it has, to all intent and purposes, become the gold standard for measuring the efficacy of Democracy around the world. When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold instantaneously. If America does it, it has got to be right, would now be the clarion call of those emerging dictators in our midst from Zimbabwe to Nigeria and from Egypt to Botswana.
If that awareness does not scare the hell out of you, it is probably because you have never, face-to-face have to grapple with the third world experience and how power is never as transient as the Western World has come to believe it is in their own societies. Our leaders with the only exception of Nelson Mandela take over power and stay in it, till death do them part. If you don’t believe me, just cast your mind back, and recall the third world experience with Omar Bongo of Gabon, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Dr. Kamuzu Hastings-Banda of Malawi, Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Waza Banga of Zaire, Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, Hamani Diori of Niger, Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida, Sanni Abacha and now Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria to just mention a few. You will see my point.
I do not fear for Americans as much as I do for people of the third world, because the American Democracy has, built into it, from the “get go” a self correcting mechanism and convention that will automatically kick in, even if it is slow and time consuming. The situation will surely correct itself from inside, and from top to bottom no matter who is in charge at any given point. America is blessed with individual citizens who consider the nations interest larger than their own, and therefore would not compromise, regardless of party label.
If the system could fish out and ruthlessly deal with Richard Nixon, at the peak of his power, and most American leaders who have abused the trust of the people, no President. however skillful in damage control will escape punishment. Nemesis has a way of catching up with them sooner or later. Besides this point, the time limit for Presidents which is guaranteed by the American Constitution, has served the Nation well for more than 200 years, and would hopefully continue to do so, because American leaders, inspire of their other excesses and arrogance of power which is common knowledge, do respect the Constitution as the supreme Law. I certainly cannot say that for any of the third world, and for that matter, the part of Africa that I am proud to call my own sweet home.
The Law is the Law in America. If you break it, there is always a price to pay. I don’t care who you are, you pay the price, if you get caught. Let us take the simple Law that mandates that we wear seat belt when we drive, or one that you requires that you don’t drink if you drive, or the one that calls for a baby riding with you in the car to be properly belted. It is the Law. and you have got to obey it, no matter what. As you drive on American beautiful High Ways nationwide from Providence to Los Angeles, and from Seattle to Miami, any where you travel, you are often reminded, “Buckle Up, It is the Law” And if you don’t you get the hammer, one way the other. It’s a great country. Is it
You cannot tell the Sheriff when he pulls you over that you did not put on your seat belt because you were in an emergency or in a hurry. You still get your tickets without fail. By the same token, you cannot tell the sheriff you forgot to properly belt up the baby, because you were too much in a hurry. I recall a cousin of mine, one time, driving his wife in labor to the nearest Hospital and forgetting to buckle up, and running the red light, a few times just to get his wife to the Hospital. I am not making this up. When he got pulled over, he still had to pay the price regardless, because the Law is the Law and the Law is no respecter of persons in this country like it is in Nigeria or else where in much of the third world.
In the particular case of my cousin, what he was told by the cop was that he should have called an ambulance instead of foolishly usurping the role of the Ambulance which reserves the right under the Law to run the red light if they need to because of the emergency nature of their vocation. The Law is very clear on what my cousin should have done which he did not do.
I recall this story to take me on to my central theme in this article. President Bush the Damage Controller-in-Chief who has already proved himself a legend on how to quickly nip a potential crisis in the bud, has recently admitted he did, in fact authorize the wire tapping of Americans in covert operations in the climate of 9/11 Terrorists Attack in New York. President Bush’s defense as innocent and well-intentioned as it may sound, is not all that different from my cousin’s. My cousin had decided to wrongly assume the role that rightly belongs to the Ambulance driver, all in an effort to rush his pregnant wife to the Hospital.
My cousin like President Bush was trying to solve a problem, but creating more egregious problems in the process like the Police told him, because running the red light could lead to multiple collisions that could end up in multiple loss of life for other innocent road users. The President spying on Americans without due process was an illegality. Period. President should simply have obtained a Court Warrant which we are told, is quite easy to obtain, if he had tried. But he did not try, however, because he knew that the Court would think twice before giving him the green light to deliberately ambush Americans which is exactly what African dictators are paid to do in their different countries.
President Bush has literarily admitted he broke the Law to protect Americans. How about that for an excuse? It just would not add up when the chips are down. I am sure that if it was President Clinton that was giving that type of excuse, all the Republican Senators and Congress men would have been up in arms calling for his head. Hell would have broken loose. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander, especially now that the chickens are coming back home to roost?
We are now beginning to know some of the picayune details of who and who were wiretapped and why. The fi
rst Black Secretary of State in more than 200 years, Colin Powell, a four Star General who is known to have come to the defense of the administration in which he served, when the news first broke, is now believed to be among the first victims of the outlaw authorization by the President. Others include lightening rods like the great Joseph Biden to mention just a few. One can now understand why the President had failed to seek a warrant. He had failed to do that not to protect America but to sandbag America. I wonder what Colin Powell would be saying now, that he knows he himself was wiretapped.
The case for an independent investigation is not whether or not it should occur, the issue is when it must. And knowing America for what it is, this may well be the beginning of another Iran Contra, if not another Watergate or Whitewater. The beauty of the American democratic system is that the country speaks with one voice, regardless of party labels and affiliations, when the ultimate interest of the nation is the issue at stake. It is not like that in much of the third world, sorry to say, and that is what scares the hell out of me. Most Presidents in Africa including our own Obasanjo are experts on going after their perceived enemies and competitors and taking their pound of flesh, under the guise of protecting the state. President Bush has just given such dictators one more reason to breathe a sigh of relief.
America owes an obligation to the world to get to the bottom of this investigation, if as the leading nation in the world, it does not want to offer a permanent alibi to African and third world dictators to now argue that they only break the Law to protect their own people, thus taking their cue from the leader of the Free World, and the world’s most powerful President.
I rest my case.