O.K., the opposition and the government are not what one might call a team but both have the responsibility to ensure that the whole nation functions like one good team. Not happening in USA at the moment, as we well know – the government shutdown causing all sorts of havoc, much of which has strong hues of doom and gloom that’s fast spreading far and wide.
So, what did go wrong in the US? Could it be that the opposition and the government have reached such an egocentric battle-point for power that the nation as a whole is threatened to crumble?
As I write this post, Obama (Democrats) insists he will not negotiate until Congress raises the debt ceiling and sends hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers back to work.
Republicans want to see spending cuts to help tame the country’s outsized debt, but the party is split over whether closing government or threatening a debt default is the right way to achieve the goal.
Croatian born Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, NATO Assistant Secretary General, has according to the article written by US based journalist Jadranka Juresko-Kero for Vecernji List, has prepared a commissioned text for the next issue of US Naval War College journal.
While the US Naval War College website remains closed, i.e. not updated due to government shutdown, Juresko-Kero reports that Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic opens her above said essay with an Abraham Lincoln quotation:
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”.
“Ethical leadership means that we behave towards others as we would like others to behave towards us, with dignity and respect …ethical leadership also carries the responsibility for the betterment of life of others ”, said Grabar-Kitarovic in her essay as reported by Vecernji List.
“My life was permeated by ethical challenges that helped me to learn a great deal about myself and the world around me… I grew up in a communist country in which the individual was hidden behind some form of collectivism – whether it was a political party, leading elite or trade unions. Individual human rights were suppressed…” Grabar-Kitarovic wrote.
I’m not saying here that power has adversely affected Barack Obama’s mind but when he ran for office, his promise was that he would transform US politics. He would appoint men and women of unblemished integrity who would serve the public interest. He boasted in 2010 that he had put in place the toughest ethics rules in history. His administration would be the most transparent in history. And all of this would restore faith and trust in government.
So, the US government is shut and transparency very scanty and very murky from where I stand, and at this very moment it all reminds me of how distressing to the individual life things were during the times of communist rule in the former Yugoslavia to which Croatia used to belong. The recent NSA scandal that uncovered the organised and prolific surveillance of citizens is but a symptom of the promised transparency gone terribly wrong, but so akin to the lack of it that afflicts communist regimes!
“Since 2009, the Obama administration has prosecuted more people as whistleblowers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all former presidents combined,” writes Kira Goldenberg of Columbia Journalism Review.
‘Exposing “waste, fraud and abuse” is considered to be whistle-blowing. But exposing questionable government policies and actions, even if they could be illegal or unconstitutional, is often considered to be leaking that must be stopped and punished. This greatly reduces the potential for the press to help hold the government accountable to citizens’.
See what I mean: reminds me of dreaded communism even though it is occurring within a democracy! No wonder there’s so much unrest on US public squares and streets when it comes to government’s moves.
So, if the impasse in Democrats/Republicans negotiations continues, if the economic and political havoc happening in the US is to spread its distressing effects beyond US borders (and it is), if the political wheeling and dealing resembles communism (totalitarian regime) more than the democracy it’s supposed to uphold (and it does) and which US citizens deserve, then perhaps the top US man, Barack Obama, would do well by looking into what Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, one of the most influential women on the international political scene has to say about power, ethical leadership and team work. She is certainly well experienced and focused on achieving results that match her idea of ethical leadership – betterment of life of others.
The US federal government shutdown has, as I see it, done serious harm to the public and threatens to create even more havoc as it veers toward a once unthinkable US default next week, when the government would stop paying its bills! And we all wonder how in the world did America get itself into this mess.
It’s obvious to me that basic human rules of dignity and respect for the people at large are called for and those are contained in the words of Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic addressed to the US Naval War College – what an apt and opportune moment to hear them; to remind ourselves of them! And if one is inclined to think that the matter is much more involved and complicated than what getting back to basic human dignity and respect can offer, one would be very wrong, for solutions to most threatening of problems always lie in these best and most basic of human qualities. They surged to the surface in late 1980’s and early 1990’s when people (human) power hit against oppressive communist regimes in Europe and there is every indication in the restlessness of American street-scape at the moment they will surge forth there too, toppling the government like a brittle tower of people-control that cannot be sustained any more. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)