Monday, December 1, 2008

A Few Thoughts on Accountability and Democracy

In the US, where the government is elected by the people and accountable to them, we have an outgoing president* basically shrugging his shoulders and saying "Oops" about the war and the economy. We are a civilized people, so we will watch in disbelief as he says things like, "I was unprepared for war" (the same war he started against most of the world's protests and mocked his opponents as weak-kneed and unpatriotic); about the economy, "I'm sorry it's happening, of course" (of course); about the elections, "It was a repudiation of Republicans" and "I'm sure some people voted for Barack Obama because of me." without the slightest hint of remorse or self awareness. It's almost impressive.

Stranger still is comparing our democracy with other so-called democracies.

When we were attacked in 2001, everyone had wondered if there were any warning signs that were missed. Any memos that said things like,
"Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States", that had been missed or ignored. Apparently there had been. Along, with unconnected dots and chatter. We confronted these warnings and failures appropriately. We kicked out people like Richard Clark and rewarded people like George Tenent with medals and honors.

Now in India, an 'emerging' democracy, they have government officials who supposedly got warnings of impending attacks; semi-connected dots if you will. Their incompetence in handling these warnings has outraged the public, still in shock from being attacked as they were. As a result national, state and local officials have resigned in shame--and more resignations are expected**. Apparently they missed the class where rewarding incompetence was being discussed. I mean, they may call it accountability, I call them a bunch of quitters. They could have toughed it out in their jobs, gotten recognition, written a few books about their ordeals dealing with an ungrateful and unpatriotic populace and moved on to lucrative contract jobs. But they don't know these things yet. Their budding democracy seems to foster quitters and shame. Good luck emerging with that attitude!

*There are only about 50 more days until he retires into the sunset and contemplates how great a president he was. (Also, is there an exit interview? Is there some equivalent of an HR guy with a list of questions for Bush and Cheney about their job satisfaction and feedback?)

**Seriously, why didn't we think of outsourcing the Bush administration to India? It totally could have worked.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

haha! an exit interview! Love that. I wish we had made the f*er sign a promissory note. I know I had to just to afford STATE college.