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A brief history of character!
On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as the President of the United States; a commentary...
With tectonic shifts in the US politics power play, the long-standing question of US competence seems to be resurfacing. Let us clarify. That Bush was incompetent is not a Nobel Prize winning theory. But will US be seen again as an intellectually social nation, is the question! Not only Americans, but the whole world is waiting for Democrats to come to true power and refurbish America’s tainted image. Let’s be honest, US, through decades, has built its reputation on genuine achievements that took years of some prim and somewhat improper planning.
In contemporary history, it all started from the first nuclear weapon US gave to the world, through what is now known as the Manhattan project. Then came their Marshall plan in 1947 [officially the European Recovery Programme], which focussed on fortifying a stronger foundation for Western Europe, and warding off communism after the second World War. Beside these two war-oriented initiatives, the US also proved its competence in the field of science, technology and arts. This is evident by the number of Nobel Prizes that Americans grabbed – a jaw dropping 309 since 1906 [an average of 3 prizes per year] making it the top contestant in the race. America also developed remarkable institutions of higher learning [Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale] giving depth to what ivy league defined. Perchance the most appreciable move was the development of a society that redefined the meaning of melting pot. From the criminally racist days of Cassius Clay, most of US transformed uniquely to welcome all ethnic groups, religions and races.
Today, however, the scenario seems different and of course bleak, and the growing acceptance is that nonfeasance is a major risk to America’s global image. The last ten years have been enough to vividly showcase the scars America has received and encouraged. The Iraq war and the much publicised absence of mass destructive weapons was the key.
From the American initiative to use private security companies to protect Iraq’s oil infrastructure to the much hyped Iraq reconstruction projects [The Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reported frauds in the initiative and led to conviction of many top officials]; from the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons, where the prisoners were subjected to unspeakable torture [Amnesty International’s 2005 report confirmed the same], to Sergeant Samuel Provance [who reported the sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl by two interrogators]; from US Attorney Alberto Gonzalez [under his regime, the Justice Department and the FBI have illegally used the US Patriot Act to uncover personal information about US citizens] to Bernard Madoff [arrested on charges of the biggest accounting fraud in history that led to investors losing $50 billion]; from all this to much more, US has left much to answer for its ‘achievements’ in the last eight years, be it the response to Hurricane Katrina, or Saddam Hussein’s structured execution, or America’s conspiratorial and deliberate support to promoting the recession, or the Wall Street melt down, and of course, Bush’s failure to capture Osama bin laden!
But perhaps Bush is playing to the past, where previous Presidents have mirrored his lack of commitment to promises. Woodrow Wilson promised to keep the US out of World War I; and ended up pushing the US into the same war. Then came Herbert Hoover’s 1928 famed pledge to end poverty – he gifted US ‘The Great Depression’. Franklin D. Roosevelt met with aplomb his 1932 pledge to maintain balanced budgets and to keep the US out of World War II. He ‘atom’ bombed Japan and his government’s spending increased from 8.0% of GNP to 10.2%. The national debt doubled from 16% to 33.6%. Nixon promised resolutely in 1968 to ‘quickly’ resolve the Vietnam War. If not the war, he at least ended the drought of box office hits in Hollywood where innumerable movies kept on crapping about US heroism in Vietnam.
By:- Sray Agarwal
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