Thursday, 14 July 2011

The United States and Sierra Leone - Two countries not a world apart

A bold headline I know, but I do feel it partially true. If you are wondering where an earth this idea comes from, the answer lies in a film - "fair game" - a good film at that, about the Valerie Plame affair during the Iraq war. During the film, a certain conversation resonated with me. A taxi driver from Sierra Leone mentioned that in his country, corruption is widespread because there is too much power at the top. He then went on to say that in America, the so called land of the free, this is not the case - to which another of the main characters replied that actually the two countries are "more similar than you would think".

In my opinion, this meant that the Plame affair highlighted that in America in particular, there was far too much executive power - an imperial presidency if you will. This is not just the fault of Obama, the presidency has been increasingly powerful, since the end of the Cold war.You only have to look to foreign policy to see how much power the president yields. Bush launched both the Iraq and Afghanistan war without congressional approval, Obama is fighting in Libya, where it could be argued he is ignoring the War Powers Act and Clinton signed many treaties like Kyoto for example without any ratification from congress.

I would not go as far to say that we now have corrupt regimes and we need a citizens revolution, but I do think that the president and the White House now hold an immense amount of power, possibly too much. Should this be the case in the worlds leading democracy? Maybe, they should try to flatten out the cracks in their own democracy, before trying to preach or impose democracy on other countries.

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