What has been the unquestionable power center of the world for nearly last two decades?
It would probably have some between two likely answers – The White House and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). However when one considers the reality beyond legitimacy where the White House has had the ability to unilaterally influence the outcome of the closely-contested issues in the UNSC, or even ignore the verdict of the UNSC when UNSC verdict was against the wishes of the White House because global isolation or embargo is something that only the U.S. can apply to others and never to be dreamt of in a vice-versa scenario; one can legitimately crown the White House to be the undisputed power center of the world. At least thatâ€™s what it has been since the last two decades in global affairs and power struggle.
And if the latest round of scorecard is anything to go by to gauge the status of this undisputed leadership the White House has enjoyed Â on global issues in last couple of decades, it still could not save Paul Wolfowitz from being â€˜oustedâ€™ to be put up mildly, or even â€˜kicked outâ€™ as seen by many, from the World Bank.
Or take another game on global imbalances – negotiation after negotiation and call after call with stronger and stronger signals from China-veteran U.S. Trade Secretary Henry Paulson, to China, asking it to revalue its Yuan has matter of fact fallen into deaf years; thereby raising overall U.S. trade deficitsÂ to $600 billion or more in last couple of years consistently, and trade imbalances with China alone being more than $200 billion for the last year.
Within the U.S., a series of scandals have hit the Bush-administration, but the net result has been the same big zero till date. Starting with Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby (legally convicted on Plame affair on four felony charges), Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet (former CIA Director), Karl Rove (investigations started on improper favoritism shown to the Republicans), Michael Brown (famous FEMA director, fired or resigned after Hurricane Katrina) to Paul Wolfowitz toÂ the latest ofÂ Alberto Gonzales (responsible for improperly and perhaps illegally using the PATRIOT Act to uncover personal information about U.S. citizens; and his role on firing eight U.S. attorneys, now speculation is on whether he will be ousted with a no confidence or he would resign using his conscience provided he or the present White House has one. Somehow these neo-cons have the ability to cartelize global news headlines, Wolfowitz ruled for nearly six-weeks; and now it’s turn for Gonzales); people in this endless list have at most resigned (or kicked out?) or at best hangs on indecisively with the support of the White House; but have not been penalized in proportion to the impact of their deliberate wrongful actions that brought sufferings locally and globally to many.
The global track record speaks even better in areas of international policies for the present administration – starting from Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, Middle East with Gaza, Lebanon and Israel, Latin America, and now with the specter of cold war revival…the list is endless here too.
One is forced to wonder how one single administration could achieve so much in so short a time!
Many believe that had the U.S. had a Parliamentary Democracy, President Bush, the present occupant of the White House – the undisputed power center of the world, would have faced similar fate like his pet-companion across the Atlantic, that of outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is incidentally being forced out of 10, Downing Street on coming 27th June.
Talks of impeachment against Bush or Cheney, reflecting maturity or immaturity of a section of the masses have so far remained as talks only.
With last six years of tenure, more since the ill-fated Iraq invasion back in 2003, the White House no longer presents that impeccable â€˜Whiteâ€™ image, figuratively, to the vast majority of the world – both from within the U.S. and from the rest of the world. And with nearly two-more years of terms in office for present administration, people who would love to see that bright ‘White’ image of the power center of the world, that of the White House as itâ€™s known for to remain untarnished, have enough reasons to be worried.
President Bush has one of the lowest approval ratings since 1978, less than 30% as per the Newsweek-poll, true neo-cons cite the FoxNews or the Gallup poll with one-third approval.
The point is what steps the citizens of the U.S. and institutes of the world can take to protect the sparkling ‘white’ image of this legitimate or illegitimate power center of the world?
Carter, the earliest living and the second-oldest president, was quoted last week as saying â€œI think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.â€ Since then Carter retracted the words ‘worst in history’ and replaced them with milder ‘worse than Nixon-administration’ in matters of foreign policies.
As per unspoken norms, global statesmen, more so to the stature of the U.S. Presidents, donâ€™t feud in public. Exceptions either show exceptions in that statesman, or exceptional situations. And the ‘worst in history’ position probably remains open without any specific-administration having been distinctly categorized for that position.
The White House, under President Bush, whose attention as per many lasted at best for seven seconds, has reacted immediately by terming the comments of President Carter as â€œincreasingly irrelevantâ€.
One isnâ€™t certain whether those â€˜seven secondsâ€™ in this case was spent on choosing the words of response, or the response itself.
If the White House indeed deserves to be the home of the â€˜Leader of the Free Worldâ€™ and the undisputed power-center of our world, be it even illegitimately over a bureaucratic namesake legitimate U.N.; every effort must be made locally and globally that it always remains sparkling White, in its actions.
In-spite of President Bush stating all good things about Wolfowitz, and acknowledging that â€˜things had to come to thisâ€™ only speak about the frustrations of the 1st-occupant and his team, probably realizing now that their actions starting with Iraq-invasion onwards didnâ€™t suit the high moral standards that the White House has been (mostly) known for since 1st November, 1800 when John Adams, 2nd American President (3rd President was Thomas Jefferson, who defeated Admas in the â€˜Revolution of 1800â€™) occupied the White House. Since then the tradition continued as the â€˜White House’ has been used as a metonym for the U.S. President’s administration.
On his very 2nd day in the new office, Adams wrote a letter to his wife Abigail, containing a prayer for the House, which was carved into the mantel in the State Dining Room later by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
â€˜I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this House, and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.â€™
The rule and impact eventually spread its coverage much beyond the United States, to most parts of the world.
Majority of the global and local opinion no longer favors that present administration of the White House is â€˜none but honest and wise menâ€™. The black-specs that any wrong administrations paint on the White House by using its stature should be stopped, and those black-specs, whatever there forms be, must be removed from the White House at the earliest opportunity before the White House itself loses its stature of being â€˜Whiteâ€™ from publicâ€™s minds.
Ranjit Goswami is a Research Scholar with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, India; and is the author of the book â€œWondering Man, Money & Go(l)dâ€™â€œ.