I am confident that a major paradigm shift [as described in one of the pages on this site] is underway in this country. There are many factors driving this shift [described throughout this site], a major one of which is that a growing number of Americans of all political persuasions and party affiliations are simply fed up with the current paradigm [how things currently work]. One of the main things they are fed up with is the lack of accountability in government. This post is on that topic.
To illustrate the point, I’ll use a brief tidbit of history that is in stark contrast with what we see routinely nowadays in news stories. …
On June 6, 1944, nearly 3 million Allied troops readied themselves for one of the greatest military operations in world history — D-Day, and the ensuing push that led to Hitler’s defeat. At least 160,000 of those troops landed on the shores of Normandy, France. As they stormed the beaches, General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s confident words summed up the incredible significance of their mission:
“You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you,” he wrote in a famous letter sent to troops before the assault. “We will accept nothing less than full victory! Good Luck!”
But there’s another letter that he set aside in case of failure. What if we lost? General Eisenhower had doubts in the face of a “well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened” enemy. If the invasion of Normandy had failed, this is the message he would have relayed to the public [the image displayed in this post is from his actual handwritten note]:
“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone” [emphasis mine]. [He accidentally dated the letter July 5; it was, of course, June 5 when he scratched out this draft.]
Of course, we know that this “defeat speech” was not needed, and the success of that mission might very well have changed the course of human history for the better because it is viewed by most military experts as the turning point in the Allies’ efforts to keep Adolf Hitler from achieving his evil dreams of world domination.
I introduced this blog post with that bit of history for one reason — to use Eisenhower’s “defeat speech” as a standard against which to measure accountability nowadays, clearly showing that the very concept of accountability has practically disappeared from our leadership since Eisenhower’s time. I’m not touting Eisenhower or trying to say that he was perfect, but I do believe he was part of a generation that understood what accountability means, how it should be expected to play out in a particular situation, and why that view of it is important.
General Eisenhower knew very well the magnitude of the “go/no-go” decision he needed to make on June 5, 1944. A major storm was headed in the direction of the beaches where the invasion would occur. If he delayed for a day or two, the element of surprise would be compromised. If the brunt of the storm hit at just the wrong time during the invasion, numerous logistical elements of the attack could go wrong, increasing the number of casualties and decreasing the chances of success. He no doubt had detailed estimates of the huge number of casualties there would be even if everything went well. All of this was a tremendous weight to bear.
He knew that if the invasion was successful, he would share in the fruits of that success — and that if it failed, he would have to absorb the blame and perhaps become a scapegoat. Two important points deserve emphasis here: 1) he made a decision, rather than waffling, saying he couldn’t get the information he needed [thereby subtly shifting the blame to others], etc.; and 2) he decided up front that he would step up and be accountable for failure if that was the result of his decision.
In today’s environment, many generals, and practically all elected officials, would probably have drafted a statement something like this:
“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold, and our troops have been withdrawn. The decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information our resources could provide. Our brave troops performed as was expected of them in all respects. We regret that lives were lost in the process, and we are determined to continue our fight to … blah blah blah”.
Lois Lerner, the IRS official who was behind the targeting of certain organizations for IRS scrutiny, said “I did nothing wrong” and then invoked her 5th Amendment rights in all the rest of her “testimony” — and then retired with full pension. No high-level [or even lower-level, it appears] Veterans Administration officials to date have been fired as a result of clearly gross mismanagement over many years. These are just two examples that are representative of items in a seemingly endless list of situations demonstrating that nobody in government is being held accountable for their performance.
Perhaps the saddest part of this story is that millions of Americans [more than the number by which most presidential elections are won] don’t seem to care about this. They will make their voting decisions based on little if anything more than their perception of which candidate will dispense the most “goodies” described as “free”.
I honestly hope that the new paradigm unfolding in America will fully “flesh itself out” in this election. If we end up electing the candidate who will stay our current course, the developing paradigm may be short-lived, and another may take its place — but unfortunately, I fear, even if that new paradigm is better than the currently-unfolding one, not until the damage done to our country has passed the point of no return.
Charles M. Jones
Sources: in this blog post, most of the factual information, as well as a few text excerpts in the opening paragraphs, are from past posts at http://www.CNN.com and http://www.BusinessInsider.com
[Note … If you haven’t read my Introduction To USAparadigm.com blog post and the Home Page of USAparadigm.com, I strongly urge you to do so. This and all subsequent posts will make more sense to readers familiar with that introductory information.]
One thought on “Accountability”
Too many never consider this responsibility of living in a democracy.