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Ethics and Accountability

"Which raises the issue of America’s most effective way to now engage with the world. There are more and more voices by early 2008 who seem to be allying with the characters, and their journeys, and calling for initiatives…in which the United States will commit to simply making certain every twenty-first-century citizen of the world has fresh water, electricity, basic medical care, and a school. A cross section of Americans—young people, engineers, construction workers—will build these things, and the United States will ask nothing in return. That last part. of course, is where a complex personal truth about selfless giving creates the moral standard that guides a nation.Attempting such feats requires not only an ability to control power’s self-protective, tactical impulses but also, as the shrewd British terror expert David Omand says, to ’embrace ever increasing standards of ethics and accountability.’ What Omand-who has been in pitched combat with jihadists who take vows of poverty and chastity before they attack symbols of secular power—is saying is that shoring up a nation’s ‘ethics and accountability’ is crucial to success in this era’s struggle." —Ron Suskind in The Way of the World

Pondering this, I think one must first recognize that ethics and accountability are values ignored by the majority of political actors of our time. What are the ethics of handing over hundreds of billions of dollars to the same people whose unethical/criminal conduct has brought about severe economic problems? Where is the accountability when these same people continue to profit from their behavior, rather than at least being fired, better, incarcerated? What is ethical about shilling for American automakers rewarding their terrible, to corrupt, to criminal, management with tens of billions of dollars. How are they being held accountable?

What is ethical about claiming this is necessary to preserve unions when 10% or less of this money will go to union workers? Are the people peddling these corrupt gifts to corporations as essential to worker welfare being held accountable for their intellectual dishonesty?

Will those who ordered, justified, and carried out torture be held accountable? Will those who ordered and carried out an illegal invasion of a sovereign nation killing tens of thousands of innocent people be held accountable? Will ethics and accountability ever again be, if these ever were, primary values in American government, justice, and intellectual life? Probably not. Corruption infests these all too deeply.

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