29.8.14

On Responsibility and Authority and their kinship to Accountability

I really waited before I wrote this because I couldn't believe we had reached the end of the story, but apparently we have. A few days ago, the Jordanian Lower House of Parliament passed for it's part a constitutional amendment that effectively recreated the Ministry of Defense (MoD) as a separate entity and allowed it to secede from the civilian Prime Ministry (PM). Possibly, to allow a man in uniform to hold that responsibility.

It also gave His Majesty the power to install a military regime within the regime by allowing him to appoint the leader of the military establishment and the head of the General Intelligence Department. The new thing wasn't the power as all who observe the situation in Jordan agree, as his majesty holds de facto powers all over the place; it was the act of formalizing that power and having it held firmly in the constitution. 

I will refrain from commenting on how the amendment to the constitution managed to pass the Lower House in three days, while lesser regulations get stuck in the deliberations for months. I will also let go the fact that the overwhelming majority of the people's representative rubber-stamped such a gross violation of the people's rights; this is to be expected when the electorate continue to agree that they vote for people based not on programs, agendas, political or partisan affiliation but rather on trivial basis such as clan and tribe or simply based on promises of services.

My comment is going to focus on a little bit of myth-busting. Namely, those who are "plus royaliste que le roi". I cannot accept that there are a select few that try to perpetuate the myth that the constitutional amendment was pushed through for the right reasons.

The royaliste insist that this amendment guarantees the exclusion of the military from political games that will ensue when political parties start forming goverments. Allow me to systematically debunk this myth

A) The responsibility for maintaining the unity and security of the homeland in the Westminster system -which the Jordanian system was molded after- rests with the PM, he leads his cabinet to that goal.

B) The professional military which we are all proud of has the duty to remain clear of the political game and has the responsibility to stay within the boundaries of its scope. This runs quite well in the United Kingdom and I don't see why we need to reinvent the wheel, especially since we accepted the Westminster system as a reference in the first place. The military should be able to resist any pressure from the MoD to interfere in politics.

C) The civilian PM has a civilian MoD who preferably is a Member of Parliament (MP) and therefore has been sworn to uphold the constitution and consequently is accountable to the courts of law and the courts of public opinion. This accountability will provide the necessary constraints to prevent the MoD from using the military outside its scope.

Another myth insists that this authority is a management technique that allows His Majesty to be a safe guard for democracy while keeping the option available for His Majesty to consult with the PM on his selections.

A) Anyone with the most basic education in management will understand that responsibility should come hand-in-hand with authority. If the PM didn't hire the military and intelligence top brass and if the PM cannot fire them, how will the PM be able to manage them and be held responsible for their actions?

B) The constitution should be modeled in a manner that allows checks and balances in all its aspects and should be able to protect the country from any one centre of power to hold to much much of it.
The issue isn't what powers we want or do not want to give King Abdullah II, but rather what powers the office of the King should or should not hold. There is a clear distinction to be made.

C) Democracry should not need so many safe guards and so many years to be activated. The American Constitution did not mandate a maximum number of terms that a president can run for until after FDR won four terms. Let us start with a decent election law and a decent parliamentary government and then if something is wrong let us fix it.

Finally, there has been tens of Royal families in the world that have tried to rule indefinitely and totally and have failed, the only way we can sustain our beloved system is to model it after the most effective governments systems in the world. 

Peace, out

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