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The powerful are under the law, or should be

If you ask ten Americans to list a few things that contribute to America’s greatness, half or more are going to point out that we are a nation of laws. It is such an innocuous statement and we are so comfortable with it that we tend not to think about it but the fact is, for millions of people around the world chaos reigns daily, precisely because there is no established rule of law.

In Afghanistan, in order to do something as simple as retrieving a package that has been sent to you by mail, several bribes must be paid. Actually most official, daily activities involve bribery or solicitation to some degree.

{mosads}Afghanistan is just one of many countries facing the same chaotic daily existence, due to the absence of an established, recognizable rule of law. The order and structure provided by the simple rule of law is just unheard of for them. Instead, they live under a system in which the strongest and fittest get there first, and the weaker, get what’s left.

Members of every advanced culture in the world know that before any semblance of progress can take root, a structured rule of law must be observed. America has spent untold millions in Afghanistan alone, assisting that country in establishing a rule of law. The effort has been immense and costly and many would argue, not at all as successful as predicted.

Even in a society as advanced as our own, that mentality exists. Many powerful individuals in America today, most of whom are found in traditional positions of leadership, know that if the rule of law, insuring fairness and equality of treatment for all, is strictly observed and enforced, their grasp on power and control will be seriously hampered.

The one thing that assures that a ‘rule of law’ is successful, is fairness. The idea that no one is above the law and everyone enjoys the protection provided by all aspects of the rule of law is paramount. Red lights demand that the rich and poor alike stop. Ideally, law enforcement officers are just as blind as ‘justice’ herself, and even though human failures have contributed to breakdowns in the system from time to time, our collective zeal for the concept of fairness and justice have always forced a righting of the ship and a return to true course.

The one area in terms of the ‘rule of law’ that America has come closest to seeing a serious breakdown in the system is in our dealings with politicians. There just seems to be an unwritten but highly controlling premise, that some who reach the highest levels of power and influence in government are no longer functioning under the necessary restrictions imposed by the rule of law. It is almost as if they become synonymous with the fictional James Bond and suddenly have a ‘license to kill’, or a license, in this case to completely disregard the rules and laws and restrictions that are placed upon common America.

Illustrative of this is the fact that America has been plagued for the past few years with a president who sees himself unhampered by our constitution. The most important thing it seems to President Obama is not whether he is operating within the guidelines of the constitution he is sworn to uphold, but whether he is accomplishing his own personal agenda. He has stated as much on several occasions proffering, “I am the President. I can do anything I want.”

And today, we face not only the disarray and lack of function within our government brought on by a leader who seems to be much more concerned about winning political fights than he is about the safety and security of America as a nation, but also a former secretary of State and potential candidate to succeed him, who seemingly has no personal concept of the rule of law or any concern for the damage she has done to the rest of the nation. It is as if they see themselves existing in a bubble of luxury and power, supported by a populace they know nothing of and a people they see as little more than a nuisance.

The real problem with a nation that is under the control of people like this is that it can easily sink into a state of anarchy and disarray. The people of Afghanistan have historically done the only thing people know to do when they have been abandoned by their leaders, and when the only system of fairness and equity they know has been usurped by the powerful and the greedy; they have taken matters into their own hands, through whatever means they had.

When people like Obama and Hillary Clinton or any other member of the powerful elite, are allowed to twist and twirl the constitution and the rule of law until it fits a scenario in which they win while the rest of the country suffers, chaos and anarchy are sure to follow. We are the greatest nation in the world primarily because we are all subject to the same constitutional and legal restraints and we are all protected by the rule of law. If we lose that, we lose everything.     

Garner is a veteran special operations counterintelligence officer who retired from U.S. Special Forces in 2006. He is currently a professor at Mississippi College teaching counterterrorism and intelligence analysis

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