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Opinions Thu, 11 Jul 2019

Principle, Trump, Darroch and ‘a Ghana matter’

Can someone please tell Trump he and his administration have just proven that they are “inept” and “uniquely dysfunctional”, and that the White House is divided?

Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch, sent by the UK to Washington has done a professional job and sent a PRIVATE report home!

I hear myself shouting, “It is a private report. It is not addressed to you…..Am I not entitled to write my observations?…….. This is a matter of convention…… I will not withdraw………It is not addressed to you……..I will not apologize,” in response to a similar battle.

Diplomats are not only required to toast and smile at formal ceremonies. They are required to tell the “unvarnished” truth to their employers. If ordinary people can speak truth to power, how much more those closer to power, to speak on our behalf.

Here in Ghana, the UK ambassadors even voice their opinions at public functions and parody anyone they want. Perhaps they feel a sense of entitlement. I wonder what will happen if African ambassadors in the UK did the same.

In the case of Sir Kim, it is not yet known who leaked his cables to Daily Mail but let us be clear; he did nothing wrong.

If Trump does not like Sir Kim’s opinions, he can respond.

But time honored diplomatic protocol dictates the proper forum for Trump to address this. If he chooses to go on Twitter, that is his choice but hey, let no one tell us Sir Kim should not have written what he wrote.

“Are we just supposed to know but not say?” I recall my mentor with humour. “What do you mean by you feel insulted?”

But let us assume that the UK ambassador gave a wrong assessment of what he had seen, made mistakes (for example, unemployment is declining in the US) or even told lies.

So, now what? The rules based system is abandoned? Does it call for public use of disrespectful language by POTUS or anyone else for that matter?

Trump has behaved just like Seargeant Lasisi in Kwaku Sintim Misa’s (KSM’s) play of the same name. In the one-man parody of the coup days of the early 1980s by the satirist KSM, Lasisi shot and killed a man who was running home to avoid a curfew which was 30 minutes away because Lasisi was so sure that knowing where the man lives, he would not make it home on time.

Such intemperate language and high handed behaviour is so pervasive in Ghana.

Recently when the Ghanaian supreme court gave a judgment that heads of state institutions are not automatically removed and boards not automatically dissolved on the assumption of office of a new government, some persons on social media threatened that they will disregard the supreme court.

They explained that by the time an aggrieved person will get judgement from a court for reinstatement they would have incited disaffection for the aggrieved person.

Is it okay for us in Ghana to criticize Trump and the US government but not criticize ineptitude and dysfunctionality here?

How do you resolve such matters, seeing that Trump may likely win a second term or those acting with impunity in Ghana’s political parties will be there for a long time?

“Leave it alone,” my mentor advises. “It is a ghana matter.”

But for people in Sir Kim’s shoes, when is the right time to move on?

“It is dangerous to hang around people who do not practice justice,” my mentor warns. “Avoid them discreetly.”

Therefore it came as no surprise that Sir Kim Darroch resigned today; a classic/text book case where we see people standing up for principle.

“Kim Darroch has behaved with class,” says my mentor. “History will vindicate him. As often happens the vociferous chancers have been able to lower the bar to their level. For now, a harmonious mediocrity appears to hold sway.”

The closest we have had in Ghana to this level of integrity and class were the separate principled actions of K.G. Osei-Bonsu and Kow Abaka-Quansah.

And those occured a long time ago. Things are strange and much more different these days with so many “honorables” among us.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah