What makes a president great in a great country like America is determined by how the individual’s performance and policies in or out of office may have changed or impacted America, for better or for worse, and how the whole world and generations yet unborn may have benefitted from the individual’s leadership and vision.
George Washington as father of the nation and pioneer President made the list by leading the American war of independence and by laying a solid foundation for America. President Jefferson did it by putting his imprimatur on the American Constitution, which is now widely acknowledged as the 8th wonder of the world by acclamation.
Abraham Lincoln did it by fighting for and signing into law the Emancipation legislation that outlawed slavery for good in America. Frankline Delano Roosevelt who was President for 12 years made the list by initiating the Social Security legislation and signing it into law despite stiff opposition from the Republicans and some leaders in his own party.
He also earned the honor of being a great President by joining forces with Winston Churchill and Stalin to lead the Allied powers to defeat Adolf Hitler in the Second World War. He was also the champion of the UN and America’s role in it.
Harry Truman made the list by actively leading the effort to create the United Nations and by being the President who authorized the first use of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Truman was among the first American leaders to see the need to make peace with Japan and to help in mitigating the disastrous effect of the bomb on Japan.
Today, America and Japan are very close allies because in Diplomacy there is never a permanent enemy or friend, there is only a permanent interest. Dwight Ike Eisenhower made the list as the first Supreme Allied Commander of NATO to make it to the White House and one of the first to see the need to initiate and pursue the Marshall Plan that helped to rebuild West Germany as a model for East Germany, a satellite of the Soviet Union at the time.
The youngest American President in history, John Kennedy made the list by firing the imagination of Americans to reach the Moon in 8 years of hard work thereby pushing the Soviet Union to second place in the race to conquer space. The young charismatic president succeeded in forcing Nikita Khrushchev to beat a retreat and to peacefully remove the Russian Nuclear Missiles from Cuba, the backyard of America without firing a single shot.
Richard Nixon would have made the list for opening up China but he was sandbagged by the Watergate scandal, which made him the first president ever to be forced to resign.
Jimmy Carter in retrospect should now make the list by arranging the Camp David Accord between President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menahem Begin of Israel and by some of his humanitarian accomplishments around the world after leaving the White House.
Ronald Reagan made the list by tactically winning the Cold War which led to the eventual fall of the Soviet Union and the break-up of 15 Russian Republics in one fell swoop. The end of the cold war hastened the reunification of West and East Germany. “Tear down the wall” Ronald Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev and the man did in a heartbeat.
George Bush Senior made the list by building a coalition of the willing to defeat and flush out Saddam Hussein and his army from Kuwait in Desert Storm. Bill Clinton made the list by restoring American economy while creating 22 million jobs and leaving a huge surplus after 8 amazing years in office and by putting the Republicans in total shame for their disastrous failure to have him impeached and disgraced out of office.
Bill Clinton is more than eminently qualified for that honor by his Global Initiative which now meets once a year in New York so the powerful Foundation can tap into the UN General Assembly yearly sessions to get all Heads of State in the world participating in the global initiative without the Foundation spending a dime to get them there.
The Global Initiative is financially co-sponsored today by both the public and the private sector and by both Wall Street and the Main Street of America. If you don’t call that virtuoso performance as a mark of greatness, I don’t know what else to call it.
The Clinton Global Initiative may well produce the first female President in America in 2016 while at the same time launching Chelsea Clinton into the leadership of world politics and the possibility of the young lady becoming president at some point in her life if you see what I see.
Barack Obama is surely going to make the list by twice defeating the Republicans and restoring the American economy, and by being the mastermind of the three-pronged Obama Doctrine which seeks to build world collaboration and consensus on the fight against terrorism which he rightly described as the “network of death” around the world.
He also talked about the fight against Ebola Epidemic everywhere and across borders. He also talked about the consensus needed on climate change, which has the potential to pose a major problem for the world long after Obama leaves office.
Michelle Obama and Mrs. Biden have teamed up to do something never before done for families of veterans in America thereby creating a new record of achievement by first and second lady of America. Who says that Obama is not a great president?
What other presidents have spent a life time hoping to achieve was achieved by Obama within a year of his presidency. He won the Nobel Peace award on a platter of gold.
All of you reading this must never forget that all of these great presidents are individuals who did what they strongly believed to be good for America and not what was good for their party only. You could say that about George Washington (1789- 97) , Thomas Jefferson 1801-1809, Abraham Lincoln 1861-65,Woodrow Wilson 1913-21, FDR 1933-45 Truman (1945-53), Eisenhower (1953-61), JFK (1961-63), Lyndon B. Johnson(1963-69), Jimmy Carter (1977-81) Ronald Reagan (1981-89), George Bush (1989-93), William Jefferson Clinton (1993-2001) and Obama 2009 until 2016.
Obama is now being criticized by his party for doing too much while the Republicans are criticizing him for doing too little. Obama has got to be doing something right to have gotten himself to that threshold as president. I am predicting that Obama, the first black President is on a fast track to becoming one of America’s greatest presidents. I could not be more proud of him as a black man. That is what I am talking about.
President, Barack Hussein Obama who was so much underrated by the Republicans is using his 8 years in the Oval Office otherwise known as the bully pulpit to change America and to change the world by providing an alternative vision with his power of ideas and doing so with the persistence of a demon. The man is redefining the notion of world leadership and doing so in a way that everybody can understand and appreciate.
His policy of inclusion and his doctrine that America must, first and foremost, seek collaboration and work with allies around the world instead of leaving America to go it alone is gaining approval all over the world as the solidarity fight against terrorism has now proved.
The way he has framed the problem is the mark of a genius. It is not Muslims against Christians like the terrorists would want to see. ISIS is only one among several terrorist organizations that the world needs to confront and defeat. ISIS is only a little fly that America could easily dismantle or do away with but terrorism as an ideology poses a greater threat to the world.
Obama is therefore mobilizing the whole world to get ready to take on terrorism anywhere in the world. That is what great leaders do. They all think big and they never stop thinking about tomorrow like Bill Clinton, Winston Churchill and many of the greatest world leaders like Chairman Mao and his successor, Xiao Deng who saw the need for China to modify China’s Communist system to imbibe some of the great virtues of the Capitalist system of free trade and competition without totally abandoning Communism.
Gorbachev did the same thing for Russia when he dreamed of “Perestroika” to give Russia a fighting chance to compete with America. Gorbachev failed because the generation of Russian leaders that came after him could not carry his dream to the next level.
America’s quest for collaboration and co-operation with the rest of the world did not start with Obama for sure. I would be the first person to say that. But I do know for a fact as, a historian, that no other American President before him has been able to articulate the concept as eloquently as Obama has done today at the United Nations, and none of them has ever pursued the concept with the same emphasis and clarity.
He has continued to make it clear he was not going to repeat the same mistake America has made in Iraq and Afghanistan for 13 years by fighting other peoples’ battle for them. He has made it clear that there is a limit to how much America alone can do in carrying the burden of the whole world like god Atlas. The burden is going to be a shared responsibility from now on. Who can be against that? Only a fool would reject that call.
Obama has popularized the notion of leading from behind by deploying the same concept to successfully launch the Arab Spring and to take out dictators like Moamar Ghadafi and terrorists like Osama Bin Laden and Al Shabab without committing American troops on the ground and without shedding American blood.
The Republicans always rush to judgment to condemn Obama for being too timid in using American power. They all want Obama to use his power like a Lion but Obama is saying no because there are other ways to kill or skin a cat. Building consensus and persuasion are his own preferred options and he is not going to let anyone rail-road America into taking a bad decision or pursuing a policy that would come back to bite America.
If any country wants freedom from oppression, that country must be ready to fight for it by doing some of the heavy lifting needed to accomplish their goal. Who can fault that?
Using the Obama doctrine to good effect, the President ordered a well calibrated US strike on some valuable targets in Syria from the air and from the sea yesterday as a prelude to his amazing address to the UN today. Obama is doing something the world has never seen before. Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait used to expect America to go fight their battles for them. Not anymore.
The President is in New York for 3 days as head of the US delegation to the UN General Assembly. He is there to build world consensus for Obama doctrine and there is a chance he is going to succeed as one country after another including Turkey follow his lead.
The United States and her Arab allies in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and other countries have already joined America in conducting air strikes in Syria and hitting ISIS positions without any meaningful challenge from embattled Syria and Russia, which had her own problems as Obama has already isolated Vladimir Putin. The best Vladimir Putin could now do is issuing a tepid or bland statement saying America should not have entered Syrian air space without some authorization from Assad under international law.
Neither Assad nor Putin is in any position to challenge what the whole world is supporting. I think Americans now understand and appreciate the conqueror of Osama Bin Laden, the conqueror of Moammar Ghadafi, the conqueror of Al Shebab of Somalia and the undisputed leader of the Free World as we speak. That leader is Obama without any question.
Those who are still talking about the sagging opinion polls on Obama’s leadership should worry about other things because opinion polls on the president would very soon hit an all-time high again. This is going to occur before the November mid-term elections as Obama doctrine takes effect in Iraq and Syria and in West Africa and Nigeria. Obama is leading the effort in that region to fight the Ebola outbreak and to finally defeat Boko Haram and to free up the Nigerian girls who have now been in captivity for close to 6 months.
Democrats who have been running away from Obama as they prepare for the mid-term elections have now suddenly realized they have made a huge mistake. Obama doctrine is alive and well and the President is showing the world there can be no safe haven for terrorist groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram. They are all going to fall as Obama doctrine takes effect with the whole world shouting “Ranka Dede”.
Obama’s inspiring leadership has provided the adrenalin for black leaders all over the world to rediscover themselves and their innate potential. The Columbia and Harvard-trained constitutional lawyer, the son of a black man from the Luo tribe in Kenya, and the son of a white mother from Kansas is now leader of the world, without any question.
Obama as a hybrid of two powerful cultures the world has known would go down in history as one of the best presidents of America. That is a prediction I am proud to make as I put finishing touches to this article.
America does not have to put American boots on the ground to achieve its goals just like Bill Clinton did in Bosnia Herzegovina. What is different this time around is the number of allies who have volunteered to join America to confront ISIS and their copycats half a world away.
The whole world has become one global village with Obama Doctrine as their ultimate creed and with America as the undisputed heavy weight champion and leader of the Free world.
Who says Obama is a weak leader? They should go tell that to the mountains. I know a weak leader when I see one. President Jonathan of Nigeria is clearly one but he did something about a week ago that tells me he might well be on his way to redemption. He took the right decision to stand up for Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle and to eulogize the General as a national hero.
Jonathan did so despite the pressures on him to do otherwise based on the objections of his Igbo Secretary to Government and many powerful Igbo men and women in his cabinet.
I see the move as a step in the right direction for President Jonathan who would never have become the President of Nigeria, as we know it today, if Biafra had won the civil war. Brigadier Adekunle like many of his colleagues on the Biafra and Nigerian side, is a national hero who must be rehabilitated like Odumegwu Ojukwu, the rebel leader himself whose entitlements and all his father’s properties in Lagos were all returned to him following his pardon by Shehu Shagari and upon his return from Ivory Coast.
If Ojukwu had been captured alive during the war, the man would have had to face the firing squad just like Colonel Dimka and Brigadierl Bisalla and so many other generals who committed lesser felonies than Ojukwu. Our Igbo brothers and sisters always forget that. Yes, the black scorpion killed many innocent people but so did Ojukwu, who led the whole rebellion. Soldiers do not go to war to play poker. They go there to kill if they have to.
Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle should never have been allowed to forfeit his benefits and entitlements as a war hero. Even though he is now dead and buried, if Nigeria is a grateful nation, his full benefits should have been paid to him and he should not have been retired with ignominy.
He did not commit any more egregious crimes than those committed by Ojukwu and so many of his officers and their contemporaries and colleagues on the Nigerian side.
Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle ran into problems with the Nigerian military establishment and power brokers because he had a mind of his own and would not let anyone push him around. They victimized him because he dared to defend Obafemi Awolowo when some other Yoruba officers like Obasanjo were ready to throw Awolowo under the bus because of their own hidden agenda and ambition. Brigadier Adekunle was a brave soldier like the great Ebitu Ukiwe who lost his position as Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, because he dared to question some of the policies of Ibrahim Babangida as Commander-in-Chief who wanted a “yes” man as his second-in-command.
Babangida quickly sent principled Ukiwe, an Abriba warrior to the turkey farm, and he replaced him with Admiral Aikhomu who would not rock the boat.
Nigerian politics is my passion. I was an insider at one point in my career and am not telling a cock and bull story like some Monday morning quarterbacks on the internet and social media.
Those who accuse the black scorpion of being a womanizer were being disingenuous. Obasanjo was a far more vicious womanizer and philanderer than the black scorpion if you follow his track record with women. I was a womanizer myself, and I know a womanizer when I see one.
I knew Benjamin Adekunle fairly well. He was just too crazy and unpredictable to be a good womanizer. Obasanjo is a more reckless womanizer if you ask me. People accusing soldiers of womanizing are not saying anything new. Most soldiers all over the world are womanizers
I recall some of my friends in the military in those days who were all womanizers like me but were all very good soldiers as well. I recall two of them I can never forget. One of them, Major Joe Kasai was later implicated in a military coup and was made to face the firing squad much later in his career.
Another one was Captain Christopher Daji, a good friend of mine from Idoani. That Benjamin Adekunle was linked to Iyabo Olorunkoya was only a ploy to call a dog a bad name. The black scorpion was a soldier in a million and a national hero who deserves to have his entitlements paid to his survivors including the Igbo woman and the Efik woman he married.
In a grateful nation like America, Brigadier Banjamin Adekunle would have received the highest Medal of Honor for his patriotism and heroism in the Biafra war. If Odumegwu Ojukwu can be buried as a national hero, so can Benjamin Adekunle and few of the unsung heroes of the Biafra war is all I am saying.
There is basis for comparing Ojukwu and Adekunle. They were both good soldiers even though Ojukwu was an Oxford-trained historian and a great orator. I know he was born with the silver spoon in his mouth but he was a rebel and a fearless champion of his people and I respect him for that.
President Jonathan would be a transformational President in my book if he can summon up the courage to restore the honor of Benjamin Adekunle even in death and to have his entitlements paid in full to his survivors.
I know my Igbo brothers and sisters would be throwing everything at me for having the courage of my conviction to hold a brief for a general they have loved to hate. I do what I do because it is the right thing to say and because I no longer fear death or criticism or blackmail at my age and circumstance. I know President Jonathan as Commander-in-Chief can do what I am suggesting if he wants to. It is never too late to do the right thing.
The Obama doctrine I so much cherish is a product of courage that President Jonathan can emulate, if he truly wants to be called a transformational President. Need I say more?
I rest my case.