Checks and Balances

I caught a bit of Issues of the Day yesterday, an interview with US Ambassador John Rood. One of the questions touched upon the American government's policy to effectively blacklist or quarantine countries whose governments do not fall within US expectations of proper conduct. The Ambassador seemed to support this activity, stating that all countries "do what's in their best interest" (true enough, as far as that goes) and that the US was only acting in its best interest.One of the greatest things about the US, however, is that its constitution and its government can help to save it from itself. The whole point about the structural balance of power inherent in the American system is so that no branch of government can get above itself. The problem with postcolonial countries is that our minds fit very well into caps of subordinance, and we tend to fall very quickly for the idea that we can't do anything about American abuse of power, especially when it takes place in the name of homeland security.This report from P.E.N. suggests otherwise, and is an illuminating example of one reason the US deserves to be a great country (hint: it's not because the US is the strongest country in the world). It also shows that part of its greatness is that there are limits to the US's ability to bully others, built in to its system.To wit:

PEN Freedom to Write and International Programs Director Larry Siems emphasized that Professor Ramadan’s ordeal is just one of many cases where international writers and scholars have been denied visas or turned back at the border, apparently for ideological reasons, including at least three instances in the last three months. “Today’s ruling makes very clear that our government is not allowed to pick and choose our nation’s international visitors based on their political views. We hope it has an immediate effect not only for Professor Ramadan but also for the many other writers and intellectuals from abroad who have been turned away or discouraged from visiting the United States.”