In 1931, freelance writer, James Truslow Adams, authored EPIC AMERICA. This book popularised the idea of the AMERICAN DREAM. It proceeded to encapsulate it thus: ”But there has been also the American Dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement…. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.”

Anchored on the Declaration of Independence which proclaims that “all men are created equal” and with the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the American Dream soon became a galvanizing tool and national ethos.

If the American Dream undergirded the aspirations of the United States of America, the AMERICAN CENTURY, enunciated in 1941 by TIME Publisher, Henry Luce, forged and reinforced it. In a famous and defining essay in LIFE magazine, Luce argued: ”Throughout the 17th century and the 18th century and the 19th century, this continent teemed with manifold projects and magnificent purposes.

Above them all and weaving them all together into the most exciting flag of all the world and of all history was the triumphal purpose of freedom. It is the spirit that all of us are called, each to his own measure of capacity, and each in the widest horizon of his vision, to create the first great American Century.”

In the same essay, Luce urged America to forsake isolationism and to embrace a sublime role, acting as the world’s Good Samaritan, and to enter the then raging World War II in order to defend democratic values.  Luce’s thoughts set the stage for the well-acclaimed TRUMAN DOCTRINE and the emergence of such titans as Dean Acheson, Charles E. Bohlen, W. Averell Harriman, George F. Kennan, Robert A. Lovett and John J. McCloy. Deploying their acute intellects and technocratic punditry, these men crafted pathfinding initiatives that shaped post World War II.

It was these men, celebrated in the book, THE WISE MEN: SIX FRIENDS AND THE WORLD THEY CREATED by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas, who developed the containment policy of dealing with the Cold War. And it was they who helped craft institutions and initiatives such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO, the World Bank and the Marshall Plan that succoured Europe in the aftermath of World War II. By virtue of their exertions, they were referred to as the “hidden architects of the Truman Doctrine”. 

 The six wise men were mentored by Henry Stimson and Elihu Root. They(the six wise men) in turn inspired a generation of technocrats ranging  from Dean Rusk, Robert S. McNamara and Clark Clifford to Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Baker III etc. Aided by journalists such as Walter Lippmann and Phil Graham, they formed what was referred to as the Establishment before the advent of Donald Trump.

It is instructive that at its nadir, at a time when, by all markers or indices, Nigeria is keeping the rear and is not reckoned with in the comity of nations, we are being summoned to birth an uplifting Nigerian Dream. And no less a person than former President Olusegun Obasanjo, is clarionly calling for a rebirth and the need for Nigeria to dream anew.  

At a recent colloquium organised by the Kings College Old Boys Association to mark the 113th anniversary of the school, former  Obasanjo asserted that Nigeria needed to have a national dream and identity which would in turn unify its citizens and provide a sense of national pride and investment for all.

He argued that we needed a government which understood good governance and the need to keep its people united, devoid of arrogance and nepotism. Said he:”Today, we are politically disunited. We have never been this disunited, not even during the civil war. Economically, we are nowhere and diplomatically, what they say to me wherever I go is that Nigeria is not at the table.”

*Dazang, a public affairs analyst, wrote via: [email protected]

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