Thursday, August 17, 2006
Is George Bush The Worst President In History?
I have no doubt that great changes will occur in the Middle East over the next ten to twenty years as a direct result of the Bush administration’s intervention in Iraq. If nothing else Bush and his neo-conservative masters have let the democracy genie out of his lamp. Once out, there is no putting him back.
This genie however is not vested with magical powers. It cannot wave a magic wand and simply make democracy happen and send everyone on their way with their wishes fulfilled and a contented smile. This genie is a loose cannon, a harbinger of uncontrollable forces and total chaos. The best we can hope for is that out of the ashes of death and destruction left behind by this helpless and hapless genie, a phoenix will arise but will the cost in innocent lives and hundreds of billions of dollars have been worth it?
Mr. Bush and his puppeteers might think the cost worthwhile but tell that to the hundreds of thousands who will not be around, who will not have seen their families grow up or even had the chance to have a family. Tell that to their relatives and unborn sons and daughters. Will they think it was worth it?
True democracy has always come at a price. The American War of Independence, the French Revolution, the countless coups and counter coups in South America and Africa and the English Civil War are but some examples of the long process of nation building and democracy.
These wars were fought because those in power were to put it mildly, reluctant to give up their power and self accorded privileges. Not much has changed. Even today, democratically elected governments will compromise every principle of good sense and decency to retain their power; hence the falling standards and social breakdown of western democracies and the concretisation of fundamentalism in the Middle East. On the one hand, Democratic Governments pander to the more outlandish elements and basic instincts of society in search of popularity and votes. On the other, the dictators retain their power with draconian policies designed to restrict freedom of thought and action.
In this respect Saddam Hussein was no different. He was a brutal, unscrupulous and murderous dictator like countless others before him. Like so many of his ilk, he had a chance to go down in history as a great and farsighted leader, a man who empowered his people and improved the health and wealth of his nation.
He chose instead to feather his own nest and brutalise his people. The international community, including his neighbours chose to ignore the atrocities he committed against tens even hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens. The U.N. impotently allowed him to flout international law and commit crimes against humanity for decades. The West armed him and exploited him.
What kind of a civilisation is this? What kind of civilisation looks the other way while one million people are slaughtered in 100 days in Rwanda and looks the other way now in the Congo, Sudan and Zimbabwe?
That is why I believed and still believe it was right to oust Saddam Hussein but it was a moral obligation first and foremost. The Bush administration however with the connivance of Tony Blair chose to make it an issue of non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Deceit is not a good basis for policy making. This was Bush’s first mistake. Although he made it plain more or less from the outset that he wanted regime change and democracy in Iraq, he has never bothered about it in less strategically important countries like Congo or Zimbabwe!
Thus his rhetoric sounded then and remains now, hollow and hypocritical. Democracy is a must if you have oil it seems, but does not matter a damn if you don’t. It’s those old double standards again for which the West is so reviled by many.
There are other more civilised ways that the international community could have dealt with Saddam that did not include invasion and the indiscriminate killing of tens of thousands of innocent civilians, all of which appear to be beyond the wit and will of the UN and the international community in general. These include:-
The expulsion from all international bodies including the UN of rogue regimes
The seizure of assets A total ban on international travel by all government officials or their representatives A ban on all non-humanitarian trade
The issue of international arrest warrants Secret negotiations with high ranking officials military and civilian to facilitate the removal of the offending head of state and ministers once the above measures have been put into place.
There are no doubt others but it is beyond me why no one has had the wit or the courage to come up with a better less barbaric way of tackling states who abuse international law and human rights without resorting to force and a massive loss of innocent life.
Is it not time to amend the UN charter to take account of dictatorial regimes who commit crimes against humanity. Why not? There can be no excuse in any way shape or form in a civilised world, for tolerating brutal governments implicated in corrupt and criminal acts against their own citizens.
Surely the first responsibility of a good leader is to think outside the box and look for better ways of solving old and intransigent problems. The recourse to force is an outdated, cruel, costly, medieval bludgeon that has passed its sell by date. The modern global age offers us many new far more subtle means of bringing criminal governments to their knees without the recourse to force and the murder of the innocent and it is the duty of leaders to formulate these solutions.
In this respect the Bush government like most other governments, including the Russian, Chinese and European governments, has singularly failed in its duty. As the World’s only super power it has a special responsibility to initiate, innovate and catalyse new thinking and create more imaginative solutions to solve the longstanding global dilemmas that confront our historically insecure planet.
In this respect, Bush has failed on every level. He has failed to think outside the box and even inside the box. The invasion of Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster of ridiculous proportions that has cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. It has been brutal, clumsy, ill thought through in every respect and far from winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi nation it has served only to antagonise them and raise the level of hostility towards the U.S. and the West in general. The ranks of Al Qaeda are swelling by the day. If this is not massive incompetence, I do not know what is.
In Afghanistan, it seems the Americans have failed to follow up on early promises to help re-build the country’s shattered infrastructure and develop economic opportunity. The Taliban remain an ever present threat and the major responsibility of confronting and defeating them appears to have been left largely to the under-equipped and under-manned British forces, which are said to be exhausted just a few weeks into their mission. On this front as in Iraq, Bush has failed to deliver.
The Taliban remain an ever present danger and the opium trade is as vibrant as ever. The human and economic cost has been astronomical and the return on investment would have seen many a CEO kicked out on his ear in Wall Street had he been responsible for such a farce.
Let us not even begin to talk about budget deficits, global warming, Aids and the famine, death and destruction in the Congo, Zimbabwe and Sudan. Let us whisper quietly the words North Korea, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Burma and of course Palestine. Our "revered" leaders are no closer to resolving the Palestinian issue now than they were ten or even twenty years ago. It is scarcely credible that the combined wisdom of the World's most powerful leaders have been incapable of finding a lasting and equitable solution to the Isreali/Palestinian connundrum; especially when it is the desire of the vast majority of humans everywhere to live in peace.
Where is the wisdom and where are the leaders that can and should resolve these issues? I can tell you now, they are not in the White House, 10 Downing Street , The Lycee or the Kremlin and as far as I can see they are equally absent in Damascus, Tehran, Bhagdad, Jeruselem and Peking. The inhabitants of these distinguished addresses do not possess an ounce of true wisdom between them.
They have always allowed and continue to allow petty minded politics to get in the way of humanity, compassion and equity. It is beyond shameful. It is a travesty of truly bibilical proportions for which they all deserve humanity's unequivocal condemnation. They have failed all the world's people in their sacred duty of leadership.
As far as Bush is concerned, here is a man who cannot think on his feet, who cannot express himself properly. He cannot even pronounce the word “nuclear” correctly, pronouncing it “nucelear”! Here is a man who makes up policy on the basis of instinctive hunches who claims to have a direct line to God and who clearly believes there is no need to think further or more deeply on the matter. If it's good enough for God, that's good enough for Bush, because he clearly did not think through the repurcussions of the aftermath of invading Iraq or for that matter, Afghanistan. Bush, in my humble opinion is the most naive, ignorant, callous and dangerous of all Presidents.
Now in the face of failure on all fronts, his only defence is to blemish the character and motives of all those who would oppose his ideas. To vote for anyone but Bush is according to Cheney and his neo-conservative acolytes, to hand victory to the terrorists. In Bush’s simple world, if you are not with him you are against him and that makes you the enemy. Has there ever been a worse President? This man is leading the world down the road to purgatory because he lacks the imagination and the intelligence to do anything else.