After two years of our "War on Terror," is the world a safer place?
The Taliban have returned to Afghanistan. Israel and Palestine have become more violent. More soldiers have been killed in Iraq since President Bush declared an end to hostilities.
Even those shrill voices who continue to defend Bush do so with the growing recognition that our entire foreign policy has been an unequivocal disaster.
Desperate to keep both the big lie alive (that our war on terrorism is working) and his political career afloat, Bush went before the cameras Aug. 31 to grovel to the United Nations and plead for international money and troops to bail him out.
Ironically, those countries like France, Germany and Russia, who fully understood the consequences of invading Iraq are now poised once again to give the little man from Crawford, Texas, another lesson in international diplomacy. He wants them to pony up money and troops while giving up decision-making powers about how those resources are used. Behind the scenes I imagine U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on his knees beseeching our allies with promises of favor for doing the Empire's bidding.
More important, Aug. 31 was Bush's outrageous request for $87 billion (Iraq total to date, $166 billion) from we, the people, to prop up his preposterous notion and dim vision that more money will cure his bankrupt foreign policy. He ought to take a lesson and quote from his own script in the Republican playbook on public education that throwing more money at a failed plan is "just bad policy."
But Bush is desperate and neither 41 (the elder George H.W. Bush, our 41st president) nor his friends can bail George Jr. out this time. Having saved him from his flop in the oil business and then given him a sweetheart deal for a losing baseball team, Junior has used up all those favors. Moreover, even 41 and his wealthy friends don't have the kind of money Junior needs now, even with those generous tax breaks they just received.
Now George wants us to squander more treasury on his Iraqi Follies. The nation, already reeling from his domestic agenda, record deficits, record unemployment and continued reallocation of resources up the food chain, doesn't have much more to give. We are closing schools and libraries, denying health care to the masses, and moving jobs overseas. I imagine that soon the World Bank and International Monetary Fund will be called in to guide us through the "structural adjustments" that have been so popular with other debt-ridden third-world countries.
Junior used the word sacrifice once during his toadying Aug. 31 speech. But it was a disconnected verb floating about in search of a noun to anchor it so we could grasp exactly what sacrifice he meant for us to make. He doesn't understand the proper meaning of the word. He believes his calling is to sacrifice the lives of others. Whether it be in his failed war on terrorism, or in the future when our children and grandchildren will be called to make huge sacrifices in the quality of their lives to repay the treasury he misspent.
Bush, like so many other politicians, Bill Clinton included, has squandered the extraordinary opportunity they are given when elected to public office, the opportunity to serve others, the opportunity to promote the general welfare and advocate for the common good. But Bush, like the others, can only serve his own narrow and selfish interests; mostly catering to the moneyed crowd that got him elected and then propped him up once in office.
Clinton's hubris and sexual appetite triggered a scandal that gave his enemies ammunition to disrupt the government for two years. Bush's hubris and appetite for self-
aggrandizement is costing the lives of thousands and thousands of people in the Middle East and around the world.
Bush lied about the reasons for going to war. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Iraq was no threat to us. There was no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Consequently, the people of Iraq did not throw flowers and welcome American troops, and the administration never had any realistic plan for rebuilding Iraq.
Bush continues to lie about the reasons for staying in Iraq. He's trapped in this big lie and he sees "staying the course" as his only option. He will sacrifice anyone and anything to save himself. It would take a big man to admit that he was wrong, but the diminutive Bush has shown no capacity for that kind of courage in his life.
It's time to get out of Iraq, admit our failure, let the United Nations and the Iraqi people direct the reconstruction process and invest our treasury in rebuilding our country and restoring our lost democracy at home.
BUD MCCLURE, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota Duluth, is coordinator for www.umdfacultyagainstwar.com.
Copyright 2003 Knight Ridder