1/20/09

End Of The Dark Era Of Bush

. 1/20/09



Eric Holder, the presumptive U.S. attorney general in the Obama administration, was the first of his profession to acknowledge that the U.S. practice of waterboarding during interrogations after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is torture.

George W. Bush should also have admitted not only that waterboarding but in fact his eight-year tenure overall as U.S. president has been no less than torture. But he didn't. And it looks like he most probably never will.

For a final push to mend his legacy, the outgoing Bush demanded TV air time on Thursday to say farewell to Americans from the White House, as if his recent exclusive interviews weren't torturous enough. He tried to portray himself as a wise leader whose vision would only be realized later in history. Well, one must be vision impaired, at any time in history, to conclude that he was in general a successful president. Despite Bush's contempt for opinion polls, the American public overwhelmingly (61 percent) disapproves of his job performance, according to the latest Gallup poll, the lowest figures since President Nixon. The global public opinion of Bush is also dismal.

Mr. Bush may have slept like a baby at the White House because he is so comfortable and confident with himself; however, his legacy will surely deprive the next leadership from a decent night's sleep for the foreseeable future.

Both foreign policy and the economy are a mess. A record budget deficit, record unemployment, record foreign troubles, record this and record that. History will certainly regard Mr. Bush as a record breaker, in the negative sense of the word.

Bush described President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration as ""a moment of hope and pride"" for America. All criticism aside, I must congratulate Mr. Bush for acting like a gentleman and uttering compliments about his successor despite their political differences. However, Obama comes at a time when the hope and pride of the U.S. has eroded at home and abroad, thanks for the most part to Bush's poor decisions.

Mr. Bush wants Americans and others to give him credit for his ""decisive"" actions and ""tough"" decisions. I would have been pleased to do that if only his decisions and actions were right. He argues there should be no compromise between ""good"" and ""evil"". He might be correct. The problem is, his view of what's good and what's evil has not always been necessarily right.

Was it right to pursue evil tactics such as waging a pre-emptive war, engaging in state-sponsored torture in the name of the so-called ""war on terrorism,"" a term even his closest collaborators such as the British government are now refraining from using? Have torture centers like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib really represented good?

Bush has repeatedly said he is not engaged in a war against Islam and innocent Muslims. But many actions perpetrated or condoned by the U.S. government under his watch have suggested the opposite. Check out the huge number of ""collateral"" Muslim losses in Iraq and Afghanistan and the latest Gaza crisis. These are the consequences of listening to the wrong people and virtually shutting himself off from good advice. Especially when one thinks about Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Attorney General John Ashcroft, the word ""good"" hardly comes to mind.

It is not that there have not been a few accomplishments during the Bush presidency. For example, Bush's contributions to the fight against AIDS in Africa are certainly commendable. And people there, including millions of Muslims, are grateful to Americans. That is a clear example of how U.S. interests can be enhanced by being beneficial to other nations at the same time. Imagine what the world would look like if Mr. Bush spent only a fraction of the war toll for such battles.

Let's not be naive, war is certainly a fact of life. No nation can rule out that option. Yet wars can only be just if they are really necessary, defensive and lawful. Mr. Bush wants us to believe that his war on Iraq was out of necessity rather than choice. He even complains his intelligence agencies misled him about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- the main pretext for the war -- as if he did not close his ears and eyes to any information suggesting the contrary. The war was a calculated act on your part, Mr. Bush. Admit it.

No matter how he tries to paint it, the Bush legacy will be defined by two big wars with unfinished work (Iraq and Afghanistan), a less stable Middle East, alienated Western European friends and NATO allies including Turkey, a relatively disadvantaged U.S. in the face of competition against rising new superpowers like China, considerably diminished hard and soft American power in the world and a deep domestic crisis in economy and healthcare.

Aren't you glad the Bush torture is finally over?

Source: Todayszaman.com





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