Bush: A disgraceful legacy

December 7, 2008 - 0:0

YOU have to admire President George W. Bush, who on January 20 will leave behind him what is arguably the worst U.S. presidential legacy ever. No sleepless nights over a global economy in freefall for him. No conscience haunted by the millions of souls, whose lives have been ruined for ever due to his misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Seemingly no concerns about his 24 percent approval rating, meaning he is more unpopular than even President Richard Nixon prior to his leaving office. Watergate was an almost inconsequential misdemeanor when viewed through the prism of Bush’s secret executive orders, attack on civil liberties and wiretapping. And neither does he appear bothered that the media portray him as a buffoon, as anyone who tunes into Jon Stewart’s Daily Show or Letterman can attest.
Superficially, at least, he displays no regrets, no contrition. This is a man in a million as few human beings elevated to his lofty pinnacle could remain so proud of their destructive handiwork. Last month, he boasted of his success in Iraq on a Japanese private network, adding, “Saddam was an enemy of the United States and a lot of people thought he had weapons of mass destruction.”
The fact is he did not possess WMD and since Bush came to office, the U.S. has more enemies than ever. Bush says he’s “very pleased” at the Iraq war’s outcome… and naïve to the rancor against Washington that Iraqis will likely display once the American military presence is over.
And despite the fact his administration has been heaping pressure on the Iraqi government for months to sign up a so-called security pact, including threatening to withhold billions or Iraq’s cash, Bush insists the Iraqis have invited American troops to stay. It must be true what they say about Bush rarely reading newspapers or turning on the television unless there’s a game. Poll after poll evidences that 80 percent of Iraqis want a pullout now. In truth, it’s pretty amazing that one in four Americans still think he’s done a good job. We used to call Britain’s Tony Blair “Teflon Man” but no one deserves that tag more than Bush. Just cast your mind back to 2000 for a moment.
Then, America was wallowing in a fiscal budget surplus of $230 billion. Today, the country is drowning in a deficit of $455 billion and growing. Then unemployment stood at 3.9 percent. Now, it’s hovering around 6.5 percent.
In 2001, 32.9 million people were living below the poverty line. By 2007, that statistic had risen to 37 million. In 2000, it was estimated that there were two million homeless Americans. There are no figures for 2008 but amid mounting foreclosures there are growing reports of tent cities springing up and families resorting to sleeping in cars.
Moreover, 28 million people are now reliant on government food stamps to purchase essentials, said to be the highest number since the 1960s when the program was first introduced. With a credit crunch still biting, banks and financial institutions failing and stock markets headed south, Americans -- or at least a quarter of them -- must be the most forgiving people ever.
The rest of us aren’t likely to be as charitable. Those of us who value human dignity will not forgive the indignities suffered by people deprived of habeas corpus and tortured in Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib and an untold number of other U.S.-run or -- backed gulags around the world. Furthermore, we cannot forget Bush’s hollow promises to bring a Palestinian state into fruition by the end of this year when his lack of effort makes clear he had no such intention in the first place.
It’s hard to believe now but in January, 2001 real progress was being made at the Taba Summit but instead of capitalizing on the work done by his predecessor, Bush washed his hands of the whole affair and relegated the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to the status of persona non grata.
To add insult to injury, he embraced the new Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon a war criminal responsible for the Sabra and Shatilla massacres. It was Sharon who sparked the intifada and together with Bush killed the peace process.
Internationally, George Bush hasn’t put a foot right. He’s managed to alienate a resurgent Russia, which believes it’s in danger due to a US missile shield to be erected in Poland and the Czech Republic. And he has succeeded in pushing chunks of Latin America into the arms of Iran. His policies have also fueled a highly unstable Pakistan.
Perhaps the ultimate indictment of Bush’s legacy is encapsulated in the National Intelligence Council’s “Global Trends 2025” Report published last week. It predicts a world just 17 years from now where the U.S. will no longer be an economic and political superpower, rather a mere “first among equals.” This will be a world beset by conflict over resources, rogue states and terrorist groups with access to nuclear weapons.
If it’s correct, then Bush’s ‘war on terror” and his neoconservative-inspired plan to ensure America’s global domination of the 21st century have not only failed dismally, they have backfired to hit Washington in the face. If Bush was a man on a mission to create a new world order wherein U.S. hegemony would remain unassailable for all time, as many once believed, he’s not only fallen short of the task, he has actually brought about the reverse. Letterman and Stewart may have a point. Bush couldn’t have done any worse if he tried.
(Source: Arab News)