Bye, Bye Bushie Bye, Bye!
Source Jim Devine
Date 09/01/16/09:44

Juan Cole wrote:

W. SAID goodbye to us last night, in an appearance that was surely notable
for most Americans mainly because of the annoyance that he delayed by
fifteen minutes their prime time shows like Gray's Anatomy and Eleventh

The Bard reminds us that we cannot attribute the dominance of the unworthy
ruler to fate, or the stars. If we diminish ourselves and make ourselves
underlings and give up our birthright as free citizens, bowing down to a
would-be emperor, then we ourselves must accept the blame. ...

Bush is my slightly older contemporary. I knew guys like W. in college, the
frat boys who painted the local lighthouse windows red in the middle of the
night after binging on cheep beer and chasing skirts instead of cracking
their books. The guys who were rude and arrogant because they did not know
how to wear their inherited wealth gracefully, the loudmouths who parroted
Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley without having the integrity of the
former or the eloquence of the latter.

When I was at college, I was interested in peace movements and spirituality,
in Gandhi and Sufism. Bush was obsessed by demon rum, poontang and
carpet-bombing peasants. I and my friends marched against the Vietnam War
because draftees from our social class were getting shredded in the jungles
fighting an Asian nationalist movement for no good reason. Bush and his
buddies mouthed Domino Theory and International Communist Conspiracy and had
their powerful fathers arrange fancy deferments for them. W. was just
another spoiled rich kid who refused to grow up and threw up on the shoes of
the rest of us while singing the praises of brutal militarism and
unrestrained capitalism.

When W. hit rock bottom in his drinking and womanizing he was about 40, and
he got the most rigid and simplistic kind of religion, which suddenly all
the rest of us had to support. Why is it that wastrels who find faith are so
insufferable? And despite all his personal failures and the clear evidence
that if you put him anywhere near the leadership of an organization he would
run it into the ground faster than a drunk can down a shot, he kept being
given chances because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and his
father had amounted to something. It has long been recognized by historians
that the key problem with dynasties is that being born to a powerful father
is no guarantee that the heir apparent won't be a royal screw-up.

So Bush, the impudent, opinionated, stubborn spoiled rich kid is made
president in 2000 by his daddy's rightwing friends on the supreme court. And
because of September 11 he gets his chance to avenge the failed Vietnam War,
and to kill Saddam Hussein, the unpleasant little brown man who had dared
defy W.'s wealthy and powerful daddy.

W. wasn't up to dealing with the Middle East. It is a complex, vital,
fractious place and is notorious as the graveyard of modern presidencies.
Carter was done in by Iranian hostage-takers. Reagan embroiled himself in
Iran-Contra. Bush Sr. imprudently took on the Israel lobbies over loan
guarantees for Israeli colonies on the West Bank, and that misstep helped
cost him reelection.

W. is a frightful combination of ignorant, dull, and pigheaded when to
succeed in the Middle East he needed to be well-informed, bright and
intellectually agile. Those were my stomping grounds; I knew them the way W.
knows Houston. But when I objected to his policies at this little weblog, my
mailbox was flooded with hate mail from people who thought W. knew best
about the Middle East. As if you could get experience, knowledge and wisdom
from 20 years of bar hopping and overrule the people who had done the hard

His war in Afghanistan was little more than an aerial intervention in favor
of the Northern Alliance, who, given close air support, easily rolled back
the Taliban. But Talibanism was not merely an ephemeral political ideology
that could so easily be defeated. It was a cry for order on the part of a
brutalized and often exiled population that had suffered Soviet, warlord and
Taliban wars. It was a cry for authenticity on the part of a people warding
off foreign domination. It was a vehicle of Pushtun power at a time when the
Dari Persian speakers had found new patrons such as Iran and India.
Talibanism was not defeated in 2001, it simply went underground for a while.

Bush had a huge country to deal with in Afghanistan, a little larger than
France but with a geography more like the American southwest -- and analogues
to the Rocky Mountains and the Arizona desert. It was among the poorest
countries in the world, seeded with millions of land mines and haunted by
widows, orphans, and the maimed. Riven by ethnic, linguistic, religious and
tribal divisions, it was a virtual basket case. Bush promised to make the
big investments in it that would bring it back from the brink. He lied. From
2001 through 2006, my recollection is that the US spent $80 bn. on war
operations in Afghanistan and $10 billion in civilian aid. It was a drop in
the bucket.

Bush boasted last night about Afghanistan being some sort of shining
democracy. I wish Afghans well, but no countries that poor and desperate are
stable democracies. The Karzai government would collapse in short order if
the US and NATO troops weren't propping it up. The Taliban and other
guerrilla insurgencies operate with impunity in places like Ghazni not far
from the capital. And, Bush's harping on the liberation of Afghan women is
just annoying. Women are better off than under Taliban rule, which was
pathologically misogynist. But rural Afghan tribes haven't suddenly decided
to treat their women differently. Some warlords regiment the women under
their control only a little less thoroughly than had the Taliban. And,
besides,the Taliban themselves are back and dictating such matters in some
of the Pushtun areas.

Bush has not bequeathed us a shining city on a hill in Afghanistan, but a
basket case in need of billions of dollars of investments that we no longer
have because of Bush's kleptomaniac buddies, whom he enabled.

Bush essentially left a small garrison in Afghanistan and tried to deal with
its monumental problems on the cheap. Instead, he diverted the needed
resources to his building war with Iraq already by winter of 2002. All of
the lies and propaganda whereby he dragged us into Iraq, all of the
fear-mongering and falsehoods, are too well known to rehearse.

The US has been involved in unjust wars before. But it had fought few wars
of choice, in which it just fell on another country without having been
attacked. The US had tried to stay neutral in both the world wars. Bush
blustered and grunted, shouted accusations and plotted provocations,
postured and told tall tales, and herded us into an illegal war with
intimations we faced the threat of a madman with nukes. He had no evidence
for these false and outrageous claims.

He praised Iraq as a pro-American democracy last night. Bush confuses
elections with democracy. Bush had nothing to say about the price Iraqis
played to have this rogue experiment on their lives. Did he kick off
conflicts that killed over a million Iraqis? That massive toll is entirely
plausible. Then there would be 3 million wounded, and a million widowed, and
5 million orphaned. He had nothing to say about the trail of destruction he
has left across the Middle East, like the slimy trail of a huge calamitous
slug. Bush has destabilized the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf
region. Turkish-Kurdish, Arab-Kurdish and Sunni-Shiite battles loom that
could redraw the map of the region. We may muddle through, but it is too
early to tell. Bush just can't help flashing that "Mission Accomplished"
neon whenever he talks about his achievements in Iraq.

There are weasels among the pundits who say that Bush has been vindicated,
insofar as Iraq has regained better security than it had in 2006. This is
like saying that the Norwegian brown rat was vindicated when the Black Death
ran its course, having killed a third of Europe before it subsided.

Bush has not redeemed the Vietnam War but rather made us live through
something very like it all over again, the only difference being that this
time we are likely to have the sense to get out before we are thrown out.

Bush even dared address us about how wonderful things are in the Middle East
now without bringing up the ongoing massacre of Palestinians in Gaza or the
continued expropriation and statelessness of the Palestinian people, who may
as well be slaves. Bush was the first US president to call for a Palestinian
state, and he had pledged that he would accomplish something to revive the
peace process in the final two years of his catastrophic presidency. But he
ended his second term with a mediocre rightwing Israeli prime minister
openly boasting of ordering him around.

Bush was never more than a screw-up. He admitted when running for president
that there were deficiencies in his knowledge and experience, but he said he
would make up for that by appointing good people around him. It turns out
that if someone doesn't have a lick of common sense, he won't even know
which of his advisers is giving him wise counsel, and he sure as hell won't
know how to appoint wise people to advise him in the first place. W. thought
the trustworthy, competent people were Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. He
doesn't seem to have taken Colin Powell seriously, and the way he used and
discarded Powell is yet another stain on his disastrous presidency.

W. had the gall to exploit people of color at his stage-managed farewell,
even though his party is overwhelmingly White and he has driven people of
color into much deeper poverty in contrast to Clinton, who raised the
standard of living for the poor and actually enforced civil and voting
rights. W. brought a native of New Orleans before the cameras last night, as
though this gesture could erase his maddening unconcern toward the damage
done one of the country's great cities by his own lackadaisical attitude.

Bush lumbers off into his Houston gated community (until recently
whites-only), having dropped the pretense of being a rancher who liked to
"clear brush." He has enriched his cronies in the military-industrial
complex, and opened Iraq to investment by US petroleum firms. But the US
economy was hollowed out by an administration that did not believe in
auditing the books or actually regulating businesses as the law requited.
Bush was a socialist on military and security issues and an anarchist when
it came to curbing the abuses of corporations or the white-tie superwealthy
that he called his base.

Bush never escaped the habits of his ne'er-do-well undergraduate days at
Yale. In the end, he replaced being drunk on beer with being drunk on power.
He replaced wooing the women with wooing the corporations. He replaced frat
boy hi-jinks with ruinous wars that wrought a devastation across the rugged
expanse of West Asia unlike anything seen since the pagan Mongols sacked
Baghdad in 1258.

Our nation renews itself, and makes small revolutions with its political
campaigns. We have the opportunity now, to choose truth over propaganda,
responsibility over recklessness, compassion over brutality, altruism over
self-interest, and ability over incompetence. We have the opportunity to
repudiate the past 8 years, and to transcend them once and for all, to
redeem ourselves as a nation. The persons we choose to serve us as first
among equals in our republic can bring us shame or honor as a nation. But it
is our choices as individuals that make us shameful or honorable in
ourselves. We must never again allow a crew of crooked bullies to make us
underlings, lest we be laid to rest in dishonorable graves.

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