It’s been a while since I’ve done a Thursday Thirteen list, and even longer since I’ve written about anything but hockey here. (And there’s been some damn good hockey so far this season!) But this being election season, I am bound to get into politics again sooner or later. So why not start with Thirteen Failures of Geo. W. Bush ?
1. Iraq. Wrong target, wrong reason, wrong plan. Now we find ourselves backing a Shi’a regime (which also enjoys the backing of our fundamentalist extremist friends in Iran). We are fully engaged in a civil war, with our troops used to prop up an Islamist regime with direct ties to unlawful militias and death squads. We’re on track to lose around 100 US service men and women this month. Nice. Way to support the troops. Thanks, George.
2. Afghanistan. We went in there to… get bin Laden? Bzzt! Failure. To defeat the Taliban? Bzzt! They’re coming back with a vengeance. Liberate women from the Burqa? Bzzt! Didn’t happen (To quote Arundhati Roy, “It’s being made out that the whole point of the war was to topple the Taliban regime and liberate Afghan women from their burqas, we are being asked to believe that the U.S. marines are actually on a feminist mission. If so, will their next stop be America’s military ally Saudi Arabia?”)
3. North Korea. This will probably go down in history as his greatest failure, even bigger than Iraq. Why? Because when Bush took office, the US had a working policy, the Agreed Framework, that had successfully contained North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. This Framewok had been in place since 1994, and under it North Korea had halted all nuclear development. Bush promptly discarded the Framework, and North Korea promptly went back to the nuclear drawing board and—surprise!—produced a nuke. And Bush has the chutzpah to suggest that dialog with North Korea had failed. Wrong George! Withdrawing from the Framework is what failed!
4. Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Another brilliant example of the complete lack of realpolitik in Bush’s foreign policy. In the Bush world view, we don’t talk to our enemies, and—surprise!—they don’t do what we want them to do. Because of the Bush policy of freezing out the relatively moderate Fatah government, Fatah became completely ineffective. And they were voted out in favor of the religious fundamentalist Hamas party. Had we worked with Fatah, this could have been avoided. Really.
5. Lebanon. Again, Bush’s failure to talk to non-allies (in this case Syria and Iran) and his green light to Israel led to the near destruction of Lebanon and it’s fragile coalition government. For all its talk of promoting democracy in the Middle East, the Bush administration has all but destroyed the only two democratically elected Arab governments in the region.
6. Iran. Another case where not talking to our enemies has emboldened them.
7. Privatizing Social Security. For this failure, I am glad. Bush’s only significant domestic policy push wildly misjudged the popularity of one of the last vestiges of New Deal Social Democracy in this country.
8. 9/11. First, in not taking the specific threat seriously. Second, for completely freezing in the face of the attack. Third, for running away like a scared child instead of going back to Washington to take charge.
9. The Patriot Act. His first giant swipe at the constitution. (This is more properly thought of as a Bush success that is a failure for democracy and human rights.)
10. The Military Commissions Act of 2006. This suspends the Writ of Habeas Corpus for anybody Bush arbitrarily determines to be an “enemy combatant”. One little problem: “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” (US Constitution, Article 1, Section 9) I don’t see no Rebellion or Invasion here, so this law is clearly unconstitutional. This is Bush’s most flagrant power grab, and, again, a Bush success at the expense of liberty.
9. Enron, Halliburton and the culture of corporate corruption.
10. No Child Left Behind. Better to call it “No Child Left a Dime.”
11. The tumors on my dog’s ass. I don’t know how, but somehow Wacky Mommy thinks we should be able to blame Bush.
12. Global Warming. Bush refuses to submit the Kyoto protocols for ratification. The US stands alone with Australia in its refusal to ratify this treaty.
13. The loss of Congress in the ’06 mid-term elections. I’m calling this one in advance.
My favorite bumper sticker of late has a very simple, very encouraging message: “January 20, 2009″.