Heavy Rhetoric, Wishful Thinking and Hydrogen Cars
A Response to the State of the Union Address
Muqtedar Khan, Ph.D.
I listened to the President’s State of the Union address with growing boredom and a sense that I was being duped. Rather than talk about the state of the union, which would be delving in depth on the declining economy and the globalization of anti-Americanism, President Bush chose to speak about the wonderful things he hopes to do for the wonderful people of America. He went down the laundry list of domestic issues, education, health care, economy and touched upon aborting and cloning by employing a serious of crowd pleasing slogans/promises instead of analysis and facts. The only exciting issue that he had was his promise to those born today, that one day they would drive a car run by hydrogen whose only exhaust would be water. His only achievement seems to be the 674 million dollar stimulus package that the Congress has yet to pass.
On foreign policy, he promised a war against Iraq without declaring a war. He insisted on maintaining his unilateralist approach to world affairs and went to great lengths to show that since his previous lecture he has learnt that there are significant differences in the circumstances of Iran, Iraq and North Korea. He promised to spread democracy in the world even if America had to do it alone and by force. While forcible democracy may sound a bit puzzling. I however do not understand why someone who is so committed to democracy would be opposed to the democratic positions advanced by the UN and insist on unilateralism if the vote went against the US in the UN Security Council. Why is he so eager to compromise democracy when it does not suit his agenda? How can he be both, pro-democracy and anti-democracy? Perhaps Professor Rice should explain to him that unilateralism is antithetic
The only proposal that I appreciated was his promise to help fight AIDS in Africa. If implemented it will definitely save many lives. Maybe on the Day of Judgment the lives he saves in Africa may save him from a harsher reckoning for the many innocent lives he plans to take in the war on Iraq. Declining Democracy and Economy
Under George W. Bush, America has made great strides. It has gone from a $250 Billion surplus to nearly $250 Billion in deficit and the family feud against Iraq, that has yet to begin, will cost the American taxpayer at least $60 billion in destroying Iraq and another $100 billion in rebuilding it. Americans have lost over 1.5 million jobs under his watch, over 100,000 last month alone, and most States (28/50) are now suffering from huge deficits in their budgets. President Bush himself has silently conceded mismanagement of the economy by sacking his financial team midway (including senior aides such as the Treasury secretary and the Chief Economic Advisor). But unfortunately he has not learnt that it is not people but policies that mess economies. He should be changing his policies not the people who implement them for him.
George W. Bush has given American democracy a new meaning. It is a place where people contest elections and the one who gets lesser votes becomes the president. The USA Patriot Act passed by the Congress last year at his behest, undermines several important civil rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Today the idea of “due process”, which used to be the corner stone of justice in America, has now become an undue burden to the American legal system. Not only has the Bush administration violated international law in its treatment of prisoners of war it has also violated fundamental principles of the US constitution in its treatment of several people arrested in the US since September 11th.
Globalization of Anti-Americanism
After the tragic attacks on September 11th, this president promised us two things; he would eliminate Al Qaeda and he would win the hearts and minds of those who hated America. But this President has succeeded not only in increasing hatred towards America in most of the Middle East by making injudicious statements such as, “if you are not with us you are against us” (tell that to France, Russia, China, 80%of the British and the UN now who are not with the US on the war on Iraq), “Axis of Evil” (it spurred the North Koreans to go nuclear), and the use of the “Crusade” word which has become the metaphor for his policies in most of the Muslim World, but he has also succeeded in making Asians and Europeans also hate and distrust America. In German as well as in South Korea the most vocal anti-American politicians won elections recently. Rather than reducing hate George Bush’s policies
Even at home he is determined to generate disenchantment. Immediately after the Trent Lot affair, who was finally exposed for having preference for the pre-civil rights America, President Bush decided to appease the haves and alienate the have-nots, by coming up with a stimulus package that gives tax breaks on dividends (to fat cats with investment portfolios) and deciding to oppose affirmative action (designed to help underprivileged minorities). The irony of this position seems to have escaped him and many of his supporters. He is himself a poster child for affirmative action – a not so bright guy, with modest grades and even modest SATs who went to Yale and then Harvard only because his last name was Bush!
Bushel of Blunders
To put it bluntly, President Bush has screwed the economy; his management of foreign policy has alienated the world so much so that in a Times Europe survey 84% Europeans (our allies) rated America as the state that posed the most danger to the World and North Korea and Iraq got similar votes from only 7% and 8% respondents! The World has lost trust in America and it demands proof, conclusive proof, for every claim we make. In spite of spending billions of dollars on the so-called war on terror, Bin Laden is still free and Al Qaeda still powerful and still launching attacks (Bali and Kenya). The Taliban are back and the American choice for President, Karzai, has been reduced to the status of a Mayor of Kabul (so much for democracy in Afghanistan). The anthrax bomber is still free to kill. The Middle East crisis continues to rage. Assuming that President Bush’s statements about the P
President Bush in two years has amassed a long list of failures. His only successes are the midterm elections and his periodic handouts to the rich in forms of tax cuts. He duped Americans in the midterm elections by talking about Iraq and not the economy. But as the economy declines and the purse begins pinch, even the gullible, and poorly informed American voters will know that something is going terribly wrong.
If I were President, instead of Iraq, Iraq, Iraq and Hydrogen Car, my priorities would be, to create new jobs, fight the deficits (Federal and State), finish Al Qaeda and bolster education.
Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Chair, Department of political science at Adrian College. He is the author of American Muslims: Bridging faith and Freedom. His commentaries are archived at http://www.glocaleye.org.
A. Muqtedar Khan, Ph.D. Director, International Studies
Program Chair, Department of Political Science Adrian
College, Adrian, MI 49221