The Challenge Of Another Term With The Bush Empire
The Challenge Of Another Term With The Bush Empire
By Ramzy Baroud
When the final vote count confirmed President George W. Bush’s re-election last November, two competing analyses were offered regarding his second term in office.
One argued that the administration’s foreign policy was likely to maintain its current attitude as financially reckless, military-oriented and unilateral. The other asserted that US presidents in their second terms are not usually bound by the pressure of interest groups and thus are capable of infusing their original ideals, which brought them into the White House in the first place. In other words, Bush’s initial “kinder, gentler America” rhetoric now has a greater chance of actualizing. In his inaugural address, on January 20, however, Bush undertook an incoherent third way, closer to a cheesy rewrite of a sophomore idealist’s first essay titled: “If I Were President,” than to an intelligible foreign policy program.
Bush’s first term was fully defined by the September 11 terrorist attacks, which left thousands of Americans dead and ultimately caused the death of tens of thousands of equally innocent people in Afghanistan and Iraq. The dynamics of how the tragedy espoused another and another have been scrutinized enough. Also clearer now is the dubious role played by a minuscule, yet influential band of “academics” known as the neoconservatives; that of instilling fear and thus manipulating the American response to the tragedy to suit their designs for a “New American Century,” which incidentally preceded the heart-wrenching collapse of New York’s Twin Towers.
The US’s conduct during Bush’s first term was a testing ground for what shall be remembered as the “Bush doctrine”, which was prefaced by the realization that the world was no longer American with the impressive rise of new economic pillars in Asia and Europe. The doctrine was hardly motivated and thus should be understood separate from the casual search for energy sources. This time it was all about strategic and exclusive control of energy sources around the globe, and translating that control into political dominion, backed by an ever-expansive military machine.
Predictably, there is a vital imperialist dimension to all of this. The collapse of direct imperialist control over much of the third world, during the Middle East, during the mid twentieth century was swapped with an alternative arrangement, which guaranteed that interest of Western imperialists through proxies, constituted by utterly corrupt and self-seeking local elites.
Very little was done to address the injustices of the past, save that the ‘victorious’ multitudes won a flag and an anthem, while the spoils of their land was divided, fairly or not between the local dictator and the former colonizer. This arrangement was illustrated more explicitly throughout Africa and parts of the Middle East. There was hardly any serious threat to upset this barter, as long as cheap raw materials continued to flow from the former colonies and as long as foreign aid and abundance of arms to suppress local rebellions flew back. This is how “stability” was defined. Anyone who challenged the status quo, was a source of “destabilization” and was to be “taken out.”
Europe honored and is still honoring this tacit, mutual commitment, while the United States faltered. Two intense schools of thought competed in the United States, those who believed that they could secure America’s interest through proxy only with an occasional CIA assassination and a coup (the multilateral approach) and the “do it yourself” crowd, who strongly believed that “to secure the realms” two requisites are needed: shifting the focus back to the military and launching a total war that would help the United States in reasserting its dominion and becoming the primary broker in world economy through its direct and not surrogate control over energy sources in the Middle East and Asia.
This in part explains the critical turning point in American foreign policy in terms of its relations with its “friends” in the region. Bush wished to explain his change of heart toward his regional allies in the Middle East in accordance to the nonsensical argument that America has turned a blind eye to undemocratic, oppressive and tyrannical regimes long enough. In truth however, the Bush doctrine wished to change the nature of the implicit exchange with third world countries’ dictators; it demanded total submission, a requirement that was found abrasive and was strongly resisted by some third world governments.
Dictatorships like that of Libya for instance, chose the path of total compliance to avoid the fate of Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime. Thereafter and in a matter of weeks, “Libya is now back into the fold of the international community,” one news anchor put it. Interestingly, Libya has done nothing to reverse its authoritarian practices; nor was it required to do so. Genuine democracy in these cases is beside the point. It was only intended as a rallying call to mollify the befuddled masses back home.
The propaganda machine in the United States was of course in full swing. The media filtering process – to borrow a Chomsky term - was facing its most awesome challenge. Of course, it was never easy to sell past administration criminal foreign policies as triumphs of democracy, but the task, following the Iraq war blunder was more immense and demanding than ever. Belligerent reporters from the Fox News Network had no difficulties explaining the charade throughout the March 2003 invasion and the well-rehearsed toppling of the Saddam statue. But when the bodies began piling up from both sides with no end in sight to the bloodshed, and as every war pretext was repeatedly exposed as an outright lie, it was hardly possible to canonize the malice American global designs, which have brought untold hurt to America and to the world around it.
If Bush’s first term was indeed a testing ground to some fantastic experiment set on control of world energy sources, then it must’ve been a complete failure. What was intended as a scare tactic to the rest of the world that America is back in the game, has become one historic embarrassment which has most US ground forces tied up in a senseless battle against a few thousand Iraq insurgents, without any sense of direction and without any lucid exit strategy. Taking on Tehran and Damascus under similar pretexts would be pure madness. And even if the US is foolish enough to enlist its treacherous ally, Israel, to carry out some “surgical” bombings of Iranian sites, the Bush administration would only contribute to the anti-American sentiment that is engulfing the Middle East and beyond.
That being said, one must admire the sheer resilience of the Bush administration. Condoleezza Rice in her confirmation hearing as nominee for Secretary of State on January 18 displayed unparalleled ability to lie beyond measure, especially as the California Senator Barbara Boxer courageously grilled her with dampening evidence of perjury and endless contradictions throughout Bush’s first term. Rice, who shrewdly instilled fear in the heart of Americans with her “mushroom cloud” forgery, now tells us of another fantastic scheme of enforcing her narrow definition of freedom and democracy on the rest of the world, including Russia itself. Russia responded with a warning that if the two sides don’t establish “new rules of the game” then a second Cold War is imminent.
Meanwhile, President Bush in his inaugural speech made sure to completely deviate from any reference to the Real World. Instead, he recited one of the most pompous speeches even uttered by an American president: "As long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom."
As aimless as it sounds, Bush was clever to avoid much reference to Iraq or to the other foreign policy mishaps to which he subjected his country. His critics can hardly accuse him of faltering on his foreign policy commitment since he made none that can be clearly measured, scrutinized and discredited.
Both analyses on Bush’s second term in office are likely to fall short. The administration is just too arrogant to admit that had gone completely astray and humbly reclaim the multilateral approach to foreign policies. It is also too bruised and battered by the Iraq war to pursue another military adventure. For the last year now, the US administration has been busy trying to mend its ties with Europe, with the hope that its ‘traditional allies’ would step forward to carry some of the war burden. That too is unlikely to happen, and even Bush’s anticipated trip to Europe shall harvest little but promises.
It’s far too late for the Bush administration to find its way “back into the fold of the international community.” President Bush, who denounced the United Nations as ‘irrelevant’ and rebuffed his European allies as ‘reluctant’ will now have to sink in Iraq’s quicksand alone. Such a fate should’ve been obvious for those who managed to filter through the fantastic lies of Rice and Collin Powell, especially if combined with a bit of historical context away from Fox News’ fictitious sound bites of a battle raging in a distanced land to defend the values for which many Americans gallantly fought and died. One can only hope that more Americans will manage to triumph over the overpowering fear and confront their government’s self-destructive foreign policies. Without an awesome awaking, the “kinder, gentler America” shall always succumb to the mad policies of a mad government.
— Ramzy Baroud is a veteran Arab-American journalist. A regular columnist in many English and Arabic publications, he is editor in chief of PalestineChronicle.com and is a program producer at Aljazeera Satellite Television.