In Touch with Fantasy
"I'd say the world is more peaceful and more free under my leadership." President George Bush (PBS 10.31.02)
Two days before Independence Day in the United States, President Bush demonstrated once more the nature of his leadership--of a world that never gave him the keys to the kingdom. Military aid was suspended to 35 countries because they "failed to reach a 1 July deadline to provide the US with assurances that no American soldiers or military personnel would be charged and tried by the new court for war crime offences allegedly carried out on their territory." Forty-three countries caved: they entered into "impunity agreements" assuring that "US nationals can never be brought up on human rights charges by the International Criminal Court while in those countries. (Independent 7.2.03) Thereby did the President declare his independence from the world he is determined to rule.
It wasn't always this way. Back in 1946, Nuremberg trials prosecutor Judge Robert Jackson rendered this finer judgment: "If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the Unite States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.'" (John Pilger, Independent 8.28.03) Now "Do unto others ..." has given way to "Do others in."
Now the U.S. is determined to accept no responsibility for actions anywhere, certainly not in Iraq. No wonder Pentagon policy official Douglas Feith blamed "sabotage and a threadbare infrastructure," not bad U.S. planning, for setbacks in the post-invasion reconstruction of the country. "War always involves trade-offs," he argued. "It's not right to assume that the major problems in Iraq are attributable to poor planning." And in a speech before the Center for Strategic and International Studies he "denied the Bush administration had exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam and Iraq's programs to make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons." (AP 7.9.03) Was he discomforted by a July 12th Newsweek poll indicating that public opinion of the President's handling of Iraq had dropped some 20 points? But the news was not all bad. Still 53% of Americans said they believed that Mr. Bush "did not purposely mislead the public about evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in order to build support for the war, while 38 percent said the administration had misled the public." (Reuters 7.13.03)
In mid July, Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) in a run to replace Mr. Bush in 2004, told prospective voters: "If in fact we went to war under false pretenses that is a very serious charge. If the standard of impeachment is the one the House Republicans used against Bill Clinton, this clearly comes within that standard." (Reuters 7.17.03) While he called for accountability in New Hampshire, in Baghdad Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, a prime plotter of the war to transform the Middle East, called on troops to thank them "for their sacrifices and successes." (AP 7.17.03) Not surprising: their sacrifices are directly related to his success.
But was he succeeding after all? When military commanders introduced what were politely termed "unorthodox policies" to pacify Fallujah, local clan chief Farhan Siyam al-Jomaili cried, "We will fight them to the death if they keep humiliating us." Clan chief Sheikh Jassim Jishbil lodged this logical question: "These Americans have no credibility. If they came to remove Saddam Hussein, Saddam is gone. Why are they still here?" Police force veteran Shaker Hamad was as candid as he was pragmatic. "We will hate America even if it turns our city, or the whole of Iraq, into gold," he said. "But those who are attacking the Americans are working against our interests. We need stability to allow the Americans to do what they promised." (AP 7.30.03)
By the end of July the President's war was costing American taxpayers $4 billion a month. …