Juan Cole: One last Argument with Bush
[Mr. Cole is Professor of Modern Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan. His website is http://www.juancole.com.]
When Bush first came in, the comedian Will Ferrell did a skit on the television show"Saturday Night Live" that depicted the president cowering under his desk as bombs went off in Washington and the country went down the tubes. Coming after the prosperity and relative peace of the Clinton years, it seemed a fantastic parody. Little did we know that if anything SNL did not begin to capture the full extent of the catastrophe.
Nobody cares any more, unlike in 2003 when shills for the war were always on my case to"report the good news" and lay off Bush. Some of my"arguments with Bush" during the past 7 years were internet bestsellers. Now, the man has discredited himself so badly, he can't even get people to so much as yawn at him. But in honor of all those arguments of the past, I'm doing it one last time.
As usual, most of what he said in the State of the Union address was transparent lies. He praised private groups for doing charity work in Louisiana because he hasn't followed through on his own promises after Katrina. He did that phony thing of reporting the average tax"increase" if his"tax cuts" were allowed to expire. If I'm in the room with someone who made a billion dollars last year and Bush doesn't cut my taxes at all but he cuts those of the billionaire such that he saves 5% of his income, then the two of us in the room have an average tax cut of $25 million apiece. But in the real world, I get bupkus and the billionaire gets $50 million. That shell game sums up the Republican"tax cut" scam they keep running on the American middle class, which always falls for it.
So here are some last arguments with the man's bald faced lies, for old times sake.
Bush assertion:"We believe that the most reliable guide for our country is the collective wisdom of ordinary citizens."
Sad Fact: Indiana GOP tries to keep ordinary citizens from voting with restrictive photo identification law.
Bush assertion:"And so, in all we do, we must trust in the ability of free peoples to make wise decisions and empower them to improve their lives for their futures."
Sad fact: Amit Paley writes,"A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers.
In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout . . ."
Bush assertion:"We've seen Afghans emerge from the tyranny of the Taliban and choose a new president and a new parliament."
Sad fact: "Afghanistan Journalist sentenced to Death for Blasphemy" and I don't think women would agree with Bush's rosy picture of progressive democracy in Kabul. Not to mention that half the country's gross domestic product is generated by the heroin trade. Bush goes on to say that his democratic projects are only being interrupted by terrorists; but all the problems above are problems with the establishment, not with terror groups.
Bush assertion:"From expanding opportunity to protecting our country, we've made good progress."
Sad fact: Bush's Iraq is a major generator of terrorism, which it was not before 2003. "Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the prime training ground for foreign terrorists who could travel elsewhere across the globe and wreak havoc, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials and classified studies" by the CIA and the Department of State, Warren P. Strobel reported July 4, 2005."Iraq's emergence as a terrorist training ground appears to challenge President Bush's rationale for invading and overthrowing leader Saddam Hussein in March 2003," Strobel wrote." So we are safer how again?
Bush assertion:"We launched a surge of American forces into Iraq. We gave our troops a new mission: Work with the Iraqi forces to protect the Iraqi people, pursue the enemy in his strongholds, and deny the terrorists sanctuary anywhere in the country."
Sad fact:"The Iraqi Red Crescent Organization and the U.N. reported last month that the “number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has soared since the American troop increase began in February. . . The chart reports some decreases in the intensity of “ethno-sectarian violence” in certain Baghdad districts (Note: This is based on military data). But where there have been decreases, they are due largely to the fact that “mixed Muslim” areas are being overrun by either Shia or Sunni enclaves.The map above demonstrates that Shias have been gradually taking over all of Baghdad (noted by the green mass that now covers much of the city), wiping out Sunni communities that stood in their path. Center for American Progress analyst Brian Katulis estimated that Baghdad, which once used to be a 65 percent Sunni majority city, is now 75 percent Shia."
A large proportion of the 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Damascus was displaced to Syria during 2007, apparently as a side effect of Bush's troop surge.
So all this involves"protecting the Iraqi people" how, exactly? Does Bush think Iraqis are safer when they are refugees in a foreign country?
He won't be missed.
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