By George Gregoriou
When is the White House not in trouble? The residents in the White House are always trying a new spin, a new face lift (even the lawn is getting a new face lift now for new improved photo opportunities), a new speech, even a new direction in foreign policy. The French have a saying for constant changes, «the more things change the more they are the same”.
The Bushies are in trouble, not because of poor communication. They are in trouble because of poor policies. The great Plato had something to say about the tinkerers of his time, who were always trying to pass another piece of legislation. If the whole system is on faulty foundations, Plato taught, all the tinkering in the world would do little good.
Its the policies, stupid! The road map to peace in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is going nowhere. It will go nowhere, if the Israelis seize Palestinian land to build more Jewish settlements. Ariel Sharon and his predecessors want Palestinian land and peace. Can¹t have both. Even the “best of the offers” by Israelis, the Barak plan, kept not only 78% of Palestine (1948 partition), but another 5% of the pre-1967 war Palestinian land to accommodate 75% of the 200,000 Jewish settlers. The occupation costs US taxpayers 4 billion dollars a year.
What about Afghanistan? Are the Bushies winning the war? Well, the White House (Reagan and Bush I) helped train and finance the Talibans against the SU in the 1980s at the tune of 51/2 billion dollars. Additional $billions were needed to destroy the “holy warriors” the White House helped to create.
The Bushies are now getting us deeper and deeper, in a war which cannot be won. Billions of dollars will be needed to finance these wars and global war on terrorism.
Young men are dying, one by one, and many more will be dying in the months and years to come. Occupied people do not love the occupiers. The Talibans are regrouping in a protracted war against Americans and the Afghanistani collaborators. The warlords are still in charge in the countryside. The only visible thing in Kabul is Karzai’s constant change of dress code, depending on the audience and the photo opportunities to be projected.
And Iraq? Billions of American dollars were used to build Saddam Hussein’s military arsenal in the war against Iran in the 1980s. And then Washington had to spend additional billions of dollars in the 1990s to contain and weaken Saddam¹s regime. An additional $150 billion were needed to invade and overthrow the regime in the first half of 2003. In his address to the American people on September 7 Bush II asked Congress for an additional $87 billions to continue the war on terrorism for an indefinite period. There is no end in sight. Billions of dollars will be spent on home security. If the war on communism dominated the latter half of the 20th Century, it is the war on terrorism in the 21st Century.
I do not like to listen to Bush¹s speeches. They are printed in the papers the next day. The words are not his, nor the ideas. The delivery is rehearsed, his handlers watching every movement, every intonation is analyzed for effect, including the movement of eyes and face. This time I did. The substance of the speech? There is no substance. America will stay the course. No one expected the White House to declare “we are packing our bags to leave”. We are winning! Would he say “we are loosing”! He even tried to be Churchillian! The tougher the words, the weaker the message. He even continued the smile on his face when talking about the brave soldiers who died serving their country.
It is easy for a country to invade another. It is difficult to get out, especially by superpowers concerned with their image. So they get deeper and deeper into a messy situation, until opposition builds up at home and abroad. The hawks had the misconception that military technology would do the job in Iraq and Afghanistan. All the military technology and intelligence the US had could not prevent a few terrorists with box knives creating havoc inside the biggest power in world history.
The White House is in trouble. The fig-leaf is no more. Lies and deception were the only weapons, of mass distraction. Twenty-three million Iraqis are being guarded by 135,000 Americans (1 soldier to 170 Iraqis); resistance to the American occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq is increasing; Israeli bombings and Palestinian suicide missions are intensified; and the international order is cascading with one crisis after another; civil liberties in the US are being eroded, thanks to the Bush-Aschcroft Homeland Security department; the US economy is in trouble; unemployment has been steadily increasing in the last 22 months; and some 30% of the American families are below the poverty level ($17,960 for a family of four).
Bush¹s speech focused on the problems the White House created, terrorism. The monetary and human costs will be borne by men and women who did not cause these problems. And, young men, driven to the military by poverty, unemployment, and lack of education, will die for policies inflicted on the American people and the world by draft-dodging men driven to political power by corporate greed. They had no life yet. The $87 billions will keep these young men in the killing fields of Afghanistan and Iraq. This is not enough. The White House wants to legitimize its occupation of Iraq through a UN Security Council resolution, in order to spread the financial costs and deaths to other people. The UN should say no to the Bushies. Let the White House deal with its own problems.
Professor of Political Science
The William Paterson Univ. of NJ