Monday, September 11, 2006

Betrayal by the Bush Administration

As we honor the September 11th dead, it's important to recall that the Bush administration has betrayed them with its flagrant war in Iraq that had nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with empire.

They have betrayed us by not seriously implementing the suggestions of the 9/11 commission, by not securing our ports, by not hardening our nuclear facilities, by not reaching out to moderate Muslims, by tying our military down in political quicksand in Iraq, by torturing prisoners, by refusing to acknowledge the black sites for years, by scorning the UN, by calling the Geneva Conventions quaint.

This administration has done its utmost to destroy the separation of powers and shred the Constitution in the last five years. They have done their damnedest to turn this country into a police state.

But as Katrina showed us, this Administration hasn't made us any safer...quite the opposite.

Jonathan Rausch evaluates Bush's impact this way:
Bush will leave a legacy, in the form of four headaches.

The fiscal mess. Bush's tax cuts and spending increases turned a $236 billion federal surplus in fiscal 2000 into a deficit of more than $400 billion four years later, an astonishing reversal. That the current year's deficit may come in at something like $300 billion is little cause for comfort; with Baby Boomers due to retire and an expensive Medicare drug benefit kicking in, the country's fiscal position is weak.

The Iraq mess. The invasion was a gamble; the failure to scrub the prewar intelligence and properly manage the postwar occupation were mistakes. The gamble might still pay off, but the mistakes have astronomically raised the gamble's cost in lives, money, prestige, and U.S. strategic focus and position (Iran has been the invasion's signal beneficiary).

International opprobrium. The Iraq adventure fueled a precipitous decline in America's image abroad, and Bush's pugnacious style during his first term and his tin ear for foreign opinion made a bad situation worse. This is more than just a public-relations problem. National prestige is diplomatic capital; the more unpopular America becomes, the higher the price of foreign support. Mark Malloch Brown, the UN's deputy secretary-general, recently said that suspicion of the United States has grown to the point where "many otherwise quite moderate countries" are inclined to oppose anything we favor.

An extralegal terrorism war. If the country seriously intends to prevent terrorism, then spying at home, detaining terror suspects, and conducting tough interrogations are practices that the government will need to engage in for many years to come. Instead of making proper legal provisions for those practices, Bush has run the war against jihadism out of his back pocket, as a permanent state of emergency. He engages in legal ad-hockery and trickery, treats Congress as a nuisance rather than a partner, and circumvents outmoded laws and treaties when he should be creating new ones. Of all Bush's failings, his refusal to build durable underpinnings for what promises to be a long struggle is the most surprising, the most gratuitous, and potentially the most damaging, both to the sustainability of the antiterrorism effort and to the constitutional order. |Reason|

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