2004-05-21 / Columnists

The Progressive By John Paul Culotta

The Progressive By John Paul Culotta

Is Bush Effective?

Recent media attention regarding pre 9/11 activity of both the Clinton and Bush administrations has confused the main issues facing this nation. Americans will be required to evaluate the present administration’s polices after that tragic date in our history. Are we winning the war against international terrorism? Have the policies of our president been effective? Are the policies of this nation moral?

The war against international terrorism is a war of ideology not of military strength. If military strength were the issue, Americans would not need to worry. To win this war this nation and our allies will need to win the hearts and minds of the Moslem population that would be attracted to the Islamists

All Americans should be proud of Mr. Bush’s original plans to use the military strength of the United States and our allies (which included France and Germany) in attacking the Taliban in Afghanistan. The war terrorists were waging on us now was brought back to the terrorists.

The war against Iraq which began on March 20, 2003 based on what now appears to be ingenuous claims of Hussein having the capacity to inflict immediate enormous damage to this nation. There were also claims that Hussein had links to the religious terrorist groups. Links to these groups have not been established. In fact, it is dubious that the religious fanatics would have approved of Hussein’s secular policies.

Americans were led to believe that Iraqis would welcome us as liberators. Although many Iraqis were happy with the fall of Saddam, our policies after the fall of Hussein have damaged our creditability in the entire Moslem world. We appear to have the policy of humiliating Arabs. This president used the word "crusade" in describing our campaign against terrorism. This word has a meaning in the Arab world that is a reminder of invading Western armies. Military activity was commenced during Ramadan. Such an act has been taken as a further act of insensitivity. There are examples in history when ceasefires occurred during Christmas.

The Arabs have contributed to Western civilization. The roots of both Christianity and Judaism are found in Iraq and other Arab countries. The numbers we use are attributed to the Arabs. The Arabs have heavily influenced architecture, cuisine, and customs in Mediterranean Europe. Ancient civilizations need to be respected. Instead during the invasion the National Museum was looted. It would appear the American military found no need to safeguard the treasures that the museum held.

This nation did not convince the international community and many of our allies of the necessity of invading Iraq. One ally’s foreign minister warned us when he spoke at the United Nations that we know how to begin war but we cannot predict what war can unleash. France’s foreign minister Villepin was correct in his evaluation of the danger of war in Iraq. Although Saddam Hussein was a monster, daily life for many Iraqis has not improved and most of the world especially the Moslem world sees America as an occupating power not as liberators.

The most compelling reason that our nation has used to justify the invasion of Iraq was that a terrible dictator who used torture and execution to remain in power was removed. Our nation will help bring better living conditions, democracy, and peace to the entire Middle East if we can bring democracy to Iraq. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians would be imminent after the fall of Hussein.

Our foreign policy after the invasion of Iraq has not been one of an honest broker between Israel and her Arab neighbors. This has further inflamed the Arab world and much of the rest of the international community. Unilateral statements by our President and the Israeli Prime Minister will not lead to peace. Only negotiations between the parties involved can lead to peace. The road to peace will be a treacherous and rocky highway. It is futile to think peace can be imposed without the participation of the Palestinians. Former British diplomats and US have stated that the United States policy in the Middle East was disastrous. The US diplomats wrote to President Bush that "By closing the door to negotiations with Palestinians and the possibility of a Palestinian state, you have proved the US is not an even handed peace partner. You have placed US diplomats, civilians, and military doing their jobs overseas in an untenable and even dangerous position."

Expenditure of $1 billion each week to maintain our position in Iraq and the mounting causalities force the citizens of this nation to examine the effectiveness of the administration’s policy. Our most compelling argument has been the moral one. A horrible dictator was removed. Now, the discoveries of the Abu Ghraib prison have now demonstrated the fallacy of that argument. I challenge all to view the pictures online at www.NewYorker.com regarding conditions in this prison and the article by Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize winner to say we are behaving in a moral fashion. Pictures of young American women abusing nude Iraqi men can only inflame the Arabs and all civilized people. For our President to say he is disgusted and those responsible will be punished is not enough. The French foreign minister was correct when he said we never know what war will unleash. It unleashes the worst in the human psyche. This is why many in Old Europe still maintain war can only be unleashed when there is no other alternative. Preventative war it appears only unleashes the horror and does not guarantee security. There is some evidence that our nation’s leaders have allowed suspects to be transported to nations that use torture as a means of obtaining evidence. One of the people that faces court martial Sgt. Ivan Frederick wrote military intelligence officers " encouraged us and told us ‘great job’ that they were now getting positive results and information" when the military police used torture.

Americans are proud of the people in the armed forces who are sacrificing for all of us. Only one member of Congress has a child in the armed services. There is an extended Bush, Cheney family that is not serving the country. The President was in the National Guard during The Vietnam conflict. Mr. Cheney had a deferment because his wife was pregnant. It is ironic that our leaders have no fear in sending our working class youth into battle. If our policies are the road to security all Americans should share the burden. Public Opinion polls indicate many of us do not think the present policies are effective. After November, the nation may see a draft that will include the drafting of young American women. Will the Bush twins be included? The growing deficit caused by the conflict and the increased inflation will cause havoc in this nation. Many Republicans are urging Catholic bishops to deny Senator Kerry communion because of his position on abortion choice. The Vatican has condemned preventive war and capital war. If the President were Catholic would the bishops be encouraged to deny him the sacrament?

Again, is the nation winning the war against international terrorism? Have the policies of president Bush been effective? Are our policies moral? My response is no.

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