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Independent Media TV
September 09, 2004
The surreal world of Bush
By: Haroon Siddiqui
Politicians don't always deliver what they promise. But George W. Bush is in a league all his own. He says one thing, does another and often manages the exact opposite of what he intends.
While politicians play up what suits them and downplay what doesn't, he is unique in shutting out reality altogether. He won't see what he doesn't want to see, even if others do.
Also, while politicians learn on the job and go from the stupid to the sensible, he seems to travel in the opposite direction.
He said post-9/11 that he was going to isolate terrorists but ended up isolating America.
He attacked Afghanistan to crush Al Qaeda but spawned its branches or, worse, copycat outfits all over the world.
He invaded Iraq to capture non-existent weapons of mass destruction, while his other two axis of evil nations, North Korea and Iran, were the ones developing nuclear weapons.
He talked tough on Iran but it was North Korea that got busy and made two nuclear bombs.
He saw his war on Iraq as a warning to other states not to develop lethal weapons but finds his credibility so eroded he can't convince others about the seriousness of Iran's nuclear intentions.
He went into Iraq to squash a non-existent terror connection and ended up sprouting widespread terrorism.
He ended Saddam Hussein's reign of terror, only to replace it with that of thousands of terrorists.
He liberated Iraqis but killed nearly 20,000 of them.
He promised them the rule of law but created the rule of looters, rapists and hostage-takers.
He pledged democracy but postponed elections to impose a CIA agent as prime minister.
He promised Iraqis freedom but muzzled the independent Al-Jazeera and gave $48 million to a Florida firm to modernize Saddam's propaganda machine so it can serve as the propaganda arm of the American occupation.
He hailed the axing of the death penalty in Iraq as one of the first acts of the American occupiers last year, but has consented to its reinstatement by the new U.S.-appointed satrapy in Baghdad.
He planned to replace the secular Baathists with secular democrats but strengthened the clerics — both among the Shiites and the minority Sunnis.
He needed the help of moderates among them but undermined the country's most influential moderate, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and elevated the militant Moktada Al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army has now shifted its insurgency from Najaf to the Shiite Baghdad slum of Sadr City.
Bush aimed for secular models of local governance but handed over self-rule in the Sunni cities of Falluja, Ramdi, Samarra and Baquba to fundamentalists who will likely never give it up without a bloodbath.
He routed the Taliban from Kabul but consented to Taliban-like rule by warlords in parts of Afghanistan and mullahs in parts of Iraq, especially in Falluja, where they are punishing suspected criminals with lashes in public squares.
He sought military control of the Shiite holy cities of Najaf, Kufa and Karbala but withdrew American troops, twice.
He wanted power consolidated in the hands of the American ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, and pliant prime minister Iyad Allawi, but discovered that while they have all the military gadgetry at their command, the political power has shifted to the mosque.
He wanted a pro-American and pro-Israeli Iraq but has created a virulently anti-American and anti-Israeli nation whose hostility seems set for a generation or two.
He claimed credit for the presence of the Iraqi soccer team at the Olympics, only to have the players publicly berate him as a slaughterer of innocents in Iraq, and see Greek anti-American protesters force the cancellation of Colin Powell's presence at the closing ceremony in Athens.
He continues to portray the American occupation of Iraq as an instrument of development, even as only 3 per cent of the $18 billion allocated by Congress for infrastructure has been committed so far and some basic services remain in worse shape than during Saddam's era.
He advocates democracy for Arabs but ignores its most basic principles in dealing with terror suspects at home, while violating the Geneva Conventions in dealing with prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He says the American economy is strong despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary: fewer jobs than when he took over, 4.3 million more people in poverty (for a total of 36 million), 5 million more people without health insurance (total 45 million), and a record number of people facing the prospect of going bankrupt.
He says he honours the service of John Kerry in Vietnam but has his entourage tear at the man's honourable record.
In short, we are dealing with a president who seems to be operating beyond the realm of rationality.
Haroon Siddiqui is the Star's editorial page editor emeritus. His column appears Thursday and Sunday. email@example.com
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