Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bush Repeats His Failure Paradigm, Ignores His Only Success

Huffington Post
Paul Abrams
Bush Repeats His Failure Paradigm, Ignores His Only Success

George Bush's Presidency is not only a failure, but the seed of multi-generational disasters. Whether it is the disappearance of the middle class, the lost 8 years in stopping and reversing global warming, the disinvestment in the education and physical fitness of the next generation, the spiraling national debt, or wars and the reduction of trust in the United States, George Bush's legacy is already written, "years the locusts have eaten".

The policies that produced these disasters were animated by radical rightwing philosophy, sold to the American people through lies, dissembling and intimidation, and imposed through rigid discipline and attacking opponents. It is not an overstatement to suggest that, if these policies were really sound and popular, such tactics would be not only unwelcome but unnecessary.

Iraq is the largest of these catastrophes. Out of power, the radical rightwing bemoaned the concensus approach to foreign policy of using the military as a last resort, and when our national interest was at stake. Seizing power, they filled Bush's blank bonnet with visions of grandeur, (ab)using the US military as the primary instrument of policy to transform the world. Bush, a fellow war-avoider, swallowed their vision and their dismissive attitude toward diplomacy because the other side was unworthy, and because the real goal was overthrow anyhow.

This is all the more regrettable because Bush actually has a single success in his Presidency, Libya's abandoning its nuclear program in exchange for removal of sanctions and normalization of relations. The radical rightwing has not been vocal about this success, however, for a simple reason: it was achieved through diplomacy and compromise, not regime change.

Libya's Muammar Qaddafi is not exactly a lamb. If you were to read his rhetoric, e.g., "the streets of America will run red with blood" and "we consider ourselves at a state of war", you would be forgiven if you thought you were really listening to Iran's Ahmadinejad. Intelligence analysts identified a plant in a residential neighborhood that was a chemical munitions factory, believed to produce nerve gases.

And yet, the Administration talked to him, and compromised. They stopped insisting that Qaddafi turn over high level government officials involved in the PanAM 103 bombing as a condition to remove sanctions and in exchange for Qaddafi abandoning his nuclear program. Did we achieve the full measure of justice? No, we did not. But, the world was made a bit safer. It was a good compromise.

In Iran: Missed lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), it was suggested that following the lesson of how that crisis was resolved, responding to a conciliatory suggestion while ignoring the more belligerent, would be a useful paradigm for exploring what might be achieved through talking, through engagement. It worked with Cuba in 1962, and George Bush made it work with Libya.

Bush could have touted his one success, and tried to repeat it. Instead, he preferred the neocon prescription of unending warfare for failure.