By Stephen Lendman – Chicago
George W. Bush. US president: January 20, 2001 – January 19, 2009. Born of privilege. Unimpressive by every measure. A history of underachievement. Chosen by big money. Arranged through electoral fraud. Installed by the Supreme Court. Empowered by a dubious "terrorist" act, and ending with a record unmatched by the worst of his predecessors. Assessing the Bush legacy – from its illegitimate birth; through its lawless, belligerent years; to the world potentially on the brink at its end. Exploring it fully as a change of command approaches, and an unenviable task awaits the new incumbent.
The Measure of the Man and His Administration (Part I)
As Texas Governor
Looking to Election 2000, big monied interests knew what they wanted and got it in George W. Bush. In his 2000 book, "The Dirty Truth," Rick Abraham (a former Texas environmental law enforcement officer) documented his record as Texas governor from 1995 – 2000 when "he championed the agenda of the state’s biggest and worst corporate polluters," according to commentator, author, and former Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower. In return for huge political contributions and jump-starting his presidential bid, he:
— lobbied for a national radioactive waste dump in Texas;
— told the public it was mostly for x-rays and other hospital waste;
— solicited nuclear power waste from other states;
— corrupted the state’s environmental standards to accommodate polluters;
— failed to provide protection from industrial pollution, air toxins, and hazardous wastes;
— did it all secretly;
— stripped municipalities of local control over land use and environmental protections;
— let state parks languish in decay and disrepair, and this was only his environmental record.
He was staunchly pro-business, anti-civil liberties, unresponsive to public needs, and presided over more state executions than any other governor in the nation since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. His own aides at the time called him a man who enjoys killing, and not one to trust with the presidency as it turned out.
Elections 2000 and 2004 – Tainted by Fraud
On December 12, 2000 the Supreme Court hijacked an electoral process that was deeply flawed and rigged to elect George Bush. It coronated him president after three days earlier halting the Florida vote recount on the spurious grounds that it violated the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. It was the first time ever in US history that the High Court reversed a popular vote (5 – 4) to install its own preferred candidate.
For its part, the media cheerled the process and wholeheartedly approved. They, too, got their man in Washington. The rallied around him ever since, ignored his high crimes and misdemeanors, the economy in disarray, and continue to support him in spite of his lowest-ever approval rating for any president. He surpassed Harry Truman at the depth of the Korean War and Richard Nixon during Watergate, and will be judged by history as our worst and most disgraceful president ever.
Election 2000 made it possible. Investigative journalists like Greg Palast documented how mostly poor African- Americans and Latinos were removed from voter roles for having falsely been "identified" as ex-felons and thus unable to vote in states like Florida. Various other obstructions were also used. Ballot boxes in African-American districts were missing and uncounted. State troopers were positioned near polling sites in black precincts to intimidate and delay voters by searching their cars and setting up roadblocks. Some precincts demanded two photo IDs. Florida law requires only one.
African-American students at schools like Florida A&M signed up in force as first-time voters but were obstructed at polling stations. They were turned away because they couldn’t show a registration card or drivers license. However, Florida lets eligible residents sign an affidavit (not provided) and swear they hadn’t voted.
In African-American and other Democrat districts, voters were turned away and directed to vote elsewhere. They were never mailed registration cards, and they were told they showed up too late and polls were closed. Many requesting absentee ballots never got them, and evidence emerged of forged ones for George Bush. Similar practices showed up in other states like Ohio, New Hampshire, Missouri and Tennessee that narrowly went for Bush over Gore. And all the above was besides the hanging, dimpled, and pregnant chads or otherwise disqualified Florida votes that never were counted but should have been.
Election 2004 was even worse than 2000 because technology smoothed the way with electronic ease. In 2002, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) passed as a way to facilitate fraud. It ushered in the age of privatized voting on touchtone electronic voting machines – owned, programmed, operated and controlled by giant corporations with close Republican ties. Today, over 80% of all votes are cast and counted this way. Most states require no verifiable paper receipts, so it’s easy to manipulate outcomes, and not just for president.
They helped reelect Bush at a time his approval rating hovered around 40%. Most voters believed the country was headed in the wrong direction, and most polls had Kerry a heavy favorite. In addition, a record 16.8 million new voters registered, mostly Democrats. Nonetheless, Bush got 11.6 million more votes than in 2000, won with a comfortable three million vote margin, and Florida and Ohio made the difference. Either one going for Kerry would have changed the outcome, and again electoral fraud was rife and well-documented. Some of it included:
— millions of absentee ballots never mailed to Democrats or arrived too late;
— malfunctioning voting machines in Democrat districts wiped out huge numbers of crucial votes;
— according to Greg Palast, over three million votes cast but never counted because of rejected "provisional ballots" (for registered voters unlisted on rolls); "spoiled ballots" (ones malfunctioning machines didn’t count); uncounted absentee ballots for minor reasons; and black and Latino voters stripped from the roles for the same reasons as in 2000;
— major deviations in 30 states between exit polls and final results; way beyond margins of error and indicative of fraud; in all but four states, discrepancies favored Bush;
— Ohio was ground zero, much like Florida in 2000 that also went for Bush in 2004; 357,000 Ohio voters, overwhelmingly Democrat, were prevented from voting or their votes weren’t counted; Bush carried the state by 118,599; clear proof he lost; Kerry won, and was elected president;
— Democrat precincts got too few voting machines; voters were obstructed by long lines, malfunctioning machines, numerous instances of being told they were at the wrong precinct, and most disturbing:
— one in every four Ohio registrants showing up to vote discovered they weren’t listed on the rolls because Republican Secretary of State and co-chair of Bush’s reelection committee, Kenneth Blackwell, ordered them purged.
These and other fraudulent practices greased the way for George Bush’s illegitimate reelection and the continued fallout from it.
Transformed by September 11, 2001
The widely followed Cook report assessed Bush’s first five months in office as follows: After "start(ing) off strong….his future seems far less certain. Not only are (his) overall job approval ratings slumping, but his disapproval ratings are climbing….the last three months (especially) have been less than auspicious for this new President….they have a lot of repair work to do and had better get started."
Bush entered office with an approval rating around 50%. It first rose slightly, then dipped below 50% in late August. It all changed on September 11. Bush’s rating skyrocketed to a temporary high above 90% and stayed above 80% through year end. That event transformed a mediocre president overnight to a combination of Lincoln, FDR and Churchill, according to some observers and hyperactive media pundits. It was beyond laughable then, and hugely more so now.
After he peaked, it was downhill to 60% at yearend 2002, around 50% in late 2003, then around 40% or lower to more recent months when he’s ranged from the low to higher 20s. Until American Research Group’s September lowest ever for a US president at 19%, Research 2000 scored him lowest at 22% in late July. CBS in early August had him at 25%, and even Fox/Opinion Dynamics gave him a 27% rating at month end July. Others had him slightly higher with every incentive to keep him from submerging and failing thereafter to surface.
The Cook Report’s Charlie Cook may have thought that on June 21 when he wrote in the National Journal: Ronald "Reagan drew a whole generation into the Republican Party….some observers wonder whether George W. Bush may have driven another (one) away," and McCain won’t likely bring them back. But it wasn’t that way in late 2001 through the March 2003 Iraq war start with the public still traumatized by 9/11 and the hype about Saddam’s WMDs.
Deconstructing the Bush Legacy – The Bush Doctrine
Below is a review of the Bush administration’s record, including related events before he took office.
On September 11, 1990, GHW Bush addressed a joint session of Congress following Saddam’s August 2 Kuwait invasion. It became known as his "Toward a New World Order" speech. He said: "This invasion shall not stand, because it threatens the New World Order." Then in his January 29, 1991 State of the Union address, he spoke of "a defining hour….Halfway around the world (where) we are engaged in a great struggle in the skies and on the seas and sands….facing down a threat to decency and humanity (and for) a victory over tyranny and savage aggression." He called for a "new initiative in government….to prepare for the next American century (and) seize this opportunity to fulfill the long-held promise for a ‘new world order….’ "
After the Cold War ended in 1991, GHW Bush’s Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz designed what they called the Defense Planning Guidance or Wolfowitz doctrine. It was an early plan for what later emerged in the late 1990s and in the Bush Doctrine. The New York Times "leaked" it in March 1992 and caused an uproar. It was an imperial design for unchallengeable dominance using preemptive military action to suppress potential threats – no holds barred anywhere.
In 1997, the plan was revived by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in a (2000) document called "Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century." It reasserted an imperial design for global dominance and stated: "America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the preeminence of US military forces." It further called for "American hegemony" and "full-sprectrum dominance," and said achieving it would be long-term "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.
A host of PNC members joined the Bush administration, key among them Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz – fully committed to what emerged as a "Global War on Terrorism" starting off in Afghanistan, Iraq, and against any perceived homeland threats. Their vision:
— unchallengeable dominance;
— ignoring the rule of law;
— waging wars of aggression called liberating ones;
— making torture official state policy;
— suppressing civil liberties for our own good;
— targeting Muslims, Latino immigrants and others of choice for political advantage; rounding them up; denying them due process; incarcerating and/or deporting them, and much worse as discussed below;
— building Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mass detention camps for "enemies of the state" or threats to "national security;"
— deploying paramilitary enforcers (like Blackwater Worldwide, formerly Blackwater USA) on US streets;
— silencing dissent;
— turning elections into farces; pre-determining outcomes for favored candidates; letting kabuki theater, horse race journalism, and trivia substitute for real news and information; turning democracy into fantasy;
— fostering social decay at home; and
— institutionalizing spying and police state repression for enforcement.
Key Administration and Earlier Policy Documents
The US Space Command produced a 1998 document called Vision for 2020. In May 2000 ahead of Bush taking office, it was released as a (neo-con influenced) imperial grand strategy called the Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Vision 2020 with a sweeping aim – to achieve "full spectrum dominance" over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming power to fight and win global wars against any potential challengers with all weapons in our arsenal, including nuclear and others of mass destruction.
The December 2001 Nuclear Policy Review reasserted the same prerogative to unilaterally declare and wage future wars preemptively with first strike nuclear weapons, and by inference, all others as well.
Plans were well in place long before September 11, but that event provided the pretext. It gave the Bush administration "reason" to attack Afghanistan on October 7 (long planned in advance), invade with ground troops on October 19, and look ahead to the grand scheme against Iraq.
On September 11, 2001, Bush addressed the nation and declared a "war on terrorism," asked for world support to win it, and began what became "our government’s emergency (preventive war strategy) response plans." He planned to ignore the law and wage a global war throughout an "arc of instability" from the South American Andean region (mainly Colombia) to North Africa through the Middle East to the Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere in Eurasia.
On January 29, 2002 in his first State of the Union address, he declared war on a "terrorist underworld (in) at least a dozen countries….in remote jungles and deserts (and) in centers of large cities." He asked "all nations (to) heed our call and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own (and) If they do not act, America will." He singled out North Korea, Iran and Iraq as an "axis of evil….seeking out weapons of mass destruction (and) posing a grave and growing danger." Things headed downhill from there.
On September 20, 2002, Bush issued what became known as the Bush Doctrine or self-declared right to wage global (imperial) wars against "terrorist" states or ones that harbor or aid them. The 2002 National Security Strategy (NSS) made it policy and in stronger terms in 2006 – the unilateral right to wage preventive, preemptive and later "proactive" wars against perceived threats or potential challengers and to control the world’s energy and other resources in key regions like the Middle East, Eurasia, Latin America, Africa and now the Arctic. The 2006 version mentions Iran 16 times and states: "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than Iran." Current developments suggest that position is unchanged, at least in belligerent rhetoric.
The Air Force’s "Strategic Master Plan FY 06 and Beyond calls space "the ultimate high ground of US military operations." It aims to link the Pentagon with NASA, militarize its operations, "own outer space," and weaponize it with the most advanced, destructive current and future technology, including unmanned space vehicles for planetary surveillance.
The October 2006 National Space Policy embraced this agenda without so stating it. It called on NASA to "execute a sustained and affordable human and robotic program of space exploration and develop, acquire, and use civil space systems to advance fundamental scientific knowledge of our Earth system, solar system, and universe." The nuclear input is from language "to ensure space capabilities….to further US national security, homeland security, and foreign policy objectives (with) a robust foreign space intelligence collection and analysis capability" to assure it and have the heavens militarized for enforcement.
Seizing full advantage from the 9/11 event and follow-up anthrax attacks, the Bush administration subverted the rule of law, abandoned restrictive treaties, militarized more than the rest of the world combined, and rescinded the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) so as to illegally develop new biowarfare weapons. It further renounced the 1989 (GHW Bush-signed) Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 that prohibits "the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons…."
According to international (and biowarfare) law expert Francis Boyle, it’s to fight and win a future biowar. It also makes "a catastrophic biowarfare or bioterrorist incident a statistical certainty" and makes everyone unwitting subjects of a recklessly endangering experiment. To go along with a potential nuclear holocaust and turning democracy into fantasy.
Homeland Police State Enforcement
Implementation follows planning. At home, it’s been high-octane repression in the forms reviewed below and covered earlier in this writer’s December 2007 Police State America article. Here it’s reviewed more briefly. The topic is hugely important and explains the current state under George Bush with little or no likely change coming under Barack Obama.
Post-9/11, "national security" and the "war on terrorism" became buzzwords to rally the public for what lay ahead. On the evening of September 11, Bush asked for public and world support and began the "government’s emergency (preventive war strategy) response plans," but not as people envisioned. Policies were explained above. Ignore the law. Wage aggressive wars. Destroy homeland civil liberties, and more in defense of privilege over beneficial social change.
In so doing, he turned momentary world support and sympathy into mass public condemnation and rather quickly. He also risked the unimaginable. Replacing democracy with tyranny and ending planetary life with first-strike nuclear weapons – far more destructive than used against Japan in 1945.
Throughout history, going back to George Washington, presidents issued Executive Orders (EOs) even though nowhere does the Constitution let them make new law through one-man decrees. Compared to Bush, however, past presidents were almost discrete. He, in contrast, signed a blizzard of them as well as the equally unconstitutional practice of changing legislation with "signing statements."
Until 2001, all presidents combined challenged new laws with less than 600 of them. Through almost mid-2008, Bush issued at least 157 in changing over 1150 provisions of law and about which the Congressional Research Service said 78% of them raised constitutional objections. He abused his authority to rewrite laws as he wished, continues doing so to the present, and Congress and the courts let him get away with it.
Bush also usurped unconstitutional "Unitary Executive" authority or what Chalmers Johnson calls "a ball-faced assertion of presidential supremacy….dressed up in legalistic mumbo jumbo" to act as he wishes on all matters, foreign or domestic, law or no law – a practice that "flies in the face of the Constitution itself."
Justice Louis Brandeis’ dissent in Myers v. United States (1926) cited the separation of powers and said it exists "to preclude (this type) exercise of arbitrary power, (divide) government powers among three departments, to save the people from autocracy." A clear and present danger under George Bush with no Brandeis on the High Court to object. Nor in Congress with enough power to matter. Not the House Speaker, party leaders in both Houses, or key committee chairpersons.
Post-9/11 on September 17, Bush signed a secret presidential finding (similar to EOs) empowering the CIA to "Capture, Kill or Interrogate Al-Queda Leaders." It authorized establishing a secret global network of facilities to detain, interrogate and otherwise mistreat whomever is called a "terrorist threat" and began his administration’s official sanctioning of torture. More on that below.
On November 13, he issued Military Order Number 1. It disturbed one analyst enough to call it a "coup d’etat" and "watershed moment in (the) country" and hinted at what would follow: violating the rule of law, suspending civil liberties, and usurping absolute authority to act against anyone – later called "unlawful enemy combatants" or "terrorist" threats, including US citizens stripped of their constitutional protections. At the president’s discretion, they’re gone. And it was only the beginning. From then followed:
— the use of National and Homeland Security Presidential Directives (NSPDs and HSPDs); they’re much like EOs and presidential findings with the "full force and effect of law;" they relate to national security and remain classified unless made public; Bush issued dozens of NSPDs and over 20 HSPDs;
— the October 25, 2001 NSPD-9 signed into law official administration policies adopted on September 4, 2001 – seven days before 9/11 with every expectation they’d be implemented; it’s titled "Defeating the Terrorist Threat to the United States" and referred to Al Queda and so-called terrorist networks of Muslim fundamentalist extremists;
— later NSPDs related to combatting WMDs, the Iraq war, biodefense (aka biowarfare), using space for "full spectrum dominance," and much more;
— the combined NSPD-51/HSPD-20 deserves special mention; it was similar to Ronald Reagan’s Executive Order 12656 that empowered the executive in cases of "any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States;"
— it established "Continuity of Government (COG)" procedures under a "Catastrophic Emergency" that may be anything from a real or contrived "terrorist" act to whatever the president calls a justifiable "emergency;" it established unprecendented powers free from constitutional constraints – to claim a "national emergency," declare martial law, and govern as a virtual dictator with limitless police state powers; some COG powers were invoked on September 11, 2001; they’ve remained in force since, and on August 28, 2008, George Bush continued "the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency;"
— the USA Patriot Act (over 300 pages long) – written well in advance of 9/11; passed and signed into law 45 days later on October 26; it capitalized on a window of hysteria; granted unchecked powers to the executive; and subverted sacred constitutional liberties of free expression, religion, right to peacefully assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances; due process; and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures – in all the ways now allowed through a process of institutionalized spying and monitoring of all our behavior and practices at the government’s discretion; the Act also (for the first time) created the crime of "domestic terrorism" to apply the definition to US citizens as well as aliens;
— the November 25, 2002 Homeland Security Act (HSA); also written well in advance of 9/11 as a companion anti-terrorism bill and included the repressive Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) – to terrorize legal and undocumented immigrants, mainly Latinos and Muslims; DHS centralizes unprecedented military and law enforcements powers in the executive branch for greater global dominance; like the Patriot Act, it sweeps away constitutional protections and justifies it in the name of "national security;" it coordinates it with the October 2002-created US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) in violation of the 1807 Insurrection Act and 1878 Posse Comitatus protections against US military forces deployed inside the country except as expressly authorized by the Constitution or in cases of internal insurrection;
— the late September 2006 Pentagon Global Strike Command called the Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike and Integration; it followed from the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that planned policy five to ten years ahead and remains classified except for excerpted parts; they relate to offensive strike systems and a revitalized defense infrastructure to meet emerging threats; the tone is belligerent and declares preventive wars on any nation, groups or force anywhere (including internal ones) and allows NORTHCOM, DHS, and other domestic security agencies unrestricted countermeasure powers – indicative of a police state;
— within days of 9/11, torture became official US policy and was authorized by a blizzard of presidential directives, memoranda, and other official documents from the highest levels of government; domestic and international laws and norms were rendered invalid, and a new repressive order replaced them; the rule of law no longer applies, and constitutional protections no longer exist at the president’s discretion;
— Congress was fully obliging; in the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, it officially sanctioned torture after intervening against the Supreme Court’s Rasul v. Bush (June 2004) ruling granting Guantanamo detainees habeas rights; it also ruled they had none.
–in the Military Commissions Act (MCA – aka the torture authorization and habeas revocation act), it subverted the High Court a second time in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld when it held as follows: Guantanamo Bay military commissions lack "the power to proceed because (their) structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the four Geneva Conventions (of) 1949;" Congress responded with sweeping MCA powers, reaffirmed torture as official US policy, and let the president designate anyone anywhere in the world (including US citizens) "unlawful enemy combatants" and empowered him to arrest, detain, and torture them indefinitely in military prisons as well as deny them due process in civil courts;
— Sections 1076 and 333 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2007; they ended the 1807 Insurrection Act and 1878 Posse Comitatus protections against US military forces used for law enforcement inside the country, except as explained above;
— Congress passed the Real ID Act of 2005 that, if implemented, threatens personal privacy; originally, it was to become effective in May 2008 to require states to meet federal ID standards; so far, however, it’s in question as at least two dozen states passed laws prohibiting it use; it requires every US citizen and legal resident to have a national identity card that in most cases is a driver’s license; it’s to contain personal information required to open a bank account, board an airplane, be able to vote, or conduct virtually any essential business; in the future it may also contain a radio frequency identification (RFID) computer chip to track all our movements, activities and transactions at all times – a police state dream; the legislation so far remains stalled;
— institutionalized spying now policy under George Bush with Congress complicit in its implementation; since late 2001, the National Security Agency (NSA) did it illegally; the 2007 Protect America Act amended the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to allow virtually unrestricted mass data-mining and intercept of all types of domestic and foreign communications of anyone – foreign nationals and US citizens; it authorizes unrestricted warrantless spying for any claimed "national security" reason;
— Congress further violated Fourth Amendment protections against illegal searches and seizures by passing the 2008 FISA Amendments Act; it gutted FISA by weakening standards of proof and warrants required for surveillance and granted telecom companies retroactive immunity for warrantless spying post-9/11 – now institutionalized unchecked, unrestrained and easily abused;
— through late November 2008, Bush issued around 280 Executive Orders in additional to his signing statements, presidential findings, and official executive memoranda; the July 17, 2007 EO was particularly egregious: "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq;" under it, Bush usurped authority to criminalize the anti-war movement, make First Amendment protests illegal, and assert power to seize the assets of persons violating this decree; he effectively criminalized dissent and moved the nation closer to tyranny;
— the Bush administration may be the most secretive one ever in a democracy; he placed limits on presidential records, the Freedom of Information Act, and a free and open society by usurping power to classify information for "national security" and create a new array of categories called "sensitive;"
— in November 2006, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) amended the 1992 Animal Enterprise Protection Act; it criminalized First Amendment activities advocating for animal rights – like peaceful protests, leafleting, undercover investigations, whistleblowing and boycotts; it makes these forms of animal protection advocacy a crime;
— the House overwhelmingly passed the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007; it’s now in the Senate where if passed and signed into law will effectively criminalize "thought" and further erode constitutional protections;
— Sections 1615 and 1622 of the 2008 Defense Authorization Act; they authorize DOD to militarize state and local law enforcement authorities during a national emergency described as "an accident of national significance or a catastrophic incident;" they effectively established a martial law apparatus at state and local levels to work alongside federal agencies – without congressional approval.
For the past eight years, these and other administration policies explain the current state in America – a swift descent from a deeply flawed democracy to the tipping edge of tyranny. This is what awaits Barack Obama and the challenge he faces. Given his past record and disturbing campaign rhetoric, he’s unlikely to deliver meaningful change in spite of the public pleading for and expecting it.
Permanent Wars for Global Dominance
Afghanistan, Iraq, Occupied Palestine, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, North Korea, Venezuela, Bolivia, Haiti, Cuba as well as China, Russia and the Caucasus; a likely 1000 + US bases worldwide in around 150 countries; current defense spending exceeding $1 trillion annually with all domestic and foreign related items included – plus unknown multi-billions kept secret off-the-books; and a state of permanent war abroad for global dominance and at home for total control as discussed above. Parts of the Bush legacy today in America.
Afghanistan came first – a nation John Pilger calls more abused, long-suffering, and less helped than any other in living memory. Today, its agony continues. The country is occupied. Some estimates cite over three million deaths since 2001. War continues to rage. Little of it makes headlines, but Afghans are victimized by America’s "war on terrorism."
So are Iraqis from nearly three decades of war. First against Iran in the 1980s. Then against America from August 2, 1990 to the present – the savage Gulf War causing about 200,000 deaths; 12.5 years of genocidal sanctions; an unimaginable toll of at least 1.5 million deaths; two-thirds of them children; and unmeasurable amounts of illnesses and human misery through March 2003. Then George Bush’s Iraq War. At least another million deaths. Some estimates as high as two million. Around four million internally and externally displaced. Mass unemployment and poverty. A near-total absence of essential services – fresh drinking water, sanitation, electricity, medical care, education, security and for many enough food.
Emergency needs are unmet. It’s an overall humanitarian disaster of epic proportions unreported in the mainstream. The "cradle of civilization" was erased for plunder. A nation was transformed into a "free trade" paradise. The message for others is it’s coming – "shock and awe," invasion, occupation, lost sovereignty, mass deaths, illness and disease, incarcerations, torture, and utter deprivation. A testimony to "democracy," liberation, and "free market" majesty. A ghoulish dystopia; a living hell heading everywhere unless stopped.
It afflicted Haiti for over 500 years. Most recently beginning on February 29, 2004, in the middle of the night, from a Bush-ordered coup d’etat, when US Marines abducted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and forcibly flew him to the Central African Republic. Today he’s exiled in South Africa. He vows to return, and Haitians want him back in any capacity.
Haiti is now occupied. UN Blue Helmet paramilitaries control it. So do other repressive internal security forces. The people are deeply impoverished. They’re the poorest in the Hemisphere. Unemployment is rampant. A tiny 5% of elites control everything – the economy, media, universities, professions, and what passes for Haiti’s polity. Washington holds an iron grip. Six powerful families and US corporate interests profit. Another "free market" paradise. Human deprivation is unimaginable and now much worse with Haitians unable to afford high food prices. Most are undernourished. Many are starving and forced to eat "mud cookies" from edible clay. They lack nutrition, contain dangerous bacteria, and are just stomach-filler.
They protest for relief. Washington-directed UN "Peacekeepers" respond violently. They patrol streets and neighborhoods, crush dissent, shoot to kill, arrest the innocent, incarcerate them under horrific conditions, and hold them indefinitely with little hope for judicial relief. Today’s Haiti. More of Bush’s legacy.
Venezuela might have been the same if Washington’s April 2002 coup succeeded. Since taking office in February 1999, President Hugo Chavez was targeted for removal, and maybe assassination, especially after George Bush’s election. Luckily he survived; continues to lead his nation; was elected and reelected impressively; prevailed in every presidential, parliamentary, municipal and referendum election since December 1998 until hitting a momentary speed bump last December.
He nonetheless remains strongly popular. Venezuela is a democracy. Chavez delivers vital social services. He redistributes national wealth to his people. He’s rewarded with their support, and that makes him target one in the Hemisphere for removal – so far without success but not because Bush didn’t try. To be continued under the new incumbent.
Iran is also targeted and has been since the Islamic Revolution. After George Bush’s election, pressure built and today remains intense. The Israeli Lobby wants regime change. So do Bush neocons and the Democrat leadership, at least most of them. A large US naval presence is in the region. Reinforcements may be sent. A potential blockade is threatened. It’s unclear if it’s planned or just bluff. Pending H. Con. Res. 362 with around 250 co-sponsors calls for it. It remains undebated and referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A companion S. Res. 580 was also introduced. It’s also undebated and referred to the Foreign Relations Committee for consideration.
Things will likely remain on hold until Barak Obama assumes office in January. Nonetheless, the situation is tense and worrisome as both parties are hostile to the Iranian government and very responsive to Israeli Lobby pressure. In or out of office, Bush neocons have power and exert considerable influence. Another testimony to his legacy that gives reason for Iranians to worry. All humanity as well.
Then there’s the Caucasus crisis over Georgia’s willful aggression against its breakaway South Ossetian province. It erupted on August 7, subsided a few days later, but ignited a new Cold War with Georgia a US proxy and Russia falsely accused of aggression.
Another key headline-making act of America v. Russia, more Bush legacy fallout, and what the new president will face in 2009. As well as Russia’s justifiable anger at being surrounded by US bases. Most in place since George Bush’s election. And now "advanced tracking missile defense radar" for the Czech Republic by 2012 and offensive "interceptor (and Patriot) missiles" for Poland – neither of which Russia will tolerate nor should it. It suggests a potential 1962 Cuba scenario when the world came within an eyelash of nuclear war. It also echos Barbara Tuchman’s "Guns of August" on how WW I began and its early weeks. Either possibility shows the perils of Bush’s legacy on which the fate of the world may now hinge.
– Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday through Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions on world and national topics with distinguished guests.)