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Oct 2003; Nov 2003; Jan 2006

A wise man or woman once said:
"If we cannot learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it"

Never could that be more true. The Bush Administration, acting on its own, has bitten off a lot more than it can chew in Iraq. And is now looking for regime change in Iran, in all the wrong places. They did that essentially ignoring world opinion. Instead of marshaling an international majority, they used a pickup team of convenience. Long on muscle and short on wise planning, incidents of terrorism are increasing, not decreasing, and the front has widened. Four years later, bin Laden is still at large, and there are hundreds of others ready to step in for him at his demise. Killing him and even erasing al Qa'ida would have no affect on the fact of terror or its focus of the moment. To many commentators, it seems that bin Laden accomplished his objective of creating a war among the monotheisms toward the ends of eliminating infidel-empire and re-establishing the Caliphate. That seems much more possible today than it did four years ago. We have little hope that America can ever leave Iraq "honorably," as the Administration claims it wants to do with Iraqis in charge of their own security.

Neither will democracy happen. Not just the movers and shakers, but the average Muslim as well seems to want an Islamic government.

The war on terror has gone badly in Afghanistan as well. There has been a resurgence of terrorism. Warlordism has made a comeback as well; security is not all that great even in Kabul. Karzai wanted to sack all the warlords, Bush said "sack only half." Since Karzai could not appear to be a Bush lackey, nothing happened; the warlords still reign. If Bush wants a strong democratic Afghanistan, he should support a strong and decisive leader as the first step toward building a strong middle class with social institutions that support the rule of constitutional law, but he has not. Infrastructure needed to support democracy remains nonexistent in Afghanistan. Iraq is still remote from what it takes to support a central constitutional government operated by the middle class. Mr. Bush is now accelerating a hand over in Iraq in spite of a mounting guerilla war. Iraq especially is beginning to look too much like Palestine. Bush is now using tactics in Iraq reminiscent of Sharon's in Palestine with no apparent effect.

Twice the conquering hero, Mr. Bush now appears twice impotent at nation-building, a vital first step to winning peace.

Tony Blair is eloquent in backing his former colonies, but he gets away with involving Britain only because the Tories are in such disarray, not because British citizens are gung ho to be in Iraq.

In true Authoritarian fashion, the Bush anti-terror game plan appears to be more about flexing military power and plutocracy in the name of faith than it is in building a model for world peace. Afghanistan could have been just that model.

In short, Bush's tactics are destroying his strategic objective, if he has one. His tactics are not calming nor are they moving the world toward peace.

Here is what some scholars have to say about the present situation.

Theresa Johnson, in a Stanford Report (7 Oct 2003), reported on one program as part of a national series, "The People Speak: America Debates Its Role in the World" This program was organized by Ted Turner and funded by the UN, giving it credence from both the private and international governance sectors.

    "...The discussion was moderated by former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Michael and Barbara Berberian Professor with a joint appointment in the Management Science and Engineering Department and the Stanford Institute for International Studies. Speaking briefly at the outset, Perry asserted that the greatest threat to world peace is the continuing development and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by rogue states and terrorists."

Nuclear Terror is the flash point that has been around now for over a half century. Technology respects no national, political or theological boundaries, only those of economics.

    "Michael McFaul, an associate professor of political science and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, agreed. 'But in my mind,' he added, 'the only way we'll really make our world safer is when we eliminate the motivations for acquiring those weapons of mass destruction -- when we eliminate the things that motivate people to get into planes and fly them into the World Trade Center. 'Security is not simply a matter of defending ourselves against weapons that might harm us,' McFaul said. 'It's about making the outside world a better, more prosperous and free place.'"

The long view is well stated here. The short view is how to go about bringing freedom to the world. Short range tactics now employed by the Administration are not consistent with bringing about peace. Fundamental to lasting peace is trust, and what has this Administration done to enhance trust?

    "Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a senior research scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, said the United States should seek as much international support as possible in Iraq and elsewhere, 'not because of sentimentality or altruism, but to protect and advance our core national security interests.' The Bush administration 'has largely taken the view that we don't need alliances because we can count on a coalition of the willing -- essentially a pickup team we can put together when we need it.' Yet when the United States is isolated, 'it emboldens our enemies, 'Sherwood-Randall said. 'International support provides us with legitimacy, limits resentment against American power and deprives anti-American extremists of cannon fodder."

This is happening already.

    "'In Iraq,' she added, 'the United States should make it clear that it welcomes international assistance and that it is willing to share authority and control in exchange for such help.' Beyond that, America should work toward strengthening the United Nations rather than blaming the organization for its failures. 'We should stand back and let others step forward when they have the interest and competence,' she said. 'We should vote for more capital to enhance the United Nations -- to make it more competent and effective and more capable of responding. And we need to help the UN improve its capability in peacekeeping, policing and establishing viable civil institutions.'"

Democracy is all about teamwork and the value of each individual, but that is not the Bush approach.

    "Gloria Duffy, deputy assistant secretary of defense under Bill Clinton and current chief executive officer of the Commonwealth Club, agreed that the United States must build 'a true coalition to pacify and rebuild Iraq.' To do this, 'the United States will have to have the maturity to admit what it has done less than well, ... such as not planning intelligently for the aftermath of the war,' she said. 'That type of mea culpa is probably necessary in order to gain the support of a wide range of countries we need to help now."

Is Bush up to this in the face of an election? He sees all this personally with the Neocons setting his agenda. Since he relies more on form than substance, expect spin, spin, spin to the tune as Fun Fun Fun of the Beach Boys -- with perhaps a similar ending in the offing.


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