FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

George W. Bush, Clueless and Dangerous

by Joan Smith The Independent

I have lost count of the times I have been ticked off in recent months, sometimes by quite senior politicians, for suggesting that George W Bush is a complete idiot. He is nowhere near as stupid as he seems, I have been told, a proposition that has some force solely because it is hard to imagine any world leader being afflicted with quite the degree of bovine incomprehension that the President habitually displays. On Monday, for instance, he was on cracking form, announcing in halting English you’d think he’d be fluent by now that a dangerous terrorist had been detained and “is now off the streets, where he should be”.

As so often with Bush’s pronouncements, what he appeared to say that terrorists should be on US streets was the opposite of what he meant. Unfair, unfair, his defenders will say: we have never claimed that our man is an accomplished public speaker. Fine, but my other reaction to the announcement I am being unusually frank here was, “You credulous git, do you believe every single thing anybody in the administration tells you?” US intelligence agencies are trying to deflect accusations that they failed to pick up warnings of last September’s suicide attacks and desperately need the kind of crowing headlines “US foils al-Qa’ida ‘dirty bomb’ plot” that the announcement prompted.

But the administration was soon backtracking, accused of exaggerating the importance of a US citizen known as Abdullah al-Mujahir, a former Chicago gang member who converted to Islam and changed his name in prison. The deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, admitted “there was not an actual plan” to set off a radioactive device in Washington, and it now seems that al-Mujahir’s research had not gone much further than surfing the internet. Nor is it clear why he was arrested while on a reconnaissance trip to the US from Pakistan on 8 May, after being under 24-hour surveillance since February, when further observation might have yielded valuable information about al-Qa’ida associates .

Meanwhile, a terrorist whose plans were at a rather more advanced stage succeeded in bombing the US consulate in Karachi on Friday, killing 11 people. None of this seems to have fazed the President, whose announcement about al-Mujahir coincided with a decision to transfer him to military custody, thus avoiding the embarrassment of having the more lurid allegations against him tested in open court. Bush’s Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was not so lucky, having been foolish enough to make grand claims about al-Qa’ida operating in the disputed border territory of Kashmir without a shred of evidence. Rumsfeld’s announcement during a visit to India on Wednesday collapsed under questioning from journalists in Islamabad. “I don’t have evidence and the US doesn’t have evidence of al-Qa’ida in Kashmir,” he admitted.

That is not to say I underestimate the threat from Islamist groups whose motivation is as much their complex and ambivalent relationship with secular modernity as the genuine grievances the US’s uncritical support for Israel and undemocratic regimes such as Saudi Arabia felt by moderate opinion in Arab countries. But what I am suggesting is that the response of Mr Bush and leading figures in his administration, with the exception of his sadly marginalized Secretary of State, Colin Powell, is akin to a bunch of ham actors staging a noisy hunt for pantomime villains. Think about the search for Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, whose whereabouts appear to be as great a mystery to Bush, Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft as they us.

We, however, are not supposed to know that kind of stuff. It is not your job, or mine, come to that, to have advance knowledge of terrorist outrages. But we are entitled, in a world where what the US President says may affect all our lives, to expect something better than the overblown claims and ignominious climbdowns that are the hallmark of this ignorant, inept administration. Frantic displays of patriotism, random round-ups of hundreds of foreigners and unverifiable claims about imminent terrorist attacks cannot conceal the fact that its members do not know what they are doing; any day now, I expect to hear that Switzerland, or perhaps Belgium, has been added to the axis of evil. It is not just Mr Bush, as I naively hoped, who is absolutely clueless.

Joan Smith writes for the Independent.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail