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A Response to the State of the Union

Heavy Rhetoric, Wisful Thinking and Hydrogen Cars

by MUQTEDAR KHAN

I listened to the President’s State of the Union address with growing boredom and a sense that I was being duped. Rather than talk about the state of the union, which would be delving in depth on the declining economy and the globalization of anti-Americanism, President Bush chose to speak about the wonderful things he hopes to do for the wonderful people of America. He went down the laundry list of domestic issues, education, health care, economy and touched upon abortion and cloning by employing a serious of crowd pleasing slogans/promises instead of analysis and facts. The only exciting issue that he had was his promise to those born today, that one day they would drive a car run by hydrogen whose only exhaust would be water. His only achievement seems to be the 674 million dollar stimulus package that the Congress has yet to pass.

On foreign policy, he promised a war against Iraq without declaring a war. He insisted on maintaining his unilateralist approach to world affairs and went to great lengths to show that since his previous lecture he has learnt that there are significant differences in the circumstances of Iran, Iraq and North Korea. He promised to spread democracy in the world even if America had to do it alone and by force. Force democracy? Am I the only one who is puzzled? I however do not understand why someone who is so committed to democracy would be opposed to global democracy and insist on unilateralism if the vote went against the US in the UN Security Council. Why is he so eager to compromise democracy when it does not suit his agenda? How can he be both, pro-democracy and anti-democracy? Perhaps Professor Rice should explain to him that unilateralism in principle is antithetical to the spirit of democracy.

The only proposal that I appreciated was his promise to help fight AIDS in Africa. If implemented it will definitely save many lives. Maybe on the Day of Judgment the lives he saves in Africa may save him from a harsher reckoning for the many innocent lives he plans to take in the war on Iraq.

Declining Democracy and Economy

Under George W. Bush, America has made great strides. It has gone from a $250 billion surplus to nearly $250 billion in deficit and the family feud against Iraq, that has yet to begin, will cost the American taxpayer at least $60 billion in destroying Iraq and another $100 billion in rebuilding it. Americans have lost over 1.5 million jobs under his watch, over 100,000 last month alone, and most States (28/50) are now suffering from huge deficits in their budgets. President Bush himself has silently conceded mismanagement of the economy by sacking his financial team midway (including senior aides such as the Treasury Secretary and the Chief Economic Advisor). But unfortunately he has not learnt that it is not people but policies that mess economies. He should be changing his policies not the people who implement them for him.

George W. Bush has given American democracy a new meaning. It is a place where people contest elections and the one who gets lesser votes becomes the president. The USA Patriot Act passed by the Congress last year at his behest, undermines several important civil rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Today the idea of “due process”, which used to be the corner stone of justice in America, has now become an undue burden to the American legal system. Not only has the Bush administration violated international law in its treatment of prisoners of war it has also violated fundamental principles of the US constitution in its treatment of several people arrested in the US since September 11th.

Globalization of Anti-Americanism

After the tragic attacks on September 11th, this president promised us two things; he would eliminate Al Qaeda and he would win the hearts and minds of those who hated America. But this President has succeeded not only in increasing hatred towards America in most of the Middle East by making injudicious statements such as, “if you are not with us you are against us” (tell that to France, Russia, China and UN who are not with the US on the war on Iraq), “Axis of Evil” (it spurred the North Koreans to go nuclear), and the use of the “Crusade” word which has become the metaphor for his policies in most of the Muslim World, but he has also succeeded in making Asians and Europeans also hate and distrust America. In Germany as well as in South Korea the most vocal anti-American politicians won elections recently. Rather than reducing hate George Bush’s policies, style and statements are contributing to the globalization of anti-Americanism.

Even at home he is determined to generate disenchantment. Immediately after the Trent Lott affair, who was finally exposed for having preference for the pre-civil rights America, President Bush decided to appease the haves and alienate the have-nots, by coming up with a stimulus package that gives tax breaks on dividends (to fat cats with huge investment portfolios) and deciding to oppose affirmative action (designed to help underprivileged minorities). The irony of this position seems to have escaped him and many of his supporters. He is himself a poster child for affirmative action – a not so bright guy, with modest grades and even modest SATs who went to Yale and then Harvard only because he was born a Bush!

Bushel of Blunders

To put it bluntly, President Bush has ruined the economy; his management of foreign policy has alienated the world so much so that in a recent Times Europe survey 84% Europeans (our allies) rated America as the state that posed the most danger to the World and North Korea and Iraq got similar votes from only 7% and 8% respondents! The World has lost trust in America and it demands proof, conclusive proof, for every claim we make. In spite of spending billions of dollars on the so-called war on terror, Bin Laden is still free and Al Qaeda still powerful and busy launching attacks (Bali and

Kenya). The Taliban are back and the American choice for President, Karzai, has been reduced to the status of a Mayor of Kabul (so much for democracy in Afghanistan). The anthrax bomber is still free to kill. The Middle East crisis continues to rage. Assuming that President Bush’s statements about the Palestinian State were disingenuous and he had no intent to follow through on his promises, he is still letting Israel slowly unravel. The Palestinian uprising will cost America another $10-14 Billion dollars in foreign aid to Israel, adding to the already burgeoning foreign policy bill that US can ill afford.

President Bush in two years has amassed a long list of failures. His only successes are the midterm elections and his periodic handouts to the rich in forms of tax cuts. He duped Americans in the midterm elections by talking about Iraq and not the economy. But as the economy declines and the purse begins to pinch, even the gullible, and poorly informed American voters will know that something is going terribly wrong.

If I were President, instead of Iraq, Iraq, Iraq and Hydrogen Car, my priorities would be, to create new jobs, fight the deficits (Federal and State), finish Al Qaeda and bolster education.

MUQTEDAR KHAN is Director of International Studies at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan and the author of American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom. He can be reached at: muqtedar@yahoo.com