One is rendered almost speechless by the astounding hypocrisy of President George Bush. It has been bad enough for the last seven and a half years to hear his constant lies and to watch his fervent worship of the almighty dollar and those who can best enrich his elite, neocon circle. But by making the statements that he has uttered in the last few days he has shown once again his limitless capacity for hypocrisy.
Russia and Georgia are currently engulfed in a tense situation that has brought violence to South Ossetia, an area of Georgia that has been quasi-independent, but with no international recognition, for years. Russia has stepped in, ostensibly to prevent attempts by Georgia to regain the region. The skirmish has quickly escalated to a deadly war.
Enter Mr. Bush. On August 15, in response to the rising tensions between Georgia and Russia, he made this incredible statement: “Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the twenty-first century.”
Let’s see now; if one is not mistaken, one could say that March 19, 2003 was part of the twenty-first century. That is the day that Mr. Bush used ‘bullying and intimidation’ to a horrific degree to ‘conduct foreign policy.’ That day marked the beginning of the ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign that has killed over 1,000,000 Iraqis, displaced millions more and killed over 4,000 U.S. soldiers and maimed tens of thousands more. Mr. Bush is correct: bullying and intimidation have no place in foreign policy, but his words are rendered empty, insincere and meaningless by his actions.
Yet he continued: “Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected.” Why Georgia’s and not Iraq’s, one might wonder. And does this U.S. respect for ‘sovereignty and territorial integrity’ extend to Iran? What about Cuba? Georgia, one should note, has no oil. Does that render its sovereignty and territorial integrity’ more likely to be respected by the U.S? Cuba, of course, has no oil either, but one must always keep a close eye on the wishes of the Cuban-American voting block.
Mr. Bush was not finished there; he had more to say on the subject. “To begin to repair the damage to its relations with the United States, Europe and other nations and to begin restoring its place in the world, Russia must keep its word and act to end this crisis.” The hypocrisy of this comment is almost too obvious to mention. When Mr. Bush and his yes-men faced a skeptical United Nations and told them of U.S. plans to invade Iraq, overthrow its government and occupy that nation, Russia was one of the many U.S. allies who refused to participate in this international crime. Since that time international surveys show a deep hatred and abiding distrust of the U.S; Mr. Bush is often seen as the second most dangerous man in the world, with Osama bin Laden being the only person considered worse. One must wonder why that is, since Mr. Bush’s potential for destruction far exceeds bin Laden’s, and Mr. Bush’s record of murder and terrorism makes bin Laden’s seem like a mild fairy tale. Yet Mr. Bush feels the moral imperative to lecture Russia about its damaged international relationships, and restoring its place in the world. Whoever succeeds Mr. Bush will have his hands full trying to accomplish that weighty task for the U.S.
In order to assist Georgia in its current difficulties with Russia, Mr. Bush is sending ‘massive’ humanitarian aid. Iraq, which lost vital services when its infrastructure was destroyed during the initial bombing, continues to struggle to provide its people with such basics as drinking water and electricity. Instead of humanitarian aid, Congress continues to provide funding for tanks, guns, bullets and bombs, and other vehicles of terrorism, death and destruction.
In order “to demonstrate our solidarity with the Georgian people,” Mr. Bush is sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Paris to assist with diplomatic efforts to end the tensions. This is the woman who, in 2006, rejected any negotiations with Iran or Syria saying the following: “If they have an interest in a stable Iraq, they will do it anyway,” ‘it’ referring to assisting to stabilize Iraq. Will she now go to Paris and say that if Georgia and Russia have any interest in ending tensions, they will ‘do it anyway’? Ms. Rice has not thus far demonstrated any appreciable skills in negotiation. She is also the one who assured the world that the addition of 30,000 U.S. soldiers to terrorize the people of Iraq was not an escalation, but merely an ‘augmentation.’ One wonders just how effective she will be in Paris.
After Russia, France and some of the other traditional allies of the U.S. took a pass on joining the ‘Coalition of the Drilling,’ Mr. Bush and Congress considered ways of punishing them, from renaming French Fries ‘Freedom Fries’ (after approving the U.S. invasion of Iraq, why did Congress want to further humiliate itself with this farce?), to preventing the offending nations from participating in the lucrative contracts that were planned as the U.S. rebuilt Iraq in its own model, with its oil flowing to the U.S. Neither threat was sufficient to bring in these wayward allies, so perhaps Mr. Bush bided his time and now is able to punish Russia.
It has been several years since Russia and the U.S. were sworn enemies. But under Mr. Bush’s regime, tensions have escalated; the Russia-Georgia conflict is only one area of concern. The Iraq war strained relations between the two nations, and now the U.S.’ decision to place a U.S. missile interceptor base in Poland is further irritating these already tense relations. But Mr. Bush has empire on the mind; a new base in Poland is another stepping stone. He has thus far been thwarted in his plans to build permanent bases in Iraq, but the door on that attempt is far from closed.
One looks to inauguration day, 2009 for an end to the grave danger Mr. Bush has dragged the world into, but that day may only mark the start of four more disastrous years, if Republican candidate Senator John McCain is elected president. Should that be the case, the world can expect more war, more belligerency and more empire building, while U.S. citizens continue to sink into poverty as homes are foreclosed and jobs move overseas. The last seven and a half years have been ugly for the world, thanks to Mr. Bush and the people who elected him. A victory in the election by Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama will not be a panacea, but will at least provide some relief to the catastrophes of the Bush reign of terror.
ROBERT FANTINA is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.