Saturday, July 31, 2004



By Jack Random

In a moment of candor during the presidential debates, candidate George W. Bush expressed the opinion that America should not be engaged in “nation building.” His team of foreign policy advisors spent months preparing their candidate. Was the president unaware that the Bush Doctrine would be a prescription for nation building or was this just the first in a series of contradictions and inconsistencies which, taken together, would draw a portrait of hypocrisy? When he placed his hand on the bible to take his oath of office, was it an oath of allegiance or oath of deception?

In its justification for war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the administration proclaimed the right and duty to strike anywhere at any time before a threat to this nation’s security emerged. Nations across the globe shuddered at the prospect of the awesome power of the American military unleashed upon the world without the constraints of international law and universal conventions of warfare. For the first time in history, a nation was overtly claiming exemption to the cardinal rule of international behavior: the prohibition against wars of aggression.

Few were persuaded that America’s motives were purely or primarily humanitarian but, in the ever-shifting rationale for war (imminent threat, sponsorship of 9-11, connections to Al Qaeda, liberation, democracy – anything but oil), the administration has raised the bar of mendacity to new heights. Even as they accuse their opponent of inconsistency, the contradictions of George W. Bush are without precedent.

In the State of the Union Address, the president pledged $18 billion to the battle against AIDS. He later tied AIDS funding to his anti-abortion agenda and protection of the pharmaceutical industries monopoly on prescription drugs. Only a trickle of funding has been implemented. Was this a change in policy or did the president know all along that it was an empty promise?

In promoting his education reform package, the president promised to leave no child behind. Subsequently, he has severely under-funded his own program, advocated public funding of private education, leaving every other child behind in ill equipped and financially strapped public schools. Was this a shift in policy or was the initial promise a cynical smokescreen?

Perhaps the candidate’s most salient message in his campaign for the White House was his pledge to be “a uniter, not a divider,” yet his administration has alienated much of Europe, the United Nations, and Islamic peoples all over the world. He refuses even to meet with opposition leaders in Congress. The nation is as divided as it ever has been as the administration peddles fear and delivers wedge issues to increase the divide. It would be difficult to imagine a more devoted effort to break down national unity than the Bush administration has delivered. If the president was sincere in his pledge of unity then his position has clearly changed.

In his pre-conceived rush to war, the president promised the United States Congress that he would work with the United Nations and that he would go to war only as a last resort. The Secretary of State proceeded to present the most blatantly false case for war ever to grace the chamber of the Security Council, the president assembled a coalition of the coerced, the inspections process was slandered and undermined, and the president went to war as scheduled on the anniversary of his father’s invasion. Was the president sincere and, if so, when was his policy reversed?

When the 9-11 Commission was proposed by Congress, the president opposed it. When the Families of 9-11 insisted, he shifted his position and implemented a policy of non-cooperation, suppression, resistance and, finally, politicization of the Commission itself. He has said he wants the truth but he has blocked the path in every conceivable way. Now, as it becomes clear he has not taken the necessary measures to prevent another catastrophe, he fails to support the commission recommendations. Where is the consistency? Where is integrity?

On September 13, 2001, the president stood at ground zero and swore that he would bring the people responsible to justice. Clearly, the subsequent focus on Saddam Hussein was a major shift in policy. We lost the trail of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden when we turned our attention to the invasion of Iraq.

John Kerry’s flaw is that he has played ball with too many administrations. He played ball with Bill Clinton on welfare reform. He played ball on Free Trade. He played ball with the Bush administration on education reform. He played ball on the policy of regime change and the abdication of congressional war powers. Too often, he was fooled by disingenuous politicians. He was not alone. As a senator, he embraced the role of power broker. It is in fact fortunate that he has changed his brokered positions. Hopefully, he has learned from his mistakes. If he is to be faulted for supporting policies not entirely consistent with his own, it is a message to all other members of congress: do not compromise for the opposition will use it against you.

What is the president’s excuse? Was he misinformed and misguided by his own advisors? Why then has he not learned from his mistakes? His steadfast refusal to acknowledge mistakes, errors in judgment, inconsistencies in policy and positions, is not a virtue that grants him redemption; it is the ultimate condemnation.

We have a president who believes he has led the country wisely and well. He has united the world against us. With his free trade and corporate tax incentives, he has delivered jobs to third world nations at slave labor wages while replacing good American jobs with low-wage, unskilled labor jobs. (If the trend continues, there may be no middle class left.) He has promised prescription drug benefits and delivered a Ponzi scheme for the pharmaceutical industry. The economy has stalled and monetary policy (reduced interest rates) has already run its course. He has delivered our soldiers, National Guard and Reserves, into a war we can never win in a part of the world brimming with resentment of our policies and our wars. He has made the enemy stronger while weakening our alliances.

The president’s positions and policies are in constant flux because he has failed in every endeavor he has undertaken. Even now, as the “coalition of the willing” dissolves in the desert sand, he proclaims himself an internationalist, preempting the policy of John Kerry, and believes we will not recognize the contradiction.

“Fool me once…”

There is nothing more dangerous than a leader who can never be wrong.