Monday, January 01, 2007

2006/2007... and 3000

It's cruel timing that the 3000th American military death coincided so neatly with the end of 2006. Your White House put out a statement, in response to this not unanticipated news, that you "mourn every death" and that you vow to ensure that they "did not die in vain." At the cost, inevitably, of more lives. At the same time, the by-now tiresome drumbeat continues to roll in preparation for your widely-expected announcement of that "surge" in US forces in Iraq to quell the violence there, despite the lessons of recent history.

In reading the lead article in today's Los Angeles Times, the 1st of January, 2007, suggesting that you could be preparing to announce your plans for victory in Iraq this week, I found myself formulating this uncomfortable thought: we should no longer be allowing you to make plans for our military, Bush. You have proved yourself incompetent to make them. You have led this country into a military disaster of nightmarish proportions. You have demonstrated beyond any reasonable question that your judgment in such matters is faulty, guided more by ego than by wisdom, and that those you have appointed in the past to advise you in reaching these decisions--I think particularly of your Rumsfeld--are equally deficient.

I personally do not trust you to make life-and-death decisions in my name, Bush. It is clear that I am not alone in this. It is clear that the vast majority of the American people no longer trust you to make those decisions either. It is clear that the rest of the world no longer trusts you, and no longer trusts America.

In the light of this conviction, I wonder what in God's name we can do. Express our dissenting opinion as forcefully as we can? We did that in the election last November, and it seems to have been to no avail. Write blogs? Ha! Protest your decisions, once made, as vigorously as we can, if we disagree with them? You seem as incapable of hearing protest as you are of listening to advice. Require our Senators and our Congress members to reject your policies? They're so caught up in this mess, there are few of them able to see through the fog of war. Impeach? Too long a process. I'd find a resignation acceptable, but I'm not naive enough to see that happening.

I wrote earlier in these pages of my admiration for Gerald Ford, and was taken to task--not severely, Bush, but with gentle remonstrance--for not having sufficiently recognized the damage done by his pardon of Richard Nixon, and by his opening of the door for Ronald Reagan and the rise of the conservative movement in the last quarter of the 20th century. I was more distressed, myself, to read of Ford's strongly critical analysis of your rush to war in Iraq, and saddened by his choice to remain silent on the subject at a moment when his voice could have been an important one for us all to hear. Whom was he serving by this silence? The country that he so evidently loved, and in whose service he devoted his life? The Republican party? Your good self? It seems to me that a man of integrity needs to speak out when he sees things going wrong, and it saddens me to conclude that political loyalty, in this instance, took precedence over conviction and the best interests of the country.

In the context of which I have to wonder, too, where were our other former presidents? Jimmy Carter? Bill Clinton? Even, Bush, your father, George H.W.? They were surely better informed than the rest of us about the "intelligence" that led to war. Was it nothing more than presidential etiquette that allowed them to stand by without a word of protest while you deceived the country in your haste to muscle Saddam out of office? Was it plain protocol? Were they, like the rest of us, cowed by the events of 9/11. All it takes, the saying goes, is for good men to remain silent in the face of evil... Or perhaps, unlike Ford, they spoke, or tried to speak, and their thoughts went unreported by the media.

And now we have those 3000 dead, along with countless thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens. We have a morass in the Middle East, with all those intractible problems to which you have given short shrift during your six-year tenure in the Oval Office. Here at home, we still have no health care system worthy of a great and wealthy nation, and the safety net for those in need continues to fray while the rich go shopping for luxuries. It was not a good year for you, Bush, as I think you must agree. Except for those who enjoy the benefits of corporate or hereditary wealth, it was not a good year for America--not even, eventually, for those who worship at the altar of right-wing conservatism and who suffered a severe setback at election time.

My hope for 2007, Bush, is simply that we all awaken to a new appreciation of the bountiful blessings we enjoy, a new consciousness of our true place among all those other beings with whom we share this planet, and a new sense of our responsibility in the world.

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