Is GWB losing his marbles?

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#1
Sorry to keep bringing in US news, but I live in the belly of the beast. There are rumors -- evil rumors -- that the leader of the "free" world, the president of the land of the free and the home of the brave is losing his marbles:
http://www.whitecivilrights.com/is-the-white-house-staff-losing-it_389.html

An article last October reported “An uncivil war rages inside the walls of the West Wing of the White House, a bitter, acrimonious war driven by a failed agenda, destroyed credibility ...
 
#2
Interesting article - but how reliable is it? I don't care for Bush's foreign policy but I am not sure I can attribute it to mental illness, just poor judgment.
 
#3
"horacew2006" said:
Interesting article - but how reliable is it? I don't care for Bush's foreign policy but I am not sure I can attribute it to mental illness, just poor judgment.
As I understand it, the article is discussing the impact the US administration's policies are having on Bush and the White House staff. I never for a moment thought that Bush was the architect for foreign policy -- or any policy for that matter. He's the front man, the figurehead.
Nor is is it necessarily poor judgement on anyone's part that brought about US foreign and war policy. It's a trajectory the US must follow in order to avert collapse of its imperium. Saddam was pricing oil in euros: this had to be staved off. Iran will start pricing oil in euros on Monday. Something will have to be done about this. I'm not saying this constitutes the sole raison d'etre for bellicose US foreign policy, a casus belli in its own right, but these are central to US interests.
 
#4
The debate concerning WHY there is a war in Iraq will go on and on. I believe there were many reasons ... the legitamite desire to spread democracy to the Middle East, thereby defusing fundamentalist Islam, a response to Israeli pressures, concern about the oil supply, etc. As for US interests, they are not all so bad. It's quite reasonable that the US should be concerned about who controls oil. That in itself is far from "evil" as some people think. The issue is how the US handles the situation. I don't believe that Bush is a mere front. For sure he is manipulated by a number of prominent neocons but he does so very willingly as it fits into his vision of the world. Clearly Bush sees himself as an instrument as God. When it comes to support for Israel, no Us president has been so supportive. Why? To evangelicals Israel is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and must therefore be supported.
 
#5
"horacew2006" said:
The debate concerning WHY there is a war in Iraq will go on and on. I believe there were many reasons ... the legitamite desire to spread democracy to the Middle East, thereby defusing fundamentalist Islam, a response to Israeli pressures, concern about the oil supply, etc. As for US interests, they are not all so bad. It's quite reasonable that the US should be concerned about who controls oil. That in itself is far from "evil" as some people think. The issue is how the US handles the situation. I don't believe that Bush is a mere front. For sure he is manipulated by a number of prominent neocons but he does so very willingly as it fits into his vision of the world. Clearly Bush sees himself as an instrument as God. When it comes to support for Israel, no Us president has been so supportive. Why? To evangelicals Israel is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and must therefore be supported.
Please, please, we are men of the world here; we don't need to invoke moral arguments and employ words like "evil." Leave that to the demagogues and bible-thumping televangelists. Let us talk the straight language of power politics. The most credible estimates currently around are that the cost of the Iraqi invasion (the word "war" is a misnomer) will be at least $1,000,000,000,000. Stiglitz puts the figure as high as $2 trillion. But let us not quibble over the numbers. The US government would not spend resources of this magnitude to get rid of an "evil dictator" (one that it had been previously happy to do business with) and "create democracy" (US democratic foundations are being eroded by the day, and it would make more sense to start back home). Successive US administrations have been stingy with foreign aid -- as Jimmy Carter once accurately said, the US must be one of the stingiest countries in the world. Resources of this magnitude are urgently needed in the US for infrastructure maintenance, education, and the like, and simply to reduce the fiscal deficit. So let us not bandy words about the benign nature of US policies: they've never existed. This is a colossal gamble by a tottering hegemon to exercise more complete control over Middle East oilfields and to keep oil priced in dollars. Such is the voracious need for oil in the US, and so dependent is virtually every sector of the US economy on oil, that there is scant alternative to current policies. If there were national and city public transport grids, if people weren't tied to SUVs and other gas guzzling vehicles, if suburban growth hadn't been allowed to run riot, this dependence would be greatly reduced. But successive US administrations have been unwilling to take these painful and unpopular steps. In any case, it's usually energy and transport interests that constitute part of the US ruling elite: the very people who won't gain by sensible energy policies.
"Fundamentalist" Islam is itself a response to long-standing US meddling in the region.
The US president has power over policy to the extent that he's a member of the ruling elite. No more, no less. In carrying out policy, he's afforded a bit more leeway. I can't help thinking that even here he's a member of a ruling junta -- primus inter pares -- rather than a sole and independent decision maker.
 
#6
When I used the word `"evil" it was in reference to the position of many extremists in the US and elsewhere who think in black and white terms. Foreign policy by its very nature is self serving - it must be. However, a nation's foreign policy can be self serving and benevolent at the same time. The best examples are the Marshall Plan and the US occupation/reconstruction of Japan. Surely the US behaved admirably toward its enemies. Would the Nazis or the Japanese have done the same? I do not disagree that oil interests are involved in the Iraq War - of course they are! I also said that in itself is not bad. The US has to be concerned about who controls the major oil sources in the world. That does not negate the need of the US to start conserving. It's obvious that the US is not about to implement an intelligent transportation policy that moves the nation away from its almost total reliance on the automobile. That is one of the deficiencies of the US system - though most people around the world would like to own a car (or two) as do most adult Americans. As for the huge amount of money invested in this war, isn't it just possible that it has far exceeded expectations? Yes, American freedoms are been somewhat eroded. It's obvious that Bush wields a great deal of power and is using fear of terrorism to exert even more power. I'm not convinced, however, that he has conspiratorial intentions. It's true that Islamic fundamentalism is in part the fault of US intervention in the Middle East. It's also the fault of self serving rulers who appeased extremists and in the process created a Frankenstein. You ignore the Israeli connection.
 
#7
Not to be contentious, but democracy is the last thing the West needs in Muslim countries. Algeria elections placed the mullahs in power several years ago. They were soon overthrown by a military coup. Mussaraf in Pakistan was hardly elected democratically. If democracy were to come to Pakistan then al Queada would likely have WMD. The house of Saud walks a fine line to maintain power. They fund the radical Wahabbi sect of Sunni Islam and export it over the world to appease the radicals. No Democracy would be about the worse thing to have in the Middle East.Democracy is no cure all for political problems. It can be justified when there is a widespread ownership of property without a great disparity in its distribution.
 
#8
Yes, if democracy were instituted overnight there would be instances of fundamnentalsts being elected. Nevertheless, it is a reasonable objective of the US and Western nations in general to push the Middle East toward greater respect fpr human rights, rights for women, and more democratic government. These movements already exist within the Artab countries, including Saudi Arabia and should be encouraged by the western nations. I believe more people in the Middle East want reform than do not. Democracy may not evolve exactly as in the US or Britain - maybe it shouldn't - however change must occur. You are correct about the disparity of wealth. The large number of unempoyed, idle youth has contributed to extremism. Of course here in Argentina we have wealth concentrated in a few yet some semblance of democracy exists and considerable respect for human rights. The Saudi leaders were in the past guilty of appeasing radicals and even helping to fund their interests however that is no longer true. They know very well that they themselves are under threat and have cracked down very hard on the insurgents.
 
#9
"horacew2006" said:
You ignore the Israeli connection.
I have no quibble with the rest of your post, so I've not reproduced it in its entirety. Now with regard to the Israeli connection. During the past fifteen years, Middle East policy has been taken over by Israeli loyalists. During the Clinton administration, the two most senior officials dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli process were partisans of Israel, having worked as activists and scholars at pro-Israeli lobby organisations and think tanks before their government tenure. Since 2001, the link between active promoters of Israeli interests and policymaking circles has become stronger than ever before.The neocons who pepper the Bush administration have long records of activism in the US on behalf of Israel and of policy advocacy in Israel. I can go on and on with specific names -- Perle, Wolfowitz, Gaffney, Abrams, Feith, Kristol, and so on, and the names of bodies -- AIPAC, PNAC, JINSA, and so on, which push a certain agenda. Both of you -- Horace and Harold -- will know this already.
A series of joint committees has created a policymaking apparatus that regards US interests in the Middle East as identical to Israel's. This new system is particularly entrenched in military procurement and high-tech research, where new joint projects involving the two nations' military industrial complexes appear quite regularly.
(The above borrowed from Kathleen and Bill Christison's article in Adbusters magazine, Mar/Apr 2006)
For a more complete scholarly discussion, there's Nitzan and Bichler's The Global Political Economy of Israel, which is nonpareil. And there's a recent report by a couple of academics:
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/print/mear01_.html
As a postscript, I just found that Nitzan and Bichler's books is available free in PDF form:
http://bnarchives.yorku.ca/8/
 
#10
Horace, I'm not sure that we are that far apart. The question is just what can really be done to encourage the development of some form of broad representative government. My primary objection is that representative government is something best not forced, particularly externally. If it is to last it has to be a natural outgrowth of that society's own traditions. The US's encouragement of reformers in Iran has more likely resulted in a discrediting of those reformist elements in the eyes of many. Frankly the US needs to clean its own house before even considering setting someone else's house in order.As to Israel, it is simply beyond dispute that the US largely supports Israel regardless. This dynamic as far as the Republicans are concerned is driven by the dispensationalism of evangelicals. One example of which is the funding of organisations that bring primarily Russian Jews to Israel to resettle. Which creates pressure to establish or expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
 
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