Update: May 2011 – Hey, if you like my writing, you should check out my new website: Sustainable Diversity with fresh new and more in depth material!
And Why It Is One Of The Most Terrible Administrations in the History of America:
Before you roll your eyes and ignore this with the sea of other articles on Bush, I’m here to try and make this one count. I don’t like calling things terrible, I take no pride in it, it is a heavy and opinionated word and I’m disappointed to use it. Unfortunately it is true and heavily underreported so I have saved, over the course of years, sources for my opinion on this administration. In fact right now I am going to sift through a collection of over 150 articles, interviews, and opinions that are going to shape my article and express my opinion on why I believe the Bush Administration is one of the most terrible administrations in the history of America. In a sense this article is going to write itself, and I will do my best to make sure the sources are as reliable and primary as they get for the sake of clarity. I will also be linking to some well reasoned and logical opinions which focus on underlying reasons for some actions.
Due to the length I’m going to need to clearly and reasonably present my argument I am going to divide this up in to 2 parts (this being Part I) (Part II is here). In Part I, I will focus on the background attributes to what has occurred around the Bush administration that helped shape its views and policies with very little actual reference to the Bush administration. I liken it to a play with a stage, actors, and an audience all of which play heavily on each other. Just as the Bush administration didn’t find itself magically in power, there are situations – concrete and abstract – that have helped shape the administration to what it has become.
Now before I get into the essay it’s important to understand my perspective and where I’m coming from since I’m using an opinion here. These are the values I am using to judge this administration: I’m viewing it from a secular point of view- so I am not holding the administration to any religious standards considering our government is supposed to be secular. I am going to view them indiscriminately- meaning I will not judge the administration on race, age, religion etc, and I am not judging them simply because they are Republican as Democrats have their own let-downs to be shamed by. Do not dismiss me as anything and instead try and connect the lines from what this country was founded on and what it has become with this administration. The United States of America, despite the negative actions it has caused in its past, was a nation that truly wanted to free the people, as best as possible, from the greed and corruption of those in power. If you believe that power doesn’t usually breed corruption and greed it’s important to look at most nations in the world and see greed and corruption first hand. It is easier to be secretly greedy than open and honest – because the latter requires trust and stories from Brutus and Caesar to Benedict Arnold teach us not to trust. While there are figures who people have claimed to be open and honest heroes they generally end up assassinated – Martin Luther King Junior, John Lennon, these have been examples of the fate we must meet being open and honest. Yet, the point of being an American, I thought, was that it was our duty to stand together and to trust each other to defend against the regressive attitudes of greed and corruption within our government. Hence the 3 branches as well as both state and federal powers. Now with that basic background here comes my essay on why the Bush administration is in fact one of the most terrible administrations in the history of America:
The Stage – The End of History:
The End of History is a term coined by the man Francis Fukuyama who at the time was working in the State Department. He came up with the term during the last throes of the Cold War when the Soviet Union was hemorrhaging into failure. The idea behind the End of History was simple enough – that Western liberal democracy was the highest form of human government because of its success and longevity in comparison with other forms of governments like the Soviet Union. Americans had a hard time disputing this seeing as they were the champions of a decades-long cold war and their material wealth. Even when I was growing up in school there was absolutely no question that the United States has virtually perfected the political system. The End of History wasn’t just about the end of nation-wars though, it was basically a prediction that things will never change for the worse.
Historically that is the biggest mistake an empire should make, and by the end of the Cold War the United States was surely an empire. Currently there are bases in about 130 countries around the world making the United States the country most into other countries’ business and whether we like it or not the US is an empire. However we are a benevolent country, or so the argument goes, and this is what differentiates us from the empires of the past. But an empire is an empire and no matter how benevolent we claim ourselves to be, if it’s not viewed as benevolence by those people we are involved with in other countries, then history will repeat itself. When Rome stretched itself too thin collapse did not occur from another powerful nation but instead from the areas outside of their borders that they tried to claim as their own. There is no historical evidence suggesting that there is a way for foreigners to control indigenous lands of others but this is precisely the course of direction the United States took after the Cold War. Towards the end of the Cold War the United States found itself in some of the most remote, unstructured countries in the world. Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia as well as a host of others. These nations were not directly threatening the overabundance of wealth in the United States but because of America’s benevolent nature the United States intervened strictly for the cause of global charity. We weren’t going to allow despotic rulers to make petty demands of the world and we dutifully did our part to keep them in their place.
But it was this fallacy of The End of History that actually set the United States up for the beginning of its decline. It was readily accepted that we, the Americans, had found the one right way to live which is obviously horseradish. The needs, desires, and actions of people are constantly changing and assuming that the United States was setting the example for the way the world should work was only outlining a genocide of all other human cultural interactions, while the people may not die, their cultures that have worked for them for so long will be murdered. Only the Constitution seems to allow change to occur while maintaining stability. Undoubtedly nothing less than arrogance would’ve allowed such an idea to go to our heads and actually be implemented. This is a great article that goes in to depth on the opinion (backed up with centuries of proof) that superpowers don’t always stay superpowers once there.
The Actors- Neoconservatives:
If the ideas surrounding “The End of History” is the stage certainly it is the neoconservatives that are the actors. Francis Fukuyama himself is a neoconservative and The End of History is based off of neoconservative ideals. Neoconservativism has deep roots that reach in to American politics past for a half century molding the policies of the nation. Irving Kristol happens to be the man everyone looks to as the “godfather” of neoconservativism and in this article he calls neoconservativism a “persuasion” as opposed to a “movement.”
In short, in economics neoconservatives are proponents of low taxes and risky (though they tend to make it wordier: risk-friendly/ far-less-risk-averse) approaches with the goal of achieving growth.
In social issues they are uncomfortable with “demoralizing” freedoms such as pornography or homosexuality and are allied with religious fundamentalists (in this case Christianity) on a certain level of integration of church and state viewing the separation of the two from a minimalist standpoint. Simply this means the neoconservatives wish to have a national moral foundation based on the principles of Christianity to make sure the country stays united and strong. Religious conservativism is a proud aspect of the neoconservative mindset.
In foreign policy neoconservatives are dismissive of a world government (something like the UN) and are proponents of protecting democracy around the world based on their own decision as opposed to a joint decision with other countries. Assumingly this will allow neoconservatives to act decisively based on their own principles without the principles of weaker or potentially more corrupt governments getting in the way. Thusly it was a neoconservative action, for example, to invade Iraq before UN approval. Patriotism is encouraged and while Kristol doesn’t exactly define patriotism he most definitely promotes allegiance to a Christian morality base and ipso facto patriotism of American rules and laws would be most agreeable if they were connected with Christian fundamentalism. Kristol also makes it a point to note that “national interest” is not a geographical term and considering democracy is of national interest it has taken us to places all across the globe for wars and other interests: the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Kosovo conflict, the Afghan War, and the Iraq War.
President Bush awarded Irving Kristol the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 which is a medal for “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Neoconservativism is viewed as a progressive political persuasion for the leaders of the United States to follow. Following it is supposed to guarantee power, resources, unity, and benevolence. There are some inherent problems with neoconservativism though that seem to get too easily dismissed by intelligent men like Kristol. For example it’s hypocritical to be against a world government and then attempt to govern the world. While neoconservatives choose to hide the hypocrisy under “national interest” without borders, it ends up being a level of world governing that they agree occurs with the massive amount of power we have, though they state they do not want other types of world governing. This is a selfish policy for the United States to have and while there are many good reasons for not wanting a world government, the United States is not an exception to the rule just because it’s powerful. If we are going to be led by a “persuasion” that advocates no world government, then we must not be the exception simply due to our desire to remain in power. If we are going to be led by a persuasion that advocates the United States governing the world for its own national interests be prepared for other countries to attempt to attain that power and put the United States under their own power. If we are prepared to do this we must prepare for war… which we’ve done by having the most military bases in the world, as well as the largest and most funded military in the world. While the idea that the United States should act benevolently is a mutually agreeable one, it is not benevolent to stifle or prop up governments for our national interests. And even though it could be very easily argued that propping up a United States friendly government is beneficial for our national interests the opposite seems to prove otherwise. When other governments look to protect the United States interests before their own the people become upset with the United States.
The concept of national interest beyond our borders have been taken to the extreme with neoconservative idealists. While one of the strongest arguments that led us in to war with Iraq was because of Saddam’s fascist leadership we have turned a blind eye and even supported dictators who have been just as extreme or worse. Ronald Reagan is a 20th Century hero for neoconservatives and thusly his administration must’ve been ideal. A true ruthless tyrant during his administration was Samuel Doe (just to name one) who came to power when he was young Sergeant in the military. According to The Fate of Africa, a respectable book on Africa’s struggle since colonial independence, Samuel Doe led a group of men to sneak in to the President’s mansion in 1980, shot him three times in his head, gouged out his right eye, and disemboweled him. The book goes on to explain, “What inspired Doe and his group of fellow conspirators to storm the Executive Mansion was not a plan for revolution but simply grievances over poor living conditions in the army barracks. They possessed no political objectives, no policy ambitions, no guiding ideology, other than to set themselves up in power.” The book also explains Doe was “then the youngest and lowest-ranking soldier to seize power in Africa.” Doe was the typical African tyrant with looting from state corporations, tribal favoritism, arbitrary detentions, secret trials, secret executions, rigging elections, even ordering soldiers to fire on crowds of protesters. Doe went as far as to resort to cannibalism to prove his power. How did the Reagan administration handle such a ruthless dictator? They increased aid to Liberia from $10 million to $80 million (page 551 in The Fate of Africa) which accounted for nearly one-third of the country’s budget. When Doe detained a prominent international figure only then did the Reagan administration take action by refusing $25 million in aid. Doe released the prisoner and in return the United States gave him the $25 million to continue his ruthless rule. Why would the Reagan administration do all of this for such an aimless, power hungry, corrupt, and petty dictator? Because Doe openly endorsed the United States and openly denounced the Soviet Union, even using socialism as the reason on why he had to ban opposing political parties. Doe was allowed to rule as ruthless as he pleased so long as he helped American national interest by denouncing its enemy. The US ambassador, William L Swing, even referred to him as an “endearing boy.” When an election took place where preliminary votes showed that Doe would not win the presidential election and Doe burned the ballots declaring himself the winner, the Reagan administration responded by calling the election “generally fair although marked by a few irregularities.” Chester Crocker, Reagan’s senior policy-maker in Africa, “praised what he called ‘noteworthy positive aspects’ about the election. He went on: ‘There is now the beginning, however imperfect, of a democratic experience that Liberia and its friends can use as a benchmark for prospects for future elections – one on which they want to build… his prospects for national reconciliation were brightened by Doe’s claim that he won only a narrow 51 per cent election victory – virtually unheard of in the rest of Africa where incumbent rulers normally claim victories of 95 per cent to 100 per cent. In claiming only 51 per cent Doe publicly acknowledged that a large segment of society – 49 per cent – supported other points of view and leadership than his own.'”
Obviously lying and bending the truth have become more important to our national interests than benevolence for neoconservatives. Winning is winning and there was absolutely nothing positive about the way Doe handled the election, but in turn for his approval the Reagan administration gladly praised the wretched leader, the next sentence in the book says “…the election marked the beginning of a descent into hell.” Because of the endorsement of the election no serious attempts were made to remove Doe from power and cannibalism as well as more corruption ensued. Countless people were maimed, tortured, detained, deprived, and raped because the people were not allowed to have a fair election, the country descended into using drugged up homeless children to fight their battles as well as abducting the children of others for slave labor. This all may have been prevented if the ballot was ever counted correctly and the United States acknowledged the truth of the situation. But instead the book notes a senior US policymaker in 1993 said “We were getting fabulous support from him on international issues… He never wavered [in] his support for us against Libya and Iran…. All our interests were impeccably protected by Doe. We weren’t paying a penny for the US installations.” The book also goes on to give another quote by Crocker painting a much freer country than Liberia was. Neoconservatives gladly turn a blind eye to the obedient, dismissing the misery caused underneath them. The benevolence card only gets played when things important to our national interest such as the “clearly phenomenal” amounts of oil reserves in Iraq is being sat upon by a disobedient ruthless dictator. We don’t attack based on the leaders cruelty, we attack based on the leaders obedience… this is the mindset that neoconservativism has bread. Even the USpolicymaker in the book used the words “All our interests were… protected.”
The origin of neoconservatives actually has a direct link to the Muslim extremists that are now our nations biggest enemy because of the narrow focus of “interest” used. It is eloquently portrayed by Adam Curtis in his BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares, a 3 hour long documentary you can view on google video: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. While it has criticism of showing the neoconservatives in a negative light Adam Curtis has a pristine record even being awarded 2 separate BAFTA “Best Factual Series” awards. He is not a man to throw away his career to create non-factual documentaries out of sheer spite. Most importantly I think it shows how neoconservatives help fund Islamic extremism when it was used to their own benefit.
The Audience- Christian Fundamentalists
What good is a set stage and primed actors without an audience? Who will encourage, support, and enjoy the actions of the actors? Christian Fundamentalists gladly will take the seat and applaud as well as encourage the actions of neoconservatives. Because neoconservatives look towards Christianity for their morals and wish to implement a level of Christian morality into the government it is those who are most passionate about Christ who back the idea up most. So what is wrong with this? Well, for starters… what if you’re not Christian? That question seems to be quickly dismissed with the automatic assumption that those who do not believe in religion surrounding Jesus have beliefs that come second to the one right way to live. The Christian Fundamentalists don’t question what religion is the right religion, they know. Christian Fundamentalists see themselves as a special group of people whose job it is to bring Jesus into the lives of everyone. This is respectable in some ways because their intentions are good and they are interested in the spreading of what they see as positive morals. While their desire to spread their religion is passionate we must look at the situation as adults as opposed to emotional children: though you may believe strongly in your religion you have no right to expect others to be forced to follow its rules. We have the ability to be articulate which is a much more mature means of solving a problem than just getting upset. The first people that really migrated here from Europe were people who were persecuted by their religious government. As I linked above the neoconservatives take a minimalist view of the separation of church and state so things such as homosexual marriage should be illegal, God should be all over our money and in our pledge, public funding for Christian foundations is okay to help build a moral base. The problem with this is all under the very large assumption that Christianity is the single right religion and evidence around the world gives me reason to believe it’s not the only option. Instead of just ignoring the overwhelming evidence that there is more than one right way to live, let’s embrace it and handle our differences like adults. Don’t get upset at homosexuals for wanting to be legally recognized as a couple to get the same benefits as a straight couple. I can understand the argument that it’s not natural in a procreation sense seeing as the parts do not work together to make babies… and that is a sign from nature (be it God or nothing) that a gay couple cannot procreate with each other… and that’s all it means. It doesn’t mean they can’t spend a lifetime together, it doesn’t mean they can’t adopt children, it just means that two of the same can not create a child… but if the adults are responsible, dependable, and stable then what is wrong with supplying a child with two living adults, what’s wrong with allowing them to be wedded by the state? Men are not going to stop loving women and women are not going to stop loving men. Because heterosexuality is the more natural thing to do homosexuality will always be less popular. But sexuality is a private thing to explore and laws have no rights with how people want to bond with each other so long as it’s not threateningly. Having any child see two adults acting respectably towards one another is not a bad example for our children.
Christian Fundamentalism has found deep roots in our government flooding it on all levels and actually convincing us that something as simple as homosexuality could possibly demoralize our culture. Spiteful, regressive, heartless, controlling, dehumanizing actions are what give our children bad morals. They take spreading Christianity so seriously they make private clubs where they can grow spiritually with Jesus. One man named Jeffrey Sharlet was invited to join one of these groups on the mistake that his interest in Jesus made him a believer. In this article he explains in detail what it was like to live with some actual public representatives which he names personally: Senators Don Nickles (R., Okla.), Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), Pete Domenici (R., N.Mex.), John Ensign (R., Nev.), James Inhofe (R., Okla.), Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), and Conrad Burns (R., Mont.) are referred to as “members,” as are Representatives Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), Frank Wolf (R., Va.), Joseph Pitts (R., Pa.), Zach Wamp (R., Tenn.), and Bart Stupak (D., Mich.). What Sharlet describes is unnerving. These people are feeling very exclusive even renaming themselves as “In Christ” (as opposed to Christian) to emphasize the passion in their belief, they even begin to sound giddy when talking about Jesus. While I understand the importance and strength spirituality imposes on the way your body will act, it is important to not force your beliefs on others or expect them to adopt it simply because it’s so important to you. These men Sharlet stays with are very powerful inviting ambassadors over to eat and discuss politics, here is a quote from the article:
“A man I didn’t recognize, whom Charlene identified as a former senator, suggested that negotiators from Rwanda and Congo, trapped in a war that has slain more than 2 million, should stop worrying about who will get the diamonds and the oil and instead focus on who will get Jesus. ‘Power sharing is not going to work unless we change their hearts,’ he said. Sezibera stared, incredulous. Meese chuckled and opened his mouth to speak, but Sezibera interrupted him. ‘It is not so simple,’ the Rwandan said, his voice flat and low. Meese smiled. Everyone in the Family loves rebukes, and here was Rwanda rebuking them. ”
The Rwandan genocide and the events surrounding the event were some of the most horrific in history happening barely a decade ago. It was directly related to the bloodiest event since World War II with millions dead, displaced, and in severe poverty. Haughtily over a lazy breakfast a former senator minimizes the extreme desperation and seriousness of the situation and points out that the religion he believes in should be studied by them. He doesn’t acknowledge that many of these people are desperate to not live in poverty and the extreme lengths they have to go through is sincerely a sad thing, especially to a Rwandan ambassador, that is extremely insensitive. Compounded by the inaction of Americas involvement on stopping the genocide. It would be as if right now we have a Muslim person explain that if everyone on the planes and in the towers were Muslim on September 11th, then the atrocity would’ve never happened. It’s just an ignorant thing to say in both situations and not progressive in the least. I feel terrible for that Rwandan ambassador.
Christian Fundamentalists are almost fanatical in their belief. Jesus Camp does an excellent job at showing the conditioning of children in to religion going as far as speaking in tongues and emotionally destabilizing children to the point of tears. While some claim that the movie was purposely done to make the Christian Fundamentalists look bad the director only edited the video, everything said and done in the movie was without any bait because they were simply sharing their faith. Featured in the film is Ted Haggard eerily making fidelity jokes before he lost his position over being accused of having homosexual relations and smoking meth. In the film they mention how Haggard, when he was the leader of the New Life Church in Colorado (a church that now estimates 14,000 attendees), he would have regular meetings with President Bush. This directly links Bush with Christian Fundamentalists and it’s interesting to ask the question – Where do the funds for these stadium-sized churches come from? Certainly these churches are part of a religion of public men with deep pockets.
The problem in using Christianity as a moral base that works closely with the law is that not only other religions are being forgotten about, but even other sects within the same religion tend to come after the prominent ruling sect of the religion. Christian fundamentalists, for example, believe in very different things than Catholics. It’s impossible to determine which one section of Christianity is the most accurate considering all of them have believers. There are even Christian churches that embrace homosexuals. This leaves many people who try acting out the high demands of a religion that might not fit their needs. The concept that mankind is inherently evil is extremely pessimistic and not at all validated by the actions of many people across all religions. While there have been atrocious behaviors within other religions Christianity is in no way exempt. It is about getting past the religion and focusing on progressive and positive actions despite the difference in spiritual preference. Yet in that article above where Sharlet lived with the religious public officials one of the men was discussing how they need to “unwrap” Jesus from religion so that it is a fact separate from personal religion and can be shared openly as factual within the confines of the law. This is undermining our national integrity as seeing there is no proof for any religion or anything truly depicting what is correct or incorrect for another human to do. The law is supposed to protect those who do things differently from the persecution of any group, marrying Christianity on any level with our legal system is going to view non-Christians as second tier citizens even though non-Christians have the ability to be just as intelligent, respectful, and productive as Christians. Trying to hold themselves to standards that aren’t for them, political figures tend to resort to scandals as a means of pleasure or satisfaction. This was a great comprehensive list I found of just Republicans that have been involved in scandals alone (While all might not be guilty, the number is still just way too high). Republicans, generally the group Christian Fundamentalists adhere to due to their conservative nature, are awash in immorality. If entwining law with Christianity was a good idea on any level the group that supports it the strongest is setting a terrible example for the rest of us. However the Republicans are not alone as many Democrats readily accept Christianity with its involvement in the government, some were even listed in Sharlet’s article. Rarely are the words Conservative and Republican as well as Liberal and Democrat ever separated, but seeing as politics is naturally conservative in nature rich with tradition and history, there are many Democrats with a Conservative streak in them. This does not mean it’s acceptable to attempt to merge religious ideals with secular decisions as it is wildly immature to dismiss the beliefs of the millions of people in this country who expect their beliefs to be looked at with equal validity as everyone else.
So lights, camera, action! The stage is set and the play is about to begin. The setting: The End of History, the headlining actors: Neoconservatives, all eagerly being watched by the Christian Fundamentalist audience (with guest appearances from the audience working with the Neoconservatives). But the star of this magnificent play, the central character to piecing it all together is George W. Bush. Knowing his audience and his fellow actors it’s not hard to play the part and get the right reaction from each respectively. But there is a problem – The theatre sold the tickets to everyone in America but only let in those who wouldn’t criticize the show. Now there is a nation of people feeling cheated because of it. Part II is here.