Failures Echo Round the World

by Andy Mager

During the past four years, the Bush administration has alienated the US from the rest of the world in ways that no terrorist ever could. The sympathy and solidarity expressed toward the US by much of the world in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks has vanished in the face of its aggressive and arrogant foreign policy. As a result, the United States and the world are less safe.

With words and deeds, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. have demonstrated their contempt for other nations, for international cooperation and for international efforts to address global problems. While at times mouthing rhetoric of “democracy,” “fairness” and “coalition,” their contradictory actions have spoken far more loudly.

A variety of polls show that the US is increasingly feared and mistrusted in much of the world, with the lowest ratings found in the Middle East. A poll taken by Time Europe before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 found that over 86% of respondents rated the US as posing “the greatest danger to world peace in 2003.”

National Security Strategy
At the core of the problem is the 2002 National Security Strategy (NSS) which identifies “a single sustainable model for national success.” Nations which deviate from this model risk the wrath of the world’s overwhelming military and economic giant, including the prospect of pre-emptive war. The invasion of Iraq flowed naturally from the NSS call for global domination.

That war rages on despite Bush’s efforts to put a happy face on the unfolding violence and chaos. Bush’s lies led us into war, though his ongoing deceit seems less able to retain public support for continued bloodletting. Iraq has now become a fertile recruiting ground for Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, a situation which wasn’t true when Bush used terrorist connections as a pretext for attacking that oil-rich nation.

Since the Bush administration’s primary selling point for a second term is its ability to “keep America safe,” its dishonesty must continue. The administration was forced to revise its “Patterns of Global Terrorism” report, which had claimed that the “annual number of terrorist attacks had dropped to its lowest level in 34 years,” after the numbers were shown to be incorrect. Analysis by independent experts, using State Department figures, concluded that significant attacks actually reached a 20-year high in 2003! (Their accounting excludes most of the casualties in Iraq which are directed at “combatants.”)

Making the World More Dangerous
Bush policies have made the world a more dangerous place for US Americans and others, especially those who are allied with our government. Some specific examples:

Bush’s unilateral policies have undermined the authority of the United Nations. This makes it much more difficult for the UN to act as an effective force in helping to resolve dangerous conflicts throughout the globe.

Bush has ignored the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which lies at the heart of much Middle East violence. Bush has supported Israel’s hardline policies toward the Palestinians and used rhetoric fueling Israel’s aggressive attacks on Palestinian “terrorists.”

Bush’s refusal to engage in direct talks with North Korea has played a key role in the continued growth of North Korea’s nuclear program.

Bush plans to deploy a new generation of nuclear weapons and to establish a missile “defense” system stoke fears around the world and increase the likelihood that more of the dozens of “potential nuclear nations” will acquire nuclear weapons. (The core issue here is the Republican/Democrat bi-partisan support for the outrageously unfair global nuclear policy which allows some nations to possess these weapons while prohibiting them to others.)

The US continues to be the world’s largest exporter of weapons. According to the Center for Defense Information, “The United States is more willing than ever to sell or give away high technology weapons to countries that have pledged assistance in the global war on terror, regardless of past behavior or current status.”

Unfortunately, many of the Bush policies are an escalation of long-term US approaches to the world. They are not, as some claim, a radical departure from the practices of previous administrations — Republican or Democrat.

Those of us who want to see our nation take leadership in building a world of peace, justice and environmental sustainability can celebrate only briefly if we are successful in ousting Bush Inc. from Washington. A Kerry administration will differ little from what we currently see unless there is sustained grassroots activism compelling them to act on the high ideals which our nation claims but rarely practices.

Andy, the current Peace Newsletter coordinator, wishes the state of the world would allow him to spend more time playing with his son Eli and less time demonstrating.