First of all, this is my first thread, so if this is in the wrong place, or already started elsewhere, please forgive my naivete…
As an American living in England for the last 3 years, I am frequently asked ‘What do you think about George Bush?’
One thing to always keep in mind about people who don’t live in the United States is that they have no comprehension of the complexity of the system of government in the US. They don’t understand the checks and balances represented by the three branches of government, and don’t understand the subtleties of internally governing our divided nation. They don’t understand how the states work, or how they work in relation to the federal government. All they see is the President, whose true role is to act as the face of the country for the international audience. That is all they see – what George Bush and his Administration (most notably Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and to a lesser degree John Ashcroft) say and do.
I hate this Administration. Aside from the basic fact that Bush was appointed to the office of President rather than honestly elected, that his brand of compassionate conservatism is neither, that his erosion of the barrier between church and state is simply fundamentalism of a slightly different flavor, the blatant war profiteering by his Vice President and many of his major campaign contributors, the erosion of the Bill of Rights under his watch and supported by his appointees, the personal embarrassment that I feel in that arguably the most powerful man in the world didn’t hold a passport until elected president (much less ever travelled outside of North America), and never forgetting that I think he’s a fool and a puppet for multiple big corporations, I feel he has managed to do what no other US President has ever managed to do to the same degree – truly answer the question of ‘Why do they hate us?’
After 9-11, the United States and George Bush were presented with a unique opportunity to do something, with the support of the entire developed world. Bush could have done what no other president ever had the opportunity to do –unite free people the world over to a common cause. He could have started us on the road to ensure we, and many others, could live a safer life without the spectre of Islamic fundamentalism seeping into our lives. All of which he promised to do, and all of which Bush had the nearly universal support of our allies to do, and all of which he has failed to do dramatically and repeatedly.
Instead, with his ‘With Us or Against Us’ and ‘Dead or Alive’ and WMD and Iraq and ‘Bring it On’ and ‘Axis of Evil’ and ‘Mission Accomplished’ he managed to alienate our allies, enrage our enemies, and push moderate Islam to the sidelines.
Bush gave strength to fundamentalist fanatics the world over, especially in Iran and Saudi Arabia (forget about Iraq for now – that’s a whole other quagmire). He gives the exhortations of the Mullahs and Imams about the Evil Americans weight, and in doing so has given them the political power to sideline the moderates in government and destroy any chance of a youthful society throwing off the yoke of fundamentalist theocracy (which was well on the way in Iran before the ‘Axis of Evil’ speech). The policies of his administration has, instead of ‘drained the swamp’ of terrorist-sponsoring nations in the Middle East, created one huge jungle in which they can thrive, train, and attack US forces on a nearly daily basis, inflicting casualties that mainstream US citizens rarely hear about anymore and never see, without any apparent capability on our part to stop such attacks. Bush has brought from darkest obscurity to worldwide fame the names of extremists, such as Muqtada al-Sadr, who truly wish to destroy America and are willing to kill hundreds if not thousands of their own countrymen to damage US interests, and made them into fundamentalist heroes due to their willingness to fight to protect holy Islamic sites from Western Crusaders.
Bush’s strategy of pre-emptive strike has dismayed our allies to the point that they have refused to support us without evidence. When we can’t provide evidence to the level required to actually satisfy the UN or NATO, we ridicule them and ignore them, calling them out of date or useless, and pursue our own agenda in violation of multiple treaties and in complete defiance of over 3 decades of public sentiment. We have taken our treasured ‘we won’t attack first’ doctrine, which weathered and won the cold war, and instead have replaced it with pre-emptive attacks on countries that ‘may’ have the ability ‘in future’ or who ‘were once actively pursuing weapons’ which ‘might someday’ harm the United States or our Allies.
We have disregarded the Geneva Convention (above and beyond circumventing our own Constitution, but that only applies to our citizens so I won’t really talk about that) in the treatment of POWs and the execution of our adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the rest of the world. We have used munitions (such as carpet bombing, cluster bombs, ‘non-napalm’ fire bombs, depleted uranium munitions, and land mines) and tactics (such as torture) that have caused international human rights organizations to heap scorn upon the US. (One US Marine general was quoted as saying ‘the grunts love napalm; it’s great for morale’ as an excuse for using it in Iraq.) We are holding people for years without trial, access to independent council, or even charges being filed, including US citizens and legal citizens of allied nations such as the UK. We didn’t treat the Nazis at Nuremburg this badly after 4 years of open warfare and documented cases of genocide. And guess who’s checking the Pentagon’s homework on if these people should continue to be held – that’s right, the Pentagon!
Bush’s state visit to the UK was a perfect example of how arrogant his Administration is. He was to visit Queen Elizabeth II and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, perhaps the number 2 and 3 terrorist targets in the world after Bush himself (OK, the Pope is somewhere in there, too). So you would think, with the UK police forces and intelligence agencies’ vast and lengthy experience in battling terrorists such as the Real IRA in their own country and worldwide and with a long track record in protecting both government ministers and the Royal Family, that the Secret Service would be satisfied with these local security service’s ability to defend the President on his visit. You would be wrong.
The Secret Service attempted to rebuild Buckingham Palace with armoured windows and machine-gun nests on the grounds (paid for by the UK taxpayer, of course, which the UK Government refused to do), insisted all Secret Service officers (especially snipers) have diplomatic immunity whilst in the line of duty (which the British Government flatly refused to grant), wanted to have Blackhawk helicopters (fully armed with miniguns and rockets and with a squad of ‘special forces’ aboard each) flying over the Palace during the whole of his visit (again, denied), as well as shutting down the London Underground, the sole means of transportation for some 1 million Londoners and the only semi-fast method of transport across this crowded and gridlocked major city, which would have cost the City of London some £1,000,000 per day in lost revenues (denied again, but only at the vehement insistence of the Mayor of London). The infamous free-speech zones were attempted here as well, which was totally laughed off by the Government and the Mayor of the London, and the route that Bush took from Heathrow into London to the Palace was lined with protestors (of course, he took a helicopter so he wouldn’t have to see any of it, but the traffic pile-ups in London were truly huge). The Secret Service caused over £200,000 worth of straight-up damage to the palace and the grounds in their 3 day visit (which still hasn’t been paid back to the Crown), and didn’t pay anything for the amount of income lost to London businesses due to arbitrary road closures and draconian security requirements of guarding the President (which some estimates hold at £600-700,000). In US terms, that’s nearly $2 million in damage and lost wages for 3 days of a state visit, none of which has been repaid by the Administration. For that would be to admit guilt, which is something Bush and his Administration are pathologically incapable of doing.
This is how this Administration treats our friends. This is our ally, which is supporting our efforts in Iraq with troops and money, which has stood by us for over 200 years and supported our policies internationally for most of that time.
Now think of the people we don’t like, who don’t support our policies. And think of the ham-fisted and thumb-fingered approach to realpolitik that this Administration seems to excel in. And now you know the answer – they hate us, if not before, now because of George W. Bush and his Administration.