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Cleaning Up After Bush

Posted on Aug 28, 2008

By William Pfaff

The Bush administration has lived by a strategy of tension, and will go out of office bequeathing the wars it has started and the ill will it has created to its successors, to compromise those who come after.

The Bush people have set a lot of precedents for America: Guantanamo and the “black sites” abroad will be left, and the probably more than 1,000 U.S. military bases abroad, presumably including the 50 bases (currently) that Washington still wants to keep in Iraq after the troops go home, if they go home. And of course the administration’s outsourcing arrangements for torture and kidnapping abroad will be left to a new administration.

Whether it is Barack Obama or John McCain who enters the Oval Office in January, he will confront an inheritance of eight years of foreign policy abuses, failures and unresolved dilemmas, and a climate of international crisis in the Caucasus, expected by Richard Cheney and others in the Bush administration to promote McCain’s election.

If this does elect McCain, it should pose no great problems for him because he is a man of simple commitment to the policy line of his predecessors: of military interventions in the Muslim world to win victory over the terrorists, and political interventions to control troubled European and Caspian-Crimean regions, and deter the new Stalin (or is it Hitler? Stalin was not at Munich).

This conservative interventionism, in a Manichean politico-intellectual framework of Virtue and Freedom confronting Evil, leaves the Bush administration’s successor with continuing conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and, indirectly, Somalia, plus probable domestic crisis in Pakistan before the presidential inauguration arrives. The progress of Islamic integrist and tribal forces linked to the Taliban continues in Pakistan without an apparent solution that would satisfy Washington.


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In all of these cases, the American intervention is itself the principal continuing cause of conflict—which in the American policy community is generally inadmissible. In none of these conflicts is America capable of providing a solution. Even in Iraq, which Bush and the neoconservatives now tout as a success, all that has happened is that the U.S. has pitilessly wrecked the country, and now the Iraqis have grown weary of fighting.

The war in Somalia that sets Somalian warlords and an “Islamic Courts” rebel coalition against an unsuccessful Ethiopian military occupation, engineered by the CIA, will be waiting for the new American administration, since any solution involving the Islamists is verboten to Washington.

The Georgian-Ossetian-Abkhazian-Russian drama will have worsened by January, and U.S.-Russian bilateral relations been envenomed (if not worse), as well as trilateral relations among the U.S., Russia and the hapless and doubly intimidated NATO Europeans, incapable of taking an initiative in their own interest.

The neoconservative determination that America must dominate at any cost a Hobbesian world driven by greed and self-interest has won the day. The television-rattled public fails to grasp just what this means, and for eight years the Democrats have been frightened into silence by the threat of being outed as unpatriotic.

Sen. Joseph Biden, according to the analysts, was made the Democratic vice presidential nominee because he knows everything about foreign policy. But everything that he knows about foreign policy is just what everybody else in Washington knows and thinks, and would never dream of questioning. There’s the problem.

An Obama-Biden administration would lower the rhetoric of the war on terror and enter global negotiations with Iran. It would emphasize the common interest of the U.S. and Iran in the stabilization of Iraq and Afghanistan. It would acknowledge the political and social importance of Hamas and Hezbollah in the real world.

It would start over again with Israel-Palestine negotiations. Those backing the Obama candidacy talk about a “New Marshall Plan” for the Middle East (resembling Condoleezza Rice’s proposals last month in Foreign Affairs), offering a “generational” program to lift the Middle East “from misery” and make it democratic, pro-American, and friendly to Israel. Alas, we have heard all that before; the United States is incapable of doing it; and the problem of the Middle East isn’t money.

The leaders of such a new administration would negotiate with American allies rather than blackmail and bully them. They would resume good relations with international organizations and make good-faith use of them. They would protect the sovereignty of Georgia and Ukraine. They would be firm with Russia. They would protect Western energy sources. They will fight injustice wherever they find it, even if that means more war. They will make a better world. Good luck to them.

Visit William Pfaff’s Web site at .

© 2008 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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By spark, August 31, 2008 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

Did you know:
The Contadora Islands an infamous resorts of Panama’s coast was a safe haven where US businessmen could treat politicians to every conceivable vice.
” Rumors that George W. was photographed doing coke and having kinky sex during the time his father was president”. There was a theory in Latin America that Noriega had used incriminating photos of the younger Bush and his cronies to convince the older Bush, the President to side with Panamanian administration on key issues.  In retaliation, G.W. invaded Panama and hustled Noriega off to a Miami prison.  The building housing Noriega’s confidential files had been incinerated by bombs,  As a side effect , more that 2000 innocent civilians were burned to death in Panama City that day in December 1989.  Many people claimed that this theory offered the only logical explanation for the violently attacking a nation without an army that posed no threat to the US.

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By yours truly, August 31, 2008 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Barack Obama can totally discredit the warmongers and war makers if only he’ll call for an investigation into the Bush administration’s role in last month’s Russo-Georgian War.  But wouldn’t such a call be considered unpatriotic?  Contrariwise, it would be a great act of patriotism.  Why?  Because he’d be saving American lives.  How?  By preventing a nuclear war.

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By TL Anderson, August 31, 2008 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment
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I am waiting for Obama to address the issue of the Imperial Presidency and the balance of powers. returning balance to the system of government is critical, rejecting and demolishing the unitary theory of government must be a “100 day” item. Then start removing all of the low-life functionaries who have dismantled our safeguards, consumer protections, and environmental regulations in the name of capitalism. I am sure he wants to take America back, but here is where it must start. A complete dismantling of the Bush legacy and removal of the Manchurian beaurocracy. Fix our own house before we venture into the world again with renewed moral authority.
I think these issues need to be addressed in the presidential debates, without waffling.

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By Eric L. Prentis, August 31, 2008 at 10:36 am Link to this comment
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President Bush is a spoiled rich kid who never had to grow up because he always had his parents to clear up his frequent messes. President Bush came into office with the country at peace and enjoying a large budget surplus. President Bush ran through this legacy and will leave office with the United State’s international reputation critically damaged, the US economy in a severe recession, a war in Iraq that he started based on lies and going badly, another war in Afghanistan that is also going badly, no universal healthcare, a major divide between rich and poor and a crumbling infrastructure. President Obama will have to clean up the terrible results of the catastrophically failed presidency of Bush.

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By Alan, August 30, 2008 at 11:03 pm Link to this comment
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No amount of hand wringing and recriminations will save the US now, the evil is just too entrenched. Bush was just part of it. It started long before he came to power. The level to which he took the country shows clearly that the people do not care.  They only have their selilfish greed which permeates thro the entire society. It’s called ‘the American dream’.  It takes no account of the rest of the world, they just exist to serve the interests of the USA and it’s surrogates. So whoever sits in the oval office it doesn’t matter. Religeous cranks, scammers, psycos rule it’s dog eat dog.  There is no real need for a 1000 bases world wide, that is only if you want to dominate the world and that clearly is the aim. Long way to go yet America.  You have Europe in the bag (but then they always were weak).  You have parts of the Middle East thro the local dictators but you don’t have it all’ YET!  Next the big ones to swallow, Russia and China and that might be a morsel too far. But it won’t stop you from trying.  There is but one cure for your appetite and that is for you to get a portion of what you’ve handed out.  That’ll be the lesson that you will learn. Not too long to wait, I think, when it comes so will the revalation. I’m not talking about a second coming either, but something more close to home.

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By lilymaskew, August 30, 2008 at 11:44 am Link to this comment
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A defeatist attitude will certainly not help.  Paraphrasing what Obama said in his nomination speech - “We cannot every wrong, we can only set this country on the right path.”

Of course, it will take time. Progress will only come slowly. But the longest journey begins with one step. If you find you are lost, sometimes you retrace your steps until you determine which way to continue.  So it may be two steps forward and one step back.  This is the alternative to going nowhere.  We still have to try to do something.  IMHO Obama is willing to do something.

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By Inherit The Wind, August 29, 2008 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

It’s rare for me to agree with Bill Pfaff more than 25%.  Imagine my surprise at agreeing with him 95%!

All except about Biden being more of the same.  Here Pfaff reveals what he doesn’t know about the Senate and the limits it imposes on what is possible, especially when the GOP was in charge.  Trust Biden to be able to get better sources and make recommendations far outside the Bush “Blast ‘em, Bring ‘em on!” neo-con box.

And the usual anti-semites crawl out from under their usual rocks to argue for Hamas and Hezbollah control of the Palestinian territories and all of Israel.

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By seeing clearly, August 29, 2008 at 1:29 pm Link to this comment
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Europeans are acting in their own interest.

They are stalling, paying lip service to US right wing nut crap “policies” and waiting for US to die. 

The civilized world is sick of US evil. 

Die, US, die.

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By motherearthnews, August 29, 2008 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment
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It’s a mess alright and it started way before the current criminal administration.
There has been a direct line from our first President to the present that, provides the top dogs with the power to subvert democracy and make themselves more powerful. From the beginning, the powereful have become more so, although they have been blunted here and there and that was only due to overwhelming public outrage.
The few examples are; outrage that lead to the right for women to vote, abolition of formal slavery, the new deal and labor movement and the Vietnam War protest, which took years to get started, along with the civil rights movement.
The bright spot is that, the anti-war movement on Iraq started before the war actually began and that’s different.
However, cleaning up Washington, that was over two hundred years in the making may not be a job that is possible through past practices. It may prove just as successful, to simply watch the ruling elites’ representatives in Washington take us all the way down the tubes, to where we are a third world country, which we are not far from now, considering we are one place ahead of Costa Rico in medical care. It fact, we are already behind most of the rest of the world in almost every catagory most Americans still believe where number one in. We do lead in weapons productions and export thereof, but that’s about it.
According to the latest poll that has been tracking young Americans knowledge if civics, history and attitudes, etc, since 1947, 46% of those polled, don’t even care about what is going on and they don’t even want to know.
Since this is a country of immigrants anyway, folks might want to avail themselves of the opportunity to leave, while they still can. More and more, the U.S. reminds me of 1936 Germany and many people there did leave before it was to late.
One thing IS certain. Following the current path of U.S. foreign and domestic policy, will only lead to the total destruction of what little is left of democracy and may well result in the destruction of the country in general. The infrastructure is already falling apart. Bridges collaspe, schools teach how to pass tests, our safety net for truly hard times is almost gone and this beat will go on no matter who is elected.
While I like Obama, if he really did begin to reclaim the power of, “We the People”, he would be dead real quick and I’m pretty certain he knows this. Otherwise, why pick the war-monger Joe Biden?
Yes, it’s a mess, but it’s more like a disaster and a tragedy. My family, while remaining active in our opposition to the ruling elite will continue to try and educate and organize at every opportunity, we are making our plans to move to a safer place, if there is such a thing. Time will tell.

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By mrmb, August 29, 2008 at 8:43 am Link to this comment
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Key question that neither of the candidates or the main stream media is posing.

1- Do we want an empire or a republic

2- How to get rid of the zionists from our polity

Thats what it takes to fix things.

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By bat guano, August 29, 2008 at 7:55 am Link to this comment
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The number of burning bags of shit that Bu$h/Cheney will leave on the doorstep of the WH for the next President is incalculable.

I also don’t think either candidate will be up to doing whats necessary to begin to clean it up. It will take several administrations and decades to do.

The real tragedy for the IOUSA is that no one in this Bu$h cabal will be going to prison. Peee-losi has already seen to that.

The enemy within is who we really have to worry about. Stop re-electing them and start putting them in prison. Maybe then, something positive will get done.

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By Fahrenheit 451, August 29, 2008 at 2:30 am Link to this comment

I have to agree with Pfaff’s last two paragraphs.  Our government has become a one product company.  Sort of like a Barbie doll; you can change the outfits, but it’s still Barbie underneath.

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By Matthew, August 29, 2008 at 2:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

McCain has stated his belief that the US economy is in good shape. I suppose he means the current bank/mortgage crisis, the hemorrhaging of jobs, especially those that pay benefits such as health care, to overseas slave labor zones, is no big deal. Americans should just go shopping!

Obama (is he really a US citizen?) gives every impression he hasn’t clue about economics or the enveloping catastrophe the US faces. This, of course, means he will rely on the ‘expert’ judgment of the thieving fools who created the crisis in the first place.

Either way, America is screwed. Neither candidate has a clue on how to fix things.

The choice of “I am a Zionist” Joe Biden as Obama’s Vice President ends the speculation that there exist a difference between McCain and Obama with regard to foreign policy.

America is currently on a path that will lead to unimaginable ruin and world war. With McCain or Obama as President, this will not change.

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By Hilary Smith, August 28, 2008 at 9:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If we are going to bring back the middle class, we’ve got to realize we’ve been fed a line of free-trade baloney. There must be a return to the protectionist policies that made American industry so powerful to begin with. McCain will not rock the boat on free trade because free trade benefits the ruling class and McCain is of the ruling class. If you are a working class person and you still have a job you’d like to keep, do yourself a favor and vote for Obama and then demand new tariffs on imports. Stay solid working people.

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By Big B, August 28, 2008 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment

The next four years are set up to make the Carter presidency look like Rotory club picnic!
I have said it before and I’ll say it again, whoever the next pres is will probably ruin any opportunity for his party to win in 2012.
That is how big this mess is!
This article looked only at many of the foreign policy shitburgers that await the next administration. But the domestic front could prove to be just as nasty to swollow, and no amount of condiments will cover up this horrid taste. American incomes continue to fall. The medical system is the worst and most expensive in the industrialized world. Inflation is unchecked. Big businesses operate in a destructive manner, and with relative impunity. Our borders are a joke. The dollar may disappear as the worlds currency. And our biggest problems, overpopulation and exhausted resourses, are not even addressed by any politician(yet).
Worst of all, the people, by in large, feel powerless to change anything.
Does anybody think that either one of these Bozo’s is up to the challenge? This will prove to be the biggest mess since the great depression and subsequent war. Only another “new deal” might save us now. because in the new global economy, our big businesses are not compelled to help the good ol USA any more. They can make money off China and India instead.
If we don’t help ourselves, we may go the way of the dodo.

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By Sean01, August 28, 2008 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment

Keep in mind that a key aspect of the strategy of tension is the False Flag. 

And Bush/Cheney have used it well.  From the 9/11 passport that somehow survived the 2000 degree heat of the impact while the flight recorder did not, to blaming 9/11 on bin Laden (a previous CIA asset who denied having anything to do with 9/11), to Putin’s claim today that he believes “someone in the US” was involved in instigating tension in Georgia, you can be that Bush/Cheney’s hands have been dirtied.  They utilize the False Flag element of the strategy of tension very effectively.

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