Friday, January 14, 2005

Best of Times, Worst of Times

On the one hand, we have ABC "News" featuring a peek into Barbara Walter's exclusive puff piece -- ah, interview, I mean -- with Dubya and Laura Bush. The quotes give some (scary) insight into the Bush worldview.

Reading the article I couldn't help but wonder if Bush perhaps says something, and then ever after believes it to be true, despite all evidence to the contrary. The article states "Bush repeated that his administration will continue to make the war on terror a priority and continue its pursuit of bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks." There have been many reports (especially in the foreign press) that the hunt for bin Laden has been quietly scrapped. What is the truth here?

Another quote from the article:

To avoid anticipated shortfalls in Social Security funds, Bush proposes restructuring the system by basing it partly on private accounts. "I believe the dynamics have shifted on Social Security & I believe there's a lot of young people in this country that want to see leadership, because they're pretty sure they'll never see a dime unless the system is strengthened and modernized."

Saying the system will be in the red by 2018 and broke by 2040, Bush said his first task will be to "convince Congress that we have a problem."

Where are these numbers coming from? They are not true. Bush wants to destroy Social Security on ideological grounds. He doesn't give a fig whether other folks have enough to live on in their golden years. He's never had to worry about financial shortfalls (he sure isn't worried about running up a massive debt, either) because he's always had everything he wants, and he always will. It's ludicrous to suggest that Social Security can be improved by privitization -- see Paul Krugman's insightful op-ed pieces in the New York Times for the reasons why. He can say it better than I can.
Not surprisingly, Bush has no regrets about waging a war of aggression on Iraq, saying that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people (see the British journal the Lancet) is "worth it."

Bush is quoted as saying: "I felt like we'd find weapons of mass destruction — like many here in the United States, many around the world. The United Nations thought he had weapons of mass destruction... Saddam was dangerous and the world is safer without him in power... The removal of Saddam Hussein has made America safer because a dictator, a tyrant, a thug, with whom we had been at war in the past, who was destabilizing a vital part of the world, who was paying the families of suicide bombers, is no longer in power..."

Several points spring to mind:
  • if the UN believed that Iraq had WMD, it's surely probable that they would have sanctioned Bush's war
  • as it is, and as Bush characteristically fails to mention, the UN sanctions and inspections were working and there was absolutely no need for war
  • yes, Saddam was a bad guy, but the fact remains the United States had no right to invade Iraq: this is the most troubling thing of all, this lack of respect for international laws and the inherent belief that the US can do anything it wants
And finally (and getting to the other hand now ), is the world safer with the US mired in a horrible war which has destroyed whole cities and crumbled to bits the infrastructure of what used to be a sovereign nation? Well, according to the National Intelligence Council, the short answer would have to be "no." The Washington Post has an article reviewing the findings of these advisers to the CIA, the gist of which is that Afghanistan used to be the place for the up and coming terrorist, but these days, baby, Iraq's pulled ahead and running away with the race, thanks to the war and the incompetent way the US has handled every phase of "helping" Iraq achieve "democracy."

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