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Archive for the tag “George Bush”

The Bush-Blair legacy

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” So wrote Shakespeare in Julius Caesar, and so it has proved with the evil unleashed by George Bush and Tony Blair, which continues long after they have left office.

The City and the World: The continuing tragedy of Iraq’s Christians.:

Another survivor of yesterday’s siege told the BBC that ‘I do not think I and other Christians can stay in Iraq any longer,’ while a young Christian from Northern Iraq (which is ostensibly much safer than Baghdad) told the New York Times, ‘There is no future for us here.’ Accounts like the one given above make for difficult reading, but they remain only a small part of the larger tragedy of Iraq’s ancient Christian churches, which have suffered from continual violence, persecution, and dispersion since the fall of Saddam Hussein. My greatest fear at the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was that Bush administration war policy would play a direct role in destroying one of the oldest Christian communities in the world; over the past seven years, it has become increasingly clear that those fears are being realized.

Hat-tip to Kyrie eleison | A vow of conversation.

Mission accomplished

A lot of people mocked George Bush when he proclaimed “mission accomplished” after the US invasion of Iraq.

Well, perhaps it was a bit premature, but time is proving him right, as these reports show.

Robert Fisk: Exodus. The changing map of the Middle East:

Across the Middle East, it is the same story of despairing – sometimes frightened – Christian minorities, and of an exodus that reaches almost Biblical proportions. Almost half of Iraq’s Christians have fled their country since the first Gulf War in 1991, most of them after the 2004 invasion – a weird tribute to the self-proclaimed Christian faith of the two Bush presidents who went to war with Iraq – and stand now at 550,000, scarcely 3 per cent of the population. More than half of Lebanon’s Christians now live outside their country. Once a majority, the nation’s one and a half million Christians, most of them Maronite Catholics, comprise perhaps 35 per cent of the Lebanese. Egypt’s Coptic Christians – there are at most around eight million – now represent less than 10 per cent of the population.

The invasion was calculated to destroy Christian communities and to make sure that radical Islamists had more say in the running of the country, and that is being achieved.

Tariq Aziz: villain or victim? – Opinion – Al Jazeera English:

So what really lies behind the decision by Iraq’s high tribunal to pass a death sentence on Tariq Aziz, long serving Iraqi foreign minister and number two to Saddam Hussein? The decision has caused shock waves around the World, largely because the sentence has the feel of vengeance to it. The Iraqi High Tribunal took what must be a highly unusual step in effectively rescinding the earlier judgments against him. For Tariq Aziz’s twenty seven year sentence has effectively been reduced to a matter of months by his death sentence. Aziz has now been found guilty of “the persecution of Islamic parties”, whose leaders were assassinated, imprisoned or forced into exile.

Now I don’t think harrassing leaders of Islamic parties (or anyone else) is a good policy, but nor do I think that the assassination, imprisonment or sending into exile of Christians is a good thing either, and that is one of the chief “accomplishments” of George Bush’s mission. Replacing one evil regime with another is really not a useful exercise.

Tariq Aziz: villain or victim?:

Tariq Aziz is of course a Chaldean Christian, who along with the Assyrian Christians, have suffered terribly since the War, with more than half of their number now living in exile. Being the only Christian in a secular Ba’athist dictatorship was a factor apparently exploited by Saddam, with veiled threats being made periodically to Aziz’s family. I remember being in Iraq and hearing that Aziz feared Saddam, and that he was only too aware of the fragility of his family’s safety. Which is not to excuse Aziz for “following orders”, but it may go some way to explain why Aziz stayed in Baghdad even when it was obvious to him, if not Saddam, that America and Britain were deadly serious about invading.

The destruction of Christian communities in the Middle East surely cannot be described as an unintended consequence of the invasion. It was both forseeable and foreseen, and therefore must have been intended. It is an integral part of the Bush-Blair legacy. It is said that one should not ascribe to malice what can be explained by ignorance and stupidity, but the leaders of the most powerful nation on earth cannot have been that stupid…. can they?

Bye Bye George — we won’t miss you

I suppose half the bloggers in the world will be writing about the departure of George Bush and the inauguration of Barack Obama as US president today, so why should I add my words to theirs when there have probably been far too many words already?

Yet if I’m still around in 8 years time, and if the world is still around in 8 years time, I’d like to look back on this day and see whether what I hoped and feared has come to pass.

I think probably most of the world will breathe a sigh of relief at the departure of George Bush.

There are plenty of other trigger-happy lunatic politicans in the world, willing to commit murder and mayhem for evil, trivial or even completely inexplicable reasons that one can only guess at. But none of them has the miliary weaponry and economic resources that George Bush had at his disposal. The USSR took on Afghanistan, and the result was that the Bolsheviks took a beating. George Bush invaded both Afghanistan and Iraq, and the chickens are only now coming home to roost.

Bob Mugabe in Zimbabwe took a beating in the Congo, and is now taking it out on his own people. He doesn’t have the resources to spread anything more than cholera to other countries, thank God. Ehud Olmert bombed Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza this month. Osama bin Laden seems to be reduced to sending enigmatic videos to TV stations every few months.

But we can breathe a sigh of relief. At least George Bush never got round to bombing Iran or Venezuela, as some feared that he might.

Barack Obama is still an unknown quantity.

He has sung the praises of the pudding, but let’s see what the first spoonful tastes like. Let’s see if he can turn his rhetoric into reality. His rhetoric is good. As some journalists have noted, at least he speaks in complete sentences with comprehensible syntax, though some journalists say they will miss George Bush for his more incomprehensible utterances. As Rehana Rossouw said in The Weekender (17-18 Jan 2009)

I’m going to miss him mostly because he’s been a great source of comfort. For 10 years I’ve been able to take comfort when our political leaders stuff up by telling myself that there is someone in office worse than them.

And I must say I agree. When people knocked Thabo Mbeki and said he was such a bad president, I’d look at the leaders of other countries and realise how lucky we were. George Bush, Tony Blair, Ehud Olmert, Bob Mugabe, Vladimir Putin. Compared with them Thabo Mbeki looked positively angelic, and though he was no more able to restrain Robert Mugabe than George Bush was able to restrain Ehud Olmert he didn’t conduct bloody wars against countries on the other side of the globe.

But though I took comfort from the th0ught that people like George Bush were so much worse than Thabo Mbeki, I also can’t escape the thought that Barack Obama will be so much better. Even if he doesn’t manage to make things better in the short term, unlike Bush, I don’t think he will deliberately act to make them worse, by invading Iran, for example.

Whether the promised change we can believe in will materialise I don’t know. But for the moment I’m willing to settle for no change for the worse. And much of the threat of that is leaving with George Bush.

But then Jacob Zuma is waiting in the wings.

Politics and pessimism

So it looks as though Barack Obama is going to win the US Presidential election, and that the Democratic Party in the US will have a majority in the legislature as well.

No doubt his supporters will be elated.

For myself, I’m relieved, rather than happy.

I’m relieved that the nightmare of an unpredictable warmongering president of the US threatening to start World War III that has dominated the last eight years may be over.

I think there are many others who feel the same way.

There is widespread relief around the world that the Bush years are almost over.

But why not elation?

I suppose for me the reason is that history has shown that the Democratic Party in the US is no less inclined to war-mongering than the Republican Party. It’s just slightly less lunatic and unpredictable about it.

Bush (father and son) may have bombed Baghdad, but I cannot forget that it was Clinton, a Democrat, who bombed Belgrade.

And it was his colleague Madeleine Albright who forced war on Yugoslavia with just as much manic determination as George Bush II forced it on Iraq, and it was she, who, when asked if the lives of half a million Iraqi children was a price worth paying for American hegemony in the Middle East, said “We think the price is worth it.”

But in another respect, one can hope for better things. Under Bill Clinton’s Demcratic Party the US at least had balanced budgets, while the Republican administration of George Bush spent like there was no tomorrow, and have left the mess for Barack Obama to pick up. Will eight years be enough to sort out the mess that George Bush left?

So I hope Barack Obama lives up to the hopes that have been placed in him. I think back to the time when Tony Blair was elected as Prime Minister of the UK, and the hopes he aroused. Like Obama, he was young and dynamic and was a new broom promising change. But in the end he was a disappointment, and turned out to be as much a warmonger as Bill Clinton and George Bush combined.

Of course young dynamic leaders are attractive, but age is not necessarily a barrier. In South Africa Nelson Mandela was the best President or Prime Minister the coutnry has ever had since the union was formed in 1910, and he was also, at the time he was elected, probably the oldest.

His successors seem determined to destroy his legacy by squabbling over the spoils of office in bitter personal rivalries and factions. It is sad to see the ANC destroying itself like that.

There’s much talk about Mbhazima Shilowa and Terror Lekota forming a new party, which has been dubbed “Shikota” by journalists. But they somehow don’t bring as much hope as Barack Obama. I wonder how much they are driven by principle, and how much by sour grapes. Shilowa at least had the vision of an integrated transport system for Gauteng, and the progress in building the new commuter train line between Johannesburg and Pretoria is a tribute to his vision and energy. So perhaps there is some hope there.

Well, I hope Barack Obama will live up to the hopes of his supporters. I hope he will not start any new wars, and that he will succeed in bringing an end to the ones started by his predecessors. But somehow I don’t think history is on his side. Undoing the damage done by George Bush in the US and in the world may take a lot more than eight years, more likely eight generations.

See also Abstractions: Remember, remember, the 5th of November…, with some interesting links.

Nucular

Back in 1971 I watched a B-grade horror film at the Windhoek Drive-in.

It was called The vulture, and one of the villains in it was described as a “nucular scientist”.

It was the first time I’d heard the word “nucular”, and assumed it was an order of magnitude more dangerous than “nuclear”. As fusion bombs are far more destructive than fission bombs, so nucular bombs would far more destructive than nuclear ones.

Thirty years later, comes the 21st century, and the President of the United States begins talking about “nucular weapons”. Has the science fiction of the 1970s become reality in the 21st century?

Well, why not?

We have these smart bombs that can hit the precise window of the Chinese Embassy that they are aimed at — why not nucular ones that behave like nuclear bombs on steroids?

But the plot thickens.

The language fundis at the alt.usage.english newsgroup have been discussing the use of the term “nucular” by the US vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.

Apparently she spoke about nucular weaponry being the whole being or essence of too many people and places on the planet.

Then someone else pointed out that “nucular” seemed to be a term that characterised the leaders of the US Republican Party. Perhaps it is a kind of shibboleth, by which the faithful can be distinguished. Members of other parties reveal themselves by not using the magic word.

But another one of those fundis dug deeper, into the Oxford English Dictionary, and this is what he found:

I’m not sure that it’s been brought up here before, although I suspect it has, but “nucular” appears to be a “real word” as well, although one that appears to have fallen out of use before “nuclear” became common. The sense is “of or relating to a nucule”, which is defined as

  1. Originally: each of the seeds in a nuculanium (obs.). Later: a small nut or nutlet; a section of a compound (usually hard) fruit; a nut borne in an involucre. Now rare.
  2. The female reproductive structure (oogonium) of a charophyte.

The OED cites this sense of “nucular” in 1876 and 1935, flagging it as “Bot. rare”. There are hits in Google books from 1855 through 1911.

I can’t remember anything about The vulture other than the fact that it featured a nucular scientist. I’ve forgotten the plot, the setting, and everything else. It was memorable only because it was where I first heard the word “nucular”. Perhaps the vulture in the film was a wooden vulture, or perhaps we are all living through a B-grade horror movie. .

Nucular

Back in 1971 I watched a B-grade horror film at the Windhoek Drive-in.

It was called The vulture, and one of the villains in it was described as a “nucular scientist”.

It was the first time I’d heard the word “nucular”, and assumed it was an order of magnitude more dangerous than “nuclear”. As fusion bombs are far more destructive than fission bombs, so nucular bombs would far more destructive than nuclear ones.

Thirty years later, comes the 21st century, and the President of the United States begins talking about “nucular weapons”. Has the science fiction of the 1970s become reality in the 21st century?

Well, why not?

We have these smart bombs that can hit the precise window of the Chinese Embassy that they are aimed at — why not nucular ones that behave like nuclear bombs on steroids?

But the plot thickens.

The language fundis at the alt.usage.english newsgroup have been discussing the use of the term “nucular” by the US vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.

Apparently she spoke about nucular weaponry being the whole being or essence of too many people and places on the planet.

Then someone else pointed out that “nucular” seemed to be a term that characterised the leaders of the US Republican Party. Perhaps it is a kind of shibboleth, by which the faithful can be distinguished. Members of other parties reveal themselves by not using the magic word.

But another one of those fundis dug deeper, into the Oxford English Dictionary, and this is what he found:

I’m not sure that it’s been brought up here before, although I suspect it has, but “nucular” appears to be a “real word” as well, although one that appears to have fallen out of use before “nuclear” became common. The sense is “of or relating to a nucule”, which is defined as

  1. Originally: each of the seeds in a nuculanium (obs.). Later: a small nut or nutlet; a section of a compound (usually hard) fruit; a nut borne in an involucre. Now rare.
  2. The female reproductive structure (oogonium) of a charophyte.

The OED cites this sense of “nucular” in 1876 and 1935, flagging it as “Bot. rare”. There are hits in Google books from 1855 through 1911.

I can’t remember anything about The vulture other than the fact that it featured a nucular scientist. I’ve forgotten the plot, the setting, and everything else. It was memorable only because it was where I first heard the word “nucular”. Perhaps the vulture in the film was a wooden vulture, or perhaps we are all living through a B-grade horror movie. .

The pope, Bush, and the "Battle hymn"

From the Institute for Public Accuracy

After the Pope and President George W. Bush spoke at the White House this morning, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was played and broadcast on major U.S. networks. The lyrics were written by Julia Ward Howe, who would later write the first Mother’s Day Proclamation, a call for peace.

VALARIE ZIEGLER, author of Diva Julia: The Public Romance and Private Agony of Julia Ward Howe, said today:

“It’s fascinating to add the papal visit to the list of ‘Battle Hymn’ performances. … Howe was absolutely committed to the Civil War. Inspired by ‘John Brown’s Body,’ she wrote ‘Battle Hymn’ — an incredible theological document and also a stirring
call to arms — so that people would devote themselves even to the last measure to get rid of slavery.

“But after the Civil War, she was repelled by wars between nations, like the Franco-Prussian War. Peace and women’s rights became central to her. She began thinking about what might be possible for women to do on behalf of humanity. In 1870 she wrote the first Mother’s Day Proclamation, an impassioned call for peace.
[See: http://www.codepink4peace.org/article.php?id=217]

“Howe held that women were inherently more loving and nurturing than men, particularly if they were transformed by motherhood. This notion was propelled by women’s clubs across the U.S. at the time, which were dedicated to pacifism and women’s suffrage.

“Throughout her life, Howe contended with her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, who did not want her to have a public life. One line in ‘The Battle Hymn’ — ‘glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me’ — may be a reference to a novel about a hermaphrodite that Howe had written to examine the role of gender in limiting people.”

Ziegler is professor of religious studies at DePauw University in Indiana.

Lessons from the Iraqi-American War

It seems that no lessons have been learned from the Iraqi-American War, which has dragged on for five years now.

It is said that Hermann Goering complained to the Nuremburg tribunal that they were on trial because they lost the war. And the answer was that they were not on trial because they lost the war, but because they started it.

after five years of war, it seems that no real lesson has been learned. Indeed, there’s a refusal to even acknowledge why it was wrong to invade Iraq.

Sure, there’s lots of criticism of the Bush administration for poor war planning, and for squandering US lives and “treasure”.

All this is true, but it skirts a more fundamental problem — one that was barely mentioned in all the fifth-year anniversary commentaries last week — that the invasion was a war of aggression carried out in defiance of international law.

This is not a mere technicality. According to the Nuremberg Tribunal, set up by the Allies after World War II: “War is essentially an evil thing… To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime.”

None of this seems to concern Senator Hillary Clinton, who stands a good chance of being the “anti-war” candidate in the US presidential election.

Of course, Clinton voted in 2002 to authorize an invasion of Iraq.

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And Goering’s is the lesson that many US supporters of the Iraqi-American War have failed to learn. They like to talk about “appeasement”, but forget that in the 1930s the ones who were being appeased were the aggressors. In the case of the Iraqi-American War the appeasers were people like Tony Blair, who appeased George Bush, and did not stand up to his plans for aggression.

And Hillary Clinton apparently went along with her husband’s bombing of Yugoslavia.

Bush vetoes anti-torture bill

BBC NEWS | Americas | Bush vetoes interrogation limits:

US President George Bush says he has vetoed legislation that would stop the CIA using interrogation methods such as simulated drowning or ‘water-boarding’.

He said he rejected the intelligence bill, passed by Senate and Congress, as it took ‘away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror’.

Need one say more?

Well, I could add this: Red Star Coven: Death to America

US imperialism has created the worst of all worlds

US imperialism has created the worst of all worlds, says the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.

clipped from timesonline.co.uk

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the United States wields its power
in a way that is worse than Britain during its imperial heyday.

Rowan Williams claimed that America’s attempt to intervene overseas by
“clearing the decks” with a “quick burst of violent action” had led to “the
worst of all worlds”.

He said the crisis was caused not just by America’s actions but also by its
misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the “chosen nation
myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the
heart of God’s purpose for humanity”.

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