29 September 2004

Bush's Denial

The following was sent to me by a colleague, who received it as an e-mail written by a long-time friend of her family's.

Is the President of the United States capable of dealing
with an obvious problem if he denies that it exits?

As we all know, last week, he pointed to Afghanistan as an example of success in bringing democracy to the region. J. Alexander Thier is a fellow at the Hoover Institute, a lifelong conservative Republican, and the man that our President sent to Afghanistan to help them form a democracy by advising the constitutional and judicial reform commission of Afghanistan. Here is what he had to say: "President Bush describes Afghanistan, the first front on the war on terrorism, as a success....In 2002, President Bush promised a 'Marshall Plan' for the country, with the goal of turning Afghanistan into a stable, democratic state. On Tuesday, before the United Nations General Assembly, the President said that 'the Afghan people are on the path to democracy and freedom.' Yet in nearly three years we have failed to create security, stability, prosperity, or the rule of law in Afghanistan... The root of the problem is that we invaded Afghanistan to destroy something-the Taliban and Al Queda-but we didn't think much about what we would grow in its place. While we focused on fighting the terrorists (and even there our effectiveness has been questionable), Afghanistan has become a collection of warlord run fiefs fueled by a multibillion dollar opium economy. We armed and financed warlord armies with records of drug running and human rights abuses stretching back two decades. These decisions were made for short term battlefield gain - with disregard for the long term implications for the mission there."

He also points out that Doctors Without Borders, an organization famous for providing medical services in the most desperate and dangerous conditions in the world has pulled out of Afghanistan after 24 years. They felt safer during the Soviet occupation than they do now.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has supervised the elections in Kosovo and Bosnia, has pulled its election monitors out because it is too dangerous. Eight of the presidential candidates have asked for a delay in the elections because it is too dangerous to campaign.

My point is that before you can go somewhere, you have to be truthful about where you are. Our administration is lost. It is as if they are trying to drive to Los Angeles from New York with a map that only covers the east coast. They claim success where failures are obvious. Bush cannot think of a mistake he has made. The goal in Iraq is terrific--Install a democracy in the region and let it spread. It has been tried many times in the region, and always failed, mostly from leaders being bull headed. He has got everyone focused on winning in Iraq. I thought we already had won the war. We are now trying to keep the peace, a much tougher job. While he has us all focused there, let us remember that our good friends in Pakistan have sold nuclear weapons to North Korea, but are still our good ally. It was, allegedly, a rogue scientist doing that, not the government. The day after he was caught, he was pardoned by General Musharraf. When the U.S. asked for the right to question him, we were not allowed. Our good friend and ally, Saudi Arabia, is where 15 of
the 19 9/11 hijackers were raised. Is this a coincidence? Every morning on state sponsored Saudi TV, and in state sponsored schools, children are taught that it is wonderful to die for Allah when killing the infidel. Maybe if our President gives the Saudi foreign minister another hug and another invite to the ranch, they will stop teaching like this. Let's be open and real about where we are--in deep trouble. At the moment we are not building or saving anything, anyone or any place. I am certain that good policy makers can come up with some good ideas, but first we have to know that we are in a very deep hole, and simply sending more guns, more troops, more advisers, and destroying more of the country, is not working.

The world has changed. Fifty years ago, the US represented sixty percent of the economic activity of the world. It is now 25%, and for that we are totally dependent of foreign nations to finance our economy. We no longer have the raw might to make everyone quake in their boots when we walk by. We are a very important and great citizen of the world, but no longer its sole driving force. Let's get used to it and do our best.

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