Deutsch  Politik  Geschichte  Kunst  Film  Musik  Lebensart  Reisen 
English  Politics  History  Art  Film  Music  Lifestyle  Travel
Français  Politique  Histoire  Arts  Films  Musique  Art de vivre  Voyages

Advertise  Links  Feedback  Today's deals at Amazon.com
© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.

Google
 
Web www.cosmopolis.ch
The Bush presidency 2005
Article added on April 4, 2005
  
In last year's election, the majority of the American voters decided to give the administration of George W. Bush the chance of a second term. What was the basis for this decision?

Since September 11, 2001 many Americans consider themselves at war, and in times of war one does not change the president. Furthermore, the Bush administration managed to protect the United States from further attacks on their soil.

In 1996, Clinton won only 47 million votes. Four years later, Al Gore managed to get 50 million, but lost to George W. Bush, who was able to mobilize the staggering number of 58 million voters (51%). This record high turn out was the fruit of efforts by Bush's electoral team, above all by his chief strategist Karl Rove.

In 2000, Bush junior had been unable to collect the voters of the religious right. Analysts argued that this was because of an old story about drunken driving which came up again before the election. Four years later, Karl Rove made sure that conservative themes appealing to the religious right were at the center of the presidential debate: family, faith, stem cell research and same-sex marriage. Moral issues were the key factor in the 2004 election and influenced the vote of some 22% of the electorate.

It was crucial for voter turnout that in about a dozen states, people not only chose their future president, but they also voted on same-sex marriage. As it turned out, homosexuals and "progressive" voters where outnumbered by the conservatives. If there has been one decisive group of voters in 2004, it was the religious right in the bible belt of Ohio, the state that gave Bush the ultimate votes for victory.

The majority of American voters has decided to give Bush a second mandate. So far so good. Unfortunately, it is less clear whether the majority knows what an asymmetric war means. The US have to fight an invisible enemy who often targets "soft targets", civilians who cannot defend themselves against cowardly attacks.

The famous war against terror is not fought by regular soldiers. This surely requires special methods, but torture is not one of them. Bush, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft did not realize that. Since the Abu Ghraib scandal, both the secretary of defense and the secretary of justice have become unacceptable.

Unfortunately, president Bush does not share this opinion. Ashcroft was not fired but retired. Rumsfeld secretly offered his resignation twice, but Bush secretly told him to continue, as Rumsfeld revealed after the re-election. Furthermore, Bush replaced Ashcroft by Alberto Gonzales. The president's longtime adviser is not only the first Hispanic attorney general, he is also deeply involved in the torture scandal. By his actions and choices, Bush has clearly taken sides and, therefore, political responsibility.

The appointment of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state seems to be Bush's best choice so far. Whether she can deliver, remains to be seen. Unlike Colin Powell, she is a close adviser of the president. The unmarried and childless intellectual spent many weekends with the Bush family at Camp David. She is likely to become more than just a willing executioner of Bush's will. She is more articulate than the president. In contrast to neo-conservatives such as Ashcroft and Rumsfeld, she resisted the temptation to bend the law and therefore, as far as we can tell now, does not seem to be involved in the torture scandal.

Europeans and Americans remain estranged. Not many on the Old Continent seem to understand the current state of mind of the majority in the United States. To attribute 9/11 to the recklessness of the Bush administration is a complete misinterpretation of events. Already in 1993, militant "Muslims" tried to blow up New York's World Trade Center. The radicalization began a long time before the current administration started its not thoroughly convincing "war against terror".

The French and the Germans remain unwilling to engage in Iraq. The US, by their unwillingness to share power, do not improve the situation. Even if their number of troops was only symbolic, the disengagement of the Hungarians, Spaniards and Polish - Berlusconi's intentions remain unclear - weaken the attempt to democratize the larger Middle East region. Constructive steps by all sides are needed. 

The economic future of the entire world depends on a peaceful development in Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The US oil reserves are estimated to last only another ten years. Even if more oil should be explored and the reserves should increase should rise to let us say twenty years, the time horizon is very narrow if we take into account that a peaceful, democratic and market-oriented society takes at least one generation to build up.

The death of Yasser Arafat, one of the major obstacles to a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has disappeared. We will soon find out if Sharon - the other trouble maker so far - has honest intentions or if he is just trying to win time and disengage a few minor settlements in order to keep the majority of them. Bush and Rice will need to use carrots and sticks in order to insure Sharon's commitment to the Middle East roadmap.

Regarding America's main partner, the European Union, one has to admit that it still has not done its homework. There are still no common foreign and defense policies. European leaders and analysts are always quick in giving advice. Unfortunately, they lack the resources to implement their recommendations, to intervene in international conflicts. In short, they lack credibility. Furthermore, France and Germany, by weakening the Maastricht criteria instead of conforming to them, risk endangering the European economic stability. This could further undermine a strong Transatlantic partnership.

Regarding US domestic and international affairs, some may regret the lack of checks and balances. Republicans control both the House and the Senate. The Bush administration has now the time and the means to implement its conservative agenda. The advantage of the present situation is that the Republicans cannot blame anybody else for the outcome of the Bush presidency. If the decisions and actions of the administration and the GOP dominated parliament do not yield positive results, American voters may react strongly, since the responsibility is clear.

Further reading, literature

The Torture Papers: The Road To Abu Ghraib. Edited by Karen j. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel. Introduction by Anthony Lewis. Cambridge University Press, 2005, 1249 p. Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de. People who may dismiss Sy Hersh's Chain of Command and his articles in The New Yorker as tendentious, unfounded by sources, should read The Torture Papers since they provide over 1000 pages of full texts of documents, memoranda, reports and orders tailored to justify torture, ignore the Geneva Convention and international law in general, violate the Human Rights and abandon the Rule of Law. The collected material goes beyond what was published in The Washington Post and Newsweek in 2004 (with memos published on the web, which built the fundament of my article Torture in Iraq). Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel have published the paper trail, the essential reading on the subject. This scandal is far from over.

Seymour M. Hersh: Chain of Command. The Road from 9/11 To Abu Ghraib. Harper Collins, 2004. Get the book from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. German edition: Die Befehlskette. Vom 11. September bis Abu Ghraib. Rowohlt, 2004, 399 S. Buch bestellen bei Amazon.de oder citydisc Schweiz.

James Mann: Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet. Viking Penguin, March 2004, 448pp. Get the hardcover from Amazon.de or Amazon.com. Get the paperback from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.





Deutsch  Politik  Geschichte  Kunst  Film  Musik  Lebensart  Reisen 
English  Politics  History  Art  Film  Music  Lifestyle  Travel
Français  Politique  Histoire  Arts  Films  Musique  Art de vivre  Voyages

Advertise  Links  Feedback  Today's deals at Amazon.com
© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.

Google
 
Web www.cosmopolis.ch