Sunday, December 30, 2007

Managing History

Members of the Bush administration maintained right from the start that they intended to create a new reality. Well, to some extent they have, but it's certainly not one that I think any of us would have chosen. It's also pretty clear that Mr. Bush and his minions, like the Blues Brothers, consider themselves on a mission from God to move the rest of us towards the proper fullfillment of history. The results, as incisively described by Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, in an op-ed piece in today's Los Angeles Times, are as failure ridden as the attempt to create that new reality.

...History, [Bush] insists, "has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty." That direction, the president believes, tends toward peace, democracy and freedom for all humankind. America's purpose, assigned by the Author of Liberty, is to nudge history toward its intended destination. More immediately, America's ostensible aim since 9/11 has been to make the blessings of liberty available to the Islamic world. As democracy spreads there, the threat posed by terrorism will diminish. Such at least has been the assumption underlying Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the two wars begun on Bush's watch.

This strategy of militarized liberation has been fraught with contradictions, not the least of which has been the partnership forged between the United States and Pakistan. Bush has repeatedly declared Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf a valued and trusted ally. Since 9/11, the U.S. has provided Pakistan with at least $10 billion in aid, most of it going to the army. In hopes of ensuring Pakistani cooperation in the global war on terrorism, Washington has ignored that nation's record as perhaps the world's most egregious nuclear weapons proliferator.

Of course, this "valued and trusted ally" came to power in a military coup, and has been busy since then running something less than a democracy, something much less. When President Musharraf suspended the Constitution and jailed uncooperative members of Pakistan's Supreme Court, thereby demonstrating to the rest of the world that his power was getting a little shaky, the US intervened even further and suggested a bewildering "power-sharing agreement" between Pres. Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto. The tragic events of this week showed how well that worked out.

At the beginning of his second term, Bush spoke confidently of the United States sponsoring a global democratic revolution "with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." Ever since that hopeful moment, developments across the greater Middle East -- above all, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and on the West Bank -- have exposed the very real limits of U.S. wisdom and power.

Now the virtual impotence of the U.S. in the face of the crisis enveloping Pakistan -- along with its complicity in creating that crisis -- ought to discredit once and for all any notions of America fixing the world's ills.

Bush dreamed of managing history. It turns out that he cannot even manage Pakistan. Thus does the Author of Liberty mock the pretensions of those who presume to understand his intentions and to interpret his will.

I will be satisfied with just a President in 2009. The current wannabe Messiah-in-Chief certainly hasn't worked out at all.

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Anonymous Uncle Smokes said...

From an old tune of mine:

so you think god wants you to be president
but can you comprehend such hidden intent
do not forget
judas iscariot
god's divine plan
needed a betraying man

what would god want with a president
think of book of judges in the old testament
god makes the people slaves
to a wicked kingly knave
then the people get wise
and the wicked king dies

6:05 AM  

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