Bush to U.N.: Screw You!
March 15, 2005
By Bernard Weiner, The
a lame-duck president has a two-year window of opportunity to successfully
push his foreign and domestic agenda. Karl Rove knows this well.
Since the Bush/Rove/Cheney bullyboy approach worked for them so
successfully during their first term, the Administration is using
the same strong-arm tactics in its foreign/military policy, and
in quickly trying to ram its domestic agenda through Congress.
But something is different this time; there now is an odor of
reckless haste emanating from the White House. The result is that
they are now making mistakes, big time.
Just two examples: the nomination of John Bolton as Ambassador
to the United Nations, and the Social Security "reform" campaign.
Bolton, a founding member of the neo-con Project for The New American
Century (PNAC), is a mad-dog unilateralist who wants the world to
bow to U.S. demands now that America is the only remaining superpower.
Bolton has said: "If I were doing the Security Council today, I'd
have one permanent member [the United States] because that's the
real reflection of the distribution of power in the world." Treaties
and international laws are irrelevant, he believes, since they are
attempts to constrict the justified use of American power around
If other countries refuse to bow to America's wishes, according
to Bolton, the U.S. should either find a way around them to get
what it wants, or unleash its full diplomatic, economic or military
might on them.
Bolton despises multilateralism and thinks the U.N. is an abomination.
His mouth, by any accounts, is an undiplomatic sewer. By appointing
him, Bush is telling the world: screw you, we're making no concessions,
get out of our way or get run over.
What a nominee! It's like giving matches and a can of gasoline
to a known arsonist and sending him into a building where firecrackers
SOCIAL SECURITY "REFORM" UNPOPULAR
Bush's campaign to shred (and eventually destroy) the Social Security
program is going nowhere fast - even normally supportive GOP members
of Congress, anxious for re-election in 2006, are distancing themselves
from the privatization scheme - but Bush and Rove continue their
whirlwind tour of pre-screened audiences around the country, to
try to generate traction for such "reform."
But as Democrats.com's Bob Fertik puts it: "House Republicans
are already running for their lives over Social Security privatization.
When Tom DeLay ordered them to hold town hall meetings on privatization
two weeks ago, two-thirds of them flatly refused. When George Bush
took Air Force One for a Bamboozlepalooza rally in Alabama - Alabama!
- six of the seven House Republicans announced they suddenly had
to attend urgent Congressional hearings!"
"It's only going to get worse for House Republicans," Fertik continues,
"because George Bush is determined to march them off the cliff for
privatization. It is important to remember that 2006 is an off year,
and the people who turn out most reliably in the off year are Social
Security recipients! And it is essential to remember that every
House member is up for election in 2006, compared to just one-third
of the Senate."
In short, debacles on the order of this Social Security madness,
and the nomination of John Bolton for U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.,
provide openings for progressive/moderate victories, both big and
small, if effective oppositional strategies can be put in place.
1. Circling the Bush-Bunker Wagons.
Clearly, from the Administration's point of view, there were far
too many leaks and covert acts of disloyalty to The Leader during
the first term - from the State Department, CIA, EPA, etc. - so
everything is being done to make sure that will not happen again.
The various departmental purges and staff changes at the top are
a key part of ensuring a more leakproof environment.
To guarantee this tighter command structure, Bush has assembled
those few officials pledging total fealty to The Leader, and has
headed for the political bunker. This select group includes Karl
Rove in the White House, Cheney* and Libby* in the Vice President's
office, Gonzales at Justice, Rumsfeld* and Wolfowitz* at Defense,
Rice and Abrams* (and now Karen Hughes as well) at State, Goss at
the CIA, Hadley at the National Security Council, Chertoff at Homeland
Defense, and now Bolton* on-deck for the United Nations, and Zalmay
Khalilzad* as Ambassador to Iraq.
The executive committee, as it were - the ones who set the militarist
policy, and run the show - would appear to consist of Rove, Rumsfeld*,
Cheney,* Wolfowitz* and, ex officio, Bush.
(*Those asterisked above are members of PNAC.)
To see how this little circle-jerk game is played, last week Rumsfeld
ordered more "extraordinary renditions" - i.e., sending detainees
in U.S. care abroad to countries where torture is the method of
choice in eliciting information - and Gonzales provided the "legal"
cover for such shameful behavior. (His logic is classic Bush Administration:
"Our policy is not to render people to countries where we believe
or we know that they're going to be tortured," said Gonzales. But
"once someone is rendered, we can't fully control what that country
Each of those bunker occupants is dirty, fully worthy - along
with departed co-conspirator Ashcroft - of prosecution for one crime
or another. But that's what we've come to in this country: a cabal
of liars and crooks and torturers and warmongers and would-be dictators
running the ship of state - right toward the icebergs that reality
is placing in their way. And that threaten to take us all down with
During the past four years, when encountering one of those realitybergs,
the Bush Administration tended to ram them full speed, and damn
the consequences. They got what they wanted through such reckless,
arrogant tactics - most specifically, their war against Iraq - but
at a horrific cost.
They alienated their allies, engendered (especially as a result
of the torturing and sexual abuse of male, female and child Iraqi
prisoners) a deadly and resourceful insurgency among Iraqis, united
a good share of the Muslim world against them, wound up with several
thousand "Coalition" forces dead and nearly 20,000 American troops
wounded, an estimated 100,000 Iraqis slain, most of them civilian
women and children.
In short, on issues ranging from Iraq to global warming to the
U.S.'s unilateral approach to international agreements (Kyoto, International
Criminal Court, the Geneva Conventions, etc.), America was feared
greatly but barely respected as a moral nation, regarded as a pariah
state by many in the international community. And, despite the photo-ops
on his recent European tour - which showed Bush and European leaders
smiling and shaking hands - the situation hasn't changed much today.
2. The Illusion of Peace in the Middle East.
Bush & Co. finally seemed to realize that in order for their policies
to be successful in the greater Middle East, there would have to
be something that could pass for major progress on the incendiary
issue of Palestine. And so they encouraged the Palestinians to get
their post-Arafat house in order, and Sharon to make some moves
The problem is while the Likudniks in charge of Israeli policy
have no inclination to do anything but pull Israel out of poor,
destitute Gaza, the more valuable real-estate in the West Bank will
remain under effective Israeli control, with no pullback from the
major settlements there. The separation wall will continue to be
built, ratifying that decision. An official report issued this week
in Israel noted that the Israeli government secretly has been complicit
in expanding the West Bank settlements and outposts, contrary to
In short, once it becomes clear to the majority of Palestinians
that they've been had yet again - that the contiguous, viable state
they've been promised will not materialize, and that the Americans
will not force the Israelis to end the occupation and remove most
of their huge settlements in the West Bank - the shooting/bombing
war will re-erupt in earnest. And more suicide bombers will join
up also to attack U.S. interests - perhaps in mainland America itself.
3. Moving Against Syria and Iran.
Meanwhile, Bush & Co. are moving relentlessly against their next
targets in the Middle East region: the governments running Syria
Because Syria is far the weaker of the two, Bush has felt more
free to issue an ultimatum to Syria to execute an immediate withdrawal
of its military and spy forces from Lebanon, while he praised the
anti-Syria demonstrators in the streets of Beirut as representing
the great force of democracy in the region. Strangely, when pro-Syria/pro-Hezbollah
demonstrators appeared in the streets of Beirut, Bush did not praise
that huge crowd as being pro-democracy activists in Lebanon. Nor
has Bush acknowledged the irony of calling for all "foreign troops"
to leave so that Lebanese citizens can work out their own future,
whereas he used the term "terrorists" to describe those Iraqi
citizens who feel likewise about the foreign occupiers in their
With reference to Iran, Bush has agreed to work with Europe in
an attempt to bribe that country's mullahs from continuing to authorize
work on their nuclear projects. But such a turnaround appears to
be mainly a front, a way for Bush to spin later that he exercised
the "full measure of diplomacy" in trying to resolve the Iranian
situation peaceably before he was "forced" to move militarily.
In Syria and Iran - and perhaps in Lebanon as well - the goal
is regime change; to get a more U.S.-compliant government in place
that will not put up much of a fight while the Americans lock up
the natural resources and build their huge military bases.
INCREASING BUSH'S VULNERABILITIES
Domestically, Bush already has won significant major battles -
victories aided by timid Democratic sell-outs - in getting Rice
and Gonzales and Chertoff approved, and in passing bills that make
class-action lawsuits and bankruptcy more difficult to file by ordinary
citizens, especially the poor and lower-middle class.
But Bush & Co. have suffered significant setbacks as well: their
major overhaul of Social Security, especially instituting private
savings accounts (the first step in destroying the program), is
not likely to be passed in this Congress.
And last week, a key piece of anti-environmental legislation -
which would have rewritten the Clean Air Act to permit more pollution
from coal-fired power plants - was defeated in Senate committee.
In addition, several federal judges have come down hard on the Bush
Administration's violations of detainees' civil-liberty rights.
It's not surprising to find that Bush's approval numbers are well
If Bolton's nomination can be killed in the Senate, along with
the Dems holding firm against Bush's extremist judges, the tenor
of his second term could change drastically. The more Bush seems
vulnerable, the more vulnerable he would become. But, as of this
writing, one cannot count on the GOP-ruled Senate to do the right
As the Administration sees it, moving fast on the Bush agenda
is a rush against that time when his second-term clout is irrevocably
lost - so it's now or never for Bush & Co.'s domestic and foreign
Let's help make it never.
Progressives, moderate Republicans, Democrats of all stripes need
to unite to ensure defeats of Bush's plan to destroy Social Security,
his nomination of Bolton for the U.N. job, his putting forward extremist
judges for the appeals courts, his plan to bring "democracy" to
Arab states by force.
We need to make clear to the American people that Bush's bellicose
war policies are not only putting our military forces (and civilian
"collateral damage") at grave risk, but are endangering our country's
long-term national interests.
It's time to protect our country better - it's certainly not going
to happen under the current regime in the White House.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught politics and international
relations at various universities, worked as a writer/editor with
the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The
Crisis Papers Archive