Thursday, September 15, 2005

Potus calls kettle black

Last week, Bush told the UN that it must be “free of corruption and accountable to the people it serves”. This is of course, good advice, but coming from Bush, it smacks of hypocrisy.

Consider for a moment, the corruption of process that led to the war on Iraq, the fabrication and exaggeration of evidence, the disinformation and propaganda used to justify aggression.

Consider the multi-billion dollar reconstruction contracts given to leading US corporations with close ties to the Bush administration, firms that have engaged in fraud, bribery and other corrupt practices in Iraq.

Is anyone in the US government accountable for the loss of life and limb or the destruction of towns and villages in Iraq? Is anyone accountable for wasting $200 billion on a war of aggression?

Bush also told the UN it must “live by the high standards it sets for others”. But presumably, that is not a goal Bush sets for himself.

In fact, quite the opposite. While Bush preaches freedom and democracy, praising respect for human rights, equality and the rule of law, his government and their allies are systematically eroding those very principles, both at home and abroad.

Consider the “free speech zones”, the suppression of dissent, the obsessive secrecy, the cronyism, the hidden agendas, the contempt for government agencies like the CIA, FEMA and the EPA.

Witness the prison camps in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, the torture and humiliation of detainees, the legal void in which the accused are deprived due process, all by presidential decree.

The use of collective punishment, summary execution and torture are the hallmarks of brutal dictatorships. They are not compatible with the high standards championed by the United States. And yet this is the standard that Bush has achieved.

The divergence between the rhetoric and the reality of US foreign policy under George W Bush is stark and pronounced. With every escalation of his skillfully crafted flourishes and grandiose speeches, there is further descent into fear and destruction as Bush employs his forces in Iraq.

Sure, it is easy to criticize the United Nations, an improbable organization with an impossible task. As a force for peace and collective security, it could not protect one of its members from unprovoked aggression and it has since failed to confront the aggressor, restore order or provide security in Iraq.

At the same time, the UN has been attacked by the US for failing to support US aggression. The US exhibits a curious ambivalence toward the UN, which it views as an important instrument for pursuing and legitimizing US national security and foreign policy goals, but also as a threat to US ambitions when the UN opposes or fails to comply with US demands.

Perhaps the best thing would be for Bush to stop lecturing the UN and take time to reflect on his own performance, and that of the United States, and see if he can make some use of his own advice.

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