Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Irrelevance of President Frankenstein

Recently as I tried to assess the state of our world today. Whilst I did that I noticed how I was looking at it always in the context of the Bush presidency. In 2000, when Bush took over, the world seemed very close to the united Ms. World contestants' dreams – world peace seemed almost within our grasp. Of course there were little conflicts here and there but it really looked like the major fires had been reduced to small glowing embers which would turn to ash at any moment. Israelis and Palestinians seemed on the verge of being able to resolve their fifty year old crisis to some degree, at least enough to recharge the failed peace talks, North Korea was quiet, Russia was our friend and Africa had the fewest conflicts since the fifties.

September 11 is often seen now as the point where everything escalated as if that was the trigger, but it wasn't. 9/11 was simply an occurrence on a political event horizon. The world, after 9/11, was actually more united than ever before. Muslims and Arabs joined in the condemnation of the worst terrorist attack in history and the United States was flooded with offers of help. It could have been the beginning of a new era of reconciliation, an era of joining hands and an era of a united globe.

The Bush administration and President Bush himself soon made it clear that retribution would be had – and I cannot argue with the wish to have retribution, only with the logic – when he uttered the famous “with us or against us” quote. That, my friends, was the turning point.

The Taliban in fact did not perpetrate 9/11 but were accused of harboring Al Qaeda who were accused of being the masterminds behind the September 11 attacks. The Taliban however were probably more in a position of being unable to contain and control the Mujahedin, who morfed into Al Qaeda under Osama Bin Laden. Be it as it may, the United States attacked Afghanistan and the Taliban regime on 07 October 2001, four weeks after 9/11. Had everything stopped there, we may still have been on the cusp of a true New World Order, one where the world was united in its resolve to fight terrorism in ways more creative than simply trying to bomb terrorists and those who allegedly harbored them back to the Stone Age. But it didn't.

Now, six years after 9/11, we are staring at a world where Palestinians are locked into a civil war in Gaza, the Russians and the United States are threatening a new escalation of their weapons programs, Africa is on fire and the Middle East, well, the Middle East is on the verge of self destructing.

There has been enough written about Iraq to fill the Library of Congress. What however has changed is not the context of the Iraq war, but its point of reference. Americans, indeed almost everyone in the world has analyzed the war in Iraq with President Bush as the point of reference and until now, that may have actually had a purpose. What has however now happened is that the media hardly mentions him with regards to Iraq. He has become a politician's worst nightmare: he has become irrelevant.

Like Dr. Frankenstein who created his monster and unleashed him upon the world, Bush too can only sit on the sidelines and watch his monster destroy its surroundings before being destroyed itself. “I am the decider,” he proclaimed recently. But actually, he is not. General Petraeus is not a man defending the actions of the Bush administration and his Commander in Chief. General Petraeus is turning to Congress and effectively saying: 'stop talking about WHY we are in Iraq, start deciding WHAT you want to do with Iraq.'

Bush has been sidelined and the reason is, that it has become evident to everyone, friends and foes, that he can no longer control the situation. Iraq is literally out of control and with it, slowly, the other global neuralgic points are slipping into chaos as well. With just under 18 months to go, Bush's Presidency is not a lame duck Presidency, it isn't a despised and hated Presidency, it isn't a debated Presidency – it is an irrelevant Presidency. Americans, as I recently noted, in an opinion poll conducted by Newsweek, overwhelmingly just wanted his term to end. They didn't want to impeach him, didn't want him for another four years, didn't want to hear about how he was going to solve this or that – they just wanted him to go away.

Great politicians are not just loved by people – they are always controversial figures. They are successful, powerful and effective leaders and many people adore them and many dislike them, sometimes intensely. But Bush is not that kind of material. He is just painful to watch. This quote sums up the way he is viewed today:

"He is the not-too-bright brother-in-law who is employed doing something, you're not sure what, and meanwhile he's totaled your car four times."
--Garrison Keillor

Now some of you might say: “he isn't irrelevant at all – Bush can still veto any plans the Democrats have for ending the war.” You would be right. Bush, because he is acting President, can do just that. But stop for a moment and think; this is not what it means to govern – this is akin to just turning over the monopoly board every time you think you are losing. This is about calling the game off every time you are not winning. It isn't about fighting, it's about shutting down the shop – it's about running away. These are not the actions of a President in power – these are the actions of a five year old who is trying to sway a party of grown ups into doing what he wants – it's the action of one who knows that he is no longer relevant.

Go home Mr. Bush, go home and clear some shrub until your miserable, irrelevant Presidency is over whilst those in power attempt to swing this super-tanker of a nation back on track.

1 comment:

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