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The Disgrace And Failure Of George W. Bush

by Christopher Brauchli

Blame Bush, Not UN For War, Diplomats Say
He lied, he bribed, he forged and, finally, he tried spying. The only thing he didn't try was diplomacy. So Mr. Bush and his good friend, Tony Blair, were forced to go to war alone.

It has always been clear that Mr. Bush wanted a war under his belt so that he could be remembered in the history books for the military prowess he was denied because of an accident of birth and a healthy dose of cowardice that enabled him to avoid military service of the sort that others of his generation enjoyed. Although lacking first hand experience in things military, he knew that if you are going to sponsor a war, it helps to have a reason. He learned that from the sponsors of other wars.

Lying didn't work. Examples abound. One was given on October 8, 2002, when Mr. Bush spoke in Cincinnati and explained that one of the reasons we needed to disarm Iraq was because of the danger posed to the United States by unmanned aerial vehicles or UAV's. "We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States," he said. He probably got that information from an intelligence assessment released by the CIA the preceding week entitled "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs" which expressed the same concern. What neither the CIA nor the president pointed out (Mr. Bush because of geographical impairment -- the CIA inexplicably) was that UAVs owned by Iraq, according to the Center for Defense Information, have a range of 500 miles. They could only pose a threat to the United States if they had a fierce tail-wind.

Bribery didn't work. Mr. Bush wanted to use Turkey as a staging ground for U.S. troops. The Turks were unenthusiastic about the prospect of troops but enthusiastic about a preferred bribe. As with many things, money makes the thought grow fonder.

The Turks wanted $10 billion in grants and $20 billion in long term loans. Mr. Bush said no. All he wanted to do was station some troops in Turkey. Finally a deal was struck. The United States could use Turkey's ports and air bases for at least six months and in return the United States promised $5 billion in aid and $10 billion in loans. Notwithstanding the deal that was struck, the Turkish parliament voted to forego the good deal in favor of doing what it thought was in its own best interests. That came as a great surprise to President Bush who always rewards those who reward him and had never before encountered a situation in which economic interests did not trump principle. Indeed, as president he has amply rewarded large corporations for their support of him by supporting oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, proposing elimination of the tax on stock dividends, shielding utilities from mandatory steps to reduce air pollution, and opening more federal lands to logging, to name but a few.

Forgery didn't work. In December the U.S. Department of State issued a Fact Sheet that was entitled "Illustrative Examples of Omissions From the Iraqi Declaration to the United Nations Security Council." One of its statements was that "The Declaration ignores efforts to procure uranium from Niger." It asks: "Why is the Iraqi regime hiding their uranium procurement?" In the State of the Union Speech, Mr. Bush alluded to that. He said: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The Brits probably learned that from us. The answer to the question asked by the National Security Council was given in March. That was the month in which it was disclosed that the document that critiqued the Iraqi Declaration to the United Nations concerning its compliance with the UN Resolution was based on a document that was described as a "crude" forgery. The Iraqi officials who had allegedly tried to buy the uranium were not even in their jobs at the relevant times. When Colin Powell was asked about the error on CNN's "Late Edition" he simply said: "If that issue is resolved, that issue is resolved. But we don't believe that all issues with respect to development of a nuclear weapon have been resolved."

Spying may have worked but its disclosure was mildly embarrassing. It was disclosed by the Observer, a British newspaper. That paper reported that it had obtained a memo describing a surveillance operation in the United States that involved interception of the home and office telephone calls and e-mail of UN delegates. According to the report the National Security Agency was "mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security Council members " for "insights as to how" members are "reacting to the ongoing [Iraq] debate." It cited "policies" and "negotiating positions" that member states "may be considering. It cited "the whole gamut of information that could give U.S. policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to U.S. goals or to head off surprises."

The authenticity of the memorandum was questioned by the Washington Times. Pakistan's ambassador, Munir Akram, on the other hand, told the Los Angeles Times that "Anyone who thought that it wasn't going on is a bit naive." Bulgaria's ambassador, Stefan Tavrov, said being eavesdropped on was a mark of prestige for smaller countries. "It's almost an offense if they don't listen," he said.

I'm glad Mr. Bush tried to avoid going it alone. The goal was laudable -- the means chosen by him, less than honorable. The means and the president have more than one might wish in common.

Christopher Brauchli is a Boulder lawyer and and writes a weekly column for Boulder Daily Camera and the Knight Ridder news service

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Albion Monitor March 23, 2003 (

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