Sunday, November 19, 2006


US President George W Bush gets called a lot of names.

To the French he’s a cowboy they would never ask to dinner because he hasn’t got the table manners to eat his food properly in civilised company.

To many other people in the West he’s a rich man’s idiot son whose Daddy’s pals fixed up the job for him in the first place.

To his enemies he’s a terrorist who bombs and wrecks countries in the name of democracy.

I don’t know if he’s as dumb and stupid as his reputation has it, if it’s true he couldn’t read until he was eleven or if his real job is drafting scripts for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. They certainly use enough of his material to justify giving him a few dollars.
What I do know is that he is living in a time warp, the departed days when America had the power, money and resources to go waging or manipulating wars wherever it chose and toppling governments it didn’t like at will.
Like the Japanese soldier found in the jungle still fighting World War II forty years after Japan had lost, Bush is still trying to fight the war he has already lost in Iraq — and dictate terms for ending it. Surely a first for a loser.
You might think that his recent setback in the American mid term elections would have provided a sufficient reality check that he would have realised dumping his former Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, wasn’t going to solve the problem.

You might even be tempted to think that with the pending report of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, which reputedly hints at the need to talk to Iran, he would know he has to get on with it to escape from the hole he’s dug for himself and America.

But no. He’s already shying away from the idea of being on speaking terms with Iran as he goes blustering on with what are becoming increasingly meaningless threats if they don’t do it his way. Surely a first for a loser.
The fact is he’s broke and hasn’t got the money to do the damage he once could to this ‘Axis of Evil’ state he’s been verbally blasting for years.
It will be humiliating to climb down to seek their help now.
But is there more to it than foreign policy?
Personal relationships are as important in diplomacy as they are everywhere else in life. And you begin to wonder if behind all the rhetoric Bush’s real fear is that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad is his doppelganger — a terrifying reflection of himself beamed across thousands of miles from the Middle East.
Meanwhile enemies old and new are gathering in his backyard with the return of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, the increasing stature as a global player of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and the emergence of Evo Morales in Bolivia
All are doing deals or poised to do them with China and make nonsense of the Monroe Doctrine which virtually gave the US suzerainty over all the Americas.
It all adds up and the retreat from Iraq will be a significant milestone in the decline of the US as a superpower.
It’s not going to happen tomorrow and the country still has vast physical and intellectual resources. But the disastrous Presidency of George W Bush has greatly accelerated a process which was probably, as is the way with empires, inevitable.
But it could have waned more gently, leaving happier memories of its achievements, if he and the neo cons had not been so full of hubris and hell bent on getting Iraqi oil whilst trying to impose a template for democracy — something which took centuries for the West to achieve.
Yet for all its flaws and failings the American Empire, like the British before it, was basically benign. It gave billions to try to improve the lot of poor countries and a naïve idealism shone through its belief that if all the world was like America people would be happier and have better lives.
When the Chinese rule the world, it will be a far more cruel place.
Copyright © Rebecca Hamilton 2006. All Rights Reserved