Divided We Fall …
How many years will it take to recover?
In his two terms in the White House, US President George W. Bush has presided over a precipitous fall in America’s reputation around the world. History is likely to judge him a failure. Now, his successor will have to dig the US out of a deep hole.
After last month’s Chinese momentous Space Walk
… the People’s Republic, as a nation in space, drew level with the United States and Russia in one important respect. Indeed, Beijing is already discussing a manned expedition to the moon. Once exclusively American, the Earth’s biggest satellite may soon become Chinese as well.
Almost at the same time, at a point halfway around the earth, a finance minister was doing something highly unusual: falling to his knees in a gesture of desperation. The Republican Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson was kneeling before the Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, begging her to do everything in her power to make sure that the $700-billion bailout package for the US economy was passed. Paulson’s unmistakable message was that the United States was on the brink of an abyss.
Meanwhile, the White House, the center of power in this superpower, seemed oddly abandoned, as if no one were at home. As if 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., were temporarily closed for renovations. It wasn’t, of course, but amazingly enough, had it been, hardly anyone would have noticed. The master of the house, certainly, would be missed by only a few. Bush did address his fellow Americans to talk about the financial crisis, but he seemed oddly disinterested. And even in these dramatic times, hardly anyone was listening. He may still be the president, but is he no longer shaping policy.
“The fundamentals of our economy are strong,” the president said in August. But what could be more disconcerting than to be told by George W. Bush that everything is going to be alright?
US in Deep Decline
Rarely has the decline of a nation — and the soaring success of another — been so strikingly documented as it was by the almost simultaneous events in Beijing and Washington at the end of September. Of course, the bailout package has since been approved (although Paulson revised the conditions attached to it based on the European model and it was coordinated with Beijing) and, of course, China has also been hard-hit by the worldwide financial crisis (although its economic growth, after “declining” from almost 12 percent last year to an estimated 8 percent this year, remains impressive against the backdrop of the American recession).
But none of this changes the fact that the United States is in deep decline, in the wake of the dramatically ruinous policies of George W. Bush, 62, and his administration. That decline begins at home. Never before have such low approval ratings been measured for a US president than for Bush in his last few months. They are currently at between 19 and 20 percent. More than four out of five Americans believe that the nation is “headed in the wrong direction.” And the image and reputation of this dominant Western nation has also declined to a new low in the rest of the world during the two terms of the 43rd US president.
In Western Europe, the US’s popularity has declined by almost half, and in Turkey by 75 percent. The numbers are even worse when it comes to Bush himself. Even the citizens of the two neighboring countries, Canada and Mexico, consider George W. to be about as likeable — and as dangerous — as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. According to a recently published BBC poll, a majority of people worldwide believe that Washington’s activities have in fact strengthened the al-Qaida terrorist organization. Absurdly, al-Qaida has a better image than the United States in Egypt and Pakistan, two countries that are the recipients of especially generous US financial assistance.
How could it have come to this? What is the legacy of the Bush era? And can a new man in the White House turn the tide?
Avoiding Bush Like the Plague
In the twilight of his presidency, George W. seems markedly relaxed among friends. He has built himself his very own Bush World, where everything has its place. There is no such thing as failure in this world. It serves as protective armor for Bush. It is a cosmos, a virtual, Manichean cosmos in which everything is clearly delineated between good and bad, perpetrators and victims. And, in this world, anyone who is not “with us” is branded a contemptible enemy.
After seven years of Republican dominance in Washington, Bush’s fellow Republicans now avoid him like the plague. Republican presidential candidate John McCain gave Bush all of 14 seconds of public togetherness, 14 seconds on the tarmac in front of Air Force One, on a day in May 2008. An armored black limousine pulled up to the plane, Secret Service agents opened the doors of the car, Bush and McCain came together briefly in a carefully choreographed moment in front of cameras that had been set up in advance, the president pinched the candidate’s wife on the cheek and shook hands with his fellow Republican, but then McCain turned away, as if fearing pursuit. Bush jumped up the steps to the waiting aircraft, and the 14 seconds were up.
‘A Gambler Who Bet Everything on Iraq’
But the verdicts are already coming in. In a new survey of 109 historians, 107 call his presidency a failure, while 61 percent see George W. Bush as the worst president of all time. “We’ve never seen a presidential meltdown like this…. This is a terrible loss, and a dangerous one, for the whole world is watching,” writes Peggy Noonan, the speechwriter for former Republican President Ronald Reagan. According to historian and author Douglas Brinkley, Bush’s “legacy is disastrous. He is a gambler who bet everything on Iraq.”
“Gambler” and “Iraq” are the key terms in the life and work of George W. Bush, and they will likely remain so for eternity.
Such a sad legacy to follow eight years of disaster. Picking up the pieces will be a phenominal task. The impatient American Public must roll up their sleeves and join in the disaster recovery. It will take each and every one of us. The good, bad and the ugly will have to work side by side. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, must behave like the siblings they are. The Buddhist, Sikh, Shinto, Tao and the multitudes of faiths that make the American character, will have no problems coming to the rescue of their battered nation. Wasting our energy and efforts on finger pointing and laying blame is for Un-Americans. We all have a pretty good idea how we got here. Getting out of crisis will take the motto of our nation at it’s words “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”. This must be the mantra for all Americans if we want to ressurrect pride in this nation. Who cares if we are number TWO or THREE as a world power right now? This is not a game show. There is America and there is the global environmetal crisis that trumps personal preferences. The best prepared will become number ONE. The number ONE nation will demonstrate a realistic understanding that there are elements much larger than ourselves at work, and shape themselves to adapt to global changes and actually work with the planet. This planet is our home, it happens that the occupants of this planet have put their personalities above the reality of Mother Nature and it’s needs. Perhaps this past eight years of divisive partisan hoodlum behavior was necessary to wake us all up. Lets encourage our brother and sister Americans to follow our motto “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”. No! It won’t be easy, especially after all the hateful behavior we have witnessed or endured. Your survival and my survival depends on how successful we are at uniting ourselves.