Which leader has done us more harm?
The only damage bin Laden has inflicted on the U.S. so far is the attacks on the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the USS Cole, and the World Trade Center and Pentagon, in which some 3,200 American lives were lost. Since then, he has been skulking around Pakistan and Afghanistan making video messages, but has not been able to launch another attack, hopefully because we have improved our inept security since 9/11. But Osama hasn’t had to – he has been the beneficiary of having Bush play into his hand.By comparison, let’s examine the long list of actions by our president that have caused immense damage to our country. Within a year after leading a U.S. and British attack on the al Qaida and Taliban forces in Afghanistan to get bin Laden “Dead or Alive” (remember “Mission Accomplished”), Bush relegated Afghanistan to the back burner and made invading Iraq his top priority instead. This action, “justified” by false claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was an accomplice in the 9/11 attacks, has resulted in the deaths of more Americans than inflicted by bin Laden, with tens of thousands of wounded and disabled American soldiers, and hundreds of thousand of Iraqis. Osama bin Laden no longer has to go overseas to kill Americans – Bush has delivered 150,000 to his doorstep.
In addition, Bush’s actions in his vendetta against Saddam have strengthened our enemies, alienated our friends, undermined our reputation and damaged our credibility. Bush has succeeded in losing the support of a world that was united in its empathy for us after 9/11, but is more and more becoming a “coalition of the unwilling” in dividing our country, and in enflaming the Muslim world. George W. Bush has become the poster-child for recruiting thousands to bin Laden’s jihad against the U.S., making him an even greater future threat.Bush and his accomplices invaded Iraq with no understanding of the culture, and failed miserably in providing security and reconstruction after overthrowing Saddam and in providing armor for our troops, and could not even account for the billions of dollars and thousands of weapons we shipped to Iraq.Here at home, he has damaged our country financially by saddling us with a $1 trillion war, which goes on and on with no benefit to us. That kind of money could have supported the health care, education, and infrastructure repair needs of the American people. Bush’s “credit card” financing of his war, and his tax cuts for the wealthy have increased the national debt by 50 percent, to $9 trillion in just six years, increasing our dependence on foreign financing (as well as oil), and undermining the value of the dollar among the world’s currencies. And in his zeal to free business from government “interference,” the mortgage predators have been given a license to steal, and the shoot-first private security firms in Iraq have gone unregulated.
The Bush Administration has also been marked by internal corruption and appointees qualified by cronyism rather than competence, often resulting in serious conflicts of interest.In other matters, he has violated the Constitution he swore to “preserve, protect, and defend” by signing statements claiming he can ignore provisions of laws passed by Congress that he doesn’t like, invoking excessive secrecy as an executive privilege, suspending habeas corpus and denial of legal counsel, and showing contempt for the other branches of government and the checks and balances on the executive branch provided in the Constitution. He has also engendered the disrespect of the rest of the world by violating the treatment of prisoners’ provisions of the Geneva Conventions, claiming they do not apply in the War on Terror, and for his reluctance first to concede that there is a human aspect to global warming, and then reluctantly proposing that countries adopt voluntary measures.
We’d be better off without both Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush.Hal Sundin’s column appears every other Thursday in the Post Independent.
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