Monday, September 04, 2006

Americans are too complacent

Tagging along
George W. Bush is well in his second term, in the sixth year of his presidency. Despite unprecedented violations by the Bush Administration of international law and of even the most obvious standards of international decency and common sense, most of the American population apparently are content to tag along with little if any organized opposition. The memory of his Democratic contender John Kerry has long been buried and forgotten, and to this day the Democrats have miserably failed in developing a clear agenda of their own.

Any one speaking out?
Very few speak out. And most of those who do, are hardly heard. Especially journalists so far – in my view - have been extremely restrained in their ciriticism, setting aside good exceptions such as the editors of the New York Times, or writers in such eminent, but perhaps too intellectual magazines as The Atlantic and The New Yorker.

Only recently, the American Bar Association has raised its voice – well, barely. A bipartisan, 11-member panel of the ABA found that President Bush is not only disregarding laws. They also pointed out that Bush has used signing statements to raise constitutional objections to more than 800 provisions in more than 100 laws. All of the presidents combined before 2001 had issued only 600. Well, if that isn’t a clear complaint, what is?

The ABA furthermore reported that “...(the) federal government is failing to enforce our laws on a wide range of issues. Trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is clearly a treaty, have not been approved by two-thirds of the Senate as required by the Treaty Clause of the Constitution.”

Shining City far away
When Ronald Reagan spoke his last words as President of the US, in january 1989, he referred to America as a country of decency and common sense, of freedom of worship and freedom of hope. His eyes and mind looked out to the Shining City on the Hill, filled with the goodness of mankind and of Americans in particular. We’ve come a long way from that shining vision. Why? And how come the Republican Party, which surely holds the memory of Reagan in the highest possible esteem, does so little to correct the Republican Bush?

I honestly don’t have the answer, and as a Dutchman I am obviously an outsider. The only thing I know is that a lack of a clear and articulate opposition is bad – very bad - for democracy. Bush and his followers have done almost everything to quash it. I still find it difficult to grasp that sensible US citizens swallowed the catch phrase of Bush per excellence: those who are not for us, are against us. If this wasn’t an outrage against democracy – what is? It is very hard to accept any policy of a President who follows this principle, whether or not he professes to sell democracy to other parts of the world. It makes him (and his Administration) loose all credibility.

And in Europe
But I wouldn’t wish to simply bang Bush. It would be all too easy. The greatest concern of this day is not his conduct or that of his Administration – bad as they are! The greatest concern should be the development of true opposition and political stamina, including some more muscle out of Europe.

I was pleased to note that at least one notable US Democrat, former President Jimmy Carter, expressed his personal concerns very much on the same subject. Last week, he told reporters how disappointed he was about the behavior of Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister. If anyone, Blair is in the position to add some counterweight to the narrow minded course of US policies. But Blair is not doing that. I totally agree with Carter. And I would add to this my personal disappointment about the complacency of my own country's government.

“We are in a situation where the United States is so unpopular overseas, that even in countries like Egypt and Jordan less than five percent of the population supports us”, added Carter. A highly troubling achievement indeed!

Wake up call
When will America finally wake up, or will the country remain complacent even as the Bush Administration continues to slide further down the path from decency to nothing less than becoming a terror in its own right?

Let me conclude in quoting a recent press statement of Senator Edward Kennedy on the current Iraq policies of Bush cum suis:

“…..The politics of fear may have worked for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004, but by 2006 the American people see through them. They will judge Bush and his Congressional allies by their record, rather than their rhetoric. Americans understand that staying the course is not a plan for victory - it is a political slogan and a recipe for disaster….”

I beg all decent American citizens not to let it arrive at such disaster.


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