Research: Commentary

Arrogance, Deceptions Still On Display

South Florida Sun-Sentinel, September 26, 2003 | Article

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Just as President Bush's ever-changing reasons for our pre-emptive attack on Iraq without the United Nations' imprimatur have dissolved in a cloud of denial, now he has ignored his past actions and gone to the U.N. defiantly demanding funds and troops to extricate himself from the unplanned-for Iraqi reconstruction and restoration of order. His U.N. speech -- following eloquent and conciliatory speeches from both U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and Brazilian President Luis Lula da Silva -- showed no sense of apology or remorse over his administration's threats to punish "the coalition of the unwilling," the 6-to-1 majority of U.N. members who refused to support an Iraqi invasion before the U.N. inspectors' work was done and without a specific U.N. mandate.

His speech concentrated on terrorism to the exclusion of the many other threats to world peace, chief among them the unresolved conflicts resulting from the Cold War and irrational colonial-imposed borders. He relegated the United Nations to humanitarian goals, a sort of International Red Cross not in any form resembling the mandate agreed to in 1945 at San Francisco. He did nothing to deflect the animosity engendered by Donald Rumsfeld's arrrogant disdain for our allies in "Old Europe," or by Richard Perle, former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, who on March 21 wrote a commentary titled: "Thank God for the Death of the U.N."

In May, just after his "Mission Accomplished" photo-op, he demanded and got from the United Nations Resolution 1483, which appointed the United States and the United Kingdom as "exclusive occupying powers" with the "sole responsibility" for Iraq's security, political development and reconstruction. He may have short-term memory loss, but certainly those he maligned might hold him to his bargain at U.S. taxpayer expense.

His swaggering "Bring 'em on" has resulted in a flood of foreign and domestic guerrilla fighters whose terrorist bombings and attacks on American and U.K. soldiers, oil pipelines and energy infrastructure have brought chaos to a country already destabilized by 12 years of sanctions and the U.S.-U.K. "Shock and Awe" invasion. All of this was predictable. The best and the brightest of our military -- former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki; retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former chief of the Middle Eastern Command; and Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO commander in Kosovo (and now a candidate for the presidency) -- expressed reservations about the Bush administration's rush to war.

All to no avail. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz would have none of it. Their answer was to set up their own Pentagon intelligence agency, the Office of Special Plans, to cherry pick intelligence and Iraqi defectors' fanciful tales for supportive evidence.

Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski retired in April from the Pentagon's OSP. She has written that: "If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of `intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Saddam occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense." She described her former workplace as "a subversion of constitutional limits on executive power and co-optation through deceit of a large segment of Congress."

A few days ago, Zinni addressed several hundred Marine and Navy officers and expressed his disillusion with these words: "My contemporaries, our feelings and sensitivities were forged on the battlefields of Vietnam, where we heard the garbage and the lies, and we saw the sacrifice. I ask you, is it happening again?"

Repeating bumper-sticker phrases about terrorism, designed to sow fear and disallow discussion, ignoring his mistakes and relying on ideological advisers whose mantra is world domination has mired Bush, and the nation, in rapidly expanding problems.

He must begin an administrative overhaul, bring in advisers with the wisdom of experience and recapture the vision of America as the just and honorable nation our forefathers saw in our future. Foreign policy must not be guided by arrogance, but by the humility he promised in his 2000 campaign for the presidency.

Jim Mullins is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C., and a resident of Delray Beach.

Copyright 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  Original article available here.

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