President Bush has become what he said he would be, a uniter: both conservatives and liberals are united in thinking that he has taken the country off track. In what seems to be a protracted lame-duck period for the president, pundits are already speculating about the post-Bush era.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser in the Carter administration, believes that the Bush administration’s use of the term “war on terror” has created a culture of fear that’s had “a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America’s psyche and on U.S. standing in the world” (Washington Post, March 25).
One of the lesser-known calamities of the Iraq war is the flood of refugees it has produced. According to United Nations officials, about 2 million Iraqis have fled the country since the start of the war—mostly to Jordan and Syria—and almost as many Iraqis have been displaced inside their own country.
Mainline church leaders are expressing opposition to President Bush’s plan to escalate U.S. troop presence in Iraq. Some clergy drew parallels to Martin Luther King’s impassioned pleas decades ago against the ultimately fruitless American war in Vietnam.
During the height of the Vietnam War, Bill Moyers was President Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary. It was his responsibility to explain to the press and the world what was happening and why the U.S. was doing what it was doing. He was also present as the Johnson administration declared war on poverty, launched its Great Society programs and signed civil rights legislation.
Former President Gerald R. Ford, praised in death as a low-key healer for the nation in the troubled aftermath of the White House Watergate scandals and the Vietnam War, was eulogized in a succession of Episcopal services at the turn of the new year.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, conceding that he wonders whether he should have been more involved in the antiwar movement, in a radio interview attacked the decision by the U.S. and Britain to go to war in Iraq as having “moral and practical flaws.”
The National Council of Churches has applauded recommendations of a bipartisan panel that has called for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The panel also concluded that the Iraq policy of President Bush’s administration is not working.
Many blame Rumsfeld and the neoconservative idealogues for the disaster in Iraq. But the current foreign-policy crisis vastly exceeds their mistakes. President Bush is still talking about “winning in Iraq” and “fulfilling the mission,” and his administration is still loaded with people who want him to stake his legacy on doing so. The neoconservative ideology of his administration is merely an exaggerated version of the normal politics of American empire. Before a significant change for the better is possible, Americans must reckon with the costs of the nation's perpetual war and military empire.