The presidency of George Bush has to be considered as the worst presidency in the history of the United States. He and his supporters have embroiled us in an immoral and unjust war which has caused the deaths of thousands of soldiers and innocent civilians, at the cost of billions of dollars, the end of which is still not in sight. According to ethicians such as Cicero, Augustine of Hippo, Isidore of Seville and Thomas Aquinas, a just war must meet one of two criteria: either the recovery of ill-gotten territory, people (prisoners, slaves) or goods, or the repelling of an aggressive invader of one's territory. Neither of these criteria was met prior to the invasion of Iraq. This is the terrible legacy which George Bush has left to us and our posterity.
It would appear that his ignorance of history is abysmal. The lessons of history are clear: political and religious ideologies cannot be propagated by force of arms. The Crusades did not work, Vietman did not work, the communist occupation of Poland did not work and the invasion of Iraq has not and will not work. Ignorance of the criteria required for a just war is inconscionable in those in positions of power, whether they be administrators or legislators. President Bush was likewise ignorant of the potential for violence in Iraq where the differences between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds are the seedbed for violence which can be resolved, it would seem, either by civil war or by a dictator, hopefully benign.
The majority of congress voted to accord wartime powers to president Bush for a 'war' against terrorism. To call such a thing 'war' is an abuse of the term in the traditional sense of the word. In war, the enemy is identifiable; in terrorism there is no identifiable enemy. For all the money invested in the CIA and the FBI, they have no idea where the next terrorist will come from. It likewise seems clear that president
Bush is oblivous to the fact that his foreign policy has been the occasion of a plethora of violence: car bombs, suicide bombs and generally a mushrooming of violence. It seems clear that many of the nations of the Near East are not ready for our brand of democracy. The national security department is dealing with the symptoms of terrorism and not its causes. The principal cause of terrorism is fundamentalism (hardly peculiar to Islam!) bordering on fanaticism which is prone to violence. Over such fundamentalism governments have little control, the only solution, it would seem, lies in education where reason can hope to prevail over mindless fanaticism.
Moreover, it should be noted that our brand of democracy is far from perfect. We can afford billions of dollars for an unjust war, but we cannot afford money to assure medical coverage for all of our citizens. We can afford billions of dollars for an immoral war, but we cannot fix social security. The common good has been held captive by private interests promoted by lobbyists who 'bribe' our legislators to vote for their special projects. Legislators in pursuit of reelection earmark legislation with special projects intended to assure their reelection rather than promoting what is of importance for the common good of the American people. Dwight Eisenhower's warning about the 'tyranny' of the military-industrial complex was a forecast which has become reality.
Moreover, it is a sad comment regarding those who claim to be our spiritual leaders in pursuit of justice that the pulpits of our land were ominously silent prior to the invasion of Iraq. There is a rule of law which says that those in position of authority who do nothing, are seen to consent. If this is a valid rule, then most of our so-called religious leaders have abdicated any claim to spiritual leadership and can rightfully be ignored, just as they have ignored the unjust and immoral invasion of Iraq.
As the eminent American philosopher George Santayana has said: Those who ignore the lessons of history are condemned to relive them.
It is indeed a time for change!
Girard J. Etzkorn, Ph.D