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George Bush's Gift To The World - The End of American Imperialism

By       Message David Michael Green       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   9 comments

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George W. Bush was unquestionably the worst American president in the two and a quarter centuries of the country’s existence.

After all, James Buchanan, the previous aspirant to the title, merely did nothing while the South seceded. Hah! You’ll have to do better than that, Jimmy, if you want to wear this crown!

Bush did far better, of course. It would appear to be the one thing in his entire life he actually worked hard at, and the one challenge he was able to meet successfully. This was an astonishingly destructive presidency, that’s true even despite the fact that we don’t really know much about his administration, because in addition to being the worst, it was also the most secretive ever. (I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, too.) Moreover, that’s also even considering that most Americans still vastly underestimate the depravity of Team Bush. As I have argued previously, if you think they were ‘merely’ arrogant bunglers with exceptionally bad politics, you’ve grossly underestimated them. In fact, they were predators who launched their class warfare agenda behind the smoke-screen of national security, faux patriotism and secret government.

Does this record of unparalleled devastation mean that Bush never did anything right in eight years? No, though it’s pretty much the case that he never did anything right on purpose.

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Unquestionably, however, Bush did make some positive contributions to American life, even if they were completely inadvertent, and even if they were dwarfed by the swath of destruction he left all across the landscape. Put simply, George W. Bush’s greatest success was that he gave a very bad name to very bad things.

Like the Republican Party, for example. Or conservative ideology. Or theocracy. Or presidents with the last name of Bush. Or emotional midgets who seek the White House as a salve for their personal psychological neediness.

We can be grateful for all these contributions, and I certainly am – though “thanks” is not likely what I would say if I had the pleasure of relating my assessment of Mr. Bush to him directly. More likely it would be something closer to the gracious words Dick “Dick” Cheney had for Patrick Leahy early on in the administration, when the two bumped into each other on the Senate floor. Those remarks were not, shall we say, fit for print in a family newspaper.

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But I digress.

George Bush left us many gifts, but perhaps the greatest of them is that he has ruined the sport of imperialism in America, maybe forever.

Admittedly, that may of course be wishful thinking. Woe be unto the world, for example, should there be another 9/11 type of event. Somebody somewhere would have to pay in spades, and they likely wouldn’t be nice white folks.

And god only knows, alternatively, what Americans might be capable of under conditions of real resource deprivation. Considering what we’ve already done while being the richest and most powerful country in the world, it’s scary to think of what we could do with our back genuinely to the wall.

But leaving those unusual situations aside, it must be said that, after Iraq, the fun has really gone out of eviscerating small foreign countries, even those foolish enough to locate themselves on top of our oil.

Imperialism used to be a fairly sporting avocation for gentlemen of a certain class. You could occupy hapless Latin American countries, topple Iranian democracies, and simultaneously sponsor apartheid suppression of whole populations, still having time left by mid-afternoon for a couple belts with the boys down at the club, all in celebration of a good day’s work at the office. It was jolly good fun for all. Except, of course, for all for whom it wasn’t.

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Unfortunately, that latter category included more or less the entirety of the southern hemisphere, and not a few in the north to boot. But, so what? We’re Americans! Caring about the morality of imperialism is for pre-dictatorship revolutionary anti-colonialist leaders and washed-up European former empires who can’t get it up anymore.

Truth be told, we’re now closer to being in that latter category than not, and we can thank George W. Bush for that, one of the few contributions of this complete and utter disaster going by the name of the 43rd presidency.

I’d say we’re more than a bit lucky for that outcome, too. Imagine if Iraq had been a success. Imagine if it had been the cakewalk they obviously thought it would be. Indeed, one of the great ironies of American politics is that Iraq probably readily could have been a ‘great success’, at least in terms of what could be marketed as such to a foolish American public.

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David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (dmg@regressiveantidote.net), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. His website is (more...)
 

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