“Flip a coin, what shall we talk about? Heads I tell the truth and tails I lie.”
George W. Bush’s weeklong trip through Europe wasn’t only about glamorous dinners and leisurely jaunts to old school castles. The President’s so-called “farewell tour” was a ploy for him to take one last stab at rounding up an entourage to have our backs in our impending squirmish with Iran.
Thus far, this last ditch attempt to convert “the unwilling” into fellow warmongers has come up short, akin to the Hail Mary that gets batted down at the line of scrimmage; an air ball at the buzzer, heaved from half court.
As ticking clocks eat away at the President’s dwindling relevance, his eleventh hour gives no indication that he learned much in the first ten. Whether he’s ready to accept it or not, the rest of the planet is over George W. Bush and his coalitions.
At Wednesday’s joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, our Commander-in-chief busted out two vintage Bush Doctrine tactics that unfortunately have defined American foreign policy for almost a decade:
- The rules he applies to others do not apply to him.
- Anything he says in front of a TV camera very well could be a lie.
After Bush finished bashing Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for allegedly shrugging off UN sanctions, Bush was asked to comment on reports that Iraqis were hoping for a “dramatic reduction” in the presence of U.S. troops.
“You know, it’s all kinds of noise in their system and our system. What eventually will win out is the truth… We’re there at the invitation of the sovereign government of Iraq. And I strongly support the agreement because I think it helps send a clear message to the people of Iraq that, you know, that security you’re now seeing will continue. And one of the lessons of Iraq is, is that in order for a democracy to develop or in order for an economy to develop, there has to be a measure of security, which is now happening. So I think we’ll get the agreement done… You know, as to — look, Eggen, you can find any voice you want in the Iraqi political scene and quote them, which is interesting, isn’t it, because in the past you could only find one voice, and now you can find a myriad of voices. It’s a vibrant democracy; people are debating. There’s all kinds of press in the Iraqi scene, of course to the benefit of the Iraqi society. And I deal with Prime Minister Maliki. He appreciates our presence there, and he understands that we’re returning on success; as the situation merits, and the situation improves, we’re bringing our troops home. And I’m pleased with the progress. I don’t know whether or not it’s — the progress has made it here to Germany or not yet, but the progress in Iraq is substantial, and it’s going to help change the Middle East for the better. And I love the idea of having — giving people a chance to live in a free society. The blessings of freedom are — shouldn’t be just a regional blessing; I believe freedom is universal and I believe freedom yields peace.”
Sounds wonderful. Except shortly afterward Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki indicated he may ask U.S. troops to go home when their U.N. mandate to be in Iraq expires at the end of the year.
Now wouldn’t that just fuck everything up?
Maliki announced that his negotiations with U.S. diplomats “reached an impasse” because American negotiators wanted him to sign an agreement that gave the U.S. access to 58 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and immunity from prosecution for both U.S. soldiers and private contractors. Maliki declined. In fact, while visiting Amman, Jordan, Maliki announced that, “Iraq has another option that it may use…The Iraqi government, if it wants, has the right to demand that the U.N. terminate the presence of international forces on Iraqi sovereign soil.”
Suppose Maliki does order us to leave Iraq. What might that mean if we take seriously statements like the ones Bush made in Germany?
If, in accordance with international law, Iraq requests our timely exit from their sovereign nation, that should seal the deal, shouldn’t it? We should be out of there immediately.
Anything less would obliterate the platitudes and ideological alibis that have been utilized to justify the crimes against humanity carried out in our names. We’d have to change our reason for being there all over again.
Ignoring UN orders that we leave Iraq would further solidify Bush’s permanent reputation in history as a liar and a hypocrite—not that his legacy can get much more doomed than it already is. When countries like Iran and Iraq disobey international rules, we lobby for and/or wage wars against them. America’s purported respect for the sanctity and authority of these international agreements is so profound that our government sends its expendable working class overseas to kill and die enforcing them. If these rules are so important that they’re worth dying for, surely there must be some utility in actually following them ourselves. We should be delighted that a country like Iraq, long ruled by an “evil tyrant,” is learning what it means to free (or to want to be free). And they’re so psyched about test-drive democracy that they’re willing to Declare Independence from would-be colonizers.
What a great opportunity for us to lead by example. As a civilized country, what better way to showcase the joys and perks of democracy than to demonstrate how nations that respect each other’s sovereignty behave toward one another? Since “winning” is apparently a prerequisite for withdrawing, we could even declare “victory” before we leave. Why not? We went there to Nation-Build, and we’ve successfully created a culture that now values its autonomy enough to tell us, publicly, to get the fuck out of their country. Mission accomplished?
But our Commander-in-chief neither says what he means nor mean what he says. Consider his ramblings in Germany. The statement: “I deal with Prime Minister Maliki” is only half of a sentence. It forgets to qualify itself. The complete sentence goes something like:
“I deal with Prime Minister Maliki by telling Prime Minister Maliki what to say and think and feel and do.”
“Should Prime Minister Maliki begin putting his own country’s national interests before those of its occupier, the world will see once and for all how I deal with Prime Minister Maliki.”
George W. Bush can call it a “farewell tour” all he wants. But this week, and in the months to follow, the world is saying “good riddance.”