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A Change of Direction: The Common Heritage between Bush and Stalin - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The cover title of the Economist August 11th, 17th 2007 was “Is America Turning Left?’ and the answer was “Probably-but not in the way many foreigners (and some Americans) hope. The leader’s article discusses the negative impact of President Bush’s foreign policy on the Republican Party and on the direction of American people even after Bush leaves his post. The writer predicts that the American people will not go back to the center but to the left, but this left will still be a conservative force on the international stage: The writer singles out an important fact regarding American foreign policy: as for foreign policy, the main democratic candidates are equally staunch in their support of Israel; none of them has ruled out attacking Iran. But the concluding paragraph is the most telling about the impact of the foreign policy of the neoconservatives on future generations of Americans: “in 1968, with America stuck in another bruising war, few liberals saw Richard Nixon’s southern strategy as part of a long-term turn to the right. All that was clear then was that most Americans urgently wanted a change of direction. That is also true today.” (P. 9).

Indeed, this is very much true today despite the gigantic efforts of the media machine to alleviate the catastrophic consequences of the wars ignited by Bush and the Neoconservatives. Hence, the latest attempt by president Bush to compare what is happening in Iraq with what had happened in Vietnam only to lend strength to his argument to stay in Iraq, was widely criticised by analysts the world over. Perhaps the most telling comment was said by David Hendrickson, a specialist on the history of American foreign policy at Colorado College who said: ‘it is undoubtedly true that American’s failure in Vietnam led to catastrophic consequences in the region, especially in Cambodia”, “But there are a couple of further points that need weighing”, he added: “one is that the Khmer Rouge would never have come to power in the absence of the war in Vietnam. The same thing has happened in the Middle East today. Foreign occupation of Iraq has created far more terrorists than it has deterred.” (Herald Tribune, August 23, 2007, P.6). In fact the main question president Bush raised is irrelevant to the issue or the solution. In his speech to the “Veterans of Foreign Wars” president Bush said: “The question now before us comes down to this: Will today’s generation of Americans resist the deceptive allure of retreat and do in the Middle East what veterans in this room did in Asia?” (Herald Tribune, August 23, 2007, p.1). this is not the issue at all. The real question is what Bush is going to do about a war proved to be catastrophic? This is the question Bush refuses to pose because the answer should begin with the acknowledgement that the decision to launch a war was the wrong decision and then the acknowledgement of the horrid crimes perpetrated against humanity should follow.

The strategy of Bush and his team is based on a racist attitude to the Iraqis who could be killed, maimed, tortured and displaced so long as the media doesn’t report these crimes against them, and so long as the American people are kept in the dark about what is happening in Iraq. You can cheat some people for some time but you can’t cheat all people all the time. Iraqi and American people have begun to see the terrible consequences of this unnecessary war on them. Perhaps history will prove that the most important impact of the war on Iraq is the loss of confidence in the American system as it used to be held in high esteem by people across the world. The American dream no longer exists in the minds of current and future generations. The war on Iraq has changed the identity of the American system from a system that symbolizes liberty and democracy to a system that symbolizes Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and the destruction of the country of Mesopotamia. The collapse of the confidence in the American system will have far reaching consequences not only on the Middle East but on the direction of the American people for the coming decades. Children of the Mid of the 21st century will live and embody these consequences. As communism after Stalin was never the same as before, the U.S. after Bush will never be the same as before. The sliding downhill has already started. Whether he withdraws from Iraq this year or next year it will only affect the speed of this slide, but no one can reverse it now or stop it. It is indeed a real change of direction that will take decades to crystallize and be obvious to all. So Washington is going to have its “spring” just as Moscow and Prague did.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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