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How will History Remember Him? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Forty-three presidents have governed the United States; the first of whom was George Washington and last but not least is the incumbent President George W. Bush. Among these men there are some names that stand out for the deeds they accomplished or projects that they completed – regardless of whether their achievements were commendable or not.

George Washington, America’s first president, is often associated with independence and the American Revolutionary War against the Kingdom of Great Britain, while Abraham Lincoln (16th American President) is associated with the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, in addition to the fact that he was considered to be the second founder of the United States in the same manner Caliph Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan was to the Arab Umayyad state or Caliph Abu Jaafar al Mansur was to the Abbasid state.

The name Woodrow Wilson (28th American President) evokes the principle of self-determination, while Franklin Roosevelt (32nd American President) is associated with World War II outside of the US and with the new pact internally. As for Harry Truman (33rd American President), he is mostly mentioned regarding the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, while John Kennedy (35th American President) is mainly remembered for the US space project and for the mystery that surrounds his assassination.

Lyndon Johnson (36th American president) is associated with the Vietnamese quagmire while Richard Nixon (37th American president) is remembered for the Watergate scandal and Ronald Reagan’s (40th American President) name is often mentioned as a turning point and the return of right-wing politics to the forefront of the US political arena and the fall of the Soviet Union.

George Bush senior (41st American President) is associated with the second Gulf War (Desert Storm), but the question is: How will history remember his son, George W. Bush?

I believe that he will be remembered as one of the worst presidents in American history, his notorious reputation surpassing even that of Nixon – despite the fact that the latter is one of America’s greatest presidents in my opinion. Nixon was responsible for ending the Vietnam War and he inaugurated a new stage of relations with China. George Bush’s election as president is a condemnation against the American people; if his electoral victory can be justified in the first term in 2000, despite the fact that fellow candidate Al Gore was much more qualified, I see no justification for his nomination for a second term until 2008, notwithstanding the fact that John Kerry was also clearly more competent.

During President Bush’s term, America’s reputation has deteriorated and collapsed in an unprecedented manner. If the world hated America before President Bush then it has come to loathe it during his era and the question is: Why has this happened?

There are several reasons to explain this; the first of which is that during Bush’s era America has turned against its very own principles that were established by its founding fathers. Despite the fact that the US was originally founded upon a religious basis, as may be illustrated by the famous “In God We Trust”, which is inscribed on the American dollar currency; the state was also established on secularism, liberty, tolerance and equal opportunities in the pursuit of happiness.

However, during President George Bush’s term, the Neo-Christian right-wing has taken control and it is a trend that believes that the US has a divine mission to be the “savior” of the rest of the world and that it has the absolute values which it must spread throughout the world, furthermore making the rest of the world a replica of it.

Perhaps the US-inclined globalization was indeed able to influence cities worldwide so that they resemble American cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston, in addition to disseminating an all-American lifestyle worldwide – but this was achieved voluntarily and without coercion.

According to the Christian right, the US today is the Promised Land and its people are the Chosen People, or the “Golem” according to the Old Testament and they are entitled to inherit the earth and everything therein.

In one of his earliest speeches during his first electoral campaign, Bush named Jesus as his favorite political philosopher and added that Jesus is the foundation upon which he bases and leads his life regardless of who agrees with this or is against it.

This marks a major qualitative shift; at a time when the US is hailed as the beacon of political pragmatism and the herald of principles of freedom, equality and pursuit of happiness, we find that the US has adopted a different course. America has transformed to become a religious missionary and the bearer of a “divine mission” that the world must be responsive towards – or else the alternative is killing.

This is precisely what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan and it seems that the bearer of this divine mission intends to become involved in an Iranian adventure before he heads back to his ranch in Texas to watch the repercussions of his own deeds unfold.

I strongly believe that those who claim to have a great mission to fulfill in history of ideologues or those who have great aspirations are usually the culprits behind the spread of violence and catastrophes in the history of humanity. Perhaps the missions that Hitler and Mussolini followed, or that of the Baath party, are prime examples of this.

The problem with Bush is that he believes what he says; moreover, he believes what his right-wing advisors tell him. He is weak of character and incapable of being a decision-maker. Bush Jr. does not share the vision of America’s founding fathers and he also lacks Kennedy’s charisma, Lincoln and Wilson’s values, Nixon’s confidence, Reagan’s resoluteness, Roosevelt’s greatness, Eisenhower’s capabilities, or even his father’s (George Bush) wisdom.

It is quite clear that President George W. Bush is incapable of making decisions and rather resorts to others who take decisions for him. In the war with Iraq he did not even benefit from his father’s experience. Instead, he completely ignored the role of the United Nations (UN) despite the fact that the US is supposed to be the role model for the world following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The US president followed the advice of, or rather credited the decision [to go to war] to his former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, whom he said had stated that the mission is what determines the allies not the other way round. Rumsfeld has demonstrated an arrogant lack of respect for all other nations and transformed the US into a state that went against everything and that followed the motto, “with me or against me.”

It would seem that Bush fully believes in Samuel Huntington’s theory about the clash of civilizations but perhaps he did not apprehend it well since others continue to make decisions for him. The truth is that Bush is aggravating a major clash in a world that has no shortage of clashes.

President Bush’s former US Attorney General, John Ashcroft said, “Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for Him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you.” This illustrates a blatant confusion between politics and religion that the US, which deems itself to be a beacon for pragmatism, tolerance and democracy should never be experiencing. What one believes should stay in one’s heart – not be adopted into state policy.

Ashcroft’s statement denotes that the US has become a Christian citadel against the whole world. It is as though we had regressed back centuries to the time of Richard the Lionheart and the first Crusaders – and this from the US that is founded upon the rejection of oppression in Europe.

The main features of Bush’s term are arrogance and conceit and when nations reach that point, it signals the stage of their fall – or at least, the beginning of the end.

President James Monroe (5th American President) believed in the notion of separating the US from global affairs, and the world during that time meant Europe. This was an extremist idea, but he was trying to save the United States. With the advent of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, the US commenced its role as a positive role model for the world. The American Dream that was propagated by Hollywood became the whole world’s dream but President Bush’s arrival has transformed it into a nightmare so that the US has become an example of arrogance and tyranny worldwide.

Welcome to our region Mr. President; a region of violence, [various] religions, contradictions and where deserts extend endlessly. Alas, it is a greeting that is full of sorrow for the United States that was lost and has been responsible for making others lose their way because of your efforts.

Turki Al-Hamad

Turki Al-Hamad

Turki Al-Hamad is a distinguished Saudi Arabian political analyst, journalist and novelist. Mr. Al-Hamad was educated in Saudi Arabia and the United States, where he obtained his PhD from the University of Southern California, later returning to Riyadh to teach political science. He retired in 1995 to take up writing full time.

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