Negligence during Hurricane Katrina, the failures witnessed on 9/11, tax cuts to the wealthy while giving pittance to the bottom 90% of Americans: the parade of fiascoes during the Bush years were countless. Yet, for all his blunders and missteps, the one clarifying moment that hangs on the former president’s neck was his arrogance when he decided to fly a plane onto an aircraft carrier to mark a successful end to the Iraq War. Mission Accomplished! Those two words are the epithet of a failed presidency that was responsible for hundreds of thousands of graveyards in Afghanistan, Iraq, America and beyond.
Yet, for all his egregious actions and political debacles, George W. Bush was not so much an aberration but the norm. The only reason Bush’s improprieties seem so aberrant is because he lacked style and farce to hide his mendacity with smooth rhetoric and telegenic smiles. Personalities aside, if you look back at America’s policies for the past 50 years—if not longer—there is a common theme that stands out no matter which party is in power in Washington DC.
Wars. Wars. Wars. Our nation has been in a continuous state of conflict in one corner of the planet or another since the 1950’s. The public has been duped into accepting a successive spate of wars, the enemies change but the pretext is always the same. Fear has been at the root of each campaign. From the Cold War and the effort to contain the “Red Scare” to the “War on Drugs” to the never ending “War Against Terror”, warmomgers always create a bogey man and then rush us into wars before we have time to debate if bloodshed is the wisest course.
Given this context, George W. Bush was absolutely correct when he declared the Iraq War a success. After all, the aim of the war was not victory but continued strife and carnage. There are few things in this world as profitable as war, a litany of industries are connected to the military-industrial complex that all stand to make a killing each time people are killed in battlefields. Defense contractors, banks, oil corporations, health care providers, non-profits, the list of interests that thrive each time a bomb explodes overseas is one too many to count. Though Democrats love to spread disinformation and say that FDR pulled us out of the Great Depression, anyone who knows history understands that it was the Lend Lease Act and our eventual involvement in World War II that jump started the American economy.
This lesson was never lost on each Commander-in-Chief since Roosevelt, the only thing presidents crave more than libraries in their name is a war on their watch. I was naive enough to believe that we finally learned the folly of following presidents blindly into battles after W lied us into the Iraq War only to witness Barack Obama take the helm to start more conflicts on his watch than his predecessor. In hindsight, I realize that Barack was never a peace president, the only video we have of Barack Obama criticizing the Iraq War at its start was when he said that the war was a “strategic blunder”. Strategic blunder is wearing two different socks or putting salt in my coffee instead of sugar, the deaths of 500,000 Iraqis and thousands of American military personnel are war crimes. Click To Tweet
Out of the frying pan and into the fire, we now have a petulant president Trump who, at any moment, could lead our nation into a war that could truly end all wars. Instead of emulating the smooth talk of Obama, he opts to copy the bloops and blunders of Bush. I’ve been pondering the difference between Democrats and Republicans and how they manage to push us into wars. What I’ve realized is that Republicans play the role of cowboys who cater to the bravado of the John Wayne crowd. Democrats do the complete opposite, they talk of peace and pander to the Dalai Lama bloc.
After eight years of Republican hubris, the public mood shifts to pacifism which serves as a fertile soil for Democrats to hypocritically promise a new day of reconciliation and coexistence. After eight years of Democrat perceived dovishness, the paradigm shifts to hawkishness which gives Republicans an opening to promise a new day of American exceptionalism. What we are not realizing is that both parties are playing off each other to make it seem like things are changing even though the policies of endless wars and wealth transference to the 1% never changes no matter who is in charge. We keep paying attention to personalities and the reality show of our politics only to lose sight of the fact that both parties are fleecing us with their economic schemes and bleeding billions globally with perpetual wars that are being fought in the name of the military-financial hustle.
I guess George Bush was not such a failure after all. He was twice elected, has a presidential library in his name and is now being hailed by even people on the left as a humanitarian to be celebrated. Donald Trump is now the new catnip who is drawing the ire of people on the left and capturing the devotion of people on the right. He too, just like Obama, came in promising to end these wars and to “make America great again”. Just like his predecessors, reality and Trump’s rhetoric parted ways the minute he stepped into the White House. Mission Accomplished! They keep getting us to vote for personalities as we overlook the policies of wars that never end. #MissionWasAccomplished
“Mankind must put an end to war before war put an end to mankind.” ~ John F. Kennedy
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Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.