Bush administration: beginning of the end

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Signs of the beginning of the end for the Bush administration have continued to expand in a number of ways nearly since George W. Bush's inauguration in January 2001. However, it is the war in Iraq and the premise for that war which is ultimately leading to the end.

Fall of the Vulcans

"The fall of the vulcans. Iraq may spell the end of an evangelical belief in American military power," Timothy Garton Ash wrote in the May 27, 2004, Guardian Unlimited (UK).

"Iraq has turned into a disastrous defeat for America and Britain. All the current debate is essentially about damage limitation. The Bush administration invaded Iraq on what has proved to be a false prospectus. It has made a terrible mess of the occupation. It has created more terrorist threats than were there before. Its military has shamed America with the torture in Abu Ghraib. It has provoked waves of anti-Americanism. And the whole business has been a vast, hugely expensive distraction from the pressing challenges that face America and Europe, including poverty, global warming and the very real struggle against the al-Qaida assassins of New York and Madrid. Even if things get better in Iraq, this indictment will stand."
"And from the first meeting of Bush's National Security Council, months before 9/11, they talked of Iraq.
"Many people leap to the conclusion that they would have done it anyway. The extraordinary inside accounts, published by Bush's former anti-terrorism supremo Richard Clarke, former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, and the reportorial outsider-turned-insider Bob Woodward, don't bear this out. Rather, the invasion of Iraq was a characteristically vulcan response to the real sense, created by the 9/11 attacks, of America being at war. Bush pushed for an Iraq war plan, then hesitated. He sought reassurance from his intelligence chiefs that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. 'It's a slam dunk,' CIA boss George J. Tenet told him. Unfortunately, Tony Blair reinforced that belief.
"Lust for oil played some part, of course, as did neoconservative plans for a democratic revolution in the Middle East. But what seems to have been decisive was the president's gut instinct to respond to such an attack by going and 'kicking butt'. Whose butt exactly was, in a sense, secondary. Saddam happened to be the most obvious, persistent and provoking target. As one self-styled soccer mom told me, this attitude is what her kind in America loved about Bush. America had been hit; he was hitting back. This guy was in charge. He was kicking butt.
"But no longer. Instead, it's Bush's own butt that's being kicked. The boots that marched out to war so confidently are now empty boots spread out on the lawn of Capitol Hill, some 800 pairs of them, deployed by anti-war protesters to symbolise the American dead in Iraq. The soccer moms don't like that. Bush's approval rating has sunk to 41%. The talk now is all of allies, UN resolutions, transfers of power; and, in private, of an exit strategy. America won't be doing another Iraq any time soon. And Bush is left saying, as he did on Monday night: 'I sent American troops to Iraq to defend our security.' We make things too easy for ourselves if we regard such a statement as a barefaced lie. It is probably subjectively true. But it does invite two cool, precise questions: how was America's security threatened by Saddam's Iraq? And how has that security been enhanced by sending troops there?
"The end of vulcanism, if that is what results from the Iraq debacle, does not and should not mean the end of the application of American military power anywhere in the world. It means the end of a one-dimensional, unilateralist, evangelical belief in American military power as the key to world politics."

Carl Bernstein, co-author with Bob Woodward of All the President's Men and The Final Days about the Watergate scandal, wrote in the May 23, 2004, USA Today article "History lesson: GOP must stop Bush"

"Thirty years ago, a Republican president, facing impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, was forced to resign because of unprecedented crimes he and his aides committed against the Constitution and people of the United States. Ultimately, Richard Nixon left office voluntarily because courageous leaders of the Republican Party put principle above party and acted with heroism in defense of the Constitution and rule of law.
"'What did the president know and when did he know it?' a Republican senator -- Howard Baker of Tennessee -- famously asked of Nixon 30 springtimes ago.
"Today, confronted by the graphic horrors of Abu Ghraib prison, by ginned-up intelligence to justify war, by 652 American deaths since presidential operatives declared 'Mission Accomplished', Republican leaders have yet to suggest that George W. Bush be held responsible for the disaster in Iraq and that perhaps he, not just Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is ill-suited for his job.
"Having read the report of Major Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, I expect Baker's question will resound again in another congressional investigation. The equally relevant question is whether Republicans will, Pavlov-like, continue to defend their president with ideological and partisan reflex, or remember the example of principled predecessors who pursued truth at another dark moment.
"Today, the issue may not be high crimes and misdemeanors, but rather Bush's failure, or inability, to lead competently and honestly."

Raymond McGovern said in his May 19, 2004, Miami Herald article "Fire the creators of unwinnable war" that the "basic aims of the war" should be abandoned, particularly since "these had little to do with the stated objectives" and "everything to do with the neoconservatives' determination to gain control of strategic, oil-rich Iraq, implant an enduring military presence there and -- not incidentally -- eliminate any possible threat from Iraq to Israel's security. That threat is effectively removed only as long as a sizable U.S. military presence remains in Iraq."

McGovern emphasized the fact that the war is "unwinnable even if we send in 500,000 troops in a quixotic, Vietnam-style attempt to defeat what the administration still prefers to call insurgents -- a misnomer for the resistance to foreign occupation. The abuse of Iraqi prisoners has driven the final nail into the coffin where lie the illusory hopes of 'winning.'"

Jonathan C. Kaplan, in the May 13, 2004, edition of The Hill, wrote that "Republicans on the Hill are so frustrated with the White House that when Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) criticized the administration at a House GOP meeting last week, the caucus burst into applause."

Kaplan added that "The meeting was only the latest sign in an accumulating body of evidence that lawmakers are unhappy with the way the administration treats them."

"The catalog of GOP complaints against the executive branch is long," Kaplan said. "A senior Republican House member said his colleagues frequently disparage the White House communications team, particularly on articulating its policy in Iraq."

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