S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Standing between taller presidents

It must be very hard for our current president to be in this position, walking in the footsteps of the two men flanking him. The history of the presidencies of George Bush One - Bush's father, and Bill Clinton - who defeated and replaced his father - stands in stark contrast to George Bush Two's making of current history.

These three articles from Yahoo! News bring to mind that our current president has to deal with the shadows of his two predecessors every day.

The first President Bush fought the original war in Iraq in the early 1990's. It was his decision to remove the invading Iraqis from Kuwait and then withdraw our troops, enforcing the U.N. resolution against that invasion. President Clinton eventually and reluctantly went to war in Kosovo, then left the peace keeping to NATO. But now in 2005, we are at war with almost no international help. U.S. military personnel spent their third Thanksgiving in Iraq Thursday. Yahoo! quote:

U.S. troops around the world marked the holiday in a variety of ways, serving a traditional turkey meal to Serb schoolchildren in dining on food ladled out by senior officers in Afghanistan and staging a parade of makeshift floats in Kyrgyzstan.

The original Gulf War did not engender much opposition to President Bush's father. President Clinton admits that one of his deepest regrets is that, despite much protest, he did not move in more quickly to stop the genocide in the former Yugoslavia. In contrast, the current Iraq war has now become so unpopular that people are actively protesting it. Currently a protest continues outside of Crawford, Texas. Cindy Sheehan arrived to join the protestors who have gathered near where President Bush is staying. Yahoo! quote:

Sheehan asked protesters to return to Crawford this week during Bush's family Thanksgiving gathering. She was unknown when she set up camp outside Bush's ranch during his August vacation, but as the vigil drew thousands, she attracted national attention.

George Herbert Walker one headed the CIA. So he knew the agency well. He would have obviously listened to their input, but would have kept them within bounds based on the needs of the period, even intitating a downsizing due to the end of the cold war. President Clinton continued the downsizing and redirected the CIA more towards economic intelligence during his administration. The current administration's problematic dealings with the CIA make headlines almost every day. The story of alleged secret CIA prisons for U.S. detainees has now moved to the European front. Yahoo! quote:

The Council of Europe has opened an investigation into the allegations, which Washington has refused to confirm or deny. EU states agreed on Monday to write a joint letter to the United States seeking clarification about the allegations.

My purpose here is not to paint white vs. black portraits of the three administrations. The point is to show that different presidents see things very differently. Our current president's worst choices, in my opinion, too often come out of an unconscious opposition to what his flanking predecessors did or stood for. Many of the consequences of the Iraq war were produced by those blind spots. What causes so much trouble for this administration is the certitude of the extreme fundamentalist positions driving their decisions. An absence of doubt is alarming.

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