George Bush: Commander In.... Please!
Posted: Friday, May 28, 2004
by Ben Roberts
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Does anyone notice that these days George Bush hardly ever haunts military bases like before, giving political speeches crowing about keeping America safe and being an exemplary Commander In Chief. No more gleeful declaration that the world would see a mighty American military 'Shock And Awe' in Iraq on a scale never witnessed before. No more prancing off a warplane on a sleek carrier flight deck bedecked in TopGun flight suit and declaring 'Mission Accomplished!' No more beaming with delight as he surprises those under his command with a turkey all dressed on a platter. No more brusque military style declarations that 'I served my country.' The comic relief provided by some of those events is noticeably absent, as the 'war President' seems to have abandoned his soldiers, wanting no part of anything remotely connected to the military. But the question needing to be asked is, Why this about face?
Remember Bush's National Guard debacle. He kept stressing that he served his country as a Guardsman. He created his own firestorm when questions began to fly and revelations began spilling out. General Turnispeed, the top man in the Guard where Bush was supposed to report to, said that he never saw him. Bush was unable to explain why no one saw him and why he did not take his physical exam. The most telling revelation however, was probably the one we never got to hear. In an article in the Tennessee Flyer, two Guardsmen, one named Paul Bishop, recounted how the young Bush was supposed to report to their unit. These were young men from small town America, with limited resources. They were anticipating Bush's arrival, having heard that he was well connected, and of course they reasoned that his presence might prove to be an asset. Well, they revealed that Bush never showed up. These men appear to have no political agenda, and one or both described themselves as Republican. They have decent jobs as airline pilots, but decided they had to say something when Bush kept claiming Guard service to his country, when they knew otherwise. Bush tried everything in an effort to douse the fire he started about this Guard service, from a 'Meet The Press' appearance, to revealing pay stubs and dental records while in the Guard. Would it not have been much easier if Bush could show a photo of himself with his buddies hamming it up after a flight training mission? Fortunately two black men saved Bush's presidency. No kidding. It was basketball star Kobe Bryant and Michael Jackson sexual misconduct scandals that finally pushed Bush's Guard service nightmare into the background.
Bush promised Shock And Awe, and he delivered more than he bargained for. We certainly have Shock and Awe with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal of Americans dehumanizing and torturing Iraqi citizens in their own country. No question we have Shock And Awe with the brutal decapitation of the young American, Nicholas Berg, with a smile so engaging, enthusiastic, and full of life. Prior to this sad distressing tragedy, in the opening moments of the war in Iraq, American bombers dropped so called 'smart' bombs in the Al Mansour residential district of Baghdad in an attempt to, as they called it, 'decapitate the leadership of Iraq.' An upscale restaurant in this area was obliterated and a woman dining there with her child was left with the torso of her little one in one spot and the head in another. That was Shock And Awe all right. George Bush has seriously endangered the lives of Americans since coming to office, and Berg's father is right in his assertion that Bush is responsible for the death of his son. If we seem surprised about atrocities at Abu Ghraib, we shouldn't be. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the whole cast of characters consistently scoffed at the Geneva Convention and the International Court as a forum for abiding by international law. So it is not surprising that the military chain of command of this Commander In Chief would adopt his attitude, with or without his complicity. A Commander In Chief leads. This one led all right. Right down a path of shame, embarrassment, and moral decline that America will not recover from anytime soon. All this under the guise of safeguarding Americans.
Bush thought this past Thanksgiving that, as Commander In Chief, a TV op with the troops under his command was in order. There he was with a turkey on a platter beaming with delight with our troops in the Gulf. Nice touch. But why does this same Commander In Chief and leader of men coldly refuse to acknowledge these same soldiers by not being present at their last farewell when they fall in battle in a war he sent them to? If that was not bad enough here is the ultimate insult. It was startling to see Bush recently in a photo in one of Washington's major newspapers. The scene was of him at a memorial service with a wreath being laid by a military officer. In the photo it is hard to determine whether Bush's face is conveying sorrow or an anxiety and desire to remain anonymous. Be that as it may the thought was 'Oh finally the Commander In Chief is appearing at the graveside of fallen Americans.' Not! Bush was at a memorial service at the Spanish embassy in Washington to honor the Spanish citizens killed in the Madrid train bombings. Now do not get me wrong here. The carnage in Madrid was so shocking and sad that it was most fitting that Bush appear to show America's condolences. But how must Americans feel, especially those who lost their loved ones in Iraq, when they see Bush at this event with the express purpose of keeping some coalition together, while steadfastly refusing to show his face to memorialize their loved ones who paid with their lives in a war he condemned them to? What are they to make of their Commander In Chief?
If you, like me, are pining away for more of the earlier comic relief from Bush and his team have no fear. We still have it. Bush was recently sighted at a war college in Pennsylvania, and by inference that makes him the war President, though he was careful not to loudly claim this, bullhorn style, as before. In his speech Bush made it clear that the reason he 'sent our men' into Iraq was to bring about democracy and freedom. This is absolutely false. In his speech to this nation on the eve of war, Bush made it clear that the overriding reason he was sending our forces into war in Iraq was because they had diabolical weapons of mass destruction that could annihilate us at any moment. Ask the mushroom cloud lady, Condeeleza Rice. She left no doubt about this. Last week on the front page of the Washington Post was a picture of Donald Rumsfeld walking along the dusty street of Abu Ghraib prison with his entourage. While there he announced, 'I'm a survivor.' At Abu Ghraib, where Iraqis suffered, died and survived abuses Iraqi style and American style, Rumsfeld was declaring himself a survivor. Last week US forces had a running shootout with Iraqi fighters at one of the Shiites most holiest cemeteries in the Muslim world in Karbala, Iraq. A few weeks ago our forces handed over security of Fallujah to former Saddam army regulars who were shooting at them days before. The Iraqi General in charge was promptly sacked when he reported that there were no foreign insurgents in the town. That'll teach him never to cross CNN and our stellar American media. Now Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi National Congress leader, Iraqi Governing Council bigwig, self anointed leader in waiting to rule Iraq, and former darling of America, is in a brawl with us and now wants us to set his Iraq people free. And now for this hot off the press piece de resistance. Bush wants to raze the Abu Ghraib prison. Pray tell why? In America we prominently display monuments to pain and suffering. Why should Iraqis have theirs erased?
An African parable is quite applicable to Bush's attempt to weasel out of, and distance himself from those under his command and their atrocious behavior at Abu Ghraib, when he stated in response to the torture photo revelations, 'That is not the America I know.' The saying is: 'Fish always begin to rot from the head on down.' Anyone having spent time around fish knows this to be true. Instead of being contented with acting like a sea of SpongeBobs soaking up everything the White House, the Pentagon, CNN, Fox Cable, and embedded reporters throw at them, what Americans should tell Bush in response to his predictable style of take-the-high-ground-and-let-the-grunts-take-the-fall-over-Abu-Ghraib disaster is this: 'Mr. President this is not the America I entrusted to you for safekeeping and leadership. Look what you, the Commander In Chief, have done to my country.'
Ben Roberts is a newsletter editor, freelance writer and published author. His book, Jackals of Samarra, was published in January 2001. Ben can be contacted by email at: email@example.com
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