Just Another Day

"Any idiot can handle a crisis, it's day to day living that wears you out." - Chekhov

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Okay, I'm a Little Slow

Johnathan Freedland has an interesting editorial today in The Guardian titled "Who is Bush take two?" He makes an observation I had neither thought of nor heard before:

"He speaks with fervour of his mission to democratise the Middle East - believing it to be a goal equal to Reagan's vision of a free eastern Europe..."

So, that's where we're going with this? Early on, I was a fan of Reagan (sue me, I was a teenager). Then, as I studied more intensely in my Russian Studies program during undergarduate years, I came to realize that the idea that the Soviet was somehow a military threat or an economic threat to America died with Khruschev. The CIA had, at that point, for 15 years or so been telling our presidents that the Soviet Union was crumbling and could not sustain itself without serious reformation of its economic system. The presidents laid this aside because fear serves the American people well. So, the fog lifted and I saw Reagan's anti-Soviet rhetoric for what it was, a political ploy and complete BS in reality. Then came Iran-Contra and I started to quickly turn from the GOP as I saw them as against the idea of rule of law, honesty, peace-before-war types. Since the opening of intelligence archives in the early 90s it is now clear that what I had learned during my studies was true.

Then came the canonization of Reagan as the man who brought down the Soviet Union. Complete and utter bullshit but too many people actually believe it for it to be driven from the national conscience. If you mention to people here that Reagan was responsible for the downfall of the Soviet Union, you'll get a hearty chuckle. It was brought down from within, in reality, and had been coming for a long time. Reagan may have sped it up but even that is questionable as what he really did with his belligerence was reinforce the position of hardliners within the Politburo. Andropov is the one who moved Gorbachev up the ranks and secured his position. Andropov knew the Soviet Union could not continue the way it was and wanted a real reformer who would massively overhaul the system. So, the way was paved for transformation in the Soviet Union at about the same time Reagan assumed the mantle.

However, as I said, the sainthood of Reagan is secure in most minds and, getting back to the pointof this post, that is what Bush wants. He wants to be canonized in the minds of Americans as the person who brought peace and stability and democracy to the Middle East. What a tool! Peace through war? Stability through occupation? Democracy from without at the point of a gun? I hope his legacy is honest. He has destroyed America's moral standing in the world. He lied to America to take us into an unecessary war (just one, so far). He has raised a skepticism among friends that will never be lost (foreigners study history better than us and remember the details). He has left a permanent scar in the country itself, a divide between people, parties and regions, that will take someone of the stature of a Roosevelt to overcome.

In short, that capital that he talks about spending in his second term? He overspent in the first term and now needs to repay that debt. His legacy will be a large black stain on the red, white and blue. His impact on America will have been greater than Reagan's but only for the worse.

Good luck, America, and good luck to Mr. Bush. Hope you don't fuck it up worse than you already have.