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Monday, February 19, 2007

Another last king of Scotland? 

Dallas Observer commentator Jim Schutze initiates the first "mainstream media" discussion I have seen about whether George Bush will go down in history as a war criminal:
. . . Writing on the op-ed page of The Dallas Morning News recently, [political science professor Matthew Wilson]went on to cite immigration reform, expanded free trade and global democratization as themes of the Bush presidency that will be of interest to scholars in the years to come.
I don't think so. Let me ask this bluntly: How much scholarly or general interest is there in Idi Amin's monetary policy? Long before anybody can get to the administrative details, history must address the butchery issue.
Is the Iraq war of a fabric with the American history of warfare? Or does the fact that we initiated a war against a nation that had not attacked us place the Iraq war in a dark category of its own? We see Democrats like Hillary Clinton trying to parse their patriotism now by speaking as if the holocaust in Iraq is the fault of the Iraqis, but what if that's bullshit?
These bombs that kill 150 human beings at a time, that send children flying from apartments and litter the pavement with burned skulls: What if the conclusion of history is that these events would not have taken place if George W. Bush had not decided to launch this war?
And what about us? What if, on careful examination, history concludes that Bush/Rove were able to knit together the overwhelming support we gave them at the outset of this war by a subliminal manipulation of our own anti-Arab, anti-Muslim xenophobia?
Afghanistan was war. The Taliban sheltered bin Laden. But Iraq is not Afghanistan.
The questions around Bush and Iraq are going to be whether Iraq was war or holocaust. I don't draw any direct parallel here between Iraq and the Nazi Holocaust, which stands unique in human history. But man can make other human holocausts—terrible mass murder expressing only evil, not any legitimate national interest.
I don't know on which side of the line the answer will fall. But I do know what the question is. Long before history develops a big interest in George W. Bush's immigration policy, historians will have to labor long and hard on the question of whether Bush was the white Idi Amin . . .
Much of their answer will likely depend on what happens next.
Saddam can be blamed for the deaths of half a million Iraqi children, not due to the Gulf War itself but due to the UN sanctions which resulted from his continued anti-semetism, his posturing and blustering through the 1990s about his non-existant weapons programs. But Bush's total is now ratcheting upwards of that.
If the Democrats succeed in shutting down the Iraq war, and if the Middle East returns to some level of stability, then history may well just find Bush to be just an incompetent, misguided by the neocons but fundamentally ineffective. But if Bush starts a war with Iran and engulfs the Middle East in war, with Israel, the Saudis, Lebannon, Syria and the Turks getting involved, resulting in the needless deaths of millions of people, then chances are likely pretty good that Bush will be one of history's war criminals. And the judgement on those who aided and abetted him won't be kind, either.

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