by Paul Craig Roberts by Paul Craig Roberts
Last Friday the price of light sweet crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange for August delivery closed 16 cents short of $60/barrel — the highest price ever and an ironic outcome for the millions of Americans who believe that cheap oil was the reason for Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
Equally shocking to Americans was the announcement that China has outbid US oil giant Chevron for the American oil company, Unocal.
Polls showing that a majority of Europeans have a higher opinion of China than of the US were another blow to the pumped-up self-esteem of Americans, deluded as they are by Bush administration hubris and claims of American "exceptionalism."
The decline in economic and diplomatic standing that Americans have suffered under Bush is exceptional. How much longer will Americans support the incompetent Bush administration that is driving them and their country’s reputation into the ground?
The world press sees Bush as an arrogant hypocrite who justifies his invasion of Iraq in the name of democracy, while protecting Uzbek’s murderous dictator Islam Karimov, described by Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan as "very much George Bush’s man in Central Asia." On May 13, Karimov had 500 protesters shot down in the streets of Andijan and 200 massacred in Pakhtabad. Still more civilians were massacred by Karimov while attempting to flee into neighboring Kyrgyzstan.
It was the Bush administration that blocked a call by NATO for an international investigation of the Uzbek massacre. According to news reports, Karimov has agreed, for a suitable payment from US taxpayers, for Bush to attack Iran from bases in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan also serves as one of the Bush administration’s offshore torture centers to which suspected terrorists are sent.
Deceived American patriots dismiss such reports as leftwing fabrications. However, human rights groups have documented these abuses. Moreover, on June 24 an Italian judge ordered the arrests of 13 CIA agents, who kidnapped a Muslim in Italy and secreted him to Egypt, another offshore US torture center. The 13 CIA agents managed to stick the US taxpayers with a $144,984 hotel bill in the process.
It would be interesting to have a comparison of the hourly Uzbek and Egyptian torture rates. US taxpayers have a right to know how many of their hard-earned tax dollars, given up on pain of prison sentences, are flowing to offshore torture centers.
During his June 25 Saturday radio message to Americans, Bush gave an upbeat report on victory in Iraq and said: "Americans can be proud of all that we and our coalition partners [he means his poodle, Tony Blair, but likes the plural sound] have accomplished in Iraq."
Gentle reader, are you proud that American troops are torturing Iraqis? Are you proud that tens of thousands of Iraqi women and children have been killed and maimed with their deaths and terrible wounds dismissed as "collateral damage"? Are you proud that you elected and reelected a president who lied you into an illegal war that has killed 1,755 American troops, maimed thousands more, and destroyed your country’s reputation?
If you are proud of this, what kind of person are you?
While Bush schmoozed trusting Americans over the air waves on June 25, Brian Brady of The Scotsman (June 26) reported that Bush warned UK PM Tony Blair earlier this month "that war-torn Iraq remains on the brink of disaster."
Moreover, the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating. The British, who are even shorter on troops than the US, cannot maintain their troop strength in Iraq and also contribute forces to stem the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The US and Britain, it seems, are trapped in two quagmires.
Vice President Cheney claims, erroneously, that the Iraqi insurgency is in its "last throes." But it appears that it is the US that is on its last legs. Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly has warned that the Army Reserve is "rapidly degenerating into a broken force." Everyone except the deceived American people know that the US lacks the combat troops to continue the war it is losing in Iraq.
As Zbigniew Brzezinski, a hawkish US National Security Advisor during the cold war conflict with the Soviet Union, said in response to Bush’s Saturday radio address: "Patriotism and love of country do not demand endless sacrifice on the part of our troops in a war justified by slogans."
Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.