by Charley Reese
President George W. Bush has said he hasn't made any mistakes. I can think of lots of mistakes he's made.
He failed to prevent the attacks on Sept. 11. Say what you will, those attacks occurred on his watch and are his responsibility. The Aug. 6 memo the CIA prepared for him would have told an alert man to at least get the Federal Aviation Administration to beef up security at the airports. He did nothing. On Aug. 7, when he talked to the press, he didn't mention al-Qaida. He talked only about Saddam Hussein. He came into office obsessed with the idea of removing Saddam Hussein, and this obsession blinded him to the real dangers that faced the country.
He took the country to war on false pretenses. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no nuclear program. There were no ties to al-Qaida. Saddam Hussein was not a threat to anybody but his own people.
Bush has been the most secretive and deceptive president in modern history. Even before the war in Afghanistan was over, he ordered the secretary of defense to prepare a war plan against Iraq and to keep it secret. They used money designated for one war to prepare for another, a violation of the Constitution.
He alienated our most important allies — France, Germany and Russia — and had to put together a comic coalition of the bribed and the browbeaten. Yeah, Honduras is a big help in a war — almost as much as El Salvador. Consequently, American taxpayers are bearing 95 percent of the cost and more than 90 percent of the casualties. And there is no exit strategy.
He disregarded plentiful warnings from experts that invading Iraq would weaken the war against al-Qaida and actually help the terrorists. He disregarded warnings that the occupation would be difficult and costly. Every single warning has been proven to be true, and every single assumption Bush made has been wrong.
He fired a retired general who had experience in Iraq and replaced him with a Washington policy wonk, L. Paul Bremer, who has made blunder after blunder. Bremer fired the civil servants and had no one to run the government. He fired the police and army and had no one to provide security. Now, a year later, he's trying to hire Saddam's people while eating crow.
Bush disregarded the advice of the Army chief of staff and went into Iraq with too few soldiers to do a proper occupation. The orgy of looting while our soldiers and Marines stood by and watched is probably the single biggest blunder of the occupation. Not only did the looting prevent the restoration of services in a timely fashion, it sent a clear message to the Iraqi people that we didn't give a toot about their welfare. The only building we protected was the oil ministry.
The two greatest failures of intelligence since Pearl Harbor occurred on his watch — the Sept. 11 attacks and the mythical weapons of mass destruction. Yet Bush has not fired one person. He fought against the 9/11 Commission and then stonewalled it. Like somebody on dope, he keeps insisting his intelligence was "good." I've never seen a president as disconnected from reality as George W. Bush.
His blind support of Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has made America the most hated nation on Earth in the Middle East.
There is something seriously wrong with a man who denies any economic problems, any budget problems, any problems in intelligence and any problems in Iraq and insists he has made no mistakes. One has to wonder if he isn't living in his own private world.
May 3, 2004
Charley Reese has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on LewRockwell.com. Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.
© 2004 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.