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The irrelevant president.

By Osama Al Sharif George W. Bush is quickly becoming the irrelevant president of the United States. Going into the third year of his second and final term, his presidency appears dazed and out of breath. It has been an unusual ride for the former governor of Texas ever since he clinched the White House in a controversial Supreme Court ruling in the 2000 presidential elections. What seemed at first to be a quiet and uneventful entry into the 21st century for America turned south the second GW was informed of the first plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers in New York City on that momentous morning of 11 September 2001. It was the 43rd president's moment in history, and he was not about to disappoint, at least not in the beginning.What followed next was more like history of the world compacted into four or five years. Real life drama trumped Hollywood mega productions. Bush's presidency offered everything: War of civilizations, military invasions, symbolic toppling of a dictator's statue in a Baghdad square--carefully choreographed for the invited media--surveillance and phone tapping of American citizens, mass public panic amid fears of imminent terrorist strikes in America's heartland, torture in the dungeons of Abu Ghraib and extra judicial incarceration of suspected "war combatants" in Guantanamo Bay, a wild goose chase of WMDs in the Iraqi desert that led to nowhere, hurricanes and billion dollar frauds--George Bush had it all, except for remorse and humility. His felt like the longest presidency ever, not only for the American public but for world citizenry. President Bush and his dream team of neocons ruled the planet and forced their agenda on every little corner of it. They defined the issues and the way we live our lives. Eventually, it was the commander-in-chief who let the president down. George Bush's military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan came back to haunt him. Iraq finally defined his presidency and stymied his efforts to free nations, fight dictators and hunt down terrorists. 9/11 seems like an event that happened decades ago when the world offered sympathy and support to the stricken Americans. As 2007 dawned on all of us, President Bush appeared before his fellow countrymen to deliver his State of the Union address. He had nothing new to say. From that moment on he became the irrelevant president.Under GW America went through unprecedented change, reflecting the narrow-minded and claustrophobic view of the world that spread through the administration's echelons. The world responded by echoing unparalleled levels of doubt and rejection of America's policies and role in global affairs. America's image was tarnished not only in conflict zones but also across Europe, South Asia and Latin America. Few leaders make history, but the legacy of President Bush would be mentioned as a series of historic coincidences and bizarre mishaps. Had the recounting of votes in Florida gone the other way, the former governor would by now be a footnote in American history. Had the terrorists who struck the eastern flank of continental USA in September 2001 been caught or denied entry visas weeks earlier, the biggest attack on America since Pearl Harbor would never have happened. Had Osama Bin Laden been arrested or killed in the mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan, the war on terror would never have escalated to its present levels. Had the UN and Saddam Hussein reached an agreement to declare Iraq free of WMDs, the invasion of Iraq would never had taken place and millions of people would have been spared death or injury.But these events did happen, prodding the president to take charge of a grand mission to reshape the world. He encountered little resistance, least of all from America's allies and friends. America loomed large at the beginning of this century. It was both a military and economic giant. GW's unilateral approach to these challenges was buffered by a timid nation, scarred by 9/11, and a Republican Congress that stood firm behind its president. The neocons would never have dreamed so see the path towards implementing their own agenda at home and at large so open and inviting. President Bush's fatal blunder was his decision to broaden the crusade against terrorists once he had destroyed the Taliban in Afghanistan. Iraq came from nowhere. The regime was already weakened by years of UN sanctions. Successive missions to find and dismantle WMDs had nearly completed its business with the consent of the Iraqi government. Saddam Hussein was not threatening anyone and Iraq was definitely not a base for al-Qaeda terrorists.Taking on Iraq was no great feat for the mightiest army on earth. That event was uneventful and for many disappointing. What followed after the fall of Baghdad is what now defines the presidency of George Bush and may seal its fate. Bush lost the initiative the minute he appointed an American to run the country. America lost its bearings as it embarked on an insane scheme to rebuild a nation that was only kept together for so long through an iron fist of successive ruthless leaders. This was an historic shift in foreign policy objectives. A can of worms was opened and crisis management amid growing sectarian tensions and neighboring infiltrations in the free but failed Iraq replaced the more popular and easy-to-fathom mantra of war on terror.As the military sank deeper in the Iraqi quagmire, the president failed to grasp the dire consequences. He refused to budge or change his strategy in Iraq as a bloodbath ensued there. It was a mess and it got messier every day as Americans recovered from the shock of 9/11 and began to question the president's policies.The American people delivered their verdict last November when the Democrats took both houses of Congress. The president was slowly losing ground in Washington; he was becoming irrelevant. As GW watches his second term erodes, he exhibits no signs of remorse and is not backing off. He has stuck to his guns even when a majority of Americans, about two thirds, believe he is wrong on Iraq. With a job approval rating of a dismal 33 percent, the worst since President Nixon, the presidency is crippled. That is good news to those who disagreed with President Bush and his ideologies. But unless the administration comes out of its trance soon and faces the bleak realities in Iraq, the crisis will conflagrate and the region and the world will suffer long after Mr Bush leaves the White House. A* Osama Al Sharif can be contacted through his email Osama@mediaarabia.comThe irrelevant president

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Jan 29, 2007
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