Monday :: Feb 25, 2008

Vacuum


by Turkana

George W. Bush has a clear conscience. Clear as a vacuum. Clear as in there's nothing there. Last week, Dan Froomkin had this interesting tidbit:

President Bush doesn't have second thoughts. It's just not his style.

Though at times he's been forced to admit problems during his presidency, he never suggests that he should have taken a different approach.

And so he remains largely at peace with himself -- even in the face of a genocide that continues years after he called it by that name.

It might fairly be said that Bush doesn't have many first thoughts, but it's comforting to know that not having done anything to stop a little genocide doesn't bother him. Then again, we know that Bush converses directly with God, so he obviously believes he has cover. You may recall Bush's 2004 answer, when asked if he sought his father's advice, before invading Iraq:

"You know he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to," Bush said.

And there was the report in the Independent about a Bush interview with the BBC:

In the programme Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, which starts on Monday, the former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath says Mr Bush told him and Mahmoud Abbas, former prime minister and now Palestinian President: "I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George go and end the tyranny in Iraq,' and I did."

And "now again", Mr Bush is quoted as telling the two, "I feel God's words coming to me: 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.' And by God, I'm gonna do it."

Mr Abbas remembers how the US President told him he had a "moral and religious obligation" to act. The White House has refused to comment on what it terms a private conversation. But the BBC account is anything but implausible, given how throughout his presidency Mr Bush, a born-again Christian, has never hidden the importance of his faith.

Now, I don't think there's anything wrong with people talking to what they perceive to be God. But there is a problem when they act on what they believe to be God's direct word. There's a word for people who think they hear voices. There's a diagnosis. And when they're in the position of being able to start wars, there is literally nothing more dangerous.

So, nothing Bush does bothers him. God, or whomever, tells him what to do. And despite all the death and destruction he has left in his wake, you may also remember this comforting report:

People's interviewer also mentioned that readers had asked if he takes sleep aids. Bush said generally not, but he does occasionally when he travels.

“I must tell you, I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume,” he said.

Of course, that assumption rests on the presumption that Bush has a conscience. Which he doesn't. Because he acts on the word of God. Or someone. Or something.

As Froomkin continued:

Hundreds of thousands of people have died in the Darfur region of Sudan since government-armed militias began burning villages, raping women and executing villagers 2003.

Bush's decision not to intervene more forcefully hung heavy over his visit yesterday to Rwanda, where he toured of a memorial to the victims of that country's genocide in 1994.

And Froomkin referred to this article, by the Post's Peter Baker, on Bush's visit to the Rwanda genocide's Kigali Memorial Center:

But unlike Bill Clinton, who came here in 1998 to admit he should have done more to stop the Rwanda genocide, Bush said he feels no guilt and harbors no regret over Darfur -- except regret that others have not done what he has pressed them to do. He opted not to send U.S. troops unilaterally into Sudan and instead has tried to help assemble an international peacekeeping force that has yet to fully deploy.

"I still believe it was the right decision," he said, "but having done that, if you're a problem-solver, you put yourself at the mercy of decisions of others -- in this case, the United Nations. And I'm well known to have spoken out [about] the slowness of the United Nations. It seems very bureaucratic to me, particularly with people suffering."

He came back to the question of personal regret. "I'm comfortable with the decision I made," he said. "I'm not comfortable with how quickly the response has been."

Because nothing is ever Bush's fault. How could it be? God's on his side. But others aren't so enlightened.

"There is a lot about Darfur that all of us, the president included, should regret now," said Jerry Fowler, president of the Save Darfur Coalition. "Hopefully, the president shares our regret that there isn't a lasting peace and security in Darfur and that the Darfuri people continue to face violence and suffering."

Poor Fowler just doesn't get it.

Bush said he would share with his successor a lesson he has drawn from the crisis -- that the United States cannot stop genocide alone. "I would urge the president to treat . . . the leaders in Africa as partners," he said. "In other words, don't come to the continent feeling guilty about anything. Come to the continent feeling confident that with some help, people can solve their problems."

Even if the help is no help at all. But any decent self-help book will tell you not to feel guilty. Not about starting wars that kill, maim, and displace millions. Not about not stopping genocide.

As Froomkin wrote:

It was an obvious attempt to defend his decision not to send U.S. troops into Darfur -- but it's a perversion of the lesson of Rwanda.

The lesson of Rwanda is the need to act.

Turkana :: 4:58 PM :: Comments (20) :: Digg It!