Saturday, July 15, 2006

Power and greatness, friends or opponents?

"We have, I fear, confused power with greatness."
- Stewart L. Udall, U.S. politician

Though I hesitate to quote politicians at any time (I quote acknowledged statesmen on occasion), Mr. Udall make a point worth noting.

His comment applies to political leaders. There are still many who believe that Adolf Hitler was a great man and a great leader, that his only problem was that he lost his war to conquer the world. Indeed, these people still praise Hitler for bringing western nations out of the Great Depression and for providing an industrial model that countries such as the USA follow today.

The US has the power to create wars with other countries with whom it has major disagreements, wars that are fought mostly within the boundaries of those countries, and to draw many other nations into the conflicts to legitimize them.

Udall's comment may be applied to countries as well as to individuals.

Is George W. Bush, the self-proclaimed "war president," the saviour to the world that so many believe he is?

Is the USA "the greatest nation on earth," as Mr. Bush says so often that it is?

Many will say that the world changed on 9/11, that the events in New York and Washington that day made the War On Terror necessary. This has been repeated as a mantra for the past almost five years, to the point that it has become accepted as fact.

In a conversation I had over several days with a teacher friend in Virginia in the spring of 2000, I predicted several times that if George W. Bush were elected president that November, the US would be at war within a year of the election, maybe even within six months. September 11, 2001 was almost eight months after Mr. Bush's inauguration. His country was at war two months later.

All the elements were in place for Mr. Bush to go to war, sufficiently so that observers other than myself were able to predict an impending war, before 9/11.

While I make no comment as to who was responsible for 9/11, I submit that the US was about to go to war under Mr. Bush's leadership whether or not 9/11 happened. He made war noises long before the election, making his countrymen more afraid of "foreigners" than they had ever been before. War, under Mr. Bush, was inevitable.

Your evaluation of the consequences of what has happened in the succeeding five years will help you to decide whether Mr. Bush is a great leader because of the power he exercises and that he flaunts before the world.

And whether the US is truly a great country as a result of its actions, as it transforms itself from the world's only superpower into a second rate world player as it spends billions of dollars per day (money it must borrow from countries such as China) to support its war efforts.

Remember when the USSR was the other superpower?

Power comes at a cost. A devastating cost.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to make people more important than wars.
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