by David Brooks, La Jornada
May 11, 2013 (TSR) – Recently, a presidential quintet met in Texas to celebrate the opening of a library bearing the name of one of them, thereby rehabilitating, according to public opinion, one of the worst presidents of the modern era.
The George W. Bush Presidential Library was inaugurated in the presence of former presidents of this country and the current one, Barack Obama. These were Bush of the new library, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush (father of George W.) and Jimmy Carter. The most notable thing about Obama’s speech (in which he assured that Bush is a good man), as in all the other speeches of this exclusive club, was the absence of any reference to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression; in other words, the principal successes of the Bush administration.
Bush’s great achievement, as everyone on the planet knows, was to take his country into the now two longest wars in history, with false justifications. He established the Guantánamo concentration camp, authorized the use of torture and disappearance as official instruments of the war on terror, and promoted one of the largest expansions of government in order to administer this new infinite war, involving a whole series of unprecedented measures to spy on the world, including his own people; all of which has been condemned by human rights and civil liberties organizations as in violation of the Constitution and international law.
If that were not enough, Bush and his people took the country to the verge of economic chaos. That at the cost of millions of unemployed, and an increase in the number of people suffering hunger, without a home and without access to health services. The list of consequences is an extensive one. But it was also part of an economic policy which has been extended under Obama, one which, in real terms, has resulted in one of the most dramatic transfers of wealth from the majorities to the 1% richest in modern history. From the years of the Bush administration through now, economic inequality has become the most acute since just before the Great Depression.
None of this was mentioned in the grand opening event, which prompts one to ask what is in this library, or rather, what is not in it.
For example, the open letter sent on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war from veteran Tomas Young, is doubtless not there. “On every level – moral, strategic, military and economic – Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences,” he wrote in what he called the Last Letter, because Young has taken the decision to end his life as he can no longer stand the pain and physical deterioration of his existence after being paralyzed in that war.
Young states he was sending this letter to Bush and Cheney, “Not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans – my fellow veterans – whose future you stole.” (The complete letter can be found at www.truthdig.com).
Without any doubt there will be no details in this library of one of the biggest frauds in world history, where the principal banks, insurance companies and investment houses deceived and manipulated at such a level of greed that they succeeded in detonating a gigantic crisis which placed the economic viability of the country at risk. They were rescued by the state, with the people’s treasury, to return shortly afterward to their present record prosperity.
And now the party goes on for the lucky ones: during the first two years of economic recovery, the net value of the homes of the richest 7% rose by approximately 28%, while, for the remaining 93%, it fell by 4%, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. With that, inequality increased: the 7% richest now concentrate 63% of housing wealth; two years ago they held 56%.
Bush affirmed at the celebrations, “Future generations… [are] going to find out that we stayed true to our convictions.”
Both wars and financial and economic policy have been a big business opportunity for more than a few, all of this as the result of a consensus between the political and economic upper echelons during the last decade.
John Le Carre, the great British writer, has criticized the growing relationship between the political and economic upper echelons, expressing alarm at the ever greater privatization of military operations and state intelligence. He recently commented to The New York Times that Mussolini said the definition of fascism was when one couldn’t place a cigarette paper between corporate power and government power.
But none of that is in this library, and even less that Bush continues to occupy second place on the list of least popular presidents of the modern era, according to public opinion, despite these kinds of ceremonies and other efforts to rehabilitate the man who was part of what Gore Vidal called the Cheney/Bush junta (in that order).
Perhaps a library should be opened containing just what isn’t in this one.