Tag Archives: Iraq

How to Pull off a Total Dubya Makeover

fence-sitting signs

Just because George W. Bush said something doesn’t mean it was dumb.  Or at least that’s what Jeffrey Scott Shapiro seems to claim.  He’s the founder of Honor Freedom, a non-profit created to “Unite Bush Supporters”;  “Correct the Historical Record” and  “Teach America”.  “You don’t need to be a genius to be president,” says Shapiro.  The Honor Freedom website defends the most contentious Bush-era issues like:

1) The Iraq war (and all its disastrous related issues: hyped/non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction; oil greed motivation; the mere suggestion that this was all daddy’s idea, etc.)

2) Why Saddam and his policies were bad and how that justified “the liberation”.

3) The dollars of US aid pumped back into Iraq to clear up Dubya’s mess.

4) “Information on how you can help correct the historical record or start a chapter of Honor Freedom in your area.”

In “The Bush Restoration Project“, Slate’s Jordan Michael Smith says, “Shapiro talks about George W. Bush the way Buddhists talk about the Dalai Lama. ‘He stands for truth, compassion and freedom,’ he says. ‘Bush instinctively sees the global picture that every living person has the right to be free.’ ”  Smith exposes the “nationwide public education program consisting of op-eds, media appearances, and free public seminars, the nonprofit group intends to teach Americans that George W. Bush was actually a great president and an even better man.”

Smith quotes Shapiro as saying Bush critics ” ‘are selfish people who don’t see the value of national liberation … isolationists who don’t care that the U.S. freed a people enslaved by fear.’ ”

Inherent in Shapiro’s approach is a realization that Bush’s reputation is in tatters and is in need of immediate mouth-to-mouth.  With the enthusiasm of a fanboy at an early nerd special premier, Shapiro wants to manipulate the public faster than time and presidential libraries can: “Those wishing to restore the president’s reputation must take a pro-active, aggressive approach that exports knowledge to the people. Merely relying on a passive institute such as a presidential library and waiting for people to learn the truth on their own will not be sufficient in this unique case.” (Shapiro in a commentary piece for The Washington Times)

“On much of the world stage, President Bush has been widely reviled as one of the worst U.S. leaders of modern times, and it is hard to think of an American president who has received a worse press since Richard Nixon,” states the UK’s conservative Telegraph.  The paper concedes that early moves in the Iraq war flopped; that Bush’s public diplomacy was disastrous; that his management of global anti-American sentiment failed and his response to Russia over Georgia was cowardly.  However, the same article argues that most of the critiques launched at Bush have been couched in “a venomous hatred of Bush’s personality and leadership style, rather than an objective assessment of his achievements.”  Praising Dubya, the paper raves, “Ten or twenty years from now, historians will view Bush’s actions on the world stage in a more favourable light. America’s 43rd president did after all directly liberate more people (over 60 million) from tyranny than any leader since Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

Time has absolved past presidents (Jimmy Carter and Harry Truman come to mind) of their sins and perhaps Shapiro and his flock will be successful in their spin.  For now though, what does Bush himself think about all this chatter?  It’s not easy to know.  Unlike Dick Cheney, the former president has laid low since leaving office and it looks like we’ll have to wait for his memoir (slated to be published this year) to gauge his current thoughts on his presidency.  And Bush has no formal ties to Honor Freedom. However, Shapiro did recently stay at the ranch of Bush’s nephew, Pierce, who introduced president and salivating one.  “You’re doing good work,” said the president.  Or at least so says Shapiro.

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Bjorn Karlman

Running On Empty: New Information on Post-Iraq Invasion Blair

Empty Gas Tank 2

Tony Blair was going to resign as UK Prime Minister back in 2004. After inciting the biggest culture clash in modern UK history by supporting Bush’s invasion of Iraq, Blair was a very depressed man. The End of the Party, a new book to be published March 1, 2010 by the The Observer‘s Andrew Rawnsley says (according to The Guardian), “Tony Blair descended into such a deep depression after the Iraq war that he told Gordon Brown and John Prescott (both key figures in his administration) that he would quit No. 10 [the PM’s office] the following summer.”

The End of the Party describes how Blair’s special envoy in Iraq briefed Blair at the end of his time in Iraq that the conditions were “unbelievably bad” and would deteriorate further. ” ‘What can we do?’ pleaded Blair. ‘We have told them [the Americans] again and again what we think is necessary. If it doesn’t happen, what can we do?’ Greenstock was left with the image of the prime minister ‘tearing his hair’ over Iraq and ‘throwing his hands in the air’.” (The Guardian)

In supporting what was seen by the British public as an oil-greedy mistake by a blood-thirsty dimwit with Daddy’s agenda, Blair committed the unpardonable sin.  The British public was much more skeptical about the war than the American public. While American reactions to Bush’s actions were often divided along party lines, British disdain for Blair was overwhelming.  Blair was openly referred to as Bush’s poodle, a sell-out willing to compromise his integrity to preserve Britain’s then-coveted “special relationship” with the US.

“He was very low, he was very lonely and he was very tired,” Rawnsley quotes Blair’s friend and colleague, Tessa Jowell, as saying about Blair at the depth of his misery.  Blair’s stress level was so high that he says he “spaced out” several times during the time-honored British tradition of Prime Minister’s Questions and would frequently wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.

As if the extreme disapproval with his decision was not enough, Gordon Brown (favored as Blair’s successor), was furious when Blair regained some self-confidence and reneged on his decision to resign. An eyewitness of one conversation (quoted in The End of the Party) says, “Gordon was just losing it. He was behaving like a belligerent teenager. Just standing in the office shouting: ‘When are you going to f*****g go?’ ”

It took Blair’s wife and several close allies to get him through the worst of his anguish.  “Come on. Buck up. Buck up. Think of what you’ve got to achieve. You’re the best politician in this country by a mile,” said his friend Peter Mandelson, who himself had survived many a political storm.

Eventually, the embattled Blair did pick himself up but the damage had been done.  One of the most popular politicians in recent UK history had been forever sullied by allying himself with the trigger-happy Texan who permanently marred not just Middle East relations but the foreseeable future of Anglo-American partnerships.

Bjorn Karlman