Bush legacy, a “smashing success”?

I have little patience for 9/11 conspiracy theorists who insist it was an inside job by the US government. I always point to the incompetency of the Bush administration – and the fact that they’ve always filled positions based on loyalty and ideology rather than skill – both of which add up to a pretty solid argument that the Bush administration couldn’t have pulled off such a thing if they wanted to. And that’s another thing; I’m cynical, but I’m not so cynical to think that any American would wish for such a thing. I believe this administration acts out of a robber baron mentality but a robber baron does not a murderer make. (I concede there’s an argument to be made on behalf of non-combative civilians killed in Iraq.)

Willful incompetence is another matter. I believe they were negligent in stopping 9/11 because they didn’t have their eye on the ball but, in fact, had their focus elsewhere. While a exiting Clinton administration warned an incoming Bush administration about the dangers of terrorism and Osama Bin Laden, which the Bush team flatly ignored because it was in vogue at the time to do the opposite of whatever was seen as clintonesque, and while people surrounding the Bush team tried to bring the danger to his attention, Bush instead chose to focus on the thing that quickly became an obsession for the first part of his term – a Star Wars style ballistic missile shield.

This, if you remember, began to isolate the US from the from the world community long before 9/11. Bush was willing to violate (and later abandon) the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to have his new prize. Even then, I suspected it was merely a stunt to pour money into the military industrial complex that Clinton failed to feed to conservatives’ satisfaction. It is ironic then, that this object de affection is what held his attention, thus allowing the event that he later used to justify the largest investment in the military industrial complex ever.

And still he continued the funding for his missile shield as a pet project on the side.

Well, it looks like he got his wish.

A missile shield test was a “smashing success,” Pentagon officials said Friday, despite the failure of the test to put to rest concerns that the interceptor might not be able to differentiate between real missiles and decoys.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if commanders insisted upon such a “success” before Bush left office. If I were a fly on the wall, I bet I would have heard, “Listen, this guy stuck his neck out so we could build this thing. The least we can do is make sure he gets to see it work before he leaves office!”

With the end of his term at hand, Bush’s legacy has been in question. His administration is seen by many as an utter failure. To our amusement, Bush seems to think history will vindicate him. It seems hard to believe that he’ll ever be vindicated about Iraq. Or that his economic, environmental or social policies will ever reveal some deeper wisdom with the passage of time. But the missile shield? Who knows. All it takes is one ”rogue” nation with a missile to prove him right. Right?

But even if that, unlikely, scenario comes to pass, true vindication requires more than a working shield – it has to be worth its cost – and that is yet to be seen.

With Barack Obama on his way to the White House it’s still uncertain how much he’ll support the continuation of this missile shield – if at all. My guess is that he’ll preserve the technology but not implement it in order to make nice in the world community. But then, Russia recently, and stupidly, threatened to place missiles on their border with Poland – perhaps forcing Obama to enter office a little more hawkish toward them than he otherwise would have.

It makes me wonder if Russia, like Bush, in need of a good excuse to build up its military, has an ulterior motive and believes it, too, can benefit from a US/Russia relationship that is seen as more hostile than friendly.

It all adds up to leave us adrift in a world more dangerous than ever, thanks Bush’s pet project. Some legacy!

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