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More nails for Bush-Cheney coffin

July 28, 2007|By ALLAN POWELL

March 12, 2007 will, in all probability, seem undistinguishable from so many other days of the Bush era. Yet on that day, nearly a half-dozen ugly aspects of the Bush presidency hit the front pages without any discernable sign of public outrage. President Bush will not fare so well when historians assess his performance from the vantage point of hindsight.

Symbolic of the economic crisis our nation is facing was the announcement that the prince of war profiteers - Haliburton - had decided to move its headquarters from Houston to Dubai. They went a step beyond what many American-based corporations are doing to get cheap labor; they picked up lock, stock and barrel, and left town. It may turn out that they are just one step ahead of federal prosecutors with massive overbilling charges.

Also on that day, Vice President Cheney gave an inadequately covered speech in Washington to an adoring crowd. There was thunderous applause as he again unloaded both barrels against those who opposed the war in Iraq. They were castigated as unpatriotic because they gave comfort to America's enemies, as well as undermining the success of our troops.

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What can be said to countervail this most hawkish of hawks? He still appears to be getting a free pass from the press in spite of his succession of bad policy calls. Indeed, the applause from his fans gave the appearance that his costly blunders and the consequent destruction and suffering had never happened.

How could they forget that he had opted for four deferments from military service and now does not blink at a policy of sending young American men and women on tour after tour of service in Iraq to be maimed and killed?

One is reminded of a biblical parallel when assessing the career of Dick Cheney. There is a story in the seventh chapter of Acts that records a stoning witnessed by a young zealot who had a burning hatred for members of an emerging sect. Saul, who later changed his name to Paul, watched with approval as a saintly young convert to Christianity was stoned by a mob on charges of blasphemy. Indeed, Saul watched over the coats of those who drained the life out of Stephen, the hapless victim.

Is not Vice President Cheney also too cowardly to fight, but will also hold the coats - and even supply the stones - while others do the dirty work? He gets richer and richer while our young troops use the crutches and wear the iron braces. Heaven forbid that he will get the Medal of Honor as did so many other Bush failures. One cringes at the prospect of Cheney retiring in leisure while thousands of decent American troops live out a painful existence in quiet, lonely agony.

Cheney has enough Republican admirers to insure that he will never face impeachment. There is only one other course of action - equally improbable - for bringing him to account. After World War II, fascist leaders were brought to trial for crimes against humanity. They too had initiated wars of choice with the consequent horror stories of death and destruction.

The civilized world was in agreement that governments and individuals should be held accountable for war crimes as a deterrent to future aggression. Is there any rational basis for excusing President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and the other neocon advisors in our government for their invasion and occupation of a country they wrongly claimed to be an imminent threat to our safety? We must also accept the responsibility for cooperating with whatever tribunal is called to examine the evidence for a fabricated war.

Together, these war hawks engineered a war that was unnecessary, destructive and damaging to our reputation as a just society. Critical information was manipulated to justify a war of choice. We must now make plans to help rebuild a country we savaged. We can do no less.

Allan Powell is a Hagerstown resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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