I can definitely live with Bush as US president — or as the world’s sole policeman — for eight years or longer, but would hate to spend even eight days under the Taliban’s theocracy, Saddam’s dictatorship or a regime of Ayatollahs. I have a strong feeling that the vast majority of people everywhere feel the same waywrites Razi Azmi in Pakistan's Daily Times.
A fellow columnist and friend thinks that I am “soft on Bush”. Considering the degree of President George Bush’s unpopularity in Pakistan and worldwide, it would be an understatement to say that most readers will concur with his view. When Bush is the subject, nothing short of outright denunciation is in order these days. I, therefore, consider it necessary to offer an explanation for my perceived ‘softness’.
… for me Bush is a non-issue. … Bush is not a threat to the world or to democracy and secularism in America, but Al Qaeda and its many affiliates who carry out terrorist attacks in the name of Islam are a clear and present danger. And, finally, the US constitution and civil society are capable of putting religious zealots, not to mention bigots, in their proper place. In any case, those who take the worst possible view of George Bush may relax in the knowledge that on January 21, 2009, he will have passed into oblivion …
George Bush’s military intervention in Afghanistan and invasion of Iraq have attracted the most condemnation. However, the former has been an astounding success (above all, from the Afghans’ point of view), while the latter is hardly the debacle many commentators represent it to be. In Afghanistan, an utterly despicable regime has been replaced by an elected president. Schools and roads are being built where the religious police once trod. In Iraq, except for the twenty per cent Sunnis who rode roughshod over the rest of the population under the previous regime, the people are eagerly awaiting the elections due next month.
Many people grieve over the unipolar world and hark back nostalgically to the bipolar world of the Soviet era. They need to be reminded that during the heyday of bipolarism and Cold War, the world came close to a nuclear catastrophe (Cuban Missile Crisis), the Korean and Vietnam wars wrought havoc in the Korean peninsula and Indo-China, there were two Arab-Israeli wars and two wars between India and Pakistan. The Soviet Union invaded Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, while US meddling led to the overthrow of an elected government in Chile and caused turmoil in many Latin American countries. Angola and Mozambique were torn apart by gruesome civil wars with superpower involvement on all sides, China invaded North Vietnam to “teach it a lesson,” and the Iraq-Iran war led to a million deaths.
Taking advantage of the superpower tensions, Morocco occupied Western Sahara and Indonesia invaded East Timor. The Cold War generated a war between Somalia and Ethiopia. It allowed South Africa to remain in the throes of apartheid and gave Suharto a free hand to kill or incarcerate hundreds of thousands of alleged communists in Indonesia. The Khmer Rouge, who wiped out a fifth of Cambodia’s population, were also a by-product of that era.
The world is now a much safer and a much more democratic place. Thanks to the unipolar world with America as the sole superpower, democracy is advancing while dictatorships are receding. Dictators who roamed with a swagger now scurry for cover. Disenfranchised people now feel empowered, from Afghanistan to Georgia, and from Iraq to Ukraine. Bush’s band of neo-cons is succeeding where his more illustrious predecessors failed; they act where others balked.
Bush is not a threat to any democratic dispensation anywhere in the world. If he has made the world a trifle unsafe for thugs and dictators, he is to be commended. In any case, he will be gone sooner than we think. But terrorism in the name of Islam, which now stalks the world, is an unprecedented development in terms of magnitude, intensity, scope and danger. I can definitely live with Bush as US president — or as the world’s sole policeman — for eight years or longer, but would hate to spend even eight days under the Taliban’s theocracy, Saddam’s dictatorship or a regime of Ayatollahs. I have a strong feeling that the vast majority of people everywhere feel the same way.
(Danke zu Franz Hoffmann)