The Twelve Main Failures of the Bush-Cheney Administration: A Terrible Legacy

Chronique de Rodrigue Tremblay

"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation and around the world, this [Bush II] administration has been the worst in history."

Jimmy Carter, 39th U.S. President

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeating it."

George Santayana (1863-1952)

"There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat."

George Tenet, ex-CIA Director under George W. Bush

"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian governments whether Nazi or Communist."

Sir Winston Churchill - (1874-1965)

The accomplishments of the Bush-Cheney administration are very few, if any, but its wrongdoings are numerous and comprehensive. This administration has been a virtual wrecking crew for anything it has put its hands on. Here is a summary of the twelve most glaring failures of this administration.

1. The Bush-Cheney administration has been an aggressive militarist and imperialist administration, reverting to the old gunboat diplomacy.

First of all, the central mistake of President George W. Bush was to abdicate the function of governing to "steamroller" Vice President Dick Cheney, who then used his vast experience in government to create a parallel government. This administration will be referred to historically as the "Bush-Cheney administration", because the Vice president has had more concrete influence in running the government than the incumbent President.

The rest follows: The Bush-Cheney administration, which gained power in 2000 with the help of a one vote majority of the U.S. Supreme Court (on December 10, 2000), after having lost the popular vote, will also be remembered as the one that adopted a hegemonic foreign policy and issued the totalitarian "Bush Doctrine" of pre-emptive wars, of international unilateralism, and of American assertive military supremacy around the world. If this hubristic doctrine is not officially repudiated soon, the United States will take its place in history along (Adolf) Hitler's Nazi Germany and (Joseph) Stalin's Soviet Union.

As a concrete step in implementing the infamous "Bush Doctrine", the Bush-Cheney administration then discarded any notion of law and morality and launched a war of aggression abroad in order to impose an imperial control of oil-rich countries that are neighbors to the state of Israel. Against the advice of military, legal and intelligence experts, but coaxed by Neocon ideologues who were anxious to promote Israeli interests, the Bush-Cheney administration violated the U.N. Charter and the Nuremberg Charter and launched an illegitimate, illegal and immoral war of aggression, a war of choice and not of necessity, against Iraq. This is a throwback to the dreadful days of the old and much maligned gunboat diplomacy of more than one hundred years ago.

And talking about a quagmire, White House's Neocons are even pushing the idea of having American soldiers in Iraq for the next fifty years!

2. The Bush-Cheney administration has been an administration that has betrayed democracy because it has relied on lies, deceit, propaganda and manipulation in a way that would have been worthy of a totalitarian regime:

The illegal Iraq war was justified with lies and exaggerations about Iraq's so-called weapons of mass destruction and supposed links to al Qaeda. This is a war that has been marred with reliance on torture and by immoral behavior by American soldiers in Iraq. The result is a worldwide explosion of hatred against the United States. As a consequence, the reputation of the United States has been seriously damaged among free nations and all around the world.

Domestic examples of the Bush-Cheney administration's tendency to rely on deceit were exposed by the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman affairs. And former CIA Director George Tenet has confirmed that the Bush-Cheney White House was bent on "selling" a war against Iraq to the American public using lies and cooked intelligence data.

Such behavior is contrary to the basic spirit of democracy that dictates that rulers must justify their decisions to the citizenry by spelling out clearly the ends being pursued, the means chosen to achieve the ends, and the reasons for taking a chosen action. For a public official, to lie is to be undemocratic.

3. The Bush-Cheney administration has been an administration that has destroyed the more than two century-old American tradition of separation of church and state:

Soon after it gained power, President George W. Bush chose a theologian to write his speeches. This was followed by the Bush-Cheney administration entirely discarding the principle of separation of church and state by channeling billions of dollars of public money to religious organizations, thus insuring the support and votes of unscrupulous religious leaders.

Indeed, the Bush-Cheney administration created the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, an outfit that helped sectarian religious charities receive $2.15 billion in federal grants in fiscal year 2005 alone, to be used for the benefit of their own particular group of believers in their own particular religion. George W. Bush stands alone among all American presidents for having done so.

4. The Bush-Cheney administration has been an administration accused of a criminal construct worthy of impeachment:

George W. Bush has flagrantly violated his oath of office, which requires him "to protect and defend the constitution."

Among the "high crimes and misdemeanors" that, under other political circumstances, would surely constitute the Constitutional grounds for impeachment are these: the President and his top officials pressured the Central Intelligence Agency to put together a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's nuclear weapons that both the administration and the Agency knew to be patently dishonest. They then used this false NIE report to justify an American war of aggression. After launching an invasion of Iraq, the administration unilaterally reinterpreted international and domestic law to permit the torture of prisoners held at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at other secret locations around the world.

Nothing in the U.S. Constitution, least of all the commander-in-chief clause, allows the president to commit felonies. Nevertheless, within days after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush signed a secret executive order authorizing the new policy of "extraordinary rendition," in which the CIA is allowed to kidnap terrorist suspects anywhere on Earth and transfer them to prisons in countries such as Egypt, Syria, or Uzbekistan, where torture is a normal practice, or to secret CIA prisons outside the United States where Agency operatives themselves do the torturing.

Within the USA, the Bush-Cheney administration undertook extensive spying on American citizens without obtaining the necessary judicial warrants and without reporting to Congress on these activities. These actions were in direct violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (and subsequent revisions) and of Amendment IV of the Constitution.

5. The Bush-Cheney administration has been an administration that has used fascist-like, McCarthyite tactics and suspended fundamental liberties at home, including the nearly millennium-old Right of Habeas Corpus.

When president George W. Bush ordered the National Security Agency to proceed with warrantless domestic wiretapping, he knew he was establishing an illegal wiretapping program to spy on Americans, and that he was placing himself in a situation of illegality. If this had not been illegal, his Attorney General would not have felt obliged to cover up the entire affair in order to protect the administration. In fact, under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the U.S. department of Justice has lost its long-held tradition of independence, and embarked upon a long list of politicized operations.

Once a politician embraces illegality, there are no limits. For instance, George W. Bush has paved the way for exercising martial law powers, first by de-facto repealing the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act that forbids the deployment of soldiers on American soil for domestic law enforcement, [and, second, by signing last October (2006) the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA: HR 6166). Under this act, the President has granted himself almost-dictatorial powers to arrest and detain indefinitely any American citizen, without constitutional protections.

To top things off, President George W. Bush has relied on signing statements to assert that he has the power to disobey newly enacted laws in a manner that no previous president would have ever thought of doing.

6. As if to prove the "Peter Principle", the Bush-Cheney administration has displayed a surprisingly high level of incompetence:

Because the Bush-Cheney administration chose to make appointment decisions based on loyalty first and expertise a far second, it has been plagued with an unheard-of display of incompetence at all levels. They have appointed unqualified loyalists to key positions, such as Gonzales at Justice, Feith at the Pentagon, Brown at FEMA, Bolton at the U.N., Bremer in Iraq, Wolfowitz at the World Bank, etc., all disaster-prone individuals who dutifully extended the incompetence at the top.

7. The Bush-Cheney administration has been a scandal- and corruption-prone administration.

Contrary to other U.S. administrations involved in a war, the Bush-Cheney administration did not take any serious steps to prevent influence peddling and corruption. To the contrary, it seems that corruption was expected, possibly with the knowledge that some of the money floating around would find its way back into the political system. The Enron scandal, the Abramoff scandal, the Tom Delay scandal and the U.S. Attorney Scandal were all consequences of this negligence. At the same time, the Bush-Cheney administration has allowed the aristocracy of big money to dominate politics and the public discourse.

8. The Bush-Cheney administration has nearly completely destroyed a foreign country that had done no harm to the United States.

The Bush-Cheney administration has been an administration that has militarily conquered and thoroughly destroyed the country of Iraq, and refused to leave when asked by the Iraqi parliament, all the while pretending they were occupying this country for the sake of "democracy".

In fact, the Bush-Cheney administration has dutifully worked to take over Iraq's oil resources, first, by pressuring the regime under occupation in Iraq to pass a law called "The Hydrocarbon Act", and second, by threatening to block dearly needed reconstruction funds of more than a billion dollars earmarked for the ravaged country, if the proposed privatization of Iraqi oil did not go forward.

9.- By its ill-advised military invasion of Iraq, the Bush-Cheney administration has triggered a civil war in Iraq that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Indeed, the Bush-Cheney's military invasion of Iraq is responsible for having deteriorated the relations between all religious communities in Iraq and succeeded in unleashing a sectarian religious war between Iraqis in many regions of the country.

10. The Bush-Cheney administration has been an administration that has shown contempt for international treaties and for international law, demonstrating an abysmal lack of judgment in world affairs, while withdrawing from already signed international treaties.

The list of international treaties—which are "the law of the land" according to the U.S. Constitution (Art. VI, para. 2) and the U.S. Supreme Court—that George W. Bush has unilaterally disregarded, cancelled or violated, is very long.

They include: -The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia, -the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming, -the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, -the 1997 Land Mine Treaty, -the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, -the 2000 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, -the Geneva conventions of Aug. 12, 1949, -the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the 2001 UN Agreement to Curb the International Flow of Illicit Small Arms, -the 1998 International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty, -the 1996 Comprehensive [Nuclear] Test Ban Treaty, -the 2001 International Plan for Cleaner Energy, -the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, -the 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal Charter against wars of aggression, etc. —It has even violated the spirit of the 1967 “Outer Space Treaty” (OST) by indicating its intention to assert American military control of Outer Space.

By its actions around world and by its attitudes, the Bush-Cheney team has also fed the flames of Islamist terrorism and has even succeeded in rekindling the flames of the Cold War with Russia, with his ill-advised and provocative plan to station anti-missile bases in eastern Europe at Russia's doorstep. A new arms race has been started. —It is a fact that US Relations With Russia have gone steadily downhill under the Bush-Cheney administration. In so doing, the Bush-Cheney administration has made the world a more dangerous place.

11. Economically, the Bush-Cheney administration will be remembered for two things: massive budgetary deficits and big increases in oil prices.

In 2000, the U.S. government had a fiscal surplus, a legacy of the Clinton administration. If we consider only the 2002-2006 period, since budgets are prepared long in advance, the cumulative budget deficit over the Bush-Cheney period has exceeded one and a half trillion (1,500 billion) dollars.

Similarly, in 2000, oil prices were about $28 a barrel; in 2006, they reached close to $70 a barrel under the Bush-Cheney watch. They are still hovering above $60 a barrel, and could climb much higher if the Bush-Cheney administration acts upon the neocon plan to attack Iran. On the other hand, profits of Halliburton, a company that Vice President Dick Cheney headed, have exploded and so has the price of Halliburton shares, going from the mid-tens in 2001 to the mid-30s in 2007.

While the massive Bush-Cheney budgetary deficits have given a keynesian-like boost to the U.S. economy and also to the world economy through the large U.S. trade deficit, they have contributed to exacerbating income and wealth disparities within the U.S. and have created large financial imbalances in the world, with Japan and China becoming huge financial creditors. Indeed, the impetus for large U.S. fiscal deficits came mainly from three sources: massive tax cuts, especially targeted for the very rich, massive military spending required for financing never-ending wars of choice in the Middle East and increases in the cost of the major domestic entitlement programs.

Similarly, the tightening of the supply-demand equation in the international oil market is also related to oil output disruptions in the Middle East and to lukewarm domestic steps to economize fossil energy.

12. Economically also, the Bush-Cheney administration has strongly contributed to the stalling of the international trade liberalization process under the World Trade Organization (WTO). For the first time in fifty years, thanks to the neglect and lack of leadership from the Bush-Cheney administration, a major global trade liberalization round, the Doha Round has been derailed.

This is occurring at a critical juncture, because most prosperous economies, and this includes China and India, have now adopted the export-led growth model, doubling the overall share of exports in their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That share is about 25 percent of GDP.

Indeed, as a consequence of global trade liberalization efforts and of new export-led growth strategies, world exports have exploded over the last half-century. For instance, in the early 1960s, total world exports were in the vicinity of $1 trillion a year (in 2000 dollars); nowadays, they are ten times larger at about $10 trillion a year, growing at the fast pace of 5.5 percent a year, much faster than global output growth at around 3.0 percent a year.

In conclusion, it is hard, objectively, not to conclude that George W. Bush and his far right administration have been a disaster for America and for the world, and the consequences will linger on for years to come. They have been agents of uncontrolled greed, of uncontrolled militarism, of massive incompetence and of illegal policies. —By any account, this is a most dismal record.

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Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached at
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