President George W. Bushthe self-proclaimed War Presidentwas inaugurated Jan. 20 with much fanfare at an estimated cost of $40 million. His choice to celebrate in such grand and expensive fashion during a time of war, when our troops go without needed vehicle armor to protect themselves from insurgent attacks in Iraq, stands in sharp contrast to the choice another wartime president made 60 years ago.
At the start of his last term in office in 1945, and near the end of World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt correctly thought it was inappropriate to celebrate in a fashion that Bush embraced last week. Instead, Roosevelt believed that at a time when so many Americans were sacrificing their lives on the altar of freedom, another celebration for a new term would be viewed as an impropriety.
However, such appearances do not concern Bush and his like-minded compatriots. By celebrating in the manner he chose, Bush missed another critical opportunity to transform himself into a statesman rather than continuing his arrogant-ideologue-cowboy- war-president ways, which is how he is viewed by half the nation, and most of the civilized world.
What Bush could have done was insist that money, which was spent by private companies and individuals on his inauguration, be donated to help pay for armor for military vehicles in Iraq. Bush could have toned down the grandeur.
However, Bush didnt do that, which demonstrates how truly unconcerned he is with the soldiers plight, despite his rhetoric.
Similar to his misguided priorities in viewing Iraq as a greater threat to our security than Iran or North Korea, and elaborate spending on his inauguration when troops go without needed armor, Bush will spend billions more on his war than what could have been spent to provide health care for all Americans.
What kind of nation has money to wage a preventive war for $150 billion, but wont redistribute existing funds to ensure preventive health care for all its citizens? By the way, Bush is now requesting another $80 billion for the War.
The answer is that we live in a county and nation with very misguided priorities, which are being promulgated by a president whose second-term inauguration would be more aptly described as a coronationthe crowning of the supreme chief. Hail to the Chief!
As one reads between the lines of Bushs coronation speech, citizens should be wary of its imperialistic tone, which appears to foreshadow more miliary invasions of other nations, and a call for volunteers for the possible ventures. If the call goes unheeded, young Americans need to watch for the return of the military draft.
As one reads Seymour Hershs article in The New Yorker magazine, Coming Wars, elements of which where confirmed by a recent Washington Post story, it looks like Bush is planning airstrikes on Iran. His flame references in his coronation speech may refer to just that, as he burns down all traditional American diplomacy and respect around the world.
The pre-emptive and imperialist ideological bent of the neo-conservatives stands above any common-sense planning as shown by their failure in Iraq to secure the peace. For post-Mission Accomplished Iraq, they have nothing even close to the Marshall Plan as Roosevelt had for post-war Europe. Their only foresight is focused through a precision bomb sight.
Most of the Mideast fears and loathes us, as does much of the world. Unless Bush changes his course of unilateral aggression bent on the dominance of oil production, the world may turn its multilateral resources against us. We as citizens will pay a higher price than we do for the gallons of oil we so relentlessly consume.
Accordingly, in the next four years, we as individuals must independently seek out alternative energy sources and implement them in our daily lives. Buy hybrid electric or ethanol vehicles. Install solar panels on your homes and businesses. Invest in geothermal heating and cooling. Invest in companies implementing fuel cell technology. Lobby your elected officials on all levels to retool the economy to renewable energy so we have something to export for a changebesides War!Mr. President.
Also, we must stop exporting torture and soiling our countrys good name and principles. The raw roosters of Abu Ghraib can come home to roost in America, too. The police state of the Patriot Act and the tools of fear must be put away forever.
Just like we will never get back the lives lost in the 9/11 attack, and just like we will never get back the lives lost in Iraq, we must stop our losses at the total of at least 4,000 people. Then add in the tens of thousands of Iraqi dead. Then add in the maimed on both sides who will live lives of misery because of the U.S.-initiated action, over non-existent weapons of mass destruction. In our bubble between our oceans, we must realize what bad shape we are in around the world.
If we attack Iran, gasoline will hit $3 to $4 dollars a gallon domestically. China, Russia and Japan will probably dump their dollars. Combine the dumping of the dollar on the international market with our deficit, and get ready for an economic depression.
Our troops and supplies are stretched to the breaking point in more than 100 countries, and our reserve troops will have served their terms next year. America is very vulnerable economically and militarily, and the rashness of the Bush administration is expensive and foolish.
We dont need bombast. We dont need arrogance. We dont need rhetoric. We dont need flames. We dont need to attack anyone else. We dont need to let our unrestrained ally, Israel, attack anyone else either.
We need balanced policies. We need rational diplomacy. We need to remove the stain of torture and misrepresentation from our reputation. We need to set our spending priorities away from frivolous pomp and circumstance.
Think of what the inaugural costs could have done to reduce the risk to Social Securitythe most successful government program in our history, which Bush wants to dismantle to line Wall Streets pockets.
On the streets around the world, so many lives are at stakeour young men and womensand everyone elses, too. Say your prayers for four more years.