Sunday, December 10, 2006

Two Shadows Over Bushland

Pinochet is dead. Today, Augosto Pinochet died at the age of 91. I'm sure that I'm not the only one to notice it, but the point needs to be made anyway. George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzalez, John Ashcroft, John Yoo, and other Bush administration figures are going to spend the rest of their lives under the same shadow of arrest and trial as Pinochet. Theoretically, all of the inmates at Guantamo, prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and suspected terrorists who were tortured in European and Middle Eastern prisons who have a case against the Bush administration will get to pursue charges. Perhaps the U. S. will still be able to stiff the International Criminal Court, but Bush administration figures won't be able to travel abroad in the future any more than Henry Kissinger is able to travel now.

That might be a long time for George Bush. Given that he'll only be 62 when he leaves office, Bush will be looking at 29 years of criminal liability if he lives as long as Pinochet. Bush and his people better hope that the Europeans never get any leverage over an American government. As discredited as the Bush administration is going to be, handing Bush and his advisers over to international courts might not prove to be that hard in the future.

Syria and Iran. One of the well-known recommendations of the Iraq Study Group was the re-establishment of direct communications with Iraq and Syria. Less well known is the fact that the Iraq Study Group concluded that Iran wasn't much of a threat to the U. S. and that Syria was even less of a threat. As the Iraq mission failed, the Bush administration and their neo-con allies have built up an image of Iran as a Shiite version of Saddam Hussein, armed to the teeth, relentlessly expansionist, and working without scruple to overthrow U. S. interests in the Middle East.

It's all nonsense. The Iranians have a run-down military, they're only able to give chump change of a couple hundred mill to their Hezbollah allies, and they're responding to their Shiite allies in Iraq rather than the other way around. Of course, the Bush administration will continue to pump the "Iranian threat" fantasy over the next couple of years. However, one of the shadows hanging over Bushland is the likelihood that a more credible administration will conclude that Iran doesn't even rate as a paper tiger.

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