A Whopper of an Inaugural Address
Lloyd Jeffrey Mallan
Feb 01, 2005 02:43 PST
A Whopper of an Inaugural Address
by Sheldon Richman, January 31, 2005
We have come to understand that when the typical politician speaks, he
ought not to be believed. Nevertheless, in his inaugural address last
week President Bush achieved depths of incredibility deserving of a
place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Leave aside that his speech was preceded by his sworn promise to
“preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” We already know what he
thinks of that oath.
Four sentences into his speech Bush told an amazing whopper. “For a half
century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant
borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet,
years of repose, years of sabbatical — and then there came a day of
fire.” One has to wonder what country he is talking about. Does he
seriously believe that after World War II the U.S. government was a
spectator to world events?
Or by “distant borders” does he mean borders distant from the United
States? That would be closer to the truth.
In fact, since World War II U.S. presidents have meddled in every region
of the world, overtly and covertly, propping up any dictator, no matter
how savage, claiming to be “anti-communist.” Do the names Ferdinand
Marcos of the Philippines, Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran, General Rafael
Molino Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, just
to name a few, ring a bell? All were put into power or supported by U.S.
administrations. All brought untold misery to the people under their
boot heels. The idea that the United States stood on the sidelines
during the Cold War and after is laughable, but I guess that is all
ancient history. Bush might believe it. But can his speechwriters
possibly think it’s true?
As the Washington Post pointed out recently, the government’s penchant
for allying with unsavory regimes continues to this day, even as the
president proclaims his global crusade for what he calls freedom. The
Post reporters pointed out, “Some of the administration’s allies in the
war against terrorism — including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and
Uzbekistan — are ranked by the State Department as among the worst human
rights abusers. The president has proudly proclaimed his friendship with
Russian President Vladimir Putin while remaining largely silent about
Putin’s dismantling of democratic institutions in the past four years.
The administration, eager to enlist China as an ally in the effort to
restrain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, has played down human rights
concerns there, as well.”
The Post has also noted that a Human Rights Watch report charges that
torture and other mistreatment of prisoners occur routinely in Iraq.
According to the report, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s regime
“appears to be actively taking part, or is at least complicit, in these
grave violations of fundamental human rights.” This is the model regime
of which the Bush administration boasts so proudly.
Another clue to what’s going on is Libya. The administration touts Col.
Muammar Qaddafi’s decision to give up his quest for weapons of mass
destruction. But notice there is no talk of changing that dictatorial
If you believe that the U.S. government has been a passive bystander
since 1945, I guess you would think the attacks on 9/11 came out of the
blue. But people who’ve been paying attention know how bogus that claim
is. American presidents and their military and espionage forces have
been key players in the Middle East for many decades. The criteria they
used for picking sides had nothing to do with democracy. As a result,
tyrants were long on the U.S. payroll and the Palestinians’ legitimate
grievances were ignored. The 9/11 attacks were monstrously criminal, but
they were not unexpected.
The centerpiece of Bush’s speech was this: “The survival of liberty in
our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.”
With that masterful rhetorical stroke, he pulled an Orwell and changed
history, specifically, the rationale for the invasion of Iraq.
Few Americans will notice that the provocative crusade will make us less
safe, not more. And, oh yes, it will violate the president’s oath to
preserve the Constitution.
Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation,
author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and
editor of The Freeman magazine.
Freedom in our time!