Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Courage to do the Right Thing.

I noticed that the Calgary (Alberta) Chamber of Commerce has an evening with Colin Powell advertised. Since I don’t expect the Chamber is interested in military tactics or is planning to go to war, one has to wonder what the attraction between the two parties might be.

Perhaps they’re interested in learning how to be so impossibly loyal to the boss they will stand up before the whole world and spout any string of lies prepared for them. Perhaps they want to learn how to destroy their own credibility and chances for a future worthwhile career serving humanity. Perhaps they’re just interested in tragedies.

Let’s face it, Colin Powell, for a few critical days, had the power to examine the information he was being fed with the critical eye of a military man trained not to be fooled by false intelligence, and refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war. At the time, I fervently hoped he would have the cohones to stand up in the UN and say, “I cannot read this crap, because I just don’t believe it is in the best interest of my country or the people of the world to start a war on these premises.”

But he didn’t.

Game over. He was given the final test . . . and he failed.

Today, it’s common knowledge in the whole world – and even the USA – that George Bush’s war is not in the best interest of America, let alone the 650,000 Iraqis who have died as a result of it. A man in the highest public office anywhere in the world may expect one day to be faced with a decision that will either place him in the history books as a paragon for perpetual emulation or as an ignominious failure. It comes along with the ambition and the life training. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Gorbachev, are just a few of those who had the experience – to do the right thing or else the thing expected of them.

They passed. Those who pass the test are easy to celebrate, but what does one do with the rest?

What in heaven’s name will the Republican Party do with George W. Bush after the 2008 election? Hide him in a closet? Past presidents are generally celebrated as elder statesmen of their parties – always in demand to speak words of wisdom to the young and the new recruits. But George Bush? The very thought of his fractured speaking style and ignorance being paraded across the airwaves or at $100 a plate functions for the next umpteen years boggles the mind. Not that it isn’t poetic justice as the corollary of the Carl Rove plan to make the Republicans the only party to send presidents to the White House for the foreseeable future.

With George Bush on show. With Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Gonzales, Fehr, Abrams, and all the rest at large and walking around in public as if they earned their freedom it will likely be impossible for the Republicans to capture any significant political power in the next half dozen or so elections.

May I offer a suggestion? The next US president will be faced with the task of dealing with things like extraordinary rendition, the suspension of habeas corpus, and Guantanamo Bay. Gitmo? Now there’s a site where those jokers could live out the rest of their lives – at government expense – without being an embarrassment to anyone. With all of them in Gitmo, the decent and honourable Americans can roll up their sleeves and set to work restoring the honour and good name of the country that the Bush regime has so cavalierly besmirched. With any kind of good fortune, they will even find it possible to repair the damage to the Constitution and the corridors of power in Washington that such an aberration will not be possible again.


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