November 5, 2012

The World 1

George W Bush

And yet I doubt, if there be a more reprehensible human act
than to lead a nation into an unnecessary war …

Richard Cobden (1804 – 65), 8 August 1855.

Surgical Airstrike

Reza Deghati (1952)

(David Smith, Behind The Photo — War Zone, part2 pictures, 2009)

Socrates (c470 – 399 BCE):
[To] inflict injustice is more disgraceful than to suffer it …
(Plato, Gorgias)

Do not resist one who is evil.
But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil …
Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(King James Bible, 12:17-21)

Do not let the injustice of others lead you into injustice …

Bruce Bartlett (1951):
[George W Bush understands] Al Quaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy … because he's just like them.
He truly believes he's on a mission from God.
The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.

Ada Louise Huxtable (1921 – 2013) :
Whose afraid of the big bad buildings?
Because there are so many things about gigantism that we just don't know.
The gamble of triumph or tragedy at this scale … demands an extraordinary payoff.
The twin towers could be the start of a new skyscraper age, or the biggest tombstones in the [history of the] world.

(Ric Burns, New York: The Centre of the World, Episode 1, PBS American Experience, WBGH, 2003)

American Justice

(Nick Broomfield, Battle for Haditha, Channel Four Films, 2007)

George W Bush (1946):
More than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries.
Many others have met a different fate.
Put it this way: they're no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.
One by one, the terrorists are learning the meaning of American Justice.
(State of the Union Address, US Congress, 28 January 2003)

[The people] we have liberated will not surrender their freedom.
Democracy will succeed because the United States of America will not be intimidated by a bunch of thugs!

(Jesper Huor & Bosse Lindquist, WikiRebels: The Documentary, SVT, 2010)




George Walker Bush (1946)

43rd President of the United States (2001-2009).

  • The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W Bush, Text, Melbourne, 2004.
    Peter Singer.

    Sharing The World

    Aiding others

    In 2001 … Denmark gave a little over 1% of its gross national income in foreign aid.
    The United Nations has set a target of 0.7%.
    [Four] other nations — Norway, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Sweden — have exceeded that target.
    [The] United Kingdom, France and Germany, gave approximately 0.3%.
    Japan, the nation with the world's second largest economy, gave 0.23%, and Australia 0.25%.
    The United States gave only 0.11% [or] eleven cents in every hundred dollars …
    [This was] the lowest proportion of all the developed nations …
    [Including private donations lifts] the US proportion of [GNI] given as aid … to 0.145%, still among the lowest of the developed nations. …
    The top five recipients of US development aid in 2001 were … Egypt, Pakistan, Colombia, Jordan and the former Republic of Yugoslavia.
    (p 144)

    [During] the Clinton era, US aid declined both in proportion to the size of the economy, and in proportion to government spending.
    [Bush reversed this] selfish and short-sighted trend …
    (p 148)


    Despite all the rhetoric from Bush and the leaders of other industrialised nations about breaking down barriers against trade and assisting the world's poor, when developing countries export to rich countries, they have to overcome tariff barriers that are four times higher than those encountered by rich countries for their products.
    These trade barriers deprive the developing countries of annual earnings of about $100 billion, or roughly twice what they now receive in aid from the rich nations.
    (p 149)

    Oxfam, the international aid agency, has compiled a 'Double Standards Index' to measure the gap between a nation's rhetoric about free trade, and the reality of what it actually does to allow developing countries access to its markets.
    [The] European Union comes out as the worst offender, but the United States is in second place with a record rated worse than those of Japan and Canada. …
    [Blots] on the US record [include:]
    • huge subsidies on agricultural products;
    • a tariff in excess of 120% on groundnuts, a staple product of some African nations;
    • the failure to remove more than a quarter of the restrictions on the import of textiles and clothing that the US committed itself to remove under the [WTO] Agreement on Textiles and Clothing;
    • higher tariffs on processed than on unprocessed food, thus deterring developing countries from creating jobs by adding value to their exports; and
    • a sharp rise in the number of 'anti-dumping' actions taken against low-cost producers in developing countries.
      [Claims] of 'dumping' are often a [pretext] for protection against legitimate competition. …
    [Bush] has supported one important initiative for some of the world's poorest nations, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
    This legislation, enacted under Clinton's presidency but enhanced in August 2002, allows free market access for selected products from thirty-eight African nations.
    (p 150)

    [However, excluding] petroleum products, all the thirty-eight AGOA nations together exported only a modest $2.2 billion worth of goods to the US.
    [By] comparison, Australia … had exports to the US of more than $6 billion.
    [Furthermore, the 10%] growth in imports from AGOA nations was not enough to offset a … decline in imports from other sub-Saharan African nations, which meant that overall US imports from sub-Saharan Africa actually fell by more than 15% in 2002. …
    George W Bush (1946):
    I'll work to end tariffs and break down barriers everywhere, entirely, so the whole world trades in freedom.
    The fearful build walls.
    The confident demolish them. …
    Bush imposed tariffs of nearly 30% on most types of steel imported from Europe, Asia and South America.
    (p 151)

    The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 … increased subsidies to [wealthy corporate producers of] corn and wheat by $50 billion over ten years …
    [This] 70% increase [in tax payer assistance reversed] the attempt made in the previous comprehensive farm bill (passed in 1996, in the Clinton era) to wean American farmers off subsidies.
    George W Bush (1946):
    [While] not meet all of my objectives [this bill does provide] a generous and reliable safety net for our nation's farmers and ranchers.
    (p 152)

    Less than six months earlier, at a meeting of the [WTO] in Doha, Qatar, the United States … had agreed to remove barriers to farm trade. …
    [The] US now pays three times more per farm than does the EU. …
    [Farm] subsidies in the rich nations amount to six times what those countries provide in foreign aid to the entire developing world.
    Moreover, whereas the aid is distributed among the almost five billion people living in developing nations, the subsidies go mainly to a relatively small number of agribusinesses and large corporations. …

    The Act … doubled subsidies on cotton, to nearly $4 billion annually [ie more than the US Agency for International Development provides in aid for all of Africa]
    … US cotton [is] exported [at] 57% below the cost of … production.
    {'Dumping' involves the sale of goods abroad below their cost of production, or more cheaply than they are sold at home.}
    (p 153)

    The American subsidies are paid to only 25,000 cotton growers, with an average net worth of $800,000. …

    As an ethical goal, global free trade is controversial, but defensible.
    It is consistent with Bush's other professed values, including the value of free markets in general.
    But it is not ethical to preach the value of free trade to the world, and then bow to political pressure to protect American industries that cannot compete in their own marketplace.
    Nor is it ethical to subsidise wealthy domestic producers so that, with the assistance of American taxpayers, they can take markets from producers in developing countries.
    (p 154)

    The International Criminal Court

    [The ICC is an attempt] to move beyond the justice of the victors over the defeated … [To] give international criminal justice a more impartial and permanent basis.
    The court will have a prosecutor who can bring charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes against individuals as long as
    • they are a national of a state that has ratified the treaty, or
    • the crime was committed on the territory of such a state, or
    • a specific case is referred to the court by the United Nations Security Council.
    The aim is to ensure that there is no legal refuge anywhere in the world for those who commit such crimes.
    [The ICC] is designed to complement existing national judicial systems …
    [It] can exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes.
    [The primary] responsibility to investigate and punish crimes [remains with] individual states. …

    As of February 2013, 122 states are states parties to the Statute of the Court, including all of South America, nearly all of Europe and roughly half the countries in Africa. …

    A further 31 countries, including Russia, have signed but not ratified the Rome Statute …
    The law of treaties obliges [such] states to
    [Refrain from] acts which would defeat the object and purpose [of the treaty …]
    until they declare they do not intend to become a party to the treaty.
    Three of these states — Israel, Sudan and the United States — have informed the UN Secretary General that they no longer intend to become states parties and, as such, have no legal obligations arising from their former representatives' signature of the Statute.
    (10 March 2013)
    In the final days of his presidency, Clinton signed the treaty setting up the ICC.
    (p 155)

    Bush has said he would not submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification, and denied that any legal obligations arise from his predecessor's signature. …

    Bush [has] said that participating in the court would mean ceding US sovereignty [and opening the way to] capricious prosecutions of American officials and military personnel.
    Had the US supported the court, it could have played a role in developing safeguards to prevent such misuse.
    Instead the Bush [administration threatened to withdraw aid from nations who refused to] guarantee that US citizens in their jurisdiction [would] not be extradited to the ICC.
    [It] also persuaded the UN Security Council to pass resolutions extending immunity to US citizens. …
    [That] the US was [is] seeking special treatment for its own citizens raised an important question in the minds of the international community:
    Is the United States willing to play its part, as one citizen among others, in creating an international system of law and order, or will it stand apart and require special treatment, different from that which other nations are willing to accept?
    In July 2003, the Bush administration announced that it was suspending military aid for thirty-five nations that had refused to pledge to give American citizens immunity before the International Criminal Court.
    (p 156)
    Richard Dicker [Director, Human Rights Watch]:
    I've never seen a sanctions regime aimed at countries that believe in the rule of law rather than ones that commit human rights abuses. …
    It was during negotiations between the US and Australia to ensure that Americans in Australia would be immune from prosecution by the ICC, that the Bush administration announced that it would try David Hicks, an Australian citizen captured in Afghanistan, before a military tribunal.
    (p 157)

    The tribunal rules do not respect the normal procedural right of the accused to confidential communication with his or her lawyer, reject the usual courtroom standards of admissible evidence, and allow a two-thirds majority of the judges' (of whom only one need be legally qualified) to decide on the guilt of the accused.
    From this tribunal the only avenue of appeal is to a panel of three military officers that meets behind closed doors.

    Many non-Americans regard Bush's concern about protecting US citizens from the ICC, while himself detaining people for years without trial and … ordering the assassination of the citizens of other nations, as sheer hypocrisy.
    (p 160)

    Climate change, or being even-handed

    [In 2003, when] the EPA prepared a comprehensive report on the state of the environment, the White House forced the deletion of a section stating that emissions from factories and cars contribute to global warming.
    Bush's aides wanted to drop references to a 2001 report by the National Research Council, which Bush himself had commissioned, and to a 1999 study showing a record rise in global temperatures over the previous decade.
    In place of the original wording, they proposed a few paragraphs drawing on a report commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute that came to no specific conclusion about global warming.
    (p 161)

    … Bush's attitude towards the risk of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction was that it is better to act pre-emptively, even in the absence of complete information, to ensure that the disaster of such weapons being used is averted.
    This precautionary stance is exactly what Bush's critics are urging him to take regarding climate change.
    (p 162)
    George W Bush (1946):
    … I'm not going to let the United States carry the burden for cleaning up the world's air, like the Kyoto treaty would have done.
    China and India were exempted from that treaty.
    I think we need to be more even-handed…

    Since Bush believes that people should be held responsible for their actions, he should be sympathetic to the principle that the person who breaks something is the one who ought to fix it.
    (p 163)

    If those most responsible for breaking something should do the most to fix it, then the developed nations owe it to the rest of the world to fix the problem.
    Instead, they are making it worse — and the United States is the chief culprit.
    Despite having less than 5% of the world's population, it is the largest producer of greenhouse gases, responsible for 25% of all emissions.
    China, with more than four times the population of the United States, emits only 60% as much carbon dioxide.
    (p 164)

    Perhaps he [would] argue that at the time the developing countries put most of the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, there wasn't the scientific knowledge we have today.
    [That even though] developed nations did cause the problem, they didn't know what they were doing, and shouldn't be held responsible for it.

    That would be a dubious argument for … one who thinks that even mentally retarded criminals may be held responsible for their actions and executed.
    And even if we think that today's Americans cannot be held morally responsible for what earlier generations of Americans did, Americans today are enjoying a higher standard of living because of the actions of their polluting predecessors.
    By accepting the benefits generated by these earlier emissions the present generation of Americans could be said to have incurred an obligation to pay for the costs that the acts of earlier generations of Americans imposed on others by using more than their fair share of a common resource.

    But [let's say we] forget about everything that has happened up to now. …
    [We] begin with the fact that the atmosphere is a common resource.
    No one owns it.
    How should we divide it up?
    (p 165)

    [The] simplest answer is to divide equally, between every inhabitant of the planet, the atmosphere's capacity to absorb our emissions.
    Unless someone can show that he or she is entitled to more of the atmosphere than others, equal shares would seem to be a good starting point.

    [This] principle would also require the United States to make drastic cuts to its greenhouse gas emissions, while allowing China and India to avoid any cuts, at least at present.
    The United States produces more than 5 tons of carbon per person per year.
    Japan and Western Europe average below 3 tons.
    China emits 0.76 tons per capita and India 0.29.

    This means that given an 'even-handed' per capita annual emission limit of 1 ton of carbon per person (which is not very far off what the Kyoto Protocol aims to achieve) India would be able to increase its carbon emissions to more than three times what they now are.
    China would be allowed a more modest increase.
    The United States, on the other hand, would have to reduce its emissions to no more than one fifth of what they now are.
    (p 166)

    [In addition, the] United States is well above average in the amount of emissions it produces in proportion to its per capita GDP.
    The CIA figures show that developing countries like India and China, as well as some European nations like Spain, France and Switzerland, are the best at producing a high value of goods for a given level of emissions.
    (p 167)

    Although it is true that the Kyoto Protocol does not initially bind the developing nations, it is generally understood that the developing countries will be brought into the binding section of the agreement after the industrialised nations have begun to move towards their targets.
    That was the procedure with the successful Montreal Protocol concerning gases that damage the ozone layer …

    China, by far the largest greenhouse gas emitter of the developing nations … has already, even in the absence of any binding targets, made significant progress in reducing fossil-fuel emissions, thanks to improved efficiency in coal use.
    Hence the claim that the Kyoto Protocol does not require the developing nations to do their share is misleading, because they have not yet reached the point at which they are using more than their quota of the planet's capacity to absorb greenhouse gases.
    When they do, it is reasonable to presume that they will also have obligations under the next international climate agreement to reduce their emissions.

    The fact that 178 other nations, including every major industrial nation in the world other than the United States, have now indicated their intention to ratify the Kyoto Protocol makes the Bush Administration's position particularly odious.
    It amounts to saying that the poor nations, of the world should commit themselves, in perpetuity, to much lower levels of greenhouse gas production per head of population than the rich nations have.
    There is no way in which that principle can be defended as ethical.
    (p 168)

    Would you like to know more?

    War: Afghanistan

    The Bush doctrine and the decision to attack Afghanistan

    George W Bush (1946):
    [In responding to the 9/11 attack, the United States will] make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them. …
    (11 September 2001)

    [From] this day forward any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.
    (20 September 2001)
    This Bush doctrine — perhaps better described as the 'first Bush doctrine', since his later assertion of America's right to make pre-emptive strikes has also been referred to as the Bush doctrine — significantly changed previous understandings of national sovereignty and support for terrorism. …

    America harbours Cuban exiles who have used Miami as a base from which to carry out terrorist attacks in Cuba.
    In 1998 a former senior federal prosecutor told the Miami Herald there was a policy of avoiding prosecution of those plotting terrorist acts against Cuba.
    [For example,] when a boat loaded with explosives and registered in the name of Tony Bryant, an anti-Castro militant, turned up near Havana, the FBI simply told Bryant not to do it again.

    [On the] 7 October 2001 the United States began bombing Afghanistan …
    (p 171)
    Joseph Fiorenza [United States Conference of Catholic Bishops]:
    This is a just war. …
    (p 173)

    [The Challenge of Peace sets out the seven necessary conditions for a Just War that have been adopted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:]

    1. The Cause is Just
      The most obvious just cause' is defence against aggression …
      [Another] would be to stop grave violations of the basic rights of whole populations.

    2. Competent Authority
      War can only be waged by a legitimate government, with responsibility for keeping order.

    3. Comparative Justice
      The values at stake must be sufficiently critical to override the presumption against killing, and when right is not all on one side, the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other.

    4. Right Intention
      Force may only be used for just reasons, such as to achieve peace and reconciliation.

    5. Probability of Success
      No matter how just the cause may be, if resorting to arms will be futile, it is wrong to go to war.

    6. Proportionality
      The expected costs of going to war, in terms of loss of life and destruction, must be outweighed by the good expected to be achieved.

    7. Last Resort
      Force may be used only after all peaceful alternatives have been tried and exhausted.

    In the case of the US attack on Afghanistan, the first four criteria seem to pose little difficulty.
    (p 174)

    Probability of Success

    On [this] criterion … much depends on how the objectives of the war are seen. …
    Destroying the training camps, bringing its leaders to justice, and temporarily interfering with Al Qaeda's operations … were merely the means to the only justifiable goal of the 'war on terrorism': to stop, or sharply reduce, terrorist attacks.
    Was a war on Afghanistan likely to achieve that?

    The camps were primarily training fighters to support the Taliban in consolidating its hold over Afghanistan …
    Al Qaeda already had cells in Western nations, and it was from these that further terrorist attacks were likely to come.
    Indeed, as one study has said,
    [The] 11 September terrorist cells were less dependent functionally on Al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan than on flight schools in Florida.
    (p 175)

    A senior FBI counter-terrorism official has estimated that the war on Afghanistan reduced Al Qaeda's capacity to commit 'horrific acts' by 30%. …
    [Subsequent bombings demonstrated] {that the war in Afghanistan did not succeed in preventing major terrorist attacks:}
    • in Bali and the Philippines in October 2002,
    • in Riyadh and Casablanca in May 2003,
    • in Jakarta and Baghdad in August 2003, and
    • in Riyadh, Nasiriya and Istanbul in November 2003 …
    Since we can't re-run history without that war, we really don't know whether it reduced the number of such attacks by 30%, by 70%, or by any other figure. …

    It [might be argued] that overthrowing the government that had harboured the terrorists would be a warning to other governments that might consider supporting terrorists or allowing them to use their territory as a base. …

    [However, this needs to be balanced against the risk that invading an] Islamic nation would … give rise to more hatred of America among Muslims than a more narrowly focused attack on Al Qaeda.
    [In] the long run [such a war might increase terrorism rather than reduce it.]

    [It] is not clear that the requirement of having a reasonable probability of success was fulfilled.
    (p 176)


    Since the proportionality principle involves a weighing of costs and benefits, much depends on the uncertain nature of the benefits.
    If a successful war prevented Al Qaeda from mounting more operations on the scale of September 11, or from killing even larger numbers with nuclear or biological weapons, then the proportionality criterion was satisfied even if a significant number of civilians were killed.

    Last Resort

    [A nation should only go to war] when it has … exhausted all peaceful alternatives.
    Colin Powell:
    [Within 48 hours of the 9/11 attack] Bush was tired of rhetoric.
    The president wanted to kill somebody. …

    George W Bush (1946):
    Time is of the essence …
    It's very important to move fast …
    We've got to start showing results. …
    On 17 September, Bush told Powell to issue an ultimatum to the Taliban, ordering them to turn over bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and adding that if they did not comply …
    (p 177)
    George W Bush (1946):
    We'll attack them with missiles, bombers and boots on the ground. …
    Let's hit them hard.
    We want to signal this is a change from the past.
    We want to cause other countries like Syria and Iran to change their views.
    We want to hit as soon as possible {[with the] full force of the US military …
    [With] bombers coming from all directions …}
    Powell was 'slightly taken aback' that Bush wanted to give the Taliban an immediate ultimatum.
    In the end, Bush issued the ultimatum himself, in [a televised] speech to Congress … on 20 September. …
    Remarkably … after giving the Taliban the ultimatum, Bush never discussed, with Rice, with Powell, with the National Security Council, nor with any other advisers, the Taliban's response. …

    … Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, asked the US government to provide evidence of Osama bin Laden's involvement in the events of September 11, and indicated that if this was done, he would be willing to hand bin Laden over to an Islamic court in another Muslim country.
    (This proposal was later softened to a requirement that the court have at least one Muslim judge.)
    [Certainly, the US would have insisted on evidence before extraditing someone to be tried for a capital crime.]
    [They suggested] that the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a group of more than fifty Muslim countries, should be consulted.
    [And they offered to meet directly] with US officials. …

    [That Bush disregarded these overtures] indicates that … the ultimatum was [not designed to achieve a peaceful resolution of the crisis — but to provide a pretext or trigger] for going to war. …

    The original plan was to send in American ground troops simultaneously with the commencement of bombing, but the military did not have the necessary infrastructure in place for getting troops into Afghanistan quickly. …
    George W Bush (1946):
    I rely on my instincts.
    I just knew that at some point in time, the American people were going to say,
    Where is he?
    What are you doing?
    Where's your leadership?
    Where is the United States?
    You're all-powerful, do something.
    Since getting American ground troops into Afghanistan was going to take more time than Bush was prepared to accept, bombs and missiles were the obvious alternative. …
    [And since the] Bush war cabinet knew that the [Al Qaeda] training camps were already empty [the goal shifted] from attacking Al Qaeda to toppling the Taliban regime.
    (p 179)

    [Overthrowing the Taliban] was an option chosen by a leader who was in a hurry to act …
    • to show the American public that he was a leader …
    • to make an example of Afghanistan [and]
    • to send a signal to other nations.
    But impatience is not an ethical justification for going to war, and the signal could have been sent in other ways, less costly in human life. …
    The inevitability of a major loss of innocent human life in the war … makes it an ethical imperative to search very hard for an alternative to war.
    (p 180)

    A peace-loving president would have been more convincing in trying all other options.
    That would have been emotionally and politically difficult in the days immediately following September 11, but [that is what a greater man or woman would have attempted to do.]
    [And] if those options had failed [then at least, war would truly have been the measure of] last resort.
    (p 181)

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