Arrogance

By

Richard W. Crockett

 

The New York Times, based upon

information obtained in an official

background briefing, reported on Tuesday

of last week that President Bush “was

planning to issue a stern warning” on the

next day, Wednesday, “that the United

States would not accept a political transition

in Cuba in which power changes from one

Castro brother to another, rather than to the

Cuban people.” Of course they are referring

to Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul Castro,

heir apparent to the leadership of the Cuban

regime. In the actual delivery of the message

at the Wednesday press conference, the

message was softened, considerably from

the language in the “backgrounder,” but I

suspect the “backgrounder” of being the

more representative of the true feelings of

the President on the matter.

It is usually the case that a “backgrounder”

is “not for attribution.” This means that the

press is not supposed to disclose the name

of the source. It was an official background

briefing and it described the Bush position

as “unbending” and the position was to be

given in front of “invited Cuban dissidents,”

suggesting that the intention is as much for

American domestic political consumption

as for any urgent compassion for the Cuban

people. The position represented in this

statement sounds a little like the way we

got ourselves in trouble with Iraq, Iran, and

Korea at a time when we didn’t need to,

by naming them in the “axis of evil” and

doing so for American domestic political

consumption.

The late Senator J. William Fulbright of

Arkansas who served as Chairman of the

Senate Foreign Relations Committee for

many years and who held a PhD in political

science authored a book entitled The

Arrogance of Power. I am sure that the Bush

statement and policy regarding Cuba is

exactly the kind of arrogance that the late

Senator had in mind.

What do you suppose that Bush plans to

do about it, if the Cubans do a hand-off of

power to Raul Castro? (This is, by the way,

something that has substantially already

happened.) Are we going to go to war? And

what business is it of ours what the Cuban

regime looks like, anyway? It is not as if Cuba

is a vanguard of a worldwide communist

conspiracy, threatening the very core of our

capitalist system. Frankly, it would be easier

to make a case for a world wide capitalist

conspiracy — it’s called globalization.

And further, how will America look to

the rest of the world if we try to prevent

Raul Castro from “officially” coming to

power? This is, of course, on the heels of

the latest drumbeat for a war with Iran. The

President appears to be trying to redefine

his presidential role as Commander in Chief

to that of Belligerent-in-Chief.

I used to believe that while both President

Bush and Vice President Cheney were

impeachable on legitimate grounds, that

an impeachment proceeding was not in

the country’s best interest. And besides,

there would not be enough time to get it

done. But I think I have changed my mind on

this issue. And both should be impeached,

the Vice President first. While the reason

for me to not impeach the President and

Vice President was that it is too great a

distraction from the nation’s important

business, I now believe that is exactly what

we need — an acute distraction for the

President and Vice President in order to

keep them and our country out of trouble.

We need to hog-tie them “up” for the

remainder of the presidential term for the

sole purpose of minimizing the damage

that they can do to America in the eyes of

the international community. If the country

continues on its present course, because of

Arrogance

universal loathing toward us, our influence

in the world community will be reduced to

zero, and our so-called “leadership” will be

exposed as a farce.

If impeachment proceedings were

initiated, they should begin with a charge

that the President and Vice President have

violated their oath of office to “preserve

and protect the Constitution” of the United

States. Legitimate reasons must include

those which support “treason, bribery, or

other high crimes and misdemeanors.” In the

public discussion of Bush’s impeachment,

these usually include charges that the

President ordered surveillance (wiretapping)

of certain international calls to and from the

U.S. without a warrant, that the President

approved the designation of “enemy

combatant” status in order to deny prisoners

of war the protections of the Geneva

Convention, that the President ordered

“extraordinary rendition” of prisoners to

other countries in order to accomplish

torture, that the President permitted

the development of torture memos and

the practice of “enhanced interrogation

techniques” and implemented these

techniques at Abu Ghraib prison, and

other places, that the President and other

high administration officials were involved

in the CIA leak — the outing of CIA agent

Valerie Plame for political purposes, that

the President engaged in the obstruction

of justice by commuting Lewis Libby’s

sentence while the matter was still pending

before a judge, that the President engaged

in “declassifying” a National Intelligence

Report for political purposes, but in addition

we should include a claim that the president

abused his power as Commander-in-Chief

by initiating a war of aggression. In the case

of the Vice President, the charges would

center on the issue of corruption, relating

to the fact that he remained in the pay

of Halliburton during his vice presidency

and was instrumental in guiding Iraq war

contracts in their direction, constituting a

bribe. Such charges could provide some

deterrent to additional immediate wars of

aggression.

Although the war-of-aggression claim may

be construed by a conservative Supreme

Court as not being an impeachable offense,

it doesn’t matter since an impeachment

proceeding would be conducted by the

House of Representatives and tried before

the Senate. If all senators were in attendance

at the trial, as might be reasonably expected,

67 votes would be needed for conviction.

This is very unlikely with the present

numerical count in congress. But the

impeachment process and this charge

would serve to send a political signal to the

world community that the American people

(to be distinguished from our political

leadership) will reign in their own leadership

when they engage in a belligerent foreign

policy that oversteps the boundaries of

international law and human decency.

This might restore some measure of our

country’s good name in the eyes of the

world, which would in turn be very useful

in international diplomacy. The process

may also put a brake on the reckless, and I

emphasize reckless, the reckless use of the

President’s powers as Commander-in-Chief

to conduct war without a congressional

declaration of war as provided for in the

Constitution — restoring the system of

checks and balances to some degree. I

have to confess that in my gut I still suspect

that an attempt at impeachment could

be politically unwise for the Democrats,

causing them to “snatch defeat from the

jaws of victory,” to use a cliché, in the next

election. Still, it may be that loyalty to our

country and duty to the nation and the

Constitution is a higher calling.

A note of interest, by using the Google

internet website searching for the topic,

“impeachment of President Bush,” in .22

seconds (note that is decimal point and

then 22 seconds) the website will produce

1,910,000 references on the topic. It appears

that the idea has occurred to somebody.

 

Monmouth resident Richard W. Crockett

is a retired professor of political science from

Western Illinois University in Macomb.

 

11/01/07