The military adventure that George W. Bush embarked on within months of his inauguration in 2001 was to eclipse everything else in his presidency. His name will forever be synonymous with the “war on terror.” What started as a military response to al Qaeda’s attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, with the goal of neutralizing al Qaeda and its Taliban hosts in Afghanistan, quickly fused with the neo-conservative agenda to dominate and reshape the Middle East. Al Qaeda’s terrorism was answered by the terror of American military power, which has destroyed or blighted the lives of millions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
Overcoming the Bush Legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan identifies systematically the naive calculations, strategic and operational blunders, disregard for history and for other cultures, and even downright prejudice that have brought so much harm to so many. The legacy of Bush’s foreign policy will take years to overcome. His war on terror provoked resentment and violent opposition, opened up sectarian divisions, and created Hobbesian conditions of war of all against all. The long-term price tag for America has been estimated at a colossal $3 trillion, but as the Deepak Tripathi seeks to demonstrate in this book, the overall cost, in human and economic terms, will be incalculable.
Commentators and reviewers have pointed out that Overcoming the Bush Legacy focuses upon the several background cultural and political environments generating and exacerbating these events; the endorsement of the religious Right and far-Right elements for the Bush candidacy; the assertion of the superiority of Judeo-Christian values; and the role played by all of these forces.
How different therefore is the twenty-first century United States compared to the country depicted in Alexis de Tocqueville's classic French text Democracy in America (1835-1840)and Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States (1980). Both describe a country at odds with its own values and at odds with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion and prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Historically, American has defied its own ideal of respecting human rights when it suited her. And tenets of Christianity have been used to justify violence against other peoples, mainly of non-European origins, in the name of freedom.
Is this the kind of America the world needs? And what can be done to reverse the tide? These provide some of the talking points. Contributions to this debate are welcome ...
Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez is a Chicana writer, activist and teacher whose many years ... more
Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez is a Chicana writer, activist and teacher whose many years of social justice work are legendary. She speaks on racism, multiculturalism, women's struggles and today's new movements.
In the 1960s and 70s, she worked in the Black civil rights movement and the Chicano movement. She co-founded and currently chairs the Institute for MultiRacial Justice to help build alliances between communities of color.
Martinez is the author of six books and numerous articles. Her best-known work is 500 Years of Chicano History, which became the basis for the video she co-directed. Her latest book is De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views for a Multi-Colored Century (South End Press).