A reliable prophet of doom

To some people, George Bush is a visionary, a bold man who will bring democracy to the world’s people, defend America in this new age of insecurity, and hunt down terrorists wherever they may be hiding.

    To some, George Bush is an incompetent nutcase, a man who bungled the hunt for Osama bin Laden, got bogged down in Iraq, botched the Katrina relief effort and drove the Iranians to try to develop a nuclear weapon. As George himself famously said: "Our enemies never stop trying to come up with new ways to harm our people, and neither do we."


    Visionary, moron, or something in between – everyone has their favourite label. One label that you do not hear very often, however, is prophet.   


    I believe that George Bush is a prophet. But not just any old prophet. A special kind – one whose actions bring about the very things he claims will happen, albeit without any recognition of his role in causing them to occur. He is, therefore, a self-fulfilling prophet. Let me explain. 


    In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, George Bush told the American people that Iraq was somehow connected to global terrorism. He said that under Saddam Hussein’s leadership, Iraq was harbouring terrorists. 


    "The US must revert to its pre WW1 and WW2 isolationist foreign policy. Stay completely out of the internal affairs of other countries. This is a proven formula for world peace".

    Michael O'Connor, Australia



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    At the time, most political analysts and security experts outside of the Pentagon thought he was wrong. If there were any terrorists there, they were sure keeping a low profile.  There were no terrorist training camps, nothing to suggest an inflow and outflow of foreign fighters. 

    In short, there was nothing that would indicate that Iraq was the centre of any terrorist organisation. On the strength of the available evidence, many concluded that he was waging the wrong war.


    But just look at Iraq now. Iraq is clearly a centre for terrorism, a global hub for myriad loosely affiliated, interconnected terrorist groups. 

    I believe that George Bush is a prophet.  But not just any old prophet.  A special kind – one whose actions bring about the very things he claims will happen, albeit without any recognition of his role in causing them to occur. 

    Furthermore, not only is there an al-Qaida presence in Iraq, but they have a head office with a high-profile branch leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. There are probably dozens of terrorist training camps, sending jihadi graduates out into short but high-impact careers involving car bombings and suicide attacks on markets, mosques and hospitals. 

    There are frequent kidnappings and occasional beheadings. Oil supplies are almost continually disrupted, and a large portion of the money originally earmarked for reconstruction is siphoned off paying the exorbitant prices demanded by private security firms. Sectarian violence is raging. It is not yet civil war, but it is getting close. So, three years on, we should admit that, gosh darn it, George was right after all. 


    For the sceptics out there who remain unconvinced, let me give you another example of George’s prophetic ability. 


    When Guantanamo Bay first opened, the Bush administration told the rest of the world that it was being used to house people who "hate America and its ideology of freedom". It was a place filled with "al-Qaida sympathisers opposed to our values of justice", people who "would not hesitate to strike against us if given the chance". 


    Once again, at the time, most military and political strategists outside the defence department thought that George was wrong. 

    The vast majority of those transferred from Afghanistan had been captured by Afghan security forces who were paid $5,000 for any "terrorists or foreign fighters" they could find. 

    It was inevitable, therefore, that most of the people had nothing to do with the Taliban or al-Qaida and everything to do with some soldier’s greed. Most detainees were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even the military interrogators and the CIA came to the conclusion there that there was little to be gained from questioning any of them further. Yet the Bush administration refused to release them. 


    So, is George right? This prophecy is more difficult to verify without first-hand knowledge of the current situation inside Guantanamo. However, I still think it is possible to speculate.


    Four years on, after enduring torture, abuse, force-feeding and solitary confinement, it is almost inevitable that many of the detainees will be have developed a dislike for the American doctrine of “freedom”. 

    After being denied any legal status, after being refused access to lawyers, and with the fear of kangaroo courts that can sentence them to death, it would not be surprising to find that many of the detainees might be suspicious about America’s justice system. That the detainees on hunger strike are not even being allowed to die with dignity, but are being force-fed in the most brutal fashion, would probably cause a few of them to develop, if not a hatred, then at least an intense dislike of what the American people are allowing to be done to them. 


    And, just as George predicted, those who were released have not hesitated to strike back against America. Several Pakistani men are compiling a legal case and are planning to sue the US government for kidnapping, abuse and illegal detention. 

    George Bush predicts that his war on terror will be a long war. It may last decades, even generations.  It will involve kicking in doors, raiding houses, torturing suspects, bombing villages, invading other countries, deposing other heads of state and setting up puppet governments.

    Moazzam Begg, a British citizen and former Guantanamo detainee, has written a book entitled Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim’s Journey to Guantanamo and Back. In it he provides a detailed account of the mistreatment he received. Also, the now-famous Tipton Three are the subject of Micheal Winterbottom’s new movie The Road to Guantanamo. The negative publicity generated by these former inmates will undoubtedly serve to further undermine America’s case for Guantanamo.      


    And even if what Donald Rumsfeld says is true, that "some of the people we released have later been captured on the battlefield attacking US soldiers", is anyone even slightly surprised? If I were just an ordinary Afghani farmer or teacher, after enduring years of horrific treatment, I would probably be willing to join up and fight the Americans on my release. And there is probably little I could say that would convince my brothers, cousins or sons not to try to avenge my humiliating treatment.


    So, if George’s prophecy has not yet fully come true, it soon will. The longer the detainees at Guantanamo are denied justice, the longer they are subjected to torture, abuse or humiliation, the more likely it is that they will develop a hatred of everything for which the US claims to stand. It will not be surprising if some decide to act on their frustrations. 


    One last point. George Bush predicts that his war on terror will be a long war. It may last decades, even generations. It will involve kicking in doors, raiding houses, torturing suspects, bombing villages, invading other countries, deposing other heads of state and setting up puppet governments. It will involve rooting out and killing terrorists and their sympathisers wherever they may be hiding. 


    There may be mistakes, of course. There may be unintended casualties, such as Pakistani villages that turn out not to have hosted al-Qaida dinner parties. There may cases of mistaken identity or miscommunication, resulting in innocent people being rendered to countries that use even more horrific methods of torture than the US can dream of employing. 

    There may even be cases where there turn out not to be stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in countries where Bush was sure there were. After all, making prophecies is more art than science, and interpreting the meaning of divine revelation takes practice and skill. Sometimes it may not seem right at first, or may contradict the current evidence available. 


    But given George’s track record on Iraq – which turned out in the end to be a terrorist hotbed – and Guantanamo – where people are now very suspicious of American justice – excuse me if I start to believe him. 


    George is truly a self-fulfilling prophet. If the US continues its campaign of bombing with impunity, abrogating human rights and threatening to attack anyone, anywhere, any time, then the war on terror will be very long indeed. God help us.

    [Joshua Hergesheimer is a Canadian freelance columnist based in the UK. His writing focuses on the implications of political violence in contemporary society.]

    The opinions expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position or have the endorsement of Aljazeera.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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