Bush, Obstinately

If George Bush’s objective with the publication of his memoirs “Decision Point” and the ensuing round of promotional interviews for the book was the rehabilitation of his battered image in American society, I very much doubt that he will succeed.

For this to occur, the former president would have to either provide new information on his presidency that could alter the judgment on the merits of his decisions, or show at least some degree of regret concerning his most controversial policies. Nevertheless, he does neither of these. His memoirs are largely redundant and self-indulgent.

“Decision Points” provides little new information on his presidency. Instead, it offers a number of interesting anecdotes about his private life, such as the question he posed while drunk to a friend of his mother’s: “What is sex like after 50?”

As far as his policy decisions are concerned, it is ridiculous that at this stage Bush continues to insist that “waterboarding” (or the “submarino” [submarine] in Spanish-speaking lands) is not torture. For all that his lawyers may have told him at the time that it was a legal practice, it’s hard to believe that the former president was so stupid as to not know that they were lying to him.

In any case, even if that could have been true, by now Bush must already have heard more than once that the U.S. Army denounced “waterboarding” as torture when the Japanese military used the procedure against American prisoners during World War II.

Therefore, one has to be a hypocrite and a coward, in addition to being a dangerous cynic, to continue to insist on television that “waterboarding” is not torture. What is it that Bush is trying to tell us, that it is torture only when it is applied to U.S. citizens, but not when they are the ones who are applying it?

If the former president considers the use of torture in the fight against terrorism to be legitimate, then let him say so openly, and that will be the moral debate we will have. But it is insulting for him to repeat to us the same tired old song when experts in human rights are unanimous in considering “waterboarding” to be an abuse.

Probably, Bush doesn’t realize that his comments only serve to tarnish the image of the U.S. One of the things for which the world’s only superpower is most reproached is the double standard by which it measures the actions of its troops or those of its allies.

This same week we have seen yet another example. While in 2006 Israel chose to blockade Gaza and isolate Hamas, among other things, for not having agreed to the famous “Road Map,” Israel itself was “punished” only with a small verbal reprimand when it flagrantly violated the Road Map by building new settlements. And nobody in Washington has even the slightest intention to question the approximately $3 billion of aid that American taxpayers annually send to Israel.

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