Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Lessons in Democracy for George Bush

George Bush demonstrates that 6 years into his presidency, he still doesn't understand how the American system works.
"I believe strongly that politicians in Washington shouldn't be telling generals how to do their job," Bush said. "And I believe artificial timetables of withdrawal would be a mistake."
Of course, politicians in Washington do tell generals how to do their jobs. Generals don't declare wars, and they don't sign peace treaties. They fight where and when they're told. And they stop when they're told. That's how mature democracies operate.

The alternative is what we see in Turkey:
Turkey's military, which has toppled three governments since 1960, warned it may not allow a candidate with Islamist roots to be president. In an election on Friday in parliament where the AKP has a majority, Gul had come within 10 votes of being the first Turkish president with an Islamist past.
The idea that the military might decide who can or cannot be elected is anathema to proponents of true democracy, and we can only hope that Turkey avoids falling into that trap, again.

But George Bush has been a supporter of such autocratic arrangements in the past. Here's Governor Bush's take on Pervez Musharraf a mere month after that General overthrew the elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who had attempted to fire him.
Bush said: "The new Pakistani general, he's just been elected – not elected, this guy took over office. It appears this guy is going to bring stability to the country and I think that's good news for the subcontinent."
Our president should be happy that his own generals take their oaths to uphold the Constitution more seriously than he does.

Update: the president's confusion is made clear. He doesn't realize he's a politician. He believes he's "the commander guy":
Our commanders saw this as an opportunity to step up the pressure on al Qaeda. Our commanders made the recommendation from the field that they could use more troops to help secure Anbar. And so I ordered additional U.S. Marines and special operation forces to Anbar as part of our reinforcement package; 4,000 of the troops are going into Anbar.

That didn't make any sense to me, to impose the will of politicians over the recommendations of our military commanders in the field. So I vetoed the bill.

And that's what we do. We put in more troops to get to a position where we can be in some other place. The question is, who ought to make that decision? The Congress or the commanders? And as you know, my position is clear -- I'm the commander guy.
h/t too many blogs to keep track of

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