The following was written in reply to Richard, under the heading below on the Most Invisible Ex President. It had enough content to merit, I think, putting it up top as a post of its own. You can follow Richard’s questions and comments in his entry at the end of the other posting.
Here are a few thoughts, in your order of asking. I appreciate you are not American, which says a lot (most of it probably good) about your media exposure.
1. There are several ways to look at the collapse. The “real” cause, in my mind, was an explosion in global liquidity, itself caused by the Bank of Japan and the Carry Trade, and the huge influx of petrodollars resulting from radical rises in oil pricing. (Our members/subscribers have been watching this since before these things happened, which no doubt gives them an easier perspective on this than non-members would have. I’ve been writing about it for years.)
My comment re: Bush (and, in the case of one Act, Clinton) is that he gutted regulatory legislation, intentionally appointed non-enforcers to key financial regulatory positions (like the SEC), and made sure that there was no oversight, no regulation, and no action of any kind that would threaten or temper the moves by commercial and investment bankers that eventually blew up the global economy. These moves (off-sheet liabilities, insurance exposures sixty times the market value of the firm, mis-ranked mortgage packages, etc.) are directly the result of the Bush approach to governing, and I consider him both directly and indirectly responsible.
2. I don’t think Obama is glib; he seems to me to be talking quite thoughtfully about the huge issues he and we were handed.
He and Geithner have save the world from what they both saw on inauguration day: a real global economic abyss, caused by ethical, legal and financial breaches so great and deep that there was no assurance of avoiding real global collapse. People tend to forget this rather quickly, particularly now that we seem to have been saved. One might begin by saying, Thank you.
Next comes the part you, and our eloquent president, are both worried about: when is it time to pull back. He knows it’s a big issue, you know it, and I know it. I have always felt that the real problem, rooted in the original cause, is too much global liquidity. Just having everyone print and spend more money won’t fix it, rather, it will exacerbate it. Obama has begun talking about pulling back, but the question is when.
So yes, I, too, am worried about hyperinflation.
3. Bush was NOT deceived by his intelligence services; this is a bit of pastiche served up by the Bush team, after the fact, as a lie to cover their own misdirected activities. People either missed, or have forgotten, that CIA leader George Tenet testifying before the Senate, prior to the Iraq War, that Saddam and Iraq did not pose a threat to the U.S. worthy of war.
You probably didn’t know that. There is a fascinating story of the Bush team manipulating the CIA (and not the other way around), including installing a new agency uber-boss (ODI), arrogating almost all CIA tasks to the Pentagon, and then, when Tenet went along for the ride, giving him a Congressional Medal of Honor – and firing him.
What a joke. And no one seems to have caught the whole tragic / comedic play.
It is, however, very true that Cheney and Rumsfeld appeared to have been completely bamboozled (fooled) by the exiled Iraqi National Congress and the strange, self-serving Mssr. Chalabi. He took them for a real ride, and was only able to do so because they had shut themselves off from the country experts in the State Department and the CIA.
As for Colin Powell: his perfidy in the Iraq War buildup (he was against it, I believe, but went along with the lies and fake evidence to keep his own career on track)was professional suicide. As far as I can tell, a previously-great man self-destructed in front of the world during his goofy UN go-to-war speech.
Bush was more a puppet than a deceiver, but he was a knowing puppet. What is the ethical cost of that position? Cheney was the happy deceiver, as we continue to find out day by day.
There were never any WMDs, but Cheney and others continued to suggest that there were WMDS that got somehow lost or hidden, on Fox (not) News, while also claiming that Saddam really was linked to Al Quaeda. Talk about misdirection.
The best global science today shows that some number between 600K and 1MM Iraqi civilians have been killed since the U.S. attack began. No one is claiming that the US Army massacred anyone (ie, no one is claiming any My Lai – llike incidents.) But if you are interested, you can go back and review the first full-scale U.S. attack on Anbar, and on the town of Fallujah.
I just picked this video up from a Google search on the town, it is called “The Massacre of Fallujah”.
I don’t believe that, as bad as Saddam was, he was responsible for more Iraqi civilian deaths than Bush. And that is ironic. If the Johns Hopkiins and European research teams are correct, Bush killed more innocents than Saddam.
5. The war in Afghanistan was a direct, and perhaps necessary, result of 9.11. The Taliban had sheltered the terrorists who bombed the Twin Towers, and refused to hand Osama et al over to us. End of story. And yes, it has been a bloody one, wholly self-inflicted. It is a difficult war, but not, in the sense of Iraq, a commercially-driven, or stupid, one.
6. If I understand your question: yes, all presidents are expected to put their own people into top jobs in the government, as part of the changeover. But don’t let this cloud your understand of what Bush did that was strictly illegal: presidents are not allowed to select Department of Justice employees based SOLELY upon party affiliation. I still expect Bush team members to face felony charges over these actions.
Thank you for writing in a thoughtful letter, Richard. I hope these comments help.