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The weight of the Bush legacy on his shoulders

By Dino Cesta - posted Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Many Americans, and many more citizens of the world, felt a sense of exaltation on the day Barack Obama was elected the next President of the United States. And now, just more than one month into the new Presidency, we are still living off the fading embers of the euphoric and landmark inauguration.

Not since the foundation of its nation has there been such an unprecedented level of messianic expectation superimposed on a President by those at home and abroad.

From both a national and international perspective that expectation emanates, in part, from a need for the United States Government to re-engage with the community and salvage the tarnished reputation of the US President as an international statesman.


A new dawn has arrived for the nation and for the world. President Obama tapped into a global psyche for the renewal of a peaceful new world order of humanity - in reinvigorating the hope of peace in the world; in healing newborn and historical rifts between the Eastern, Middle and Western worlds; in regenerating prosperity and promoting the rights of the underclass; in saving the planet and its inhabitants from environmental destruction; and renourishing the moral fibre of humankind.

With the sun having set on eight years of Republican rule the Bush presidency, arguably, presided over a morally and economically bankrupt administration which diminished the foundation blocks of humanity and tarnished the global reputation and soul of a nation.

As we gaze over our immediate horizon, it’s difficult to consider anything other than the history pages will not be kind to former President George W Bush. Nonetheless, it may be premature in making such findings so soon after the end of his presidency. As time passes, perhaps history may treat President Bush more kindly than the judgment made by today’s generation.

Under the watch of the Bush presidency, the United States illegally invaded the nation-state of Iraq on false pretences; breached the United Nations Charter by the use of military force without United Nations Security Council consent; disrespected the norms of international law; acted with inhumanity in its war against terrorism; neglected to confront the climatic challenges of an endangered planet; and left behind a demoralised domestic and global economy.

And if a key objective of the Bush presidency was to export democracy and advance freedom across the four corners of the world, it only achieved the advancement of anti-Americanism around the globe, including in the western world.

Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib personified the real casualties of the fight against terrorism - confiscation of individuals’ democratic rights; violation of basic human rights principles; creation of a legal black hole that deliberatively and indefinitely imprisoned individuals by abandoning principles of justice, fairness, the presumption of innocence; and rights to due legal process, whether through the US courts or the international court system.


The torturous and barbaric acts at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo reflected a conquest of unbridled American supremacy. It relegated legal rights, morality, and humanity to the reserves bench by the construction of a zone free of rights, and with a flagrant disregard of international conventions including those of the Geneva Conventions.

This intolerable behaviour, and the submissive acceptance by those that formed part of the “Coalition of the Willing” inflamed and handed terrorists and the globally disaffected increased impetus to employ further unconscionably lawless actions against innocent civilians - the Madrid, London and Bali bombings being cases in point.

President Barack Obama will be called to unravel the moral anarchy that flourished during Bush’s terms of office. Until President Obama proves otherwise through action and not solely by inspired rhetoric, no longer can the United States automatically be seen as the lighthouse for democracy.

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About the Author

Dino Cesta is a freelance communicator of thoughts, opinions and ideas on politics, economic and social issues and public policy. Cofounder of the non-profit organisation Hand in Hand Arthouse, and the Newcastle Italian Film Festival, Dino graduated with a Bachelor of Economics and Master of Politics and Public Policy. You can follow Dino on View from the Obelisk or Twitter on @dinoc888

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