Salve, qui has fortasse legas –
" ‘TIS done — but yesterday a King!
And arm’d with Kings to strive —
And now thou art a nameless thing:
So abject — yet alive! "
Well, I can’t keep those lines out of my head (‘Ode to Napoleon’ by Byron, set to music by Schoenberg), even if they don’t apply precisely to President Bush and his administration. But come January 20th, it will largely be … ‘done’.
The legacy remains. To me, the recent attacks on Mumbai, directed by extremist murdrers against wealthy tourists and the people catering to them, point up the foreign policy legacy left by Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and, of course, the most recent Bush (which is to say, by Rove, Cheney, Libby, Rumsfeld, et alii). Republican foreign policy can generally be summed up by a macho motto that my Godfather used to cite as bad conduct:
"Hooray for me and to Hell with thee!"
I don’t think this is any way to run foreign policy. The more America strikes out with the indiscriminate and hideously "collateral" sword of modern war, the more that same gigantic shotgun of suffering and loss alienates more-or-less friendly states and their people, and the more it confirms and glorifies the same rabid boys of "terror-land" – Iraqui insurgents, Mumbai raiders, Iranian racists, Somali pirates – that it’s intended to combat. It’s a lovely spiral of war and spite: "You are threatening my nation!" "No, you are threatening mine!" "No! You…."
So, as we enter the Christmas season, I toast a new administration and the hope that they can navigate the nastiness with a bit more brains and good sense.