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Kondracke column misses the point


            Morton Kondracke leaves unrepaired two fundamental weak points in his long explanation of President Bush's possible "near-greatness" ("Is Bush a 'failed president'?" Herald, Aug. 18). Kondracke says that Bush's eventual historical ranking will depend upon whether or not during Bush's presidency the U.S. can accomplish a "victory" in Iraq.

            One of the weak points in that argument is the absence of a key definition. Kondracke does not define exactly what he has in mind by the term "victory." Considering the Iraq civil war, the population decimated and displaced, the infrastructure wrecked, the Iraqi government crippled or corrupt, the U.S. military extremely stressed, the financial burdens of the war continually increasing, and, most of all, the continuing loss of lives, what could possibly count as "victory"? Such a strain on the language would be unworkable for any propaganda machine.

            A second weak point in Kondracke's argument is his omission of all evidence bearing upon the question of Bush's presidential performance aside from whatever happens in Iraq. It is unreasonable to limit the evidence to Iraq.

            There are additional issues in Bush's presidency. Questions about the response to Katrina and about the firings of U.S. attorneys are relevant. The outing of a covert CIA official and the cover-up thereof are relevant. The violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by wiretapping American citizens appears to have been a failed presidential responsibility. The use of torture, breaking Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions is another failure. Perhaps the most serious of Bush's failures, though, was the manipulation of intelligence to sell the invasion of Iraq.

            How in the world could these matters indicate a "near-great" presidency? Along with Bush's presidency thus far, though likewise skillfully propagandized, Kondracke's logic is a failure.

Luther Scales

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