Conservatives' new books have Bush in crosshairs

Conservatives who charge President George Bush has imposed a theocracy, risked United States bankruptcy and fanned flames of anti-Americanism are flooding US booksellers with their irate tomes.

Leading the list of bestsellers on Amazon.com is commentator Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy, the Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil and Borrowed Money in the 21st century.

“The rapture, end-times, and Armageddon hucksters in the US rank with any Shi’ite ayatollahs, and the last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the GOP into the first religious party in US history,” argues Phillips, who cites messianic overtones in some of Bush’s pronouncements, the mobilisation of churches ahead of elections and of creationist fervour.

According to Phillips, this trend is bad news for the United States.

“The religious hawkishness, substitution of faith for reason, and missionary insistence increasingly visible in the US have plagued leading world economic powers from [ancient] Rome to [Inquisition-era] Spain to [imperial] Britain,” he warns.

Commentator Bruce Bartlett, who worked for the Reagan administration, focuses on the consequences of Budget deficits in his book titled Impostor, how George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.

His hypothesis cost him his research job at the conservative National Centre for Policy Analysis, but he had a soft landing at the libertarian Cato Institute.

Francis Fukuyama uses his book America at the Crossroads to explain his break with the neoconservatism he once held dear.

He recalled “the disjuncture between what I believed and what other neoconservatives seemed to be believe was brought home to me in February 2004 when I attended the annual dinner” of the American Enterprise Institute.

“This speech [by syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer], given almost a year after the US invasion of Iraq, treated the war as a virtually unqualified success. I could not understand why everyone around me was applauding the speech enthusiastically, given that the US had found no WMD in Iraq, was bogged down in a vicious insurgency, and had almost totally isolated itself from the rest of the world by following the kind of unipolar strategy advocated,” he wrote.

For Fukuyama, “the fact that these errors were made by the world’s sole superpower exposes the fatal flaw lying at the heart of a world order based on American benevolent hegemony.
The hegemony has to be not just well-intentioned but also prudent and smart in its exercise of power”.

Political analyst Thomas Mann, who works for the Brookings Institution, argues that “the books themselves reflect a broader political talk that’s under way now”.

“Bush had achieved remarkable unity and support among conservatives and Republicans, and now in the face of sagging poll ratings, huge Budget deficits and a very unpopular war,” his performance has come under intense review and criticism, says Mann.

Among the harshest attacks against Bush have been books penned by former counterterrorism czar Richard Clark, and former treasury secretary Paul O’Neill. - AFP

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