The Weiner Component V.2 #38 – Money & the Presidents: Part 4

English: Official photograph portrait of forme...

English: Official photograph portrait of former U.S. President George W. Bush. Português: Foto oficial de George W. Bush, presidente dos Estados Unidos da América. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

U.S. President George W. Bush and Afghan Presi...

U.S. President George W. Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai appear together Wednesday, March 1, 2006, at a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afganistan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clinton raised taxes for the very wealthy and lowered them for everyone else.  There was prosperity with deficit reduction for his last three years in office.  George W. Bush lowered taxes for the rich and gave everyone else a token discount on their income taxes.  He also got the U.S. involved in two wars, one of which was unnecessary and the National Debt zoomed to the point of almost doubling.  Over his eight years in office the National Debt went from 5 trillion 792 billion dollars to 11 trillion 898 billion dollars.

 

In November of 2,000 George W. Bush won the Presidential Election in an extremely controversial election.  His Democratic opponent, Al Gore, had a greater popular vote.  And in Florida they used a punch out ballot in the election.  The problem here was that the punch outs required an additional effort to be totally detached from the ballot.  Numerous ballots contained partially punched out votes.  These were not immediately counted and later had to be considered one by one.  The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, made a negative point over counting individual ballots and the practice was discontinued, giving the presidential victory to George W. Bush.  It was victory by default!

 

From January 20,Th when he assumed office, until the early afternoon of September 1, 2001 nothing much happened in the country.  On the morning of that day President George W. Bush was reading to a Primary school class from one of their textbooks when news arrived of what had happened at the New York City World Trade Center.

 

Four large passenger American airplanes, after takeoff from Eastern airports, had been hijacked by groups of Al-Qaeda terrorists.  Two had crashed into each of the two main towers of the 110 story World Trade Center, destroying the towers.  One plane had crashed in the countryside on its way to Washington, D.C. and the fourth plane had crashed into the Pentagon, destroying a section of it.  2,996 people had been killed and over 6,000 people were injured.  There was over 10 billion dollars in property damage.

 

The leader and founder of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, had set up the terrorist mission.  He would be killed several years later by navy seals working under the orders of then President Barack Obama.

 

President Bush’s reaction was to declare War on Terrorism and go after Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which was then housed in and which also controlled the government of Afghanistan.  The United States, initially supported by Canada and the United Kingdom, and later by a coalition of over 40 countries, all belonging to the United Nations, would attack Afghanistan, the home country of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.  Their object was to deny the terrorists a safe haven in Afghanistan by removing it from their control.

 

On October 7, 2001, President Bush launched Operation “Enduring Freedom” with Great Britain.  They were later joined by the Afghanistan Northern Alliance which had been fighting the Taliban in a Civil War since 1996.  In December 2001 the United Nations Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force.  NATO became involved in August 2003.  The U.S. provided the commanding general.  This force included troops from 43 nations.

 

Osama bin Laden and his forces had been driven out of the country but the Civil War continues today, over 16 years after.  The Afghanistan government, democratically set up by the U.S. and U.N., has never been able to control the country.  This has been done by the United States and its United Nations allies.

 

In May 2012, NATO leaders ordered an exit strategy.  In 2014 the U.S. announced its major military operations were over and that it would leave a residual force in the country.  In 2014 the British handed over their bases to the Afghan government and on December 2014 NATO formally ended military operations.  In September of 2017 the Trump Administration deployed an additional 3,000 troops to Afghanistan bringing the U.S. presence there up to 14,000 soldiers.  There doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.

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Early in the Afghan War President Bush, his Vice President, Dick Chaney, and his Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, met in Texas to discuss with the Commanding General Tommy Franks “Desert Storm II,” the invasion of Iraq which Bush considered part of the “axis of evil.”  Presumably, under Saddam Hussein, Iraq contained “weapons of mass destruction” and was a threat to the United States.

 

Iraq, at that time was allowing U.N. experts to examine their military facilities searching for illegal weapons.  The United Nation inspectors complained that Bush’s invasion cut their investigation short.  In fact the CIA had mixed feelings about Iraq having these weapons.  They mostly felt that there were “no weapons of mass destruction.”  It turned out they were right.

 

Why did Bush and his coterie insist upon invading Iraq?  There was no evidence that they had in any way participated in the destruction of the Twin Towers.  Bush was creating another war that was not really necessary.  Two reasons emerge here.  One was that they believed they could remake Iraq into a small version of the United States.  All they had to do was get rid of its dictator, Saddam Hussein.  Then they could hold a Democratic Election and the new Iraq would live happily ever after.  They did not understand anything about the Middle East.  They were either totally naïve or completely ignorant.

 

The other reason was the fact that Saddam Hussein had attempted to have George W. Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush assassinated and the son wanted to punish him.  It could have been a combination of the two reasons.  They saw it as a win, win situation.  In any event the cost of this decision was over 3,000 American soldier’s lives and about ½ million Iraqi lives.  In addition it destabilized the Middle East and forced us to continue to keep troops in Iraq as the government there was never able to maintain control of the country.

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During Bush’s last year in office, 2008, the Real Estate Bubble, which the banks had been creating since the 1980s, burst.  People had been encouraged to use their homes as bank accounts.  They could always refinance their home whose value kept increasing  largely because of the continual refinancing.  In essence the banks had gradually created money in the trillions of dollars throughout the country by continually refinancing homes at ever increasing value.  By 2007 the problem became obvious but the majority of bankers were in denial.  In fact some of them began refinancing homes at 125 percent of their appraised value.  The entire system collapsed in 2008, Bush’s last year in office.  Many homeowners suddenly owed more on their houses than they were worth.  Bush and his Secretary of the Treasury bailed out the banks with multi-million dollar loans.  This was the state of the union that George W. Bush handed over to his Democratic successor, Barack H. Obama.

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In essence George W. Bush, who had initially won the Presidential Election over a quirk, the Florida punch ballots, had brought about an unnecessary war, in all probability, to punish a dictator for attempting to have his father killed.  In this process innumerable people, both American soldiers and Iraqis had lost their lives.  The financial cost of this action would double the National Debt and put an unnecessary financial burden thereafter upon the United States.

 

He would also pass on to his successor a country on the verge of a depression great than that of 1929.